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Handpans are an amazing instrument, and their popularity is constantly increasing around the world.
They’re easy to play, and the tones they make create a meditative atmosphere, which is what makes so many people love them.
While they’re some of the most limited expensive instruments available, getting a high-quality handpan is a great investment.
Here are some of the best handpan options available.
Sela Harmony Handpan – D Kurd – Best Overall
This handpan has nine tones that fall in the tuning of D. They form a diatonic minor scale, and that makes the pan sound very emotional when you tap around it. You can play some melancholic melodies, but also a few hopeful-sounding ones.
It’s made from stainless steel, and it has a brushed gold finish that looks unique compared to the black handpans that most people are accustomed to. The gold finish almost makes it look royal, which is a nice touch!
It’s corrosion-resistant, ensuring that it will stay durable in many different environments. Stainless steel handpans tend to be the most durable, long-lasting ones, so you can trust that this handpan will last you a lifetime.
The included heavy-duty bag is an excellent addition. The Sela brand tends to make some of the best carry bags around, and this one continues that trend.
While all handpans are very expensive, this one sits on the higher end of the price range. So, be ready for the cost it has. However, it’s not as expensive as the top-end handpans available, making it suitable as the best handpan in all areas.
Tuning: D Kurd
Included Notes: D, A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A
Weight: 10 lbs.
Meinl Sonic Energy Handpan – Raga Desya Todi – Premium Option
The Meinl Sonic Energy Handpan (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a premium handpan option. It features some of Meinl Sonic Energy’s finest craftsmanship, exhibiting all the best qualities that a handpan has to offer.
This handpan has a Raga Desya Todi tuning, which is an Indian tuning that gives it a vibrant Indian sound. It makes the Meinl Sonic Handpan sound incredibly appropriate for meditative settings. You’ll see many people using this handpan for yoga sessions.
The Meinl Sonic brand energy creates their instruments with relaxation and meditation in mind, so this handpan perfectly demonstrates the qualities that the original Hang drums were made for.
It’s made from German stainless steel, which is one of the largest reasons why it’s a premium handpan. German steel is a lot tougher than a lot of steel from other countries, making this handpan a lot more durable and structurally sound.
My favorite thing about it is all the grooves layered along the surface. They add an excellent artistic touch, and they give the pan a slightly worn appearance. That’s an attractive quality for such a high-profile instrument.
The bag that comes with the pan has synthetic fur lined all across the inside. It’s one of the higher-quality bags I’ve seen, giving you the assurance that the handpan will stay safe when not being used.
Tuning: Raga Desya Todi
Included Notes: D#, G, A#, C, D, D#, F, G
Weight: 13.42 lbs.
AS TEMAN Pure Golden Hang Drum – D Minor – Best Budget Option
The AS TEMAN Pure Golden Handpan (Amazon) is an excellent budget option. It costs a fraction of the price of most handpans on the market, and it offers similar design quality.
The trade-off from the lower cost is that the tones aren’t as rich or resonant. However, it’s a great option to start learning to play without putting down a lot of money to get a handpan.
The notes form a D Kurd Minor, which is a slightly similar range of tones that the first handpan on this list offered. You get that same melancholic atmosphere when tapping around the pan.
A big difference with this one is that it comes with mallets to play it. Handpans were originally designed to be played with your fingers, but mallets are an alternative playing option that some people would prefer. Just note that you get the most authentic experience from playing with your hands.
The handpan also comes with a stand to place it on so that you can play it when standing. It gives another alternative to traditional ways, as most people play handpans while sitting and resting them on their laps.
If you’re not planning on using the stand to play, you could use it to display the handpan proudly somewhere when you’re not playing it.
The value for money is incredible with this AS TEMAN handpan. You get a lot for what you’re paying. However, it sounds nowhere near as good as the full-priced, handcrafted options. I’d suggest getting this as a first handpan to try it out and then investing in a better one if you decide that you love it.
Tuning: D Kurd Minor
Included Notes: A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A
Weight: 17.26 lbs.
X8 Drums Vintage Stainless Steel Handpan – E Pakmoon
The vintage aesthetic is something that many musicians gravitate toward, and this handpan nails it in that aspect. I also love how, apart from the main silver finish, there are a few gold touches on the areas where you hit to play the tones.
This particular handpan has an E Pakmoon tuning. It’s not the most common tuning out there, but it’s an incredibly fun one to play.
It gives off relaxing beach vibes, having a bit of quirkiness to it. It reminds me a lot of steel drums, which is what the original handpans used as design inspiration.
The E Pakmoon tuning is quite easy to understand after playing around with it for a while, making this a simple handpan to get the hang of when it comes to melodies. While all handpans cater well to beginners, I’d say this one is even more applicable.
Most X8 Vintage handpans have a double-layered ding dome. They create them this way so that they hold their tuning for longer. It means that you can play this handpan for years and the same richness and accuracy of tone will be maintained.
Lastly, the handpan comes with a belt to fasten around it that will allow you to choose how much sustain it has. This inclusion is a big highlight of this X8 Drums Vintage Steel Handpan.
You can cut the resonance a bit if you want to keep volume levels down. You can also cut the resonance to play fast songs with intricate note patterns.
Tuning: E Pakmoon
Included Notes: E, A, B, E, F#, G#, A, B
Weight: 10 lbs.
Sela Harmony Handpan – D Sabye
The D Sabye tuning makes it sound quite lively and vibrant, which is a good contrast compared to all the mystical or exotic sounds of other handpans.
While other handpans are great for meditative purposes and solo playing, this is the kind of handpan that you’ll want to play when having a good time with friends.
You may even figure out how to play a few popular pop songs with the chords that are available, and they won’t sound gloomy as they would with other handpans.
It’s made from D4 steel, which is a strong steel that gives the handpan plenty of durability. The steel has also been nitrided on the surface, enhancing its durability even further.
I love the dark grey color of this handpan. It gives a strong and impactful appearance, which is supported by the bright tones that it produces.
As with all Sela Percussion handpans, this one comes with a strong nylon carry bag.
If you already have one or two handpans with minor tunings, this would be my recommendation for your next purchase. The D Sabye tuning is a lot of fun to play with.
Tuning: D Sabye
Included Notes: D, G, A, B, C#, D, E, F#, A
Weight: 10.14 lbs.
Sela Melody Handpan – D Amara
The Sela Melody Handpan D Amara (compare prices on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a slightly more affordable handpan option. It’s still relatively expensive in the context of musical instruments, but it has a more attractive price point compared to most high-end handpans.
This handpan is tuned to a D Amara scale, which is another name for the Celtic Minor. It’s a scale often used in Scottish and Irish music, giving off a fairly suspenseful mood.
The great thing about this handpan is that you can play interesting chords that sound almost pop-like. It has a fun musical layer to it, but you can still easily use it for meditative settings.
The D Amara scale is an excellent one for beginners, as you can figure out a few chords to play on the handpan very quickly and easily. If you’ve never played a handpan before, you’ll feel very accomplished when starting with this one.
You can turn it around in your lap to get different starting points, and it will still sound amazing no matter where you start your rhythms.
This handpan is made from nitrided steel. It’s highly corrosion-resistant, and the sound is very balanced compared to the stainless steel handpans from Sela with more resonance.
Tuning: D Amara
Included Notes: D/A, C, D, E, F, G, A, C
Weight: 10.14 lbs.
Pearl Awakening Series Euphonic Handpan – F Minor
This handpan is tuned to F Minor, which gives it a very moody overall feeling in its sound. There are more flat notes on this handpan, giving it a more melancholic sound than most of the other options on this list.
You can play a few emotional chords with the notes provided, making it an amazing handpan for telling musical stories. It also makes it an amazing performance handpan. While you can still use it for meditative purposes, the notes lend the best to playing songs that people may recognize or be moved by.
With a weight of 14 pounds, it’s one of the heavier handpans on offer. It’s not a huge difference compared to most other handpans, but it may be noticeable if you’re used to carrying a handpan around with you.
It comes with a strong Pearl bag that has been PVC reinforced. So, the handpan may be a bit heavier, but the bag is a lot stronger than most other options.
Tuning: F Minor
Included Notes: F, C, Ab, Eb, Bb, C, F, Bb, Eb
Weight: 14 lbs.
X8 Drums Vintage Stainless Steel Handpan – G Oxalis
The notes on it form a G Oxalis scale, which has major chords with a unique major IV seventh added to the mix. The combination of those gives the handpan a distinct introspective atmosphere. It sounds fairly vibrant, but there’s a slight bit of mystery to it as well.
The stainless steel construction ensures that the notes are extremely resonant. These X8 Drum handpans are quite well-known for their resonance, and that comes through clearly here.
As with all X8 handpans, the vintage steel appearance is a huge selling point. The handpan looks and sounds amazing.
This handpan is 23”, which is an inch or two larger than most other options. That also contributes to the boosted sustain.
You can adjust the resonance with the included removable belt. In settings where you don’t want the notes to ring as long, you can simply attach the belt to the handpan to cut the tones short.
The backpack has a grey color, which I think is an interesting choice compared to the other black backpacks, and it may be a bonus selling point for certain people.
Tuning: G Oxalis
Included Notes: G/B, C, D, E, G, B, C, D
Weight: 10 lbs.
Meinl Sonic Energy Sensory Handpan – D Kurd
The Meinl Sonic Energy Sensory D Kurd Handpan (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an excellent 10-tone handpan option. It’s one of my favorite 10-tone handpans as the price tag is still relatively reasonable compared to other 10-tone options.
It has the popular D Kurd tuning that you can find on dozens of handpans, but the extra few notes are what make it stand out. The sounds it has can be best described as melancholic, hopeful, and inspiring.
It’s a perfect option for using in relaxing settings where people or reflecting and meditating. It’s one of those handpans that people may perceive as introspective, and playing it will make you think deeper within yourself. Hearing it will do the same.
Since it has ten tones, it may take a bit longer to get used to playing it compared to other handpans. However, you’ll be able to play many more ideas once you get the hang of it. You may also be able to play more recognizable songs, thanks to having more chord options.
The sturdy Meinl Sonic carry case is always a top inclusion with Meinl handpans, but this handpan also comes with Meinl gloves and a drawstring case to put small accessories in. The gloves are a nice touch, as you can use them to carry the handpan around without leaving marks.
You could also play the handpan with them, but it won’t feel as organic as playing it with your hands. The Meinl brand often includes gloves with their highest-profile instruments, showing you that this handpan makes that list.
Tuning: D Kurd
Included Notes: D, A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A, C
Weight: 10.32 lbs.
What To Look For In A Hang Drum
Price and Authenticity
Handpans are a fairly new instrument in the world, with the first ones being created by a company called PANArt. The original creators decided to stop making them once they became commercially popular, so there are a few other people and brands that handcraft them.
When looking to buy a handpan, make sure that you’re getting an authentic one. These instruments are incredibly expensive, and some people take shortcuts when making them but still sell them at the market price.
Always do a thorough listening test, and then check to see how the handpan was made. Also, look at user reviews online to give you a better idea of how authentic the handpan is.
The best handpans cost a few thousand dollars, whereas budget ones can cost less than that. When buying a budget handpan, you’re not going to get tones that are as rich. They also won’t keep their tuning for as long.
It’s a lot safer to buy an expensive handpan, as the sound and construction will always be better. However, I’d suggest only getting one from a trusted handpan brand with several references from people that have bought from them before.
All handpans are made from steel, but there are a few variations in the types of steel used. The options you’ll find will be stainless steel, raw steel, and nitrided steel.
Each steel has a different tonal quality that it gives the handpan, as well as a different texture that’ll affect how it feels to play it.
Stainless steel is the most durable option out of the three. They’re very corrosion-resistant, making them a fantastic option for people who worry about how long the instrument will last. In terms of sound, stainless steel handpans tend to have more resonance, and their tones are quite warm.
Handpans with nitrided steel are very dry, meaning they have much less sustain than stainless steel ones. They’re better for players who like to play quick patterns, as their tones respond a lot better.
Raw steel handpans fall in between those two, having a balance of sustain and dryness. They’re an excellent medium option for people wanting the best of both worlds. I’d say that they’re more versatile, but handpans aren’t instruments that are ever considered as versatile due to their limited tonal nature.
Number of Tones
Most handpans have between seven and ten tones. While it may seem like the best option to get as many tones as possible, handpans with fewer tones are a lot easier to play. So, I’d suggest beginners get a handpan with seven or eight notes instead of ten or more.
The number of tones also depends on which scale you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a particular sound, you’ll need to find out which scale makes that sound, and that will reveal the number of tones that you need.
Handpans with a higher number of tones are more expensive. This is because their production process is a bit more elaborate to fit those extra tones in. It’s also because they’re typically a bit bigger, requiring more materials to produce.
It’s important to note that you won’t find quality differences between handpans with fewer or more notes. It just comes down to your sound preferences.
Also, remember that you can discover new sound possibilities on a handpan by simply rotating it. If you only play it one way, your fingers will get used to playing the same structures. Rotating the handpan will start you on a different tonal path, opening more creative options.
Choosing a scale is the most important aspect of purchasing a handpan. The scale determines how it sounds, and handpans aren’t instruments that are able to play different scales. Each handpan is built with a particular scale to produce.
So, you have to make sure that you buy a handpan with a scale that you love the sound of. If you get one and find yourself wanting a different sound, you’ll need to buy an entirely new handpan.
The most passionate handpan players in the world have large collections of handpans, and their collection equates to tens of thousands of dollars.
However, their love for handpans mostly started with the first one they ever bought, so make sure to get a first one that has a favored tuning for the purpose you need it for.
All handpans have either major, minor, or world scales. Major and minor scales are the ones most of us are used to hearing, and the world scales are influenced by the musical cultures of different countries around the world.
The Pakmoon scale is a good example of a world scale, as it’s influenced by Indian music. Examples of major and minor scales would be Oxalis (Major) and Kurd (Minor).
You’ll find that natural minor scales are more commonly found in handpans as they give the mystical sounds that handpans are so well-known for.
Something important to note is that no scale makes a handpan more expensive than another. Most handpans fall into similar price brackets, but those are all based on the materials used to make them and not the sounds they make.
Whenever you buy a handpan, check to see what it comes with aside from the handpan itself. The most important addition should always be a carrying case.
Having a good carrying case is vital for protecting your handpan. These things are very expensive, so you should take every measure to preserve your handpan when you’re not playing it.
Some carrying cases are a lot higher quality than others, and the quality of the case often boosts the price of the handpan purchase.
All handpan companies sell carrying cases separately. If your handpan didn’t come with one, or if your old one broke, you can easily buy a new one. Thankfully, they’re quite affordable across the board.
Many budget handpans come with extras like mallets and a stand. Handpans weren’t designed to be played with mallets, but some brands give you the option. Weirdly enough, it’s always the cheap handpans that come with them.
A stand is another practical addition that you may find comes included with your handpan. Instead of playing it on your lap, you could place it on a stand to keep elevated and play it while standing up. Having a handpan on a stand could also be an epic addition to an area in your house.
The cheaper handpans tend to come with stands that are quite tall. You may be able to find stands that allow the handpan to rest at knee height. Those would be more appropriate for the traditional way of playing a handpan. If you have a snare drum stand lying around, you could use that too!
Buying A Handpan From A Local Craftsman
The best way to buy a handpan with guaranteed quality is to get it from a popular brand. However, many people in the handpan community strongly suggest looking into getting a personal handpan built for you by a local craftsman.
The process of getting a handpan made for you is almost as enlightening as playing the handpan itself. You get to be part of the musical journey. You’ll get direct input into how it’s made. You’ll also feel a lot more attached to it than you would with one that has been mass-produced.
If you’re interested in going down this road, you’ll need to find a handpan maker in the country you live in. The process will take many months, but you’ll get a handpan that caters to your exact requirements.
Handpan craftsmen love the instruments that they make. They’re very passionate about the craft, and they’ll always be willing to help you with things after you’ve had one made for you. This means that you often get lifetime customer service when getting a handpan made locally.
Just note that this may cost a lot more than buying a handpan that has already been made. So, there are pros and cons of this route that may sway your decision either way.
Best Handpan Brands
Do you want to make sure that you get a handpan from a trusted brand? Check these out.
Sela Percussion is a German company that is well-known for making amazing cajons and handpans. The brand has an impressive number of handpan options that cover all the steel types and scales.
X8 Drums is a fantastic percussion brand based in the US. Their strength is their large offering of stainless steel handpans.
Meinl Sonic Energy
Meinl Sonic Energy is another popular German brand. They specialize in making percussion instruments that are used for meditation, therapy, and relaxation.
They’re part of the larger Meinl brand range, which involves very popular cymbals and percussion. So, the company’s reach around the world is very far.
Pearl is one of the biggest and most popular drum companies in the world. They also make percussion instruments, and their Awakening handpans are amazing pieces of craftsmanship.
The brand uses their success to fund the creation of many high-profile handcrafted instruments, such as handpans.
Top Hang Drums [Handpan], Final Thoughts
Not much beats sitting and playing a handpan in a calm environment. They’re amazing instruments with such soothing tonal qualities.
They may be very expensive, but most handpan owners say that they’re well worth the price you pay for them.
If you’re looking for a good handpan, pick a reputable brand, do a few listening tests, and then get ready to go on a musical journey with your new instrument.