The question here is nitrided steel or stainless steel
There are numerous different alloys and processing methods of steel that are used to build a handpan. Every manufacturer has found the right material in the search for its characteristic sound. Many manufacturers regularly experiment with new materials in order to further refine their sound or to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers.
However, a distinction is mainly made between two types of steel: stainless steel and nitrided steel.
Which material is used to manufacture a handpan has a significant influence on the timbre, the length of the aftertaste and the possible playing styles . Originally, most handpans were made of nitrided steel - this is also the case with the hang (hang drum). Various stainless steel alloys have also been used in handpan construction for several years.
In the following we will go into the properties of the two steel variants in terms of playing behavior, care and their special features. Important: The properties described are tendencies and can also be found in a comparable form in individual models of the other type of steel. It is too simplistic to standardize the respective steel grades and does not reflect the versatility and peculiarities of the respective manufacturer. Therefore, we also describe the special characteristics of the instruments of the respective builder.
Nitrided steel handpans
The very first sound sculptures are made of nitrided steel, which is also very popular with the larger selection, especially for more percussive use.
Sound properties & suitable playing styles
Handpans made of nitrided steel have a powerful and present sound, comparable to the earthy sound of a drum. The sustain tends to be tighter in the aftertaste and the richness of overtones is not quite as intense as with stainless steel handpans. This is also due to the less pronounced crosstalk effects of the desired variant. Crasstalking means that other sounds are also activated when a sound field is played. With nitrated handpans, each note stands more for itself and can fully develop its own sound. This usually makes fast and percussive playing easier. But also melodic, slow playing is quite possible.
The rumor often circulates that nitrided steel is susceptible to rusting. But that is only partially correct. Nitriding is a process that hardens the steel and makes it more resistant to rust - but doesn't completely eliminate it. As long as the material is not exposed to permanent moisture (e.g. storage in a damp room or in a bag), there should not be any problems with rusting. Additional rust protection can be guaranteed by the regular use of care oil. Handpans made of any material should be regularly maintained and cleaned .
- Tone color: Powerful, earthy, present sounds
- Shorter sustain than stainless steel handpans
- Less richness in overtones & activation of other tonal fields
- Perfect for fast, rhythmic playing
- Slow, melodic playing is also generally possible
- Avoid storing in bag or humid environment
- Regular cleaning and care with oil is recommended
Stainless steel hand pans
Handpans made of stainless steel are currently very trendy. This is probably due to their very fine sound, which is particularly rich in overtones. In addition, they are often easier to play - they become audible with the slightest touch. This makes it particularly attractive for beginners, even with an inexperienced or even imprecise touch, lovely sounds can be elicited.
It is particularly important to note that many stainless steel handpans are not particularly balanced in terms of sustain and their variety of overtones, which can lead to "overmodulation" in some models, especially when playing intensively and quickly. When selecting our instruments, we pay attention to a wide range of playability.
Sound properties & suitable playing styles
Stainless steel has the property of being particularly resonant and responds easily to every touch. The sustain tends to last longer with stainless steel pans than with instruments made of nitrided steel. Activations or so-called crosstalking effects are also much more pronounced with many stainless steel handpans. This means that when you play a tone field, other tone fields also sing along. When selecting our handpans, we pay attention to the type of crosstalk you want, in which only harmonic effects sound together.
The timbre can be described as soft, bright, melodious, dreamy and spherical. This makes stainless steel handpans ideal for slower, melodic and meditative playing, as well as for use in sound journeys and sound therapy
Again and again one reads that stainless steel handpans are easier to care for than nitrated instruments. We want to clear up this rumor. Although stainless steel is completely rust-resistant, it is generally also much more susceptible to salts and acids. Prolonged exposure to salts (sweat) and acids can lead to discolouration on the surface. This has no influence on the sound, but usually doesn't look particularly nice.
We recommend regular cleaning and care of handpans, regardless of the material they are made of.
- Tone color: bright, dreamy, soft, lovely sounds
- Tends to have a longer lasting aftertaste
- More pronounced richness in overtones
- More activation & crosstalking effects
- Fast, intense gaming can lead to clipping on some models
- Ideal for
- Prolonged exposure to salts (sweat) and acids can cause discoloration
- Regular cleaning and care with stainless steel oil is recommended