Caribbean Steel drums

Hello I’m back to pick the brains of the learned/experienced or any members of the forum. This time I had a crazy idea about Caribbean Steel drums.

Steel Drum! Despacito! The Original Caribbean instrument - YouTube

How It’s Made: Steel Drums - YouTube

Anyone any module ideas, I was thinking about AI Macro osc 1+2. resonator, any other modules? Some long decay/sustain. Also how could I create the varied tones/ notes on the drum itself, a drum pad?

Thanks for your time. Much appreciated.

Went the synth way :

SteelDrum - 22072021-2.vcv (60.8 KB)

Tuna to taste :wink:

Even better :

SteelDrum - 22072021-2triggers.vcv (60.1 KB)


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Probably somebody who can do that ?

Easy, just download Dexed (for free), then download the original DX7 RomA1 and load that into dexed and fire up patch 27. Then use six Kitchen Sinks or BOG FM-OP, six Nysthi DX7 Envelopes and a good polyphonic matrix mixer (stoermelder intermix), rebuild the dexed patch and you are ready to go :stuck_out_tongue:

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Just listen how many different sounds can be produced on these kind of instruments (steeldrum, hangpan, etc.):

I would use samples to recreate these kind of sounds.

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It would surprise me if there isn’t a decent free SFZ of steel drum samples.

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If you’re happy to enough to host a VST plugin then you can get a really nice free steel/metal drum virtual instrument from Ample Sound called Cloudrum. Probably available from a few places, but got mine from Pluginboutique as I’d already registered there and there’s no license needed for the plugin itself at all. The download page is here, and their free guitar and bass plugins are worth picking up too, they do some pretty nice modelling.


Nice Steel Drum samples here: 56 free drum & percussion soundfonts but in format SF2.

I’ve heard you can convert them with Polyphone - that’s supposed to work pretty well.

Thank you for the tool. It works fine!

Here’s the converted sfz: Dropbox - - Simplify your life

oh, cool. Someone else here told me about it.

so - anyone who wants to cheat and use samples - and say completely within VCV - try that file from @Ahornberg .

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Never really felt the need to add Dogme 95 style rules to music making, but I guess it worked out ok for Brian Eno.

Thank you Squinky, I tried FM Kitchen Sink and just got a bad drone out of it. I have seen and heard other patches work fine with it but I can’t get much out of it, not sure what I’m doing wrong!?

Thanks so much, now I have another option. Much appreciated. I find samples easier to manipulate than build the whole thing in VCV Rack, however I do feel that I am cheating some how.
How goes it with the Tascam style controllers for Tape Recorder any progress?

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Thanks Yeager for these 2 wonderful patches, they both sound good. I was working on it using AI Macros 1+2 and Modal Synthesizer but I got bell sounds without the actual Steel drum sound. I got frustrated with that and nearly gave up!

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Thanks, I have tried to download this twice and not got it unfortunately. However I have downloaded this:
MagicDrum Lite | Quiet Music

It is truly beautiful, it gives a very similar ambient tone to the Cloudrum and takes less time to download.

Thanks to everyone, here are the results of the 3 different methods

Squinky SFZ Steel pan drum trial in Three different synthesis methods for Caribbean Steel Drums (


well - is it cheating, or not? Who is to say. If you are really into the sound-design aspect of mudular, then it’s sort of “cheating”, But it you are into the random process part or the composition part, then it’s not cheating at all. Do whatever you want :wink:

Thanks Squinky, I find using samples/SF2/SFZ files easier for certain sounds. I am all for the random process part. There are so many options in VCV Rack, none are right or wrong.