Why I shouldn't buy a (too) cheap handpan
There are more and more offers of handpans - cheap offers from 400€, which of course raise the question of why spend 1300€ to 2000€ on such an instrument? That's a very big price difference! how come
We at the Handpan.World team are constantly trying 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 on the market, because: we too want to learn new things and have our finger on the pulse of the times. In this article we want to share our experiences and the knowledge we have gained with you.
Bulk goods from Asia:
First of all, it must be mentioned that almost all cheap offers between 400€ and 1000€ in Asia, mostly China, are manufactured in larger factories. As a matter of 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 all their perfidiousness, suppliers of mass production from China also advertise with terms such as "handmade", "highest quality", "unique/one-of-a-kind", "handcrafted with love" or similar, which ultimately devalue such predicates. This is purely for marketing purposes and does not correspond to our truth as to how we attribute such properties. Such mass-produced goods can never replace the spirit, let alone the quality, of true craftsmanship. A large part of the work steps can now be done mechanically to make steel look like handpan without it really sounding like handpan as we know it. Because machines can't tune a handpan - it has to be done by hand and is an art that not many can do to this day.
Unfortunately, we keep hearing that even European providers who appear reputable do not always deal with 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.
We often notice and during our exploration tours we have already experienced that some offers of handpans are pure scams, i.e. fraudulent offers. They often offer allegedly high-quality, handmade handpans worth between €100 and €500. With numerous such offers, such a handpan may not even exist at all, since it is not even seen. We hear such stories 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 below 1000€.
Insufficient to extremely poor quality
In order to get an overview of the world of handpans, we regularly order cheap handpans from 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 entails. The machine-pressed bowls may look like handpan at first glance, but they play pretty much like tin bowls. Sometimes the effort wasn't even made to tune a single tone cleanly, not to mention overtones and a sound sphere.
Admittedly, there are also some where the mood is right, but the experience is obviously lacking or simply not enough time and effort was given. The tonal design is neither balanced nor mature. Something like that is absolutely no fun either when playing or when listening if you have already encountered a decent instrument, which is usually the trigger or initiative for a purchase request.
We rarely found handpans whose sound we found appropriate for the price. Even then, however, we were disappointed again after a few stress tests to check the tuning stability. Our stress tests are various procedures in which we expose the handpans to longer heat or play them very intensively over a longer period of time. This allows us to 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 keep its tuning 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 sound has already dissipated into dissonance. Our instruments must be able to keep their tuning absolutely stable for at least two years. The highest quality can even be played for up to five years before they should be retuned, which is only then noticeable for more sensitive hearing.
No return option:
Almost all of our attempts to return the ordered handpan within the 14-day return period have failed. Either they don't answer at all or they offer to exchange the instrument and pay the shipping costs. This can be quite expensive for shipments to China or the USA. However, we have sometimes exchanged in the hope that the instrument received would be exceptional. None, the quality remained disappointing.
HANDPAN SUPPLIER TESTED BY US, WHICH ARE NOT RECOMMENDED:
As Teman: The material used is the cheapest steel, which is actually not at all suitable for building handpans. The notes are not perfect and in amateurish tuning. A lot of material resonates in the sound, which makes the handpan sound very metallic.
As Teman is obviously doing quite a good marketing and manages to sell quite a lot of handpans. At least disappointed buyers keep turning to us and asking if we can tune the As Teman handpans. The answer is: unfortunately no! Our tuners throw up their heads when we ask them about it. You can only retune an instrument that was once properly tuned.
handpan-deutschland.com: Is a fairly new supplier of various cheap handpans from mass products from China, including As Teman and other cheap brands presented here. According to their own statements, HandPan Deutschland® has been a dealer of handpans since 2011, which is definitely a false statement. That would be known to us and members of our network.
We had already tested almost all of the instruments offered there before this online shop was created, as we were concerned that we would have to be competitive at these surreal prices. We noticed the following points in the context of this cheap brand distribution and should warn of caution:
1. No legal person (company or retailer) is specified in the imprint, as actually mandatory, but only a brand name.
2. There is no registered office at the address given - we have had this checked. Also, no contact phone number is given, which a site operator is also obliged to do.
3. The alleged customer reviews were all published on the same day (04/01/2021) - so they do not seem to be real.
4. The right of return can only be claimed if the instrument has not yet been unpacked.
5. The terms and conditions exclude all guarantees and acceptance of responsibility, even in cases in which the dealer is legally liable by legal means.
As an overall conclusion, the site seems more than dubious and we recommend to keep your hands off it completely!
Other low-cost providers are:
YUANZHOU, MMAN, winnerruby, Jolipro, As Teman and others
Muslady, fdios, handpan.maker, VEVOR, anyukis, ryrk53, and more
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 chance to retune
- Usually no return or exchange option
- Poor 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 possibility to assert claims for a right of withdrawal/return or warranty.
Handpans of good quality start at 1300€ - experience has shown that a purchase 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. This is the only way for you to have the ideal comparability of a wide variety of options and to make the right decision for you. If necessary, get comprehensive and competent advice to clear up all open questions.
Make sure you have the option of a return and/or exchange right. It is also important that the provider offers a tuning service. Most tuners are not specialized in retuning foreign instruments or do not accept such retuning orders.
Of course we know that the purchase of a handpan can fail due to the current financial possibilities. However, in order to make it possible for everyone to have their own handpan, we at Handpan.World offer the possibility of installment financing. In this way, you can set a flexible, monthly installment amount over a period of up to 72 months, depending on your financial situation. Many of our visitors have already taken advantage of this option and have been able to fulfill their dream directly. You can find more details about the options for installment financing here .