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The choice of handpan material

Handpans aus Edelstahl und nitriertem Stahl liegen in Holzregal

Nitrided steel or stainless steel is the question here

There are many different alloys and processing methods of steel that are used to build a handpan. Each manufacturer has found the right material in the search for their characteristic sound. Many manufacturers regularly experiment with new materials in order to further refine their sound or to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers.
However, a distinction is mainly made between two types of steel: stainless steel and nitrided steel.
The material used to make a handpan has a significant influence on the timbre, the length of the resonance and the possible playing styles . Originally, most handpans were made of nitrided steel - this was also the case with the Hang from PanArt. Various stainless steel alloys have also been used in handpan construction for several years.
Below we will look at the properties of the two steel variants in terms of play behavior, care and their special features. Important: The properties described are tendencies and can also be found in a comparable form in individual models of the other steel type. It is too simplistic to standardize the respective types of steel and does not reflect the versatility and characteristics of the respective manufacturer. Therefore, we also describe the special characteristics of the instruments of the respective maker.

Nitrided steel handpans

The very first sound sculptures are made of nitrided steel, which is also very popular with the larger selection, especially for more percussive use.

Sound characteristics & suitable playing styles

Nitrided steel handpans have a powerful and present sound, comparable to the earthy sound of a drum. The sustain tends to be tighter in the aftertaste and the richness of the overtones is not quite as intense as with stainless steel handpans. This is also due to the less pronounced crosstalk effects of the desired variant. Crasstalking means that when you play a tone field, other tones are also activated. With nitrated handpans, each note stands on its own and can fully develop its own sound. This generally makes fast and percussive playing easier. But melodic, slow playing is also possible.

Care for handpans made of nitrided steel:

There is often a rumor that nitrided steel is susceptible to rusting. But that is only partially true. Nitriding is a process that hardens the steel and makes it more resistant to rust - but does not completely eliminate it. As long as the material is not exposed to permanent moisture (e.g. stored in damp rooms or stored in a bag), there should be no problems with rust formation. Additional rust protection can be ensured by regularly using maintenance oil. Handpans made from any material should be maintained and cleaned regularly .

Summary
    • Timbre: Powerful, earthy, present sounds
      • Shorter sustain than stainless steel handpans
        • Less overtone richness & activation of other tone fields
          • Perfect for fast, rhythmic playing
            • Slow, melodic playing is also usually possible
              • Avoid storing in a bag or in a damp environment
                • Regular cleaning and care with oil is recommended

                  Handpans made of stainless steel & Embersteel

                  Since Embersteel is just one of many different types of stainless steel and has the same properties described here, we have summarized them all here Stainless steel types together.

                  Handpans made of stainless steel are currently very trendy. This is probably due to their particularly rich in overtones and very fine sound. They are also often easier to play - you can hear them with even the slightest touch. This makes it particularly attractive for beginners - even with an inexperienced or even imprecise touch, lovely sounds can be elicited.
                  What should be particularly noted is that many stainless steel handpans are not particularly balanced in terms of sustain and their variety of overtones, which can lead to "overcontrol" in some models, especially when playing intensively and quickly. When selecting our instruments, we pay attention to a wide range of playability.

                  Sound characteristics & suitable playing styles

                  Stainless steel has the property of being particularly resonant and responds easily to every touch. The sustain tends to be longer lasting with stainless steel pans than with instruments made of nitrated steel. Activations or so-called crosstalking effects are also much more pronounced with many stainless steel handpans. This means that when you play one tone field, other tone fields also sing along. When selecting our handpans, we pay attention to the type of crosstalk we want, which only produces harmonious effects.
                  The timbre can be described as gentle, bright, melodic, dreamy and spherical. This makes stainless steel handpans ideal for slower, melodic and meditative playing, as well as for use in sound journeys and sound therapy

                  Care for stainless steel handpans:

                  It is often said that stainless steel handpans are easier to care for than nitrided instruments. We want to dispel this rumor. Although stainless steel is completely rust-resistant, it is also generally much more susceptible to salts and acids. Prolonged exposure to salts (sweat) and acids can cause discoloration on the surface. This doesn't affect the sound, but it usually doesn't look particularly nice.
                  We recommend regular cleaning and care of handpans , regardless of the material they are made of.

                  Summary
                    • Timbre: bright, dreamy, gentle, lovely sounds
                      • Tends to have a longer lasting aftertaste
                        • More pronounced overtone richness
                          • More activation & crosstalking effects
                            • Fast, intense gaming can cause clipping on some models
                              • Ideally suited for
                                • Prolonged exposure to salts (sweat) and acids can cause discoloration
                                  • Regular cleaning and care with stainless steel oil is recommended

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