The handpan is a mesmerizing combination of rhythm and melody. For percussionists, it’s a dream to create entire musical landscapes with our hands. Each handpan has its own scale, making it an instrument that is very easy to learn with little or no musical knowledge.
In this article, I’ll go over the best handpans for everyone from professionals to beginners, including videos so you can hear the majestic sound of each handpan in action. Your instrument is an extension of yourself and the tone and key you choose should resonate in your heart and bring you joy when you hear and play it.
What is the Best High-End Handpan?
#1 is SARAZ Handpan ($2500-$4000)
Saraz is a pioneer in handpans and was created by Mark Garner in 2011 in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Each Saraz handpan is a work of art, and many are owned by some of the world’s best players.
The Saraz handpan has a bright, vibrant sound and is known for stability and precision tuning—the company pride’s itself in designing an instrument for you that will last many lifetimes. Saraz also gives back to the music community, and environmental sustainability. Shipping: worldwide.
What are the Best Medium-Priced Handpans?
These pans are a great starter for pros and hobbyists that aren’t quite ready for the investment cost of a high-end hand pan yet. Pures carries a nice line of medium-priced percussion instruments. Their drums are good quality, with a beautiful look and sweet tone.
Datura Handpan Kurd Celtic Steel Drum — 22 inches. Pan available in D minor, both 440 Hz and 432 Hz with 9 notes or 12 notes comes in black, white, silver, or gold.
Datura Royal Pro Kurd Celtic — 22 inches. Available in D minor, both 440 Hz and 432 Hz with 9 or 10 notes, this drum comes in black, blue, silver, or gold.
Milky Way Galaxy — 22 inches. For an intermediate hand pan, this design is one of my favorites just because of the celestial, starry vibe. It comes in either 432 Hz or 440 Hz, has 10 notes. Handmade, 5 to 8 days to build.
(Each of these choices comes with a carrybag, drumstick, and stand.)
What are the Best Low-Mid-Priced Handpans?
LOMUTY’s handpan has an affordable price for beginner and advanced hobbyists, meditation settings, and family gatherings. 22 Inch hang drum in Minor D, Purple. Handmade, carbon steel, quenching production.
Low-priced Handpans (An Oxymoron)
Honestly, if you go lower than $500, you are really looking at tongue drums and maybe a few steel drums. I’ll cover these in another post. As the price drops, obviously, so does the quality.
So, as a toy for kids or just for fun these are okay, but if you have a discerning ear, hope to play in public or with other musicians (that would rightfully be annoyed with less-than-perfect tuning) you might want to just save until you can afford something higher-quality. A great instrument is an investment worth having and passing on to the next generation.
Handpan or Hang Drum—What’s the Difference?
Hang (“hong”) is actually the trademarked name of the PanArt brand, but most people think it’s the name of the instrument itself.
PanArt (in Switzerland) was the originator of the Panart Hang™, aka the Hang Drum, but since other great designers/creators build these drums now, the instrument is often called many different names—Pan Drum, Handpan, Hand Drum, Metal Drum, or Space Drum, in Israel and the Middle East they are called Pantams.
These beautiful, saucer-shaped drums create ethereal, healing, melodic sounds, great for recordings, live performances, sound baths, meditations, or just hanging out with family and friends.
Handpans (hang drums) may need to be retuned every couple of years, depending on how much and how hard it’s played. But, generally retuning by the manufacturer costs about $75 (as of 2022) plus shipping.
Whichever handpan you decide to go with, make sure to do your research and watch videos for sound quality before purchasing. This way, you’ll be sure to get an instrument that you’ll love to play for many years.
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