Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Today is the beginning of a new series here on the handpan 101 blog, "Handpan Maker Spotlight". Here we'll take a closer look at some of talented men and women behind the creation of these instruments we love!
To kick things off today we'll be learning a bit more about a very promising new handpan builder whom I have personally been excitedly following for a long time: Marshall Daniels of Daniels Made Handpans!
Marshall is a husband and father to three children from Boone, North Carolina who is not only a talented handpan builder but also a phenomenal musician and composer. (Check out his music here!) While you may not have heard of his instruments before they are definitely worth checking out as his latest creations are truly something special.
I got a chance to talk with Marshall last week and learn a bit more behind the story of Daniels Made Handpans.
Let's dive in.
Daniels Made Handpans
Boone, North Carolina
How did you first discover the handpan?
I first found the handpan browsing YouTube videos for unique musical instruments in 2007. I happened upon Dante Bucci's "Well Hang" video. Like so many, I immediately was captivated by the sound. I had just invested in a hammered dulcimer but knew that the handpan (a term yet to be coined) would definitely be a part of my future someday. I was eventually able to purchase my first one in 2011 and my second in 2014.
What made you decide to start building handpans?
I was lying awake in bed one night in 2014 wondering what my next creative pursuit should be. I thought that I would either learn to build handpans or hammered dulcimers (a stringed instrument that I had played since 2007). I eventually decided to invest in a few hammers and an old honey barrel to see if it really was possible to bring music out of steel. Within a year I was making playable steel pans in the traditional style of Trinidad & Tobago; my first prototypes. The following years led me to where I am today!
What is your goal as a handpan builder?
To craft player-friendly, professionally made instruments that achieve: stable tuning, strong volume, sympathetic resonance, and long sustain.
What would you say your instruments are known for?
I was a handpan player for close to 5 years before becoming a builder. I'm very serious about the descriptors that I listed in my building goals and am determined that any instrument that leaves my shop should exhibit the highest quality of which I am capable of. That is why for the first 4 years of my building journey, I would not sell any of my prototype instruments. I waited and continued to hone my tuning skill until I was confident that my creations were worthy of the investment that I myself had made twice before. Presently there is an ever-growing spectrum of instruments and makers available, and my desire is to positively contribute to this quickly expanding art form.
What's one interesting fact about you, your company, or your instruments?
I am not building handpans full time. This allows me to take a much more 'craftsman' oriented approach where I can involve the player by sending updates, pictures, and videos of their handpan during the building process. I encourage questions and ideas, often having one on one video chats with clients to make sure that they feel maximally comfortable with their scale choice. In total, I only plan to make between 10-15 handpans per year.
Do you take custom orders?
Do you have instruments currently available to purchase?
At this moment, yes.
Do you have a waiting list? If so how long?
My build time for a custom order is 2-4 months once an initial deposit is accepted. My production list will close if I get more than 5 orders and will reopen once it drops back below that number. Notifications on production list status changes will be sent to everyone who subscribes to my email list on my website.