The beginner's guide to handpan. Where to buy a handpan (hang drum)?

Personal help to get started with the handpan. Trusted advice to buy a quality handpan you will love, handpans starting at $1,199 USD. Join the handpan movement. Click here to buy!

New to handpans? Start here.

What is a handpan? A handpan is a handcrafted musical instrument invented in the 21st century. It looks like an inside-out steel drum, a turtle shell, a wok or a UFO. Part art and part instrument, the handpan is often referred to as a "sound sculpture". Each handpan is completely unique, bearing the hammer marks of its artisanal making process. Peaceful and relaxing, the handpan is particularly well-suited for music therapy and meditation.

How does a handpan work? A handpan consists of two bowls of steel glued together and tuned into a diatonic musical scale. The top shell of the handpan has a center note (referred to as "ding" by the inventors) which can be either dented outward (it would be called "apex") or inward ("inpex"). The "tone fields" are the notes of the scale (we also call them "dimples"). They are located all around the center note and played up and down in a zig-zag pattern. The bottom shell of the handpan has a hole (called "Gu"). This opening activates a deep bass note. Learn how handpans are made.

Where does the handpan come from? The handpan is the world's newest musical instrument! It is the evolution of the Hang which was an instrument invented in 2000 in Switzerland by PANArt, a steel-drum manufacturer located in Bern, Switzerland. The term "handpan" came later in 2007.  It was coined by Kyle Cox of Pantheon Steel who was the second manufacturer of this instrument, after the Swiss originators. Learn about the origins of handpans.
 

What does a handpan sound like? Unlike the steel-drum which is played with mallets (often as part of a loud orchestra) the handpan is played by hand. As a result, it produces soft buttery sounds, almost like raindrops... The handpan is a powerful therapeutic tool to help reduce stress and improve overall mood. Playing a single note activates several overtones (typically, the octave and the fifth of the note). These overtones give handpans a magical and rich layered sound. Learn about handpan scales.

Who can play the handpan? Anyone! You don't need to be classically trained or to know music theory to play the handpan. Musicians and non-musicians alike can start creating their own music within minutes. The simplicity of handpans is remarkable. The handpan transcends genders, ages, cultures and languages. It is used by hobbyists, performers, music therapists, cancer patients, educators and students. You can play too! Learn about creative freedom.

Why are handpans so expensive? Handpans are tuned by hand (with the help of a hammer). Because they are carefully handcrafted, handpans are expensive musical instruments. The price of a handpan ranges between $1,000 to $3,500. Why is the handpan so expensive?

How to acquire a handpan? Because they are still largely unknown to the public, you probably won’t find handpans at your local music store. Only a handful of skilled makers can build these instruments properly. Remember, with handpans, it's all about the sound and looks can be deceiving. What makes a good handpan?

 

I'm proud to partner with reputable handpan makers and to offer handpans for sale, right here on this website. Click here to view the handpans available now, starting at $1,199. Let me help you find the perfect scale for you (uplifting, melancholic & exotic)!

Why should you trust me? Read recent reviews.

Rated 5 out of 5 stars based on the opinion of 90 people

Thank you, Sylvain for guiding our hands to the instrument that in the end chose us. By watching your videos, listening to your tracks and reading about these instruments on your website we felt confident with our purchase. Fast and safe shipping too! We will definitely continue to read and learn from your website. Thank you. Ananda & Steve

I recently purchased an Isthmus C Golden Gate through Sylvain's website. The fact that he recommended the pan and had a great video demonstrating it helped to eliminate any anxiety that I might have had by not trying it personally. Great communication before, during and after the purchase. Thanks, Sylvain for helping me find the right pan. Johnnie

Sylvain Paslier was there every step of the way even after my handpan arrived to make sure everything was just right and that I was happy and felt secure in my purchase. I am a beginner so it is important to me to have guidance and help. Thanks so much! Donna

My purchase with Sylvain Paslier went extremely well. Price was right, quality instrument, very safe packaging and Sylvain answered my every question by email in very short delays! I recommend to anyone looking forward to buying a Handpan for a reasonable price. Philippe

Sylvain is the man. Fantastic customer service and immediate responsiveness.. the handpan is absolutely beautiful. Zach

Easy, friendly experience ordering. Expertly and thoroughly packed for shipping. Arrived in great condition. Helpful in answering question. I highly recommend. Keith

Thank you Sylvain for your great customer service and quick shipping! Gaby

What an incredible experience!! Not only do I now have this wonderful delightful Handpan with a soulful melodic sound, but I had the amazing experience of working with Sylvain. I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone looking to obtain a Handpan. Putting aside the high quality instrument I received, from the very get go, Syvain was a pleasure to work with. He was kind, and patient, and willing to answer ANY questions I had (and believe me, I had many). He was right there with me - and for me - during the entire process, checking in regularly to update me on the status every step of the way and continually offering support and asking if I'd come up with any other questions. A true Handpan facilitator par excellence!!! And I do believe, a new friend as well!!! Thank you SOOOO much Sylvain, for everything!!! Debbie

Bought a hand pan from Sylvain. the deal was really smooth and the hand pan shows me ways to wonderland. even though I live in Sweden the hand pan arrived quickly. I recommend Sylvain 100% Dag

I bought a hand pan for my husband’s 30th birthday and Sylvain made the process super easy! He checked in regularly via email and text and was able to expedite shipping so that it arrived in plenty of time. My husband was super thrilled with his gift! It arrived in perfect condition thanks to secure packaging and a well-designed backpack style case which my husband affectionately refers to as his turtle shell. We love to sit outside and listen to him play. I’m very pleased with my purchase and would absolutely recommend Sylvain to anyone looking for a handpan! He even followed up offering support by phone in case we have any questions or need support which is invaluable considering this is such a rare instrument! Amy

Sylvain directed me in the best direction when purchasing my first handpan. He helped me pick out the best sound and really made me feel amazing about my decision. I am 100% so happy with what I got. And can't wait to buy another!! Brian

Sylvain was incredibly easy to contact and has great response time! I love that I could ask a question and get a speedy and knowledgeable answer. Love the advice and professionalism! Ordering my handpan was also painless and he kept me very updated through the entire process! Connor

I normally don’t buy things online because I’m always worried I’m getting scammed or duped, but this could not be further from the true with Sylvain Paslier! He was always just an email away from the start of my handpan buying journey to the end and beyond, he always respond promptly and with reassurance. He had an answer for all my questions. I got my handpan within a week of making the purchase, and it was packaged perfectly for shipping. I look forward to learning and playing this new handpan and he reassured me that if I had anymore questions he would be around to Answer and help me on my handpan journey. Thanks again Sylvain. Pat

I just purchased an E major handpan from Sylvain. Everything was professional and secure. It arrived timely and Sylvain followed up with an e-mail to be sure it arrived without issue. The handpan is a work of art and sounds so beautiful even though I really don’t know how to play it yet. If you’re thinking of purchasing a handpan, I highly recommend Sylvain. Annie

Can’t say enough positive things about Sylvain and his helpfulness with my first handpan purchase. He was extremely responsive, happy to answer any questions, and was a pleasure to do business with. Handpan came quickly, was packaged very well, and looks and sounds beautiful. Very pleased and thankful. Chris

Ready for more? Explore by topic on the Blog.

 
(or scroll down for the list of all handpan makers)

What Makes a Good Handpan?

Which Handpan Scale to Choose?

Handpan Price: Why is the Handpan So Expensive?

The Origins of Handpans: The PANArt Hang

6 Handpans You Should Know

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More handpans questions? Read the FAQs.

Where can I buy a handpan?

 

The main ways to buy a handpan are: either signing up on a maker's wait list, purchasing a handpan through a flash sale or buying an instrument on-site at a handpan event. For more info, read my blog post on the topic: Are You Ready to Buy A Handpan?

I'm also proud to partner with reputable handpan makers to offer handpans for sale on this website. Click here to view the instruments available right now.

Where to buy a handpan in North America?

Did you know the word "handpan" was coined in the US? My friend Kyle Cox of Pantheon Steel first came up with the term as an alternative to the trademarked name "Hang". There are now almost as many handpan makers in North America as there are in Europe. Click here to search handpan makers by country or sate

North American handpan makers include: Arcana, Atlas, Aura, Axiom, Dave's Island Instruments, Dome Pans, Dragon Drum, Hamsa, HAPI Drum, Harper's Handpan, Isthmus, Makai, Nirvana Handpan, Nebula Handpan, Nogero Handpan, Panacea Sonora (Boreal), Pansnap, Pantheon Steel (Halo), Saraz, Sierra Sound Sculpture, Solos Handpan, Spirit, Symphonic Steel (Iskra), Terratonz, Tzevaot, Vimana Handpans, Zen Handpans

Where to buy a handpan in Europe?

Did you know handpans were invented in Europe? In Switzerland to be exact. PANArt created the Hang in 2000. The Hang (drum) was the only handpan on the market for nearly 10 years—even before the word "handpan" was coined.

 

If you live in Europe, you have plenty of options when it comes to handpans! Click here to search European handpan makers below by country or sate.

European handpan makers include: Aciel, Alma Handpans, Angel Handpans (Pans), Apsara + Akasa (Samadhi), Arra Handpan, Arran, Asaya, Ayasa, BackEye Pan, BalkanPan Handpan, Baopan, Battiloro Handpan, Baur & Brown, BellArt, Blesspan, Caisapan, db Handpan, Deepan Handpans, Disco Armonico (MDR), Djangar Pans, Djillhi Instruments, Echo Sound Sculpture (AsaChan), Ederod, EON Handpan, Esapan, Gadung, Gio's Handpan, Godan Handpan, Haddock Instruments, Harmonic Sculpture, Heliton Handpan, Hudeel, Infinity Handpan, Instruments de l'EIF, Jan's Pannen, Karumi Steel, Kauaine Sound Sculpture, Koan, Leaf Sound Sculpture, Luna, Mag Instruments, Manik, Mayura, Meraki, Mercury, Meridian, Meu Instruments, MeyerPan Tam, Mishte Instruments, Myst, Namipan, Nature Pan, Noblet, Node Tone Sphere, Odysee, Omana Handpan, Opsilon, Orbipan, Oroborus, Oval, Owl-Pan, Oxymora Instruments, PanAmour Sound Sculpture, PANArt (Hang), Pan Chameleon, Panda Sculpture Sound, Pandakini, Panormus, PanStream, Peter Pan Handpans, Playpan, Q-Pan, Qi-Pan, RagaPan, Samsara Sound Sculpture, Sew Handpan, Shaktipan, Shellopan, Singing Steel, Soma Sound Sculpture, Soul Pan, Soulshine Sounds, Metal Sounds (Spacedrum), Steeltone, Sunpan, Tala Handpans, Taopan, Terre Handpan, TIFLIS Handpan, Vibe Handpan, Uni Instruments, Vibrelibre, Vision Instruments, Xavi Handpans, Zambelli Handpan, Zephyr Handpans

Where to buy a handpan outside of Europe and North America?

While most handpan makers are located in Europe and North America, the art-form is now reaching most of the world. Click here to search handpan makers below by country or sate.

Handpan makers outside of Europe and North America include: Balisteel Handpan, Bamboometal, Goonj Handpan, Harmonic Art, IO Handpan, Keyra Handpan, Kucpan Handpan, Live MetalArt, Lumen, Mana Steel Handpan, Muta Sound Sculptures, Namast_ handpan, OverTone Hand Pan, Pampeano Disco Sonoro, Pansula Handpan, Pantam Ortalpelleg, PI Handpan (Sonicpan), Rav Vast, Sattva Instruments, Satya Sound Sculptures, Shakapan Sound Sculpture, Sibiria Sound Sculptures, SND Handpan, SoHung Handpan, Sonobe, SPB, Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures, Tacta Handpans, Xuansound Handpan, Yishama Handpan

Where are the main handpan gatherings?

Attenting a handpan gathering can be a great experience as you explore the world of handpans. It's a way to meet other players and makers, and possibly to buy a handpan on-site. Click here to search the handpan gatherings by country

Handpan gatherings include: Barcelona Handpan Gathering, Été Nomade, Griasdi, Handpan Festival Berlin, Handpan Global Music, Handpan Music Festival, Handpan World Music Festival, Handpaname, Handpangea, Hang in Azores, HangOut Naxos, HangOut UK, HangOut USA, Italy Handpan Festival, Le RDV du Hang, Reminiscence, Panada, PANiaque, PanSiam, Pantam Festival Israel, Pantasia, RPgea, Steel Mountain, Woman's Handpan Gathering

What is the price of a handpan?

 

The price of quality handpan is between $1,000 and $3,000. That might seem expensive but that’s typically what you would pay for a good guitar and much less than what you'd spend on a piano. Handpans are sound sculptures, part art and part musical instrument. They take months to make, and if you buy from a passionate maker, you will be supporting a unique art-form.

How do I know if a handpan is of good quality?

 

​Trust your ears. If you like a particular instrument over an other, who's to say you're wrong? Personal preferences in sound, timbre, sustain are subjective, so follow your intuition.

Interact with makers. Read about their philosophy; are they just in it for the money or do they want to make the best possible handpan? Jeremy Harper is a good example of a passionate handpan maker. He does not count the hours and he will spend as much time as needed on an instrument. Even if that means a smaller profit margin sometimes.

 

It's a tough craftsmanship though. So, find dedicated makers and support their work! Handpan making is an art-form. But it's manual work. The hours hammering take a toll on your body. Some makers will try to cut corner and make low-quality handpans. Don't fall for them.

 

There are so many handpan makers that it can be overwhelming to choose. Start with these 6 Handpan Makers You Should Know. Do your research, be patient and you'll have a wonderful handpan for life.

Do I need to take handpan lessons?

 

Not necessarily. Handpans are very intuitive. They're in a single scale which means most notes sound good together. You can start playing without any prior musical experience or knowledge of music theory. That's what makes handpans unique from other instruments. 

But if you are looking for classes, you should check out MasterTheHandpan.com. It’s a powerful online learning system put together by my cousin David Charrier. He’s a really good handpan players in the world and he can help you push your skills to the next level. Classes are online so you can go at your own pace and learn on your own time.

How do I clean my handpan?

 

Wipe your handpan clean using rubbing alcohol on a cloth every 2 to 3 months. Handpans get dirty over time. Dust and oil from our hands get deposited on handpans and it affects the sound of the instrument. Specifically, it shortens the length of your handpan's sustain. So it's important to clean your handpan! Applying rubbing alcohol might discolor your handpan but don't worry! It's not permanent.

 

Then, coat your handpan with a lubricant (Froglube, Phoenix Oil or Sound Wax). Only use a little bit at a time. This will help prevent rust and make your handpan shiny again.

 

Let your handpan air dry for 24 hours and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth to remove the excess of lubricant.

 

Other cleaning tips:

 

  • Wipe your handpan with a microfiber cloth after every time you play.

  • If you see rust appear on your instrument, scrub the rusty spot using a Miracle Cloth. According to Felix Rohner (inventor of the Hang) you can also use the green side of a kitchen sponge. I've tried. It worked!

What are the best handpan stands?

 

My four favorite options are the Pantam Stand, Sounds Inspiring Stands, a generic snare stand, or a cheap tripod camping stool. These all work well to store or play handpans and you can fold them for easy storage or travel.

 

Two companies have made handpan stands specifically for handpans: Pantam Stand and Sounds Inspiring.

 

Pantam Stand is a metal frame that is adjustable for playing when sitting or standing. Pantam Stands look professional and are simple to use. These cost around $250.

 

Sounds Inspiring Stand is a beautiful wooden frame that also works well when playing handpans sitting or standing up. Check out the sitting, standing and sitting/standing adjustable models available. These range from $210 to $260 (180€ to 230 €).

 

A regular snare drum stands also work well for playing handpans while seated. These cost between $50 and $150 and you can buy them on Amazon or at Guitar Center.

 

The budget (and my preferred) option is a camping stool. Tripod camping stools are lightweight, and only cost $20 from Amazon or a camping store. I use the Oversized Quest Camping Stool because it's tall enough to sit comfortably and allows me to play multiple handpans at once. It's a great hack at a fraction of the price of other options.

How to transport my handpan when flying?

 

This depends on what type of handpan bag you have. I would recommend checking your handpan ONLY if you have a very strong, dependable bag such as those made by Hardcase Technologies or PanjiBags. If you only have a soft or thin handpan bag, do not check it when flying because your instrument will be destroyed.

 

How to check your handpan: I recommend purchasing a heavy duty bag before checking your handpan. Hardcase Technologies has a bag called Evatek Fly that has a hard outer shell that protects your handpan. This waterproof bag comes with straps to carry like a backpack. Evatek bags start at $179 (149 €). I have a Panji Bag, an eco-friendly hardcase. Although this bag is heavy, the ergonomic design makes is possible to carry like a backpack for extended periods of time. I have flown multiple times with this bag and I always have the peace of mind that my handpan is safe. Pangji Bags are pricy (but worth it) starting around $349.

 

How to carry on your handpan: First of all, it is easier to carry on a smaller handpan. I recommend the smallest/thinnest bag possible, such as a cymbal bag that you can find on Amazon. You can put the handpan in the overhead compartment. You can also put it under the seat if there is no separator and your neighbor doesn't mind. You may need to explain to the airport staff that your handpan is a fragile instrument and you cannot check it.

What is the correct terminology of handpan?

 

Here are several names you might come across when referring to this instrument: Hang, hang drum, handpan, handpan drum, pantam, cupola... To be clear, the Hang is the original instrument invented by PANArt in 2000. It means “hand” and “hill” in Swiss-German.

The name “hang drum” is still popular. It was adopted by early players to provide context around the instrument. Mentioning“hang drum” instead of only "Hang" gave people a frame of reference and helped them understand that the Hang was a percussive musical instrument. The Swiss inventors have however always disapproved of this term because the Hang is not played like a drum. Indeed, the instrument is melodic, fragile and subtle. PANArt claims that the name "hang drum" leads to damaged instruments, physical injury and mental and emotional turbulence. 

Handpan is now the most common term to qualify Hang-like instruments. It was coined by my friend Kyle Cox at Pantheon Steel. It’s English; composed of “hand” (unlike the steel drum, handpans are played by hand) and “pan” (referring to the steel drum). It emerged as an alternative to the trademarked name Hang.

Finally, you might stumble upon a variety of other names to refer to handpans: hangs, hand drum, hangpan, hang drum, handpan drum or metal drum. Some of these aren't technically correct but they typically refer to handpans nonetheless.

Tongue drums such as the Rav Vast, the HAPI Drum, the Zenko or the GUDA DRUM are not handpans but tongue drums instead. 

 

Play Simply. Simply Play.