Budget Handpans | Are they Worth it? Not Yet But…


Budget Handpans are on their way and they will be worth it. Once upon a time, a PANArt Hang would cost 600€, and never more than 1200€ and then, things went a little crazy for 20 years!

Are Budget handpans any good? – Not yet, but they inevitably will be. There has been a recent flood of mass-produced Budget handpans into the market. As yet they are not great, some unplayable, but there is an air of inevitability that they will get better over time and challenge the existing market.

EDIT: This article needs updating as I can now recommend a handpan for beginners that is attainable under $1000 is the US and an option for Europe too!

I’m going to look into what the future of handpans might be and the current best budget handpans that are available. I also have a video of what the current cheapest handpans sound like. Let’s go deeper!

Are Budget Handpans Any Good and Should I Buy One?

Right now the answer to that question remains no with the following caveat. If it is under $1,000 you should tread very carefully and certainly not consider any adverts on facebook or Instagram offering handpans for less than $500. You will soon be in possession of a very disappointing instrument that will never sound as good as those you have researched on YouTube and elsewhere in your quest to find one.

I have previously written an article explaining why you have to spend a minimum of $2,000 to get a good handpan. Well, even that has aged since the time I wrote it.

I will demostrate lower down in this article, where you can dip below that $2,000 mark, in considerable fashion and pick up a great budget handpan

There are several great handpans available below $2,000 now

Before highlighting the great budget handpans, and they are great, let’s consider how long it might be before mass-produced handpans become available at a reasonable quality

A Handpan is as Good as it Sounds to You.

But what if the benchmark of ‘good’ is lowered due to mass production and import?

A $500 Handpan – How does it sound to you?

Above is an example of a $500 handpan purchased online, as a bet, in fact.

I am hoping that you have come across this article far enough in your journey to have heard other handpans and how they should sound. We have a very skilled player and teacher in Deniz Kavafoglu playing here and there is an argument to say it doesn’t sound bad.

But Deniz himself has said that there are numerous tuning issues with this pan, even as new.

The danger is that the tone of this and other very cheap handpans will become the ‘accepted norm’. If flooding the market to an ear with little experience of how a quality constructed and tuned handpan should sound a change is the balance of instrument quality expectation will happen. Higher-end handpans will remain higher-end and be classed as top quality instruments when at the time of writing, [2019], they are the ‘norm’.

Below is another handpan video that has just appeared on YouTube. great video production with a handpan that can barely be called an instrument so bad is the sound. Please do listen for at least a few moments to understand just how badly out of tune it is. You’ll only be able to stand a minute anyway.

There is no doubt that someone could purchase a cheaper handpan and be very happy with the sound. They may get many hours of happiness of playing it and never have a concern or even awareness that it is poorer quality than those that have gone before it.

Budget Handpans are an Inevitability. Get Used to it. They are Coming!

Just has been seen in the electrical product market, cheaper mass-produced products do have, and will find, their place in the market.

Take the iPod for example. A high-quality product in the MP3 player range. So good in fact that iPod itself has become a proprietary eponym. A successful, high-quality brand that has become the normal word to refer to the general and in cases, a lower class of MP3 player, whether it is an Apple iPod or not. Think, ‘Hoover’ which is used for many vacuum cleaners, or ‘Escalator’ used for a moving staircase. Like iPod, these terms are actually brand names for the products, not the products themselves.

Lower quality, mass-produced, and importantly, cheaper options seep into the market and then arrive as a tidal wave. Welcomed by consumers looking for more affordable options for the products they want.

Handpan Awareness will Drive Production Up and Prices Down

Handpans have held a rare and privileged space for the first 20 years of their existence. Most people I speak to, if I mention handpan, still have no idea what I am referring too. But that is not going to be the case for long.

With the rise in popularity of Social Media and in particular YouTube, the awareness of the handpan, and the desire to own one is growing.

Facebook is awash with hundreds of sales pages for budget handpans being targetted at hundreds of thousands of people. They use, arguably illegally, videos of skilled players playing top-end PANArt Hangs and other major producer instruments in accompanying videos to demonstrate the sound. They attach photographs of other top brands to help the sale. And no doubt, hundreds upon hundreds of them are bought and shipped.

As the awareness of what a handpan is, and how it sounds reaches a wider consumer audience, so demand will grow.

How will Demand Affect the Price of Handpans?

Demand that outstrips supply will always drive the price of a product up. As we have seen since 2000, the handpan has been no exception.

But the demand will inevitably be recognized and someone will come along to feed that demand. And then another and another, at which point, demand begins to be satisfied, commercial competition is born and prices are driven down.

To meet that demand and to compete with other commercial producers, short cuts and cost-cutting will be employed to be able to produce greater quantities and at a lower price to the consumer.

How Will Budget Handpans Affect the Current Handpan Makers?

Very little is the answer. The demand for a better quality instrument will always remain. Waiting lists will always be in place for the best products. Those producers can not produce greater numbers, and the ongoing scarcity of the top brands will maintain their status and price point.

What are the best Budget Handpans?

Facts first – I have another article on-site, which suggests you need to spend more than $2000 to acquire a great sounding handpan. This is ‘generally’ the case, but there are exceptions to every rule. Here I present the best budget handpans, where you do not have to compromise on quality!

What are the best budget handpans? – The OHM Handpan at around $1200 is the best handpan for the money, whilst if you are looking to spend less still, you may want to consider a tongue drum. With handpans, ‘budget’, almost always means stay away, however, there are a couple of exceptions.

Here are some details on the OHM Handpan. For more information on great handpans, take a look at my recommended handpan page. Where I have three handpans I love!

OHM Handpans

Not to be confused with the Ohm pan made by Dave Beery of Daves Island Instruments, I discovered OHM Handpans while searching around as many makers as I could find in the US. Perched in Pennsylvania OHM is not a prolific producer, but a good one.

OHM Handpan Scales

  • D Minor (D)-A-C-D-E-F-G-A
  • E Minor (E)-C-D-E-F#-G-B-C-D
  • C Minor (C)-C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-C
  • F# Equinox (F#)-A-C#-D-E-F#-Ab-A-C
  • F# Minor (F#)-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#-B-C#

I first discovered OHM when undertaking research for a list of handpan makers in America. Of course, the price tag at the time of $1200 really caught my eye, especially when coupled with the amazing sound.

I got in touch with Phil and we chatted about why his pans were so reasonable in comparison with so many other producers. His reply…

I sell them at that price simply so people who really want one can afford them. Someday I may raise my prices but for now I’ll trade the extra money for making someone else happy.

Phil lavrone – OHM handpans

That reply left me relatively speechless and in even more need of an OHM. Shipping to my current location is not possible. I’ve got to make a trip to New Jersey next year, and given OHM are in Pennsylvania, we have chatted about catching up in Philly at some point. At which point, I can take the delivery of my new OHM handpan.

Budget Handpan Alternatives?

Until such time as a handpan for less than $1000 is discovered that is really worth its money it may be as well to look into other hand-played percussion instruments.

Tongue Drum

One close relative to the handpan is the Tongue Drum. Some do come in well over the $1000 mark like the Rav Vast, but there are much more available under that price.

Rav Vast is an alternative to handpans but does come in well over $1000

There are also any more options, particularly with size. A small handpan can cost as little at $60 and is also a good option if considering a handpan for kids.

GUDA Drum

I am pretty sweet on the GUDA. It has a lovely sound and the design is something brand new. They look incredible.

GUDA DRUM Freezbee Pandrum

GUDA Drum

The GUDA will arrive with you for a range of prices depending on the model, design, and tuning. Anything from $200-$600 will find you in possession of a terrific, great sounding instrument [Click here for the current price on Amazon] with no long term waiting list

It is a perfect stepping stone to a handpan. And ideal to get a feel for playing a hand drum both while learning and saving for the ‘real thing’.

SteveM

I enjoyed the unpitched appeal of percussion prior to discovering handpans in a 'moment' I was experiencing. I've been writing ever since.

Recent Posts