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Tongue drum or handpan?

Tongue Drum und Handpan gegenübergestellt

Various focal points and special features

A common question people ask is what are the differences between the two instruments, a tonge drum, also known as a tongue drum, and a handpan, and which instrument suits their needs better. In this article, we briefly touch on the main points on this topic. You can find our handpans in the handpan catalogue , including our tongue drums .

Although both instruments belong to the same type of instrument, they are two completely different musical instruments, despite some similarities. Handpans have a clearer tone and a magical, bright, ceramic and mellow sound with medium to high sustain (reverberation), while tongue drums have a more fuzzy sound with long sustain. Handpans are made from a variety of materials suited to different playing styles, from fast, percussive playing to slow, meditative styles, while tongue drums are known only for slow and meditative playing. While notes are limited to tongue drums, handpans can be made up to 22 notes or even more, allowing for more flexibility.

Tongue drums, while generally smaller, are much heavier than handpans because they are made from thicker sheet steel. Also, the standard size of handpans is 18-23 inches, so a small handpan (mini handpan) can sometimes be the size of a tongue drum, but is still much lighter. Both have their very own sound.

Since handpans are much more complicated to manufacture, their price is much higher than Tonge Drums. As mentioned at the beginning, these are two completely different instruments. Paying less here means anything but getting the same thing.

sound fields

This is where handpans and tongue drums differ significantly from each other. The pitch field, or playable notes, look completely different and feel different to play. The handpans contain dimples and dents that are made entirely without piercing the steel, while the tongues of the steel tongue drums are cut into the steel in various shapes.


Overall, the comparison of handpans and tongue drums lags in the sense that an apple is compared to an orange. Both are round, similarly shaped, yet completely different fruits with different flavors and nutritional value. If you are attracted to a handpan, a tongue drum cannot be a substitute, and conversely, if you are considering a tongue drum, go after it. We support you in finding the right investment for you through auditions.

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