The Glong Sabad Chai is a local drum of the northern region. It is assumed to be a smaller version of the Glong Poo-jaa or Glong Boo-cha. Three small drums called Look-tub (ลูกตุบ) are attached to one large drum. The Glong Sabad Chai is regarded as a sacred drum of national importance and used during war time as well as while performing traditional rites. There are several styles to beat the drum. During war victory celebrations the 3 small drums (Look-tub) were not used. Because of this, the 3 Look-tub were later omitted. The Glong Sabad Chai has since then become a single drum without Look-tub. During peaceful periods, the Glong Sabad Chai was kept in a temple and later it was also used on several occasions to pay homage to the Buddha.
Since the drum is very big and heavy, later when it was being used in the procession, the size was reduced to one-third of the original size, as it is today, so that 2 persons can carry it. The faces of the Glong Sabad Chai are usually about 60 centimeters in diameter. The body is about 30 centimeters wide. The 2 faces are covered with stretched leather and held together with ropes or leather cords. The playing stick has 2 heads.
The Look-tub is a single face drum. Each of the set of three drums is of a different size. The face of the biggest drum is about 25 centimeters in diameter, the medium one is about 22 centimeters in diameter and the smallest one is about 20 centimeters in diameter. The bodies of the Luk-tub are about 26 centimeters long. The face of each drum is covered with stretched leather fixed with wooden pins fixed into the drum body in an alternating pattern.
The development of the Glong Sabad Chai can be summarized into 3 periods. During the first period, it was a large two-faced drum in combination with 3 small drums (Look-tub) called Glong Poo-jaa or Glong Boo-cha. It was hung on a temple’s drum tower. It was beaten in both slow and quick rhythms in accompaniment to the religious rituals of the Buddhist monks.
After the end of the Thai-Burmese wars, it was a two-faced large drum attached with 3 small drums (Look-tub). The size of the large drum was smaller than that in the first period. A shoulder beam was used for carrying the drums. During this period the drum was called Glong Sabad Chai Look-tub. When beating the drum, the player held a piece of thin rattan stick about 40 centimeters long called Mai Sae in one hand and held the drum beating stick in the other hand. The Chaab (a pair of metal cymbals) and the Kong (gong) were sometimes played in accompaniment with the drum. At present the use of the Glong Sabad Chai Look-tub is about to disappear. There are very few people who can play it.
In the present period, the Glong Sabad Chai is a two-faced drum without Look-tub, carried by two men. The Chaab and the Kong are played in accompaniment with the drum’s rhythms. The body of the drum is usually decorated with carved and painted wood in the form of a big serpent. The beating styles are usually spectacular and rousing, using many parts of the body such as the elbows, the knees and the head of the drummer to beat the drum. Beating the Glong Sabad Chai in this style is very popular.
The Glong Sabad Chai has been used in various occasions as mentioned in some literatures. It has been beaten as a signal, an entertainment, a declaration and celebration of victory, and for enjoyment. The art of beating the Glong Sabad Chai has now brought fame to the northern folk culture and has become a representation of northern Thai culture in many occasions, such as in the Khan-tok (northern style feast), to welcome significant guests, and to lead the processions.