If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re new to the world of the handpan and probably feel a bit confused or overwhelmed. Do not worry. This article is all you need to get your questions answered, and answered quickly. Rather than scrolling through endless pages of text to find the answer you’ve been looking for, I’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about the handpan into one big cheatsheet—all with answers that are one sentence or less to save you time by getting straight to the point.
So, in the interest of brevity, let’s dive in.
How much do handpans cost?
The price of a handpan can vary depending on certain factors, but in general, you can expect to pay somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000 for a good-quality handpan.
Why are handpans so expensive?
1. Building a handpan is a complicated process that can take several years to master.
2. The initial cost to begin building handpans can be quite high.
3. Most handpans are built largely by hand, often by a single person, and the building process can be very labor-intensive.
Who makes the best handpans?
There isn’t really one correct answer here since everyone has different preferences for what they like, but here’s a quick list of some of my own personal favorite handpan builders:
*The above list is just a few of several of my favorite handpan makers at this moment in time. This list is meant to be impartial and I do not receive any compensation for listing any of the above companies.
What’s the difference between a hang drum and a handpan?
The hang drum (correctly called just “hang”) was the first of these style instruments to be built. (In Bern, Switzerland in the year 2000) The term handpan was created years later and is a general term used to describe any instruments of this kind.
Are all handpans the same?
Nope. Handpans can be tuned to a variety of different musical scales and some even have more, or less, notes than others, plus every handpan maker sounds a little bit different from the next.
Is the handpan hard to play?
Only as hard as you make it. Since the handpan only plays in one scale it can be a great instrument for beginners since you can make good sounding music right away.
Can you play the handpan with other musical instruments?
Totally! (Just make sure you’re all in the same key!)
Where can I meet other handpan players?
Go to a handpan gathering! (Here’s a big list!)
If you can’t make it to a handpan gathering here are some helpful online communities:
I’ve never played music before; is the handpan right for me?
Absolutely! The handpan is one of the most approachable musical instruments out there, so it’s great for people who are new to music.
Do I need to know how to read music to play the handpan?
No. (But it can help.)
Can you play cover songs on the handpan?
What handpan scale should I choose?
This is largely a matter of personal preference, so I suggest you watch a lot of videos to get a feel for what scales you like best. Here are a few of my recommendations for scales that would be good for a beginner:
I’m on a budget. What’s the best handpan for the price?
If your budget is anything less than $1,000, I would recommend you hold off from buying any handpan. Anything below that price point in all reality is probably just a waste of your money. At the very lowest end, I would recommend looking into the Iskra “Motif” series from Symphonic Steel. These handpans are right at the $1,000 mark and you’ll still end up with a solid first handpan.
Is it okay to buy a used handpan?
Where can I play a handpan before buying one?
Unfortunately, since there are so few handpan builders this can be tricky. If you live near a local builder, contact them to see if you can come to play some of their instruments. They will probably be happy to have you and you’ll end up learning a lot. If there are no handpan builders near where you live, try and make it to a handpan gathering. Gatherings are a great opportunity to meet several different handpan builders, play many kinds of handpans, and maybe even go home with a new instrument.
Do I need to take handpan lessons or sign up for an online handpan course?
Not at all, in fact, I believe that the handpan itself is the best teacher you could ever have. Of course, if you are feeling stuck and wanting to take your playing to the next level, there are some great online resources for learning some new tricks. You can even sign up for a FREE private Skype lesson with me!
Can I build my own handpan?
Absolutely! But I can promise you your first one will be just horrible. It can take years and several thousands of dollars to start building decent handpans, so the DIY route isn’t going to save you any money.
What are handpans made out of?
Steel. (The kind of steel can vary. Stainless steel, nitrided steel, raw steel, etc.)
Where’s the best place to buy a handpan?
Either contact a handpan builder directly or get in touch with a reputable distributor. If you are a newbie I would recommend avoiding websites like eBay and Amazon.
Do you have to have dreadlocks to play the handpan?
Okay, so maybe every answer wasn’t always just one sentence, but this gives you a quick summary of the basics. Search my blog archive for more in-depth info on all these topics and more.