Handpan Maker Spotlight: Makai Instruments

For today's Handpan Maker Spotlight we'll be learning a bit about Makai Instruments of Hawaii.

Makai was founded by David Galleher, who is not only a talented handpan builder but also an incredible chef! David and I first met several years ago at one of the first American handpan gatherings, Hangout USA, and have been good friends ever since. I have excitedly watched David's journey first hand and am continuously impressed by his progress in developing Makai Instruments.

I got a chance to ask him a few questions this week and learn a bit more about the road to the Makai.

Company Name:

Makai Instruments - Makai means towards the ocean or Oceanside in the Hawaiian language. Being based in Hawaii and living and working 1/2 mile from the ocean cliffs it felt like an appropriate name.

Year Founded:



Puna Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii

How did you first discover the handpan?

I was making Udus in a ceramics class in 2009. I was searching for udu videos on YouTube and found a handpan video. It pretty much changed my life.

What made you decide to start building handpans?

Partly I needed a new occupation as I’d been a chef/caterer for years and was burning out. And of course, I loved the Handpan and the community for years before I started hammering. So I tossed the idea around for a while. In fact, I was going to start hammering earlier but I got scared the first time. The financial commitment and amount I needed to learn were daunting. I had a really inspiring conversation with another handpan builder at HangOut, USA in the summer of 2014 and that gave me the confidence to try.

What is your goal as a handpan builder?

My goal is to make inspiring Handpans. Instruments that give you more than you expect sonically. I try to build instruments that make you want to keep playing.

What would you say your instruments are known for?

Hard to say as I’ve made a lot of different sounding instruments over the years. I would say that the instruments I build are one of a kind. In an effort to always improve the sound I end up getting some variety in the timbre.

What's one interesting fact about you, your company, or your instruments?

I was the caterer for over 20 handpan events from 2011-2019. Also, my workshop is a 20-foot shipping container I bought off Craigslist and pulled out of the jungle.

Do you take custom orders?


Do you have instruments currently available to purchase?

Not typically

Do you have a waiting list? If so how long?

Yes. Currently 2 months

For more information about Makai Instruments:



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