Got handpan fever but not quite ready to put up big bucks for your first handpan? Not to worry there are plenty of great alternatives that can get you started at a fraction of the price.
Here are my top 5 best handpan alternatives.
[This list is meant to be impartial and I do not receive any compensation for listing any of the following companies.]
While this list is in no particular order, I had to list the RAV as the number one spot because it is truly one of my favorite handpan alternatives. The RAV was created in Russia in 2014 by Andrey Remyannikov and belongs to the Steel Tongue Drum family of instruments. Like the handpan, RAVs are made in diatonic
scale sets with pitches arranged in a circular zigzag pattern. Unlike most steel tongue drums, the RAV is tuned with up to 5 harmonic overtones in each individual tongue. The resultant sound is ethereal, otherworldly, and different from the handpan in its own unique way.
Prices range from $730 - $830 before shipping.
Next up we have the GUDA, and no, not the cheese. The GUDA is a steel tongue drum made in Ukraine. The GUDA comes in a variety of different models some featuring tuned overtones or internal pickup amplification. The GUDA is immediately recognizable for its distinct and beautiful etching designs making each a unique work of art.
Prices range from $350 - $1,000 before shipping.
3. YW Pulsar
Next on our list is the YW Pulsar created by Maksim Yudin out of Poland. One thing I love about the Pulsar is how customizable it is. When ordering, you can create almost any custom scale, (up to 13 notes spanning E2 – E5) choose from 4 different finish colors, and even choose a specific layout or tuning frequency.
Prices range from $600 - $1,000 before shipping.
4. KAA Tone
The KAA Tone is a steel tongue drum made by Aleksandr Kasinskiy in Obninsk, Russia. The KAA Tone has tongues with tuned overtones like its competitors but with an interesting thick-like heaviness to the tongues that give it a unique and individual sound.
Prices are currently $470 before shipping.
5. Orion Drum / EOX
The Orion Drum / EOX is made in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and supported by world-renowned percussionist Nadishana. The Orion steel tongue drum features tongues with tuned overtones and options like finish, custom scales, and internal pickups all available.
Prices range from $550 - $750 before shipping.
If you are really looking to keep things cheap or are a music producer just looking to add some handpan flavor to your music, then check out Sonic Couture’s “Pan Drums” VST plugin. At only $129 you can create music with 4 sampled handpan instruments as well as a few steel tongue drums. The VST runs in Native Instruments free Kontakt Player and is compatible with any major DAW program. While this may not have the same excitement as a physical instrument, the virtual technology opens doors to things like chromatic playing, extended range, and sound mutations otherwise not possible on traditional instruments.
So there you have it, my top five favorite handpans alternatives. If you’re looking for a cheaper option to hold you over till you’re ready to make the purchase of your new handpan, any of the above would be good choices for you!