Every handpan gets out of tune over time
As with any other instrument, this fact is not a reason to panic. With high-quality instruments, the tuning should last for several years with appropriate treatment and care.
When is a handpan considered out of tune?
A handpan has a clearly defined tonal structure. The tone sequences of the respective handpan can be found in the product descriptions in the "About the tuning" section.
This sequence of notes and each individual note should of course be tuned correctly. You can check whether this is the case with any standard tuning device - the measuring unit is specified in cts. For musical instruments and handpans in particular, there is a tolerance of 10 cents - a handpan is not out of tune within this tolerance threshold. If one or more tone fields exceed this tolerance threshold, you can consider retuning.
But of course a measured detuning does not mean that the instrument sounds wrong to you. We therefore recommend that you rely entirely on your hearing and feeling. There is a need for action above all if you are bothered by the sound of your instrument and you no longer feel comfortable with it.
Why do handpans go out of tune?
Similar to a piano, a guitar or a drum, the tone produced by a handpan's tone field is determined by tension. The two centers (fifth and octave) of the oval sound field are brought into tension with each other in such a way that the desired sound is created. A handpan goes out of tune because steel also moves and changes due to external influences. In particular, temperature fluctuations and impacts when playing cause a change in the molecular structure of the material over the long term. In this way, the tension of the tone fields also changes. This is what we call "natural detuning", which is unavoidable. A handpan can also become out of tune immediately as a result of external influences. This includes impacts, falls or hard hits of solid objects on a sound field. This type of upset can be actively avoided, for example by protecting it during transport in backpacks and cases and by storing it safely on stands or holders . But we have also heard stories from our Handpan.World members about children who "ridden" on a handpan, which logically can also lead to an upset through external influences :D and is a very good example of unusual treatment and handling .
But don't worry, as a rule, any damage can be repaired - with the exception of extreme cases.
How long will my handpan stay in tune?
Depending on the manufacturer and the processing method, the atmosphere usually remains stable for two to five years. This applies primarily to high-quality manufacturers, such as those we have carefully selected for our Handpan.World network using stress tests.
Cheap products under €1,000, which are now available in abundance, can become out of tune after just a few months if they were ever correctly tuned. In addition, they usually do not withstand greater loads.
However, intensive playing and strong temperature fluctuations can shorten the detuning period significantly. How long an instrument stays in tune also depends on how it is treated and cared for.
Can I delay the upset?
There are a few factors that affect detuning. Proper handling is crucial to ensure that the existing voice strength is maintained. The intensity of your playing style in particular plays a role in how long a handpan can keep its mood. The harder your attacks are, the more pressure you exert on the tense tone field. If you hold the key permanently, this can lead to a change in the tone field tension. That doesn't mean that you can't play your handpan more intensively.
Our tip: Listen to how the material communicates with you. You hear it when the load limit is reached and the sound overdrives. Just observe how the sound behaves and find a balanced way of playing that makes the instrument sound good and at the same time protects it.
Intense temperature fluctuations are also at the expense of tuning stability. Regular heating and cooling can shorten the natural detuning period.
Intense exposure to heat from the sun or proximity to a heater or campfire should be avoided, as should extreme cold. We would like to point out that overheating or hypothermia in a high-quality handpan does not lead to a direct, permanent detuning, contrary to occasional claims. It is true that the tonal field tension of a handpan changes in such a stressful situation, so that it temporarily sounds different than usual. In such an extreme situation, the instrument should not be played in order not to add further force effects. Simply let your handpan relax again at normal room temperature and only play it again when it has calmed down.
What do I have to do if my handpan is out of tune?
We offer a tuning service for handpans purchased from us as well as for third-party instruments. If your handpan is out of tune, you can use our tuning service.
Send us a video recording of the detuned handpan with the tuning order. Play each tone field separately and then improvise a little. This gives us a first impression of the degree of detuning and allows us to better assess the effort involved in retuning.
How much does a retune cost?
In the first two years after your purchase from us, you will receive a retuning free of charge as part of your Handpan.World guarantee.
After the two-year guarantee has expired, the costs vary between €100-200 for handpans purchased from us, depending on the instrument and the degree of detuning. We charge an additional fee of 50€ for retuning instruments from other suppliers.
We take care of the entire process from picking it up at your site to returning it within three weeks. Your previously out-of-tune instrument comes back to you perfectly tuned.