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Why do handpans go out of tune and how can they be retuned?

Warum verstimmen sich Handpans und wie lassen sie sich nachstimmen?

Every handpan goes out of tune over time

As with any other instrument, this fact is no 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. You can find the tone sequences of the respective handpan in the product descriptions in the “About the tuning” section.
This sequence of notes and each individual note should of course be in tune correctly. You can check whether this is the case with any standard tuner - the measurement unit is given in cts. For musical instruments and handpans in particular, a tolerance of 10cts applies - within this tolerance threshold a handpan is not yet out of tune. 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 especially if you are bothered by the sound of your instrument and no longer feel comfortable with it.

Why do handpans go out of tune?

Similar to a piano, a guitar or a drum, the tone that a handpan's tone field produces is determined by tension. The two centers (fifth and octave) of the oval tone field are brought into tension with one another in such a way that the desired tone is created. The reason why a handpan goes out of tune is because steel also moves and changes due to external influences. In particular, temperature fluctuations and the attacks when playing cause a permanent change in the molecular structure of the material. This also changes the tension of the tone fields. This is what we call “natural detuning,” which is unavoidable. A handpan can also go out of tune immediately due to external influences. These include impacts, falls or hard impacts of solid objects on a sound field. This type of upset can be actively avoided, for example by protected transport in backpack bags and cases and by safe storage on stands or holders . But we have also heard stories from our Handpan.World members about children who "rode" a handpan, which can logically lead to an upset due to external influences :D and is a very good example of exceptional treatment and handling .
However, don't worry, any damage can usually be repaired - except in extreme cases.

How long does my handpan retain its tuning?

Depending on the manufacturer and processing method, the mood usually remains stable for two to five years. This primarily applies 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 go out of tune after just a few months, if they were ever in tune. In addition, they usually cannot withstand major loads.
However, intensive playing and strong temperature fluctuations can significantly shorten the detuning period. How long an instrument stays in tune also depends on its treatment and care.

Can I delay detuning?

There are a few factors that affect detuning. Correct handling is crucial to ensure that the existing vocal strength is maintained. The intensity of your playing style plays a particularly important role in how long a handpan can maintain its tuning. The harder your attacks are, the more pressure you exert on the taut tone field. If the stop is permanently fixed, this can lead to a change in the tone field tension. This 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 clips. Simply observe how the sound behaves and find a balanced playing style that makes the instrument sound comfortable and at the same time protects it.
Intense temperature fluctuations also affect tuning stability. Regular heating and cooling can lead to a shortening of the natural detuning period.
Intense heat from the sun or proximity to a radiator or campfire should be avoided, as should extreme cold. We would like to point out that overheating or undercooling of a high-quality handpan does not directly lead to permanent detuning, contrary to occasional claims. It is true that the tone 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. Simply let your handpan relax at normal room temperature and only play it again when it has calmed down.

What should I do if my handpan is out of tune?

We offer a retuning service for handpans purchased from us as well as for third-party instruments. If your handpan is out of tune, you can take advantage of our retuning service.
When you order a retune, send us a video recording of the out-of-tune handpan. 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 free tuning as part of your Handpan.World guarantee.
After the two-year guarantee has expired, the costs vary between €100 and €200 for handpans purchased from us, depending on the instrument and the degree of detuning. We charge an additional cost of €50 for retuning instruments from other providers.
We take care of the entire process from collection from your location to return delivery within three weeks. Your previously out-of-tune instrument arrives back in perfect tune.

Why do handpans go out of tune and how can they be retuned?

There are many different factors that influence the tuning of a handpan drum. Therefore, it is normal for it to become out of tune over time under normal conditions. The most important cause of detuning is the change in ambient temperature or humidity when moving the handpan from a warm to a cooler or vice versa. Another factor is the natural heat of the sun, which can affect the sound of the handpan. Poor handling and improper care can also contribute to an upset.

Retuning handpans is not difficult. First you have to find out which notes are out of tune and how much. This can be tested with any common tuner. The out-of-tune tones can then be adjusted and re-tuned one after the other. Care should be taken to only turn the bolts gently and not to build up too much pressure or loosen the bolts - this can affect the sound or cause damage.

Of course, it's best to seek professional help, especially if you have no experience with tuning. It's always worth consulting a professional to keep your handpan in top tuning quality!

In order to keep your handpan drum in top shape and to be able to enjoy the sound for a long time, you should regularly check whether all tones are in tune. Also focus on normal care and maintenance measures as well as appropriate storage conditions (do not expose to direct sunlight). With this knowledge, you are well prepared to use your handpan for many years of high-quality music enjoyment!

Handpans are unique musical instruments that are often considered a spiritual instrument. They have a very complex structure and consist of a metal body that is filled with various bowls and clay fields. These tone fields are struck when tuning the instrument and must then be in perfect harmony with each other to produce the best possible sound.

But what happens when handpans go out of tune? Detuning handpans is a completely natural thing, as the instruments' complexity makes them particularly susceptible to temperature fluctuations and other external influences. This can affect the sound of the instrument because the different tone fields still have to be in harmony. The best way to determine whether a handpan is out of tune or not is with any standard tuner - the measurement unit for this is cts ( cents ).

We recommend a tolerance threshold of 10cts when tuning the instrument: within this threshold the handpan is not yet out of tune.

However, if one or more tone fields go beyond this threshold, you can either retune the instrument yourself or seek professional help. However, you must be careful when retuning, otherwise you can further deteriorate the sound of the instrument.

That's why we say: Watch out! However, we recommend that you rely primarily on your hearing and feeling - because ultimately only you decide!

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