In 5 steps on the shortest way to your beloved handpan
Finding the ideal handpan for you can be more complex than you might have expected due to the variety of choices. In any case, we recommend that you take your time to make your decision. If you let the advantages of different materials and moods affect you in a completely pressure-free, relaxed and positively curious way, you can make a very safe, clear and optimal choice for yourself. After all, ideally you enter into a long-term relationship with your sound sculpture. We accompany those interested in handpans in their decision-making process on a daily basis and share our collected experience in this buying guide. With its help, you can quickly get an overview of which criteria are relevant when buying a handpan and what you look for best.
A completely individual and non-binding consultation offers you the advantage of working out the instruments that are suitable for you based on your wishes and interests together with our practical knowledge. So just get in touch with us directly, that's exactly what we're here for and we'd like to extend a warm welcome to you! Do you already know our offer of auditioning to convince yourself of your handpan? You can find the geographically closest option to you on our map, including contact options for our Handpan.World showrooms .
If you prefer to order online or just want to find out more in advance, we have put together an overview of the guidelines here.
0. Choice of your provider
Since you have landed with us, you have already done everything right here and have already completed this step ;-) No, seriously, we know urgent buying fever and have put together detailed information for you here, which from our point of view is primarily for the long term purchase plays a role and would like to share our disappointment experiences with various providers with you. You can get to know us from the Handpan.World team personally, we are interested in mutual trust and are there for you both today and in the future. Thank you for supporting us with your purchase from us!
1. Your Mood (Scale)
There is an almost infinite number of possible tone combinations, also known as the handpan scale. You can find out more about moods in our extra article on the subject .
Often there was a specific event, artist or album that brought you into the world of handpans. Have you also heard its sound for the first time or are you completely touched by a certain melody, even almost hypnotically attracted? It can be very helpful if you listen to the corresponding videos about the artists and try to find out how the handpan is tuned either from the description or with a tuner. Alternatively, you can just send us a link and we'll tell you the mood.
You can also listen to a wide range of videos on our YouTube channel . Surely you will quickly notice that a certain key or scale appears again and again in your favourites? Note that even the same scale in a different key can come across to you very differently and have different sound qualities. Also, everyone perceives the world differently. It's entirely possible to have sad or somber pieces on top of a cheerful-seeming mood. To simplify, three categories can be formed:
Cheerful sounding, clarifying, (relaxing)
good for meditation and sound therapy
Melancholic, mystical sounding, exciting
good in combination with other instruments
eg Hijaz, Onoleo, Hokkaido
Oriental, Asian, Jazzy
more for advanced players or as a second instrument
2. Central sound aspects
Essential elements of the very individual sound of a handpan include dynamics, sustain, timbre and overtones. You can find out more in the extra article on the subject .
Dynamics: would you like to be able to play sounds both very softly and very loudly with a rich sound? Is a smaller dynamic range enough for you because you have a settled playing style?
Sustain: how long should a tone linger?
Timbre: how should impact noises and tones sound at the edge of their tonal fields?
Overtones: How strongly would you like the fifth and octave to resonate with a tone or even be able to play them separately?
3. Number of Tone Fields
Once you have found your scale, the first and most important part is already complete. We continue with an equally important point, namely the number of tone fields. Most handpans sound with 8 to 10 notes, which has several reasons. The more notes a handpan is made with, the less space there is between them. This can lead to crosstalk between the different tones and requires special skill on the part of the manufacturer. The volume and timbre changes with the size of the sound fields and must also be taken into account when building the handpan. 8-10 notes are suitable for beginners as well as advanced students. The more technique and practice you have, the wider range of sounds you can get out of this default configuration.
Admittedly, more tones also offer more variation, especially with a high level of playing skill. That's why advanced learners or fast learners in particular want something out of the ordinary. With 12, 14 or even 18 tone fields you increase your tonal combination options exponentially. We strongly recommend that you learn about it locally and, above all, try out how to play a handpan with bottom notes, the tones on the underside. If you have chosen a specific model, we will find out for you which of our manufacturers can make your handpan for you as desired. Here, too, the following applies to us: You always get the choice.
The two main categories of materials are nitrided steel and stainless steel. As a special alloy, Ember Steel is one of the stainless steel variants. There can be no correct answer to the question of which of the two material variants is better. Because it remains a matter of taste and feeling as to what suits an individual better.
At this point, think about whether you already have an idea of how you play? Do you perhaps even have previous musical experience with percussion instruments, for example, and do you like to play fast rhythms, which speaks more for nitrated steel? Or do you prefer to play meditatively and melodically and like to let yourself fall into resonant carpets of sound, then that would speak more for stainless steel? We invite you to try yourself.
Please also read our article on choosing the handpan material.
Generally has a shorter sustain (decay of the sound) and is therefore well suited for fast percussive playing. Depending on the degree of nitration and other processes during manufacture, the sustain can be longer or shorter. You can listen to our sound samples for the respective product and make sure you listen to them. Handpans made of nitrided steel require a little more maintenance and are more prone to rust, but at the same time you don't have to worry about that with proper care .
The most important difference to nitrated pans is that the sustain is significantly longer and the tones can be played very smoothly. Percussive rhythms are still possible, but the warm, round sound of these pans comes into its own with a calm, melodic style of playing. Stainless steel pans require less maintenance because they are not as susceptible to rust. They tend to cost a little more than nitrided handpans because the manufacturing process is more difficult and time consuming.
5. The frequency (432hz or 440hz)
In principle, any frequency is possible for a handpan, such as for special orchestra tunings, with the two most common frequencies in the handpan world being 432Hz and 440Hz. Almost all of our models can be manufactured in these two frequencies. There are historical backgrounds and opinions on the subject of frequencies .
The difference between the frequencies is negligibly small, but clearly audible. As always, perception is subjective. The fact is, in no case can two different frequencies be played together. Best of all, you make your own subjective picture .
This frequency is popular due to historically and culturally grown attributions that cannot be scientifically confirmed. It is said to scale the earth frequency and have a harmonizing effect.
Instruments tuned to 432Hz are often used for solo playing or for therapeutic purposes. If you want to play with others from the Indian-Asian world, choose this frequency.
Is the frequency of western international standard. Pianos and flutes are generally tuned to 440Hz. Guitars and other stringed instruments can easily be retuned to 432Hz. But if you basically want to play together with others from the western world - maybe even with an instrument that cannot be retuned at all or only with great effort and professionalism - you will make the perfect choice with 440Hz.
Did you find your handpan? Are you hesitating between several different models or are you unsure? Feel free to contact us at any time, we are happy to be there for you ! Together we can clarify your open questions.
Have fun with your new miracle of sound :-)