Toucan Instrument Info
Big Sound Graphic
Our motto is "Big Sound, Small Size", and once you see & hear us, you'll know why. No other band makes more with less!
The group began as a 3-piece ensemble in the mid-1980's, but only became Toucans with the addition of a kit drummer. Once the power of the full drum set was harnessed to the raw energy of the steel pans, there was no stopping us!
The Toucans' steel drums are made by our good friend Otto "Boots" Faustin, a Trinidadian pan-maker currently residing in British Columbia. Boots began making steel drums in Port-of-Spain in the early 1960's. He played and tuned for The Blue Diamonds, one of Trinidad's first steel bands. (Pan History)
Boots makes pans with a strong voice & a rich timbre; we haven't found any other pans quite like them. They are definitely responsible for a lot of that distinctive Toucans sound! If you'd like to learn more about our panmaker, here are some photos from our last visit to his tuning shed! (Photo Gallery)
Our band has a Lead Pan (which plays the melody), a set of Double Seconds (which handle the rhythmic chording aka "strumming" and the harmony lines), and a set of Tenor Basses (four barrels that play the bassline).
The Toucans' drummer plays on a simple Drum Kit, consisting of a kick drum, hi-hats, two small splash cymbals, a ride cymbal, a snare, a timbale, a rack tom and the Toucans' famous floor tom. The kick is muffled with foam to give a nice beefy *thump* without the ringing overtones that get in the way of the tenor bass sound.
Every Toucan makes their own personal steel drum sticks, which we keep with us at all times! We use aluminum tubing with rubber surgical tubing over the ends for the high pans, and wooden dowels with carefully trimmed Super Pinky™ balls glued on to the ends for the Tenor Basses.
The band's equipment is rounded out with some additional percussion, and often a set of full-size conga drums to add to the rhythm. Our favorite percussion instruments are the Guiro, the Triangle, the Afuche-Cabasa, and of course the mighty Cowbell.
The entire band takes up a very small amount of space, but you wouldn't believe it to hear us! We can arrive and set up the complete group ready to play in just under 12 minutes, making us the Fastest Band in the West!