It’s now possible to purchase a handpan within a reasonable waiting period, whether from a maker, or from a specialized music store, or from an online marketplace. However, all the instruments don’t offer the same quality and the prices may vary a lot according from one brand to another. Let’s clarify here some misconceptions, hoping that it will help you to find THE right handpan, the one that matches your expectations !
Basically, a 9-notes handpan is worth between 1200 and 2500 euros (bag included). This price range depends on the brand, the model and the distribution network (direct sale or through a reseller).
How to choose my handpan among the many existing models?
Are you a beginner or a confirmed musician? Do you want a handpan just to have fun or to achieve a specific artistic project? Depending on these points your choice could be different. Therefore, it’s very important to ask yourself the following questions : « why do I want to purchase a handpan? » and « in which context shall I play my instrument? ».
To help you answer these questions, let us give you information about the different existing models :
8, 9 and 10 notes handpans:
Originally, Panart (Swiss company that invented the first handpan called « Hang® » in 1999) offered a standard based on 7 notes + 1 Ding (central tone). Then, since 2000, Felix Röhner, Panart founder, also offered instruments with 8 notes + 1 Ding (9 notes). Nowadays, most of the handpan makers offer instruments with 8 or 9 notes (including the central note). Few of those makers are also offering instruments with 9 notes + 1 Ding (10 notes).
All these models are matching the beginners and experienced musicians expectations. The notes layout is simple and those handpans are all easy to play.
11 to 15 notes handpans (on the top shell):
Some makers, including Metal Sounds with its chromatic 13-notes Spacedrum, offer specific handpans with different notes’ layouts. Some handpans may have 2 Dings, some others dispatch high pitched notes on the center, and last but not least, few handpans have an off-centered Ding which allows the makers to add high pitched notes between the regular Ding and the surrounding notes… As you can see there are many options that mainly reply to specific requests coming from experienced handpan players.
Those instruments are more difficult to handle so they are usually designed for accomplished players asking for customized scales.
« Mutant » handpans with bottom notes (on the lower part):
This kind of handpans is pretty recent. The advantage of these handpans is obviously that you won’t need to carry several instruments with you when you’re travelling. The musical range of these handpans is of course larger than a classic 8 or 9 notes instrument. They are more versatile and more complex to play, that is why they are designed for professionnal and experienced musicians.
However, these mutant handpans have a limit regarding the sound’s clearness and the notes definition. The frequencies can cross and resonate one with another in an unwilling way. It’s actually pretty rare to see a perfectly balanced mutant handpan. The bottom notes are not that easy to reach, specially when the handpan is on a stand.
Finally, these little « monsters » are more expensive than the regular handpans and cost between 2000 and 3500 euros.
These models are not recommended to beginners and are mainly customized and made-to-order.
Buying my handpan directly from a maker:
To be in touch with a maker means to take advantage of a personnal relationship with an expert. You will get many helpful information and advices that you probably wouldn’t have from a music store or a webshop. Like for any other musical instruments (cajon, guitar…) a direct connection with a maker should enlight you about his philosophy and the specificities of his handpans. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:
- For how long does this maker build handpans?
- Is he/she serious, professionnal, reassuring and motivating?
- Does he/she absolutely want to sell the instruments? (low-cost or discounted handpans are usually not good).
- What is the warranty? (shipping, maintenance, after sale service…)
- Does he/she offer a large choice of different tunings?
- Can I meet him/her and try some instruments at the workshop?
- What is the waiting period?
Other relevant information could be brought up depending on what you’re looking for.
Buying my handpan from a music store:
You can be a musician or an amateur and clearly visit a music store to purchase your handpan. It’s practical, there are many choices and, most of all, you can try out and compare the different models to better choose the one that fits your needs. Currently there are not many specialized music stores. Better check the closest store near you. The big figure of handpan makers modifies the organization of this new market and if some makers are dealing their instruments directly with end customers, while some of them take advantage of a professionnal resellers network. Metal Sounds’ makers and tuners are doing both : you can buy your Spacedrum online directly from our website or visit one of our partners around the world.
Be aware that the quality of the handpans offered in stores could vary from one brand to another, like for any other musical instruments. Trust your ear, the instrument must be finely tuned, well balanced, with a long sustain and don’t hesitate to be picky with the finishing. In any case, take your time and don’t forget that the scale you will finally choose must please you on the long run.
Make your own opinion about the best quality/price rate and be careful of the trap of the cheap instrument that would be perfect for a beginner. Also, be sure that the maker will offer a reliable after-sale service. If your handpan goes out of tune i twill be easier to get in touch directly with the maker rather than a music store.
Buying my handpan online from a non-specialized marketplace:
It’s a fact, nowadays a large part of online purchases are done from the major marketplaces, and they offer handpans !
- Prices: usually the majors like E-Bay, Amazon or Alibaba have cheaper prices than the smaller webstores, but that is not true for handpans so far. Therefore, if you find a handpan priced at less than 1300 euros you should really consider to be careful.
- Quality: It’s very important to know what is the handpan brand, where it has been made, according what kind of manufacturing process and by who. Don’t hesitate to ask the vendor and if he can’t answer then don’t go for it. Better rely on famous brands and make sure that you will be able to connect directly with the maker for after-sale service. For instance, buying a handpan made in Asia could be a problem when you will need to fix an issue on it.
To sum up:
Metal Sounds is the very first handpan maker in France, since 2006. You can buy directly from us or from one of our resellers (North America, Europe, Japan, Australia…). To buy a handpan online is now a safe and easy way to get a hig quality instrument, if you take our advices listed above into account.
Some makers might not be agree with that, considering that their « sound sculptures » deserve something better than an online sale. However, it sounds relevant to remind that PanArt, the Hang® maker, used to distribute their instruments for 5 years, throughout 15 countries via specialized music stores. The Hang® has been sold by competent vendors and the customers were mostly very happy with their purchase, the advices, the service and the quality of the instruments. Moreover, the prices were far lower than today.
In conclusion, you can purchase your handpan from a maker, from a specialized music store or from a major online marketplace, but always keep in mind that you have to get good information, take your time and try different models.
Enjoy your handpan!