4 Steps on How To Choose a Handpan For Myself? (or someone else)
Ever since you came across this beautiful instrument your immediate question was probably,
"Where can I get myself one of these!?"
Or perhaps for someone else? It's true, the handpan instrument was never made to be commercially accessible and actually began (and which still exists) as a cult. In later years however, other handpan makers (such as ourselves), have made it our priority to bring handpans to the hands of the public and make them available to whoever wants them. Finally, you're here.
Now that you know where you can purchase five or more different types of handpans from our site, it's important you know how to choose a handpan. By using the following few steps, you should be well on your way to picking a handpan which suits your needs to best of your situation:Sound - Not one person's hearing is better than yours when it comes to picking your first handpan. You may come from a musical background, or you might have only heard a few handpan videos; each handpan sounds different and is going to make a different impression on different people. Have a listen to the handpan videos and mark out the ones you feel sound good. You might judge a handpan's sound on its resonance (how much the notes sustain over time), its projection (its maximum volume), or scale (the tuning) but ultimately, the easiest method of saying, "That's the handpan I want!", is my listening to each video, closing your eyes and wondering whether, "Wow, this handpan really is majestic" or, "Hmm, I think I'll mark this as a maybe". That's number 1, what it sounds like to you.
4 Steps to choose a Handpan
- Handpan Price
- Handpan Sound
- Handpan Quality
- Advice for Choosing a Handpan
1. Price - Unless your budget is expendable, you ought to bear in mind that a handpan can be priced from anything between $800 to $2,000. Respectively speaking, this does not mean that there is a proper way of comparing a handpan and its quality (see quality) or the way it sounds to its price i.e. a handpan marked at $2,000 out there might be just as good as one which is going for $1,200! Be weary when weighing up handpans because of their pricing since a lot of handpan pricing is still biased. We recommend that you pick your budget first, but choose your handpan based on Sound and Quality.
2. Sound - Not one person's hearing is better than yours when it comes to picking your first handpan. You may come from a musical background, or you might have only heard a few handpan videos; each handpan sounds different and is going to make a different impression on different people. Have a listen to the handpan videos and mark out the ones you feel sound good. You might judge a handpan's sound on its resonance (how much the notes sustain over time), its projection (its maximum volume), or scale (the tuning) but ultimately, the easiest method of saying, "Thats the handpan I want!", is my listening to each video, closing your eyes and wondering whether, "Wow, this handpan really is majestic" or, "Hmm, I think I'll mark this as a maybe". That's number 1, what it sounds like to you.
3. Quality - The handpan communities talk about various categories of handpan quality. There are different names depending on who you ask but essentially you have i) Entry level ii) Intermediate and then iii) Top Shelf. Your Top Shelf handpans are those first few editions of Hang Drum invented (literally) by PANArt. The company stopped making these after 10 years or so of production and now they're considered almost collectibles. Then you have your Intermediate level handpans. Considering the handpan market is only a youthful 19 years old, handpan players have evolved to master the handpan so that they now have expectations of quality for e.g. over surface quality, resonance, number of notes, projection, scale, harmonics, and other factors. Entry level handpans are around and booming because that's where the majority of buyers are. These handpans are in many cases, just the minimum required for playing a handpan for e.g. they offer a scale, projection, resonance, a choice of handpan notes, and in some cases, a choice of different surface qualities, tunings, harmonics and accessories. In a lot of cases, Entry Level handpans simulate playing Intermediate level handpans, the same way Intermediate Level handpan makers continue to try to simulate the quality of the Top Shelf Level handpans. In these situations, a handpan can be seen as either lower or higher a quality than what they are advertised for. A recent study shows that while low quality handpan manufacturers have been pumping out sub-entry-level handpans, original makers of higher quality handpans have also reduced their handpan prices subsequently filtering the marketplace with what now appear to be underpriced entry-level and intermediate-level handpans (good for the buyer, bad for the old manufacturers!). Entry-level handpans are perfect for getting started on the handpan, especially when budget is a deciding factor, but always depend on the Sound to make the final decision on the handpan you imagine yourself playing.
4. Advice - There's a lot of talk about what's a good handpan and what a bad one is, a lot of which comes from existing manufacturers themselves. You'll never hear an owner of 2 or more handpans from different manufacturers express the same opinions as the makers do. Unfortunately, the handpan community is largely comprised of handpan fascists which suppress the entry-level views of complete beginners, at least this was the case five years ago. Now, the number of handpan owners and players outweighs the influence of the original cult and you get a lot more of a shared opinion on online social groups. Watch out though, one company which tells you another's handpan is of low quality or dysfunctional might have a different incentive than to actually lead you into making the best use of the above factors when deciding to choose your handpan.
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However, there are some basic entry-level techniques which can really help accelerate the learning curve for development.