You want to buy a Handpan?
You can find everything you need to know here
- Things to consider when choosing a handpan
- History of the Hang® and Handpan
- Structure of the Handpan
- Nitrated or stainless Steel
- Frequency: 440Hz vs 432Hz
- Handpan formats
- The right handling for your handpan
- Transport & Protection
- Handpan Care and maintainance
- Retuning of your handpan
Buying a Handpan – Things to consider
In our Handpan Store in Mainz, in our Online Shop or at one of our Workshop partner near you, you have the possibility to try out handpans of different manufacturers, materials and scales, to rent or to buy directly.
Compare and play different handpans in a relaxed atmosphere and take the right instrument directly home - without any waiting time. Last but not least, buying a handpan is an emotional thing. Preferences often emerge only after the first listening and comparison.
You can't decide or you are still unsure? We also offer the following services to help you find your Handpan:
Rent a handpan
If you don't want to buy a Handpan right away, we offer the possibility to rent an instrument of your choice – if you decide to buy the instrument, we will charge 100% of the rental costs with the purchase price. So you have even more peace and time to decide.
History of the Hang® and Handpan
The handpan market has changed rapidly in the last 10 years. While there were only about 30-40 handpan manufacturers worldwide in only about 30-40 handpan manufacturers, there are now over 300. This has made the Handpan more accessible and you no longer have to wait years and spend thousands of dollars to own a good Handpan. At PanArt, the inventor of the Hang®, you even had to apply in writing for a Hang® - and not everyone was lucky enough to get one.
Despite the rapid increase in handpan manufacturers, there are great differences in quality and price. As you have probably already noticed, almost all handpans are the same in terms of external shape - but not in sound!
Usually handpans from Europe are more expensive than from Asia. Among Asian manufacturers, in addition to many poorly tuned Handpan, there are now also some manufacturers who can keep up well with European quality standards. However, it should not be forgotten that a Handpan occasionally needs to be repaired or retuned, similar to a piano. This can become more costly if there is no re-tuning service available locally and the handpans have to be shipped back and forth (via customs) to Asia.
Structure of the Handpan
The basic shape of the Handpan is based on the Hang®. It consists of two circular metal shells, which are joined together. The top consists of a central tone field, called "Ding" (the lowest tone in the center) and usually 7-10 oval tone fields on the outer circle. On most instruments, the "ding" is curved outward/upward and the center of the remaining tone fields the "dimple" inward. In the center of the bottom is the "Gu (hole)" from which the sound comes out.
Unlike the piano, where all notes are available, on the handpan you are limited to a few notes. While Hang® by PANArt was built with 8 or 9 notes, there are now also manufacturers who accommodate over 20 (!) notes on a handpan. With a handpan, the notes are not arranged chromatically like a piano, i.e. one semitone step follows the next, but skip several octaves. How many and which notes are obstructed is determined by the scales.
You can find out everything you need to know about handpan scales here.
The choice of steel
Nitrided handpans are better suited for percussive, fast playing, e.g. for drummers, djembe or cajon players. They do not resonate as long and are duller in sound. When playing faster, the notes are more clearly separated or the notes do not "mix" so much, because the sound dies away more quickly after being struck.
Stainless steel handpans are built by only a few manufacturers worldwide. Compared to nitrided steel, stainless steel resonates much longer(sustain), is fuller in sound and more sensitive in touch. For beginners, stainless steel handpans are also easier to play. More and more often they are also used in sound therapy and yoga! Stainless steel is an innovation in handpans, the Original Hang® were built using only nitrided steel.
Frequency: 440 Hz and 432 Hz
Almost all handpans are tuned to 440Hz.
So if you decide to use a handpan in 432Hz, you will most likely not be able to play together with others. That is a fact! The same applies to other instruments, such as piano or instruments that you cannot tune yourself - a handpan in 432Hz is not compatible with them. Handpans in 432Hz are therefore a niche, but if you still decide to buy a handpan in 432Hz, we can advise you by phone.
Handpan Scales & Sheet Music
With Handpans, there are countless scales, which makes the Handpan purchase so difficult or complex. Each handpan is limited to a certain number of notes, which are "selected" by the manufacturer from all possible notes - accordingly, there are exponentially many possibilities for creating new scales. We delve a little deeper into the topic of handpan scales on this page:
If you're thinking about buying a handpan and you like a video on YouTube, it's always best to write down the name and notes of the scale.
Minis vs. Normal
Most handpans are made with a diameter of 53 - 56cm, a mini measures about 46 - 48cm. Due to your smaller size, for example, even children can comfortably reach all the notes. In addition, a Mini is perfect as a travel handpan due to its small volume.
Handpans that have additional notes between the outer edge of the notes and the thing are called "mutants".
Bottom notes are additional notes on the bottom of the handpan. With these handpans, it is important to pay attention to proper storage so as not to damage the notes.
The correct use of your handpan
When handling the instrument you should consider a few points:
It is IMPORTANT to protect the handpan from direct sunlight, i.e. do not leave the handpans in the sun and certainly do not play them, as they can become out of tune (the "pans" get very hot!). If the Handpan does heat up, be sure to let it cool down to room temperature before playing.
Do not play with mallets or other objects on the handpan! Only with the fingers!
Ideally, wash your hands before playing, because dirt and sweat are harmful to the instrument and can lead to rust.
Avoid wetness (does not apply to stainless steel Handpans)
Protect the Handpan from moisture and high humidity! I.e. do not store e.g. in the damp cellar; caution also when camping with the morning dew - on so some Handpan festivals there were already so some bad surprises. If your instrument does get wet, wipe it dry immediately with a cloth and store it in a dry place so that the residual moisture from inaccessible areas can evaporate.
Remove rings, watches and other jewelry on hands for play to avoid scratches.
Bags only for transport
Do not store the instrument permanently in a bag or backpack, but only use it for transport, otherwise there is a risk of rust. Steel must breathe.
Depending on the manufacturer or material, the handpan must be oiled to protect it from rust.
Never place the handpan on the floor with the playing surface (notes) facing down.
Since handpans are made of steel, the sound may change depending on the temperature. When cold, the metal contracts and the tones become higher; when hot, the metal expands and the tones become duller.
Transport and protection of your instrument
When buying a handpan, you should also find a suitable "transport means" for your handpan. Hard and soft cases are suitable for this purpose. As the name suggests, your instrument is better protected from impacts in a hard case than in a soft case. The soft case has the advantage of being cheaper, lighter and more comfortable to carry. When making your decision, you should consider how often you will be on tour with your instrument and what "conditions or stresses" it will be exposed to. When hiking, a soft case is much more comfortable, on the plane as hand luggage or in a crowded subway, a hard case would be more suitable due to the better protection.
The right care
Almost all handpans and steel tongue drums need regular maintenance to protect them from rust. Most manufacturers recommend Phoenix Handpan oil, coconut oil or even baby oil. You can find out which care product is most suitable from the manufacturer or from us.
As a rule, you should rub the top and bottom of your instrument with a care product and a microfiber cloth every 2-4 weeks. We also recommend wiping the instrument with the same microfiber cloth after each playing to remove sweat and dirt.
Retuning of your handpan
Just like a piano or guitar, all handpans need to be retuned sooner or later. The only question is: how often does a handpan need to be retuned? This essentially depends on the load to which the Handpan is subjected. The biggest stress is direct sunlight but of course how hard you play it.
Handpans purchased at Sound Sculpture Handpan Shop can be retuned directly with us and do not need to be returned to the respective manufacturer. This often saves you time and also unnecessary shipping costs. Of course, your warranty remains intact!
Best to try on the spot what is right for you
We advise you in all questions around the topic Handpan and Steel Tongue Drums. In our sound lab in Mainz you have the possibility to test and buy different instruments - without waiting time. We carry a wide range of different manufacturers and scales (tunings) and accessories.