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DRAFT: Purchase Advice - Frank

Handpan Drum Kaufberatung

In our buying advice you can get a relatively quick overview of which criteria are relevant when buying a handpan. The main criteria for the assessment are material, sound, quality, service, the correct tuning and the mood that is right for you.

The right mood for you means which scale reaches you, touches you, what do you like to listen to for a long time. Trust your sense of hearing and watch as many videos as possible, close your eyes and let yourself be enchanted by the sound world of the handpan. If you've listened to enough videos, you can usually figure out which direction it's going to take. In addition to the manufacturer videos, there are also some catchy tunes on the internet; you can find the scale in the comment lines of the videos at the latest. More information under the point - Your mood

Online videos help you find the right scale in the first step; the best way to be sure is to play the handpan directly in the shop. In our showroom in Munich and at our partners you will find a great selection of lovingly made handpans from our partner workshops to try out on site or to rent.

Our quick guide - get to your beloved handpan without any detours


    Handpan material - Nitrided steel or stainless steel

    Most handpans are made of nitrided steel, which is also the classic construction of the original PanArt hang drum. However, stainless steel has its advantages in certain areas and is therefore becoming more and more popular. In the following list you can easily compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two variants in terms of playing behavior and care.

    Handpans - nitrided steel

    Areas of use: Fast percussive playing, more versatile, i.e. also suitable for yoga and meditation. The best choice if you want to remain flexible in terms of the pace of play

    • Requires more care, regular oiling is necessary (can be done easily and quickly with a cloth and oil - more information under Care & Transport of the Handpan )
    • Significantly shorter sustain than stainless steel handpans
    • More versatile - fast percussive and slow playing possible
    • Softer or more muted timbre (ceramic-like timbre)

    Handpans - stainless steel

    Areas of use: Slow meditative game/yoga, meditation. The best choice if you play mostly slowly and melodically and you would like to minimize the maintenance effort

    • More rust-resistant than nitrided steel (less maintenance required - more information under Care & Transport of the Handpan )
    • Significantly longer sustain than nitrided steel handpans
    • Can be used less flexibly - the sustain can have a disruptive effect when playing at high speeds
    • Brighter timbre

    The individual sound of a handpan (sustain, dynamics, timbre, overtones)

    Each handpan is unique, they are lovingly shaped and processed by hand. As a result, you can create many different sounds with it; you can discover new things every day, even if you have known the instrument for a while. Particularly noteworthy in this context are dynamics, sustain and timbre.

    At this point we recommend testing the handpan in the shop or at home based on the sound characteristics described. It's best to try them out and first find your preferred key to narrow down the large selection of different scales. More information about this under Your Mood .

    Dynamics (volume levels)

    A good handpan has a high dynamic range, which means it can be played quietly but also loudly with a full tone. When played lightly, a full tone is clearly produced and when played strongly and powerfully, the tone does not overload.

    Sustain (holding time of a tone) - preference and material

    Sustain refers to how long a note lasts after it is struck. Too short is not desirable and too long usually disrupts the flow of the game. As a rule, an average sustain is recommended for most players, as the handpan is then more versatile.

    • Long sustain (stainless steel handpans): For meditative playing, percussive playing possible with restriction in playing speed
    • Medium Sustain (Nitrided Handpans): More versatile, for fast percussive playing, but also suitable for mediation
    • Short Sustain (Nitrided Handpans): For fast percussive playing

    timbre

    Whether you like one handpan better than the other is very individual. Researching the appropriate scale beforehand (for example via videos, see under Your Mood ) and then trying out different tones and, if necessary, types is highly recommended before purchasing.

    In terms of timbre, a distinction is made between warm meditative and cold metallic sounds.

    The touch sounds also differ in this respect, but can be influenced by the way you play with a little practice.

    Sound between the fields and on the edge: Taks are used in percussive playing and depend on the material and design of the handpan. Here, too, you can create numerous variations with a little practice of your playing technique.

    Overtones in handpans

    With a well-made handpan, you can also play the overtones on a handpan, i.e. the fifth and the octave. With a fundamental note of C, you can still play the fifth G and the octave C2 on the same pitch by isolating the note with your left hand (there is also a one-handed technique for more advanced players) and striking it on the right. This results in the flanger effect, which is very popular on the handpan, a delay technique with fluctuations in pitch up and down.

    The following video demonstrates how you can address the tones, it's easier to show than to describe.

    Quality of the handpan

    Is the handpan cleanly processed? Your instrument should be uniformly processed, which means no sharp edges and no inconsistent surface structures. Also look on the underside to see if there are any sharp spots or something similar at the opening (Gu). In addition, the top and bottom should be glued cleanly so that no adhesive residue can be seen.

    The correct tuning of a handpan

    If you already have a tuner, you can of course test the tuning directly. Alternatively, there are also online apps such as the Boss Tuning App.

    A slight deviation below the target tone cannot be ruled out due to the handwork, but a well-tuned handpan is still harmonious; a severe out-of-tune can usually be determined even by a layperson. Trust your hearing, you can switch off dissonances when listening to music, if possible...

    In this context it should also be said that the overtones (see under the point - Overtones ) are usually easy to play.

    Subtleties only become audible when interacting with other musicians. If in doubt, you can send us an audio or ask for help in various forums.

    Furthermore, crosstalk is a topic that means that one tone causes another to vibrate, for example D# causes D to resonate, which of course you don't want. Here too, trust your hearing first and foremost; if the handpan sounds dissonant to you, it is not the right one for you.

    Find your handpan mood

    Since this is usually the first step, we have already addressed it at the top of the page. In order to briefly clarify some basic terms for beginners at this point. Scale, scale and tuning mean the same thing , the chromatic scale runs from C to B (c-cis-d-dis-ef-fis-g-gis-a-ais-hc). Handpans are diatonic instruments, which means they do not have all the tones in the spectrum as mentioned above. This limits you in one area, which makes it all the more important to find the right scale.

    There are major keys that sound happier and minor keys that sound more mystical and melancholic, as well as tone scales that are easier to combine and those that are less easy to combine. The question of whether you would like to play with other musicians must be answered in advance, in which case we would suggest advice if necessary.

    At this point we don't want to delve too deeply into the topic. The professionals know it and for beginners it quickly becomes too much in this quick guide.

    Without looking for too much theory, trust your hearing when choosing your desired mood that will accompany you on your future path. Listen to as many manufacturer videos as possible and take notes. Whatever key you like, close your eyes and listen to it. You'll definitely find one or two videos on YouTube and the like that you'd like to listen to for a long time. Music that resonates strongly with you. There are countless handpan artists on the internet, if something appeals to you, write it down or bookmark it. As a rule, the moods can be found in the comments at the latest, if not already in the video description. If possible, write down the exact model or all the tones on the instrument. The scales are named differently by the manufacturers, which can lead to confusion.

    Then it's time to try it out, ideally first directly in the store with a selection and advice. You can look at the points of material, sound, quality and the correct tuning described in this buying guide in detail as soon as you are a happy owner at home.

    Vibration frequency 440 or 432Hz

    Most handpans are tuned to 440Hz, making them compatible with other instruments such as guitar and piano. 432Hz sounds different, am
    The best thing to do is to listen to a recording or, even better, to let the instrument work its magic on you. 432Hz is used here and there in therapy practice
    used, the effectiveness is, as expected, controversial. We cannot therefore make any statements about the health aspect. The fact is, it sounds completely different and has its charm.

    Service - retuning of the handpan

    Handpans go out of tune after a while and need to be retuned. How often depends on the load and quality of the handpan. The greatest stress is solar radiation, or rather strong heat. The stress is also relevant when playing, so you shouldn't play it with a mallet, but only with your fingers. When buying a handpan, it is important that you think about who will put the handpan back in tune.

    Further information for you on the retuning service page

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