How To Choose a Handpan (For Yourself or Someone Else)
How To Choose a Handpan (For Yourself or Someone Else)
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already thinking ❝I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those beautiful instruments! ❞ (Or give one to someone who will love it as much as we do).
First of all, if you’re considering purchasing a handpan with Novapans then we’d like to thank you for choosing a socially conscious business; the first handpans were never made for commercial use, and there is still something of a cult around their manufacture and sale.
Now that you’re here, it can be a bit daunting to actually choose which handpan is best for you;
❝How do I recreate that beautiful sound I heard in those videos on YouTube?❞
❝What scale/key/resonance do I want!?❞ (If these words make no sense, don’t worry; it’s all pretty simple, and we’ll explain below)
❝How much do I have to spend to get that level of quality?!?❞
With that in mind, we’ve provided (pan roll…!)
4 Steps to Choosing Your Handpan
Unfortunately money is, most often, a key consideration when buying any musical instrument (and a handpan isn’t the cheapest instrument you could choose); how much better are the more expensive handpans than the cheaper ones? How much should a player of my ability be expected to fork over?
If money is no object, then feel free to skip ahead to the next section on Sound.
If that’s not the case (and we get it!), no worries! We’ve got you covered:
Bear in mind that when you go out into the marketplace looking to buy a handpan, you might expect to see prices vary from $800 to $1,200 without any real and discernible difference in quality or sound. This is because, unfortunately, the market can be biased by vendors who withhold distribution to drive up prices for the same product.
Fortunately, there are reputable vendors out there (ourselves included!), and you can expect their pricings to generally follow these rules:
- the more notes on your handpan, the higher the price, because you get more notes to play with!
- The higher quality the material your handpan is made with, the higher the price, because the instrument is better protected from the risk of rusting.*
*(That said, we know that a handpan isn’t the kind of instrument people leave to gather dust in a corner; it’s so intuitive, and it’s so easy to create beautiful music from the moment it fits in your lap, that you’ll take good care of. Also, we’re more than happy to give you some Simple Tips to Care for your Handpan)
NB: If I can offer some personal advice; if you’re a beginner who just wants to make sweet/peaceful/[insert your own adjective here] music, the cheapest option is not going to mark you out as the worst or the least experienced player, so don’t worry that you might be skimping on quality by prioritising price. There’s a lot of elitism coming from more ❛established❜ handpan communities (something we’re actively trying to fight) which is seemingly solely designed to pressure you into paying more for your handpan. I’ve paid £350 for one guitar, and I’ve paid £20 for another, and I still can’t play a single song! But I can hold my own with my handpan, and that’s because, right from the get-go, handpans are intuitive and just feel right in your lap. (James, the writer of this blog post)
So pick your budget, then dive into why you decided to buy a handpan in the first place…
I said handpans are intuitive, and I meant it. Your intuition can come in at the earliest stage (choosing which one to buy) if you let it, so the best piece of advice we can give you is to listen and ask yourself: ❝What sounds (or feels) good to me?❞
No-one can answer that question better than you can. But if you want some technical tips, you could judge what’s best for you based on:
- Resonance (i.e. how long each note is sustained over time); do you want each note to reverberate for a long time, or to jump around like jazz?
- Projection (i.e. the volume): How loud do you want your handpan to be?
- Scale (i.e. the tuning): This oneʼs a little more difficult to describe, and is probably worth the best part of your attention. The scale your handpan is in will determine the range of notes that you can play on it. So, if you buy a handpan in D Minor Pentatonic scale, then you can play all the notes from D Minor to D with a particular sound. Alternatively, if you buy a handpan in D Minor Celtic scale, then you can play that same range of notes, but that handpan will have its own particular sound.
You can listen to all the different variations of handpans that Novapans offers on our YouTube and/or Instagram accounts to really get a feel for what will feel right for you. Really get into it; choose a particular video, click play and close your eyes, and if you find something in you saying Damn, that’s majestic!❞, ❝That’s so serene…❞, or “That’s just my vibe❞, then you may well have answered all your questions better than we ever could.
Of course, if you do have questions, then you’re more than welcome to Contact Us. We love music and, whether you’re an amateur or an aficionado, wed love to talk to you.
Why put advice in air quotes? Well, there’s a lot of talk on what makes a good handpan, or what makes one better than another, and unfortunately a lot of it comes from established manufacturers with a, quite frankly, fascist agenda. These companies and communities have long tried to suppress the opinions of beginner to intermediate players and smaller manufacturers (you know, the ones who do it for the love of music). Go out there and you’ll probably see a lot of infighting between these big players who flood the marketplace with the message that if you can’t pay top dollar (read: their prices) then you can’t play. The situation is, fortunately, getting better as vendors like Novapans have managed to get the message (and the handpans!) out.
Discover our handpans
More post about handpans
You just got your first handpan. Now what?
However, there are some basic entry-level techniques which can really help accelerate the learning curve for development.
4 Steps on How To Choose a Handpan For Myself? (or someone else)
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