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Buy cheap handpans?

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Why I shouldn't buy a (too) cheap handpan

Handpans are fascinating musical instruments that have become increasingly popular in recent years. With their meditative sound and their versatile application, they have conquered the hearts of music lovers. However, you should be careful when buying a handpan, especially when it comes to temptingly cheap offers. When deciding to purchase a handpan, it is important to consider the quality of the instrument. In this blog post we will explain to you why it is not a good idea to buy a cheap handpan.

Offers of cheap handpans starting at €400 are increasingly appearing, which of course raises the question, why spend €1,300 to €2,000 on such an instrument? That's a very big price difference! How come?

We at the Handpan.World team are constantly working to find the best instruments and inexpensive models for you that meet a minimum of quality criteria. That's why we basically test almost all handpans available on the market, because we also want to learn and keep up with the times. In this article we want to share our experiences and insights with you.

Mass-produced goods from Asia:

First of all, it must be mentioned that almost all cheap offers between €400 and €1000 are manufactured in larger factories in Asia, mostly China. In principle, the passion and attention to detail, the soul of the tuner and the craftsmanship of experienced instrument makers, which is so important to us, are missing here.
To make matters worse, providers of mass production from China also advertise with terms such as "handmade", "highest quality", "unique/one-of-a-kind pieces", "handmade with love" or similar, which as a result devalue such labels. This is purely for marketing purposes and does not reflect the truth of how we attribute such characteristics. Such mass-produced goods can never replace the spirit, let alone the quality, of real craftsmanship. A large part of the work steps is now possible using machines to make steel look like a handpan without it actually sounding like a handpan as we know it. Because machines cannot tune a handpan - it has to be done by hand and is an art that not many can do to this day.
Unfortunately, we often notice that even European providers who appear reputable do not always handle information honestly and transparently. For example, we know from a German online store that it advertises mass-produced goods made in China as handpans made in Rome.

Warning about attempted fraud:

We often notice and have experienced ourselves during our exploration tours that some offers from Handpans are pure scams, i.e. fraudulent offers. High-quality, handmade handpans worth between €100 and €500 are often offered here. With numerous such offers, such a handpan may not even exist because it is never even seen. We hear stories like this repeatedly and can be found in various handpan groups or forums on various social media channels. So caution is advised here. Fraudulent offers can usually be recognized by their very cheap prices. We recommend avoiding offers under €1000.

Insufficient to extremely poor quality

In order to get an overview of the world of handpans, we regularly order cheap handpans on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and via shop sites from manufacturers such as As Teman, and test their quality. The first moment of joy that a delivery actually arrives is quickly replaced by bitter disappointment about what the delivery contains. The machine-pressed bowls look like handpans at first glance, but they play pretty much like tin bowls. In some cases no effort was even made to properly tune a single note, not to mention overtones and a sound sphere.
Admittedly, there are also some where the mood is right, but there is obviously a lack of experience or simply not enough time and effort was put into it. The sound design is neither balanced nor sophisticated. Something like that is absolutely no fun, neither when playing nor when listening to it, if you have already encountered a decent instrument, which is usually the trigger or initiative for wanting to buy it.

Very rarely have we found handpans whose sound we found appropriate for the price. Even then, after a few stress tests to check the tuning stability, we were disappointed again. Our stress tests are various procedures in which we expose the handpans to prolonged heat or play them very intensively over a long period of time. This way we can find out whether an instrument meets our minimum requirements for sound stability. If an instrument is out of tune after the tests, it can be assumed that the handpan will remain in tune for a maximum of a few months or a year with normal treatment. That's not a long time for a handpan when the magic of the handpan's sound evaporates into dissonance. Our instruments must be able to maintain their tuning absolutely stable for at least two years. The highest quality ones can be played for up to five years before they need to be retuned, which only becomes noticeable to more sensitive ears.

No return option:

Almost all of our attempts to return the handpan we ordered within the 14 day return period failed. Either there is no response at all or an offer is made to exchange the instrument in exchange for shipping costs being covered. This can be quite expensive when shipping to China or the USA. However, we sometimes exchanged in the hope that the instrument we received was an exception. None, the quality remained disappointing.

HANDPAN PROVIDERS TESTED BY US THAT ARE NOT RECOMMENDED:

Sonodrum: Is a fairly new provider with only one handpan model in D minor in different designs. We took a close look at the handpan and the provider and noticed the following factors:

  • Mass production in China - little attention to detail
  • Insufficient tuning stability - handpan goes out of tune in a very short time
  • The provider does not offer a retuning service for their handpan drum instruments
  • The sound of the sound sample videos is clearly technically manipulated. The handpan sounds quite rattly, or rather metallic, live
  • Price/performance is not in proportion
  • Provider does not specialize in handpans. Not good advice & customer service


Lighttheme.com: Is a provider supposedly based in France that offers various cheap handpans mass-produced in China. Among other things, lighttheme sells AsTeman handpans and other cheap brands that we have introduced.
We had already tested almost all of the instruments offered there before this online shop was created, as the manufacturers had of course already offered us their cheap goods. We noticed the following points in the context of this cheap brand sales and should urge caution:
1. There is no proper imprint with information about the operator (company or retailer), as is actually legally required.
2. There is no company headquarters at the specified address in France - we have had this checked. There is also no contact telephone number provided, which is what a site operator is obliged to do.
3. The right of return can only be claimed if the instrument has not yet been unpacked.
4. The General Terms and Conditions exclude all warranties and assumption of responsibility, even in cases where the dealer is legally liable.

As an overall conclusion, the site does not seem trustworthy and recommendable.

As Teman: The material used is the cheapest steel, which is actually not suitable for building handpans. The notes are not perfectly tuned and are amateurish. There is a lot of material in the sound, which makes the handpan sound very metallic.
As Teman obviously does quite successful marketing and manages to sell quite a few handpans. At least disappointed buyers always contact us and ask whether we can retune the As Teman handpans. The answer is: unfortunately no! Our tuners throw up their hands when we ask them about it. You can only retune an instrument that was once properly tuned.

Other low-cost providers are:

  • Amazon:
    YUANZHOU, MMAN, winnerruby, Jolipro, As Teman and others
  • eBay:
    Muslady, fdios, handpan.maker, VEVOR, anyukis, ryrk53, and more
  • Etsy:
    TOMOKOMAMA, MontagueBrooko, MooreNelly, MickYvetten, NovaPans, MooreNelly, TrudaToddmL

Summary - Reasons against a cheap handpan

  • Scams: Often fraudulent offers
  • Mass-produced industrial goods
  • Inadequate to lousy quality, even for the price
  • No possibility to retune
  • Generally no return or exchange option
  • Bad Advice: Little to no knowledge of handpans
  • For purchases outside the EU, there is no legal recourse in the event of a dispute and you have no opportunity to assert claims for a right of withdrawal/return or warranty.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

Good quality handpans start at €1300 - experience has shown that buying below this is not advisable. If you want to buy a handpan, contact a supplier who has a larger selection of different manufacturers, tunings, materials and price ranges available. This is the only way you can compare a wide range of options and make the right decision for you. If necessary, get comprehensive and competent advice to get all open questions out of the way.
Make sure you have the option of a return and/or exchange policy. It is also important that the provider offers a retuning service. Most tuners are not specialized in retuning other people's instruments or do not accept such retuning orders.

Of course, we know that purchasing a handpan can fail due to current financial possibilities. In order to make it possible for everyone to have their own handpan, we at Handpan.World offer installment financing options. This means you can set a flexible monthly installment amount over a term of up to 72 months depending on your financial situation. Many of our visitors have already taken advantage of this option and were able to fulfill their dream straight away. You can find more details about the installment financing options here.

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