Having gone through the process of looking for Hang Drums for sale, then Handpans and also Tongue drums, I thought it might be an idea to provide an up to date guide to what is going on for 2020.
If you are looking to buy a second-hand handpan, then please go straight to my second-hand handpan buying guide. [It is a great market right now!] This guide is geared toward buying a NEW handpan. The second-hand market is a different world altogether with a lot more things to consider and many more places to fall down and worthy of a separate guide. It will avoid any blurred lines.
Buying Your First Handpan
Buying a handpan for the first time can be a daunting task. I know, I have been there and it took me two years to firstly get the money together, and then the courage to part with it.
I should confess at this point that I have never owned a PANArt Hang™. The reason is two-fold.
- Once I had enough money to buy a second-hand handpan, I couldn’t wait to save further.
- When I was in a position to buy an original Hang™, I wanted something different anyway.
- I’m not keen on the sound. Call me a heathen!
In any case, this guide is about how to go about buying your first new handpan, whichever style or type that might be, what to look for and what to avoid.
Decide What Type of Handpan to Buy
You’ve entered the world of handpan and probably are now overawed with the choice. if not, strap in, you will be! This is the first port of call, What type of handpan to choose.
Types of Handpan
There are a couple of types of handpan to consider before you get into the brands and makers. You have the original handpan, generally accepted to be based upon the original PANArt Hang™ and around since the early 2000s, and then the Tongue Drum, or Tank Drum, which appeared around 2007.
It is with certainty that your primary focus when finding this guide was a search for a handpan. You’ve caught a busker in the street or found a video on YouTube or Facebook which has sparked your interest and now you are looking for more information or possibly to buy one.
Quick Note: Also known as a Hang drum the handpan term was first coined by Kyle Cox of Pantheon Steel fame. The term Hang™ was trademarked by PANArt to prevent other handpan creators from using the term and to actively discourage its use.
A Tongue drum, in most cases, is considerably cheaper to buy than a handpan.
A Tongue drum is similar in its makeup and feature of two halves to create the ‘UFO’ shape. The main difference is in how the notes are created. As opposed to the dimples used in handpans, the Tongue drum instead uses cuts [in a tongue shape] in the steel.
Whereas the handpan is almost exclusively played with the hands, indeed it is recommended, the Tongue Drum can be played by hand, or for more volume with mallets.
Where to Buy a Handpan?
This is something to carefully consider. Handpans remain a relatively rare commodity in retail bricks and mortar shops, and even fewer and farther between. As many if not more, are made to order rather than purchased off the shelf in the new handpan market. Buying online is possible, and popular, but you can not beat the experience of visiting a workshop and ordering directly from the maker. It is recommended, not only for the assurance but also the security. More on that later.
Where to buy a PANArt Hang™?
You’ll not be buying a brand new one that’s for sure. PANArt halted production of the PANArt Hang™ as far back as 2013. The second-hand market is the only place you will find one these days, and you will be looking at paying considerably more than the $400-$1300 price range they were originally available for. See my Second and Handpan Buyers guide for more details and examples.
They are, for many, the holy grail of handpans, being the original and only around 80 instruments being produced per year by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer. They are a rarity and priced as such. Prices reflect this and upward of $5,000 is a common asking price.
The question of the difference between hang drum and handpan is often asked. There is none as such and I explain why in this Hang Drum v Handpan article.
Where to Buy a Handpan?
I would recommend buying a new handpan in person, from a manufacturer after a visit to the shop or workshop to meet the team, see and feel the instruments and deciding on the scale and more.
You can buy online direct from the makers too. A visit to the website will often leave you with an order form or inquiry form rather than a list of handpans for sale. Many new handpans are made solely to order and it is not unusual for there to be a lengthy waiting list.
On occasion, there may be what is referred to as a flash sale. These are handpans made in excess of needs, canceled orders or handpans originally made by the manufacturer, bought back, retuned and offered for sale again.
It is in these cases you can often find a bargain and save anything from $500 upwards from a bespoke ordered handpan.
Where to Buy a Tongue Drum?
Tongue Drums are more readily available, produced in greater quantities and very available off the shelf. Meeting the maker and buying in person is great but not as essential as with handpans. You can also find a good range of handpans available on sites like Amazon.
I would hazard a guess that considerably more Tongue Drums are bought from online stores than in person or in music shops.
Just ensure you do your research on the manufacturer and buy a quality product. Whilst Tongue drums can be considerably cheaper than handpans, (the Rav Vast can be between $1,000-$2,000), it is still wise to consider if something looks too cheap to be true, it almost certainly is.
Should I Buy a Handpan Online?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying the best handpans online if you want a specific model and brand and are logistically not able to make a trip to the workshop. It with caution I advise you to proceed however and conduct due diligence in where you are buying from
Buying a Handpan Online from the Maker
Buying a handpan direct from a manufacturer online in the vast majority of cases should be perfectly safe. There will be a course of communication undertaken before an order is placed and any money is changed hands.
If you are ordering a bespoke handpan to your specification in terms of scale and number of notes, almost certainly a deposit, if not the full payment will be requested upfront. I would be reluctant to pay in full upfront, a deposit should suffice, but this is a deal you will have to make yourself.
Thousands of handpans have been safely purchased in this manner. It is important to know who the maker is. Get some feedback or read reviews from previous customers to find out if the maker is trustworthy.
I have recommended makers listed on site. I will not knowingly ever list a creator that can not be trusted but also check out handpan groups on facebook or the handpan.org forum [small joining fee] to read hundreds of reviews and customer thoughts and experiences.
Buying a Handpan on Amazon
Should I buy a handpan from Amazon? – Right now I would advise against buying a handpan on Amazon. They are few and far between and questionable in places. Conversely, I would say buying a Tongue Drum is perfectly OK as long as you stick to Guda Drums or Hapi. There is a Rav Vast listed at $1,400 at the time of writing.
There are some good Tongue Drums available on Amazon including the GUDA and HAPI brands. I would happily make a purchase of one of these using my Amazon account. They are much cheaper than handpans.
I don’t think Amazon is the right place to buy a handpan right now though. And anyway, Amazon sells a ton of other stuff, It’s not like they need the sale!
Handpan for Sale on eBay
Should I Buy a Handpan from eBay? – The answer to whether you should buy a handpan from eBay is 100% no. The risks are just too high, you’ve no idea what you are going to get, virtually no way of checking, and may not even receive it. Regardless of payment protection processes, it is just not worth the risk.
It’s a bit like asking if you should stick that pin in your eye! You know you shouldn’t, you know it’s going to hurt and you know you are going to regret it.
Handpan for Sale on Facebook
Should I buy a handpan from Facebook? – For the sake of your online safety as well as to protect your ultimate disappointment, you should not buy a new handpan from Facebook. At the time of writing, there are hundreds if not thousands of adverts flying around selling new handpans for as little as $150 with misleading videos and photos.
What Does a Handpan Cost to Buy?
PANArt Hang™ PricesHold tight. If you have done no research on how much a PANArt costs you are maybe about to be a little surprised. Originally selling for as low as $600, you would probably be looking at around ten times that value to get one today. Take a look at my second-hand buying guide for more details, as you can not buy a new Hang™ today
Handpan Price Range
Buying a new handpan is going to cost in the region of $1,000 to $4,000. Not so long ago, that bottom end price was $2,000 but things are changing slightly. The prices of new handpans are beginning to come down for a number of reasons.
- More manufacturers
- Strong second-hand market
- Cheaper [low quality] imports
I have written in the past that to but a new handpan at a quality level, $2,000 would be the threshold and if that was unaffordable either wait and save a bit more or go down the tongue drum route. That is no longer the case, but I would still tread carefully below that 2k mark and ensure you are buying from a reputable maker with great customer feedback.
Tongue Drum Price Range
A top-end tongue drum will cost between $1,000 -$2.000 but you can still buy a quality mini-tongue drum for as low as $100.
I have a tongue drum section that has a great deal more info on the types that are available. I do try to keep prices in a range rather than exact as this guide will be around for a long time and could get out of date. So in an attempt to not mislead, please take a look at the freshest tongue drum content in that section for the latest information.
Factor in the Cost of Shipping, Care and Retuning
Once you have bought your first handpan that will not be the end of the cost. Don’t panic, they are not expensive to maintain, but there are some other costs to consider.
How Much Does Handpan Shipping Cost?
If you are unable to collect your handpan in person then a shipping cost will be required to receive your instrument via a courier. Of course, this will entirely depend on where you are located in relation to where your handpan is made and shipped from.
Also, consider any importation tax that may occur. For example if you are living in Europe and have purchased from America, there will almost certainly be a tax applied to receive it. The tax will apply not only to the cost o the instrument itself, but also any case that is supplied, the shipping cost itself and the shipping insurance which you will surely want too.
Extra costs involved in shipping a handpan from another country
|Total Before Tax||$2700|
|Tax at 20%||$540|
Prices are examples only and Tax is based on an average of European figures, such as 20% VAT in the UK, or 21% IVA in Spain
Note how your $2,500 handpan has risen in cost to $3,240
How Much for a Handpan Case?
There are a number of handpan case producers on the market but right now the go-to producer is Hardcasr Technologie EVATAK range
You will be looking at around €123 for the back-pack rising to €150 for the Flykit which is great if you are taking your handpan on a flight with you.
A case is highly recommended at any time you are moving your handpan over distance. One slip or trip and your handpan lands badly and you will look at additional retuning costs far sooner than you might otherwise have.
How Much Does it Cost to Retune a Handpan?
The cost of retuning a handpan can depend on a number of factors. If it is simply a case of the original maker retuning a note or two, then consider $50-$100 per note. If the instrument is damaged and requires more extensive repair than costs will obviously be higher.
Consider also shipping costs to return to the workshop and receiving it back once retuned. Another reason to try to buy in person as locally as possible.
Other workshops may accept a retune job on a handpan they haven’t made, some may not.
How often will a handpan need retuning?
These timelines are for checking the tuning of your handpan to ensure it remains tuned to its very best.
- Annually – Frequent regular play or Less frequent firm playing style
- Bi-Annually – Less frequent regular play
- Immediately – If you’ve dropped the damn thing!
More often than most people will tell you. Anyone who says that a handpan, of even the highest quality, will not need retuning for years is mistaken. The change in the note may only be very small and very slow, but over time, it will happen and may not be noticeable as you become accustomed to the ever so slight change. It will also depend upon the care taken, storage conditions and how frequently it is played and how hard.
Handpan Care Costs
Something that will cost little but will keep your handpan in tip-top condition is essential. There are handpan oils available for as little as $15 which will last for months on end. A cloth to apply is a negligible cost
Things to Consider When Buying a Handpan
Cost and shipping, of course, is covered above but there is a swathe of other considerations to make when looking for a handpan for sale and before making that final commitment to purchase.
Which Handpan Maker?
Try, if possible to find out where your closest handpan maker is located and consider this as your first choice. Remember the additional costs that are incurred by shipping and in the case of retuning needs, those return visits.
Use this site, handpan.org or some facebook groups to read other players’ opinions, ask questions and really be certain before making your choice.
Start by making a list of the most local creators to your location within a reasonable distance you are willing to travel. Then search out more information from owners of those brands to assess their satisfaction levels
Custom Order or Off-the-Shelf?
There is something special about having your new handpan made specifically to your requirements. Many people dream of designing and building their own houses. Here you have the opportunity of deciding your scale and number of notes and making a bespoke order.
Expect to wait for 3, 6, even 12 months in some cases to receive your instrument, but the thrill of it arriving just as you designed it is something special.
There is nothing wrong with buying off the shelf, however. If you are fortunate enough, there may be just what you are looking for, made and ready to ship, reducing significantly the time it will take to get your hands on your new handpan.
Remember the warnings of buying cheap low-quality handpans, Amazon sales and worse still, being caught by sponsored facebook adverts offering new handpans for less than $500 – Just don’t!
Upfront Payments – In-Full or Deposit?
When making a custom order for a new handpan, it will be expected that a reasonable deposit will be required as you commission the craftsman to begin work on your new creation. Sometimes a full payment in advance may be requested.
I totally understand this process and wholeheartedly agree with the deposit payment system, however, I would be very reluctant to the point of saying no to make full payment up-front. You are unable to predict what may happen, and there have been some cases, (I shan’t name names, but you will find info on facebook groups and forums] of certain producers not delivering. I do not name as I do not know the full story behind these incidents, but regardless, there are some very disgruntled customers who have paid thousands upfront and a couple of years later are either still waiting on their new handpan, or have not received any refund.
Most reputable manufacturers will offer an after-sales service, whether that be retuning services or something else.
Have a chat with your potential supplier to see what after-sales service is on offer And be wary of any that offer nothing. At the very least you would want the opportunity of a chat if something were amiss your new instrument.
New Handpan Waiting Time
If you are making a bespoke order to buy a handpan, you have probably chosen a scale and a number of notes. I am sure you aware by now that this is not a matter of bashing about a bit of metal and having it ready in a few days.
Waiting times can be long, so be prepared. Some handpan makers have bigger teams of creators than others, some work alone. Some have extensive orders in the book, others are waiting for one.
Have this discussion on the expected waiting time for a new handpan with the workshop, and expect anything with the range fo 3-12 months.
The one thing I would advise is to not change your new handpan choice based on this. If you have chosen exactly what you want, and who you want it fro, don’t let the waiting time change your mind. The wait will be worth it, and when you get it, the feeling sweeter still.
Which New Handpan Scale?
Personal choice and one that requires a lot more consideration than I can provide to keep this guide from going on forever.
I have a basic guide to handpan scales on-site, which is growing all of the time.
It covers more than just which scale might be right for you including which is best to play with other instruments, the most popular scales, and some example videos.
Number of Notes on a New Handpan
The number of notes you require on your new handpan, may not be entirely in your hands. There are a few handpans out there with lots more than the standard, [if it really is standard] 7, 8, or no nine notes. I have seen an Alma with 22 notes squeezed on, which is no mean feat.
Extra notes will add cost to your new handpan, and in some cases, a manufacturer may not want or be able to add as many as you desire.
The more notes that are added, the more room for tuning problems and issues arise. For your first handpan, I would advise to not be too adventurous, stick to ten as a maximum, [all on top], and perhaps upgrade when you have some experience or feel you need to explore more.
Maintenance Routine After Buying a New Handpan
When you receive the new handpan you have bought you will want to take the best care of it. And it is important. So get into the habit of taking good care of your handpan right from the start and make it a ritual going forward.
If it gets wet, dry it.
Do not let it remain wet, and certainly never store it wet or in a damp place.
Keep it out of the sun
Never leave your handpan in direct sunlight, and to an extent avoid playing it in the sun too. The heat affects the tension and in turn, will affect the tone fields
Clean your handpan EVERY time you use it.
You are probably aware that your skin, and therefore your hands have natural oils, not to mention any other grime picked up during the day on them. When playing your handpan you will be depositing it upon the surface.
Keeping a cloth handy to give it a wipe each time you finish and store it away is an excellent routine. When you buy a handpan, you invest a lot of money. Why wouldn’t you want to keep it clean and healthy?
To Oil or Not To Oil? – That is the Question
There are arguments for and against oiling your new handpan as part of the maintenance routine and here is where I stand. I’d rather not!
If you keep your instrument clean with a regular wipe after each use, a dab of freshwater and a sift rub to get anything stuck off, and as long as you dry it thoroughly afterward, the use of oil to prevent rust is not essential.
I go into more maintenance and cleaning details in the dedicated handpan care article..
Things to Avoid When Buying a New Handpan.
By process of elimination having read all of the above, I know, it’s a bit lengthy, you should have a pretty good idea what to look for. Here are a few things you may already have figured out, that should be avoided.
- New Handpan for sale that is cheap – The reason they are cheap is that they are cheap. You’ll get a cheap product, made with cheap materials, producing a cheap sound.
- Facebook and eBay – There are handpans for sale on these channels but they are fraught with danger and should be avoided. There are many more places to find hang drums and handpans for sale, they will be more expensive, but more expensive for good reason. you know the rest!
- Only buy a Tongue Drum for sale from Amazon – Not a handpan – I am happy to recommend tongue drum purchases from Amazon but for handpans, I repeat the above, there are plenty of other places to find them.
- Only pay online with a method that offers protection – Credit cards and PayPal offer some purchaser protection. Never use bank transfers or Western union methods.
- Don’t be talked into a purchase by a salesperson – You should be fine here but if a hard sale starts, walk away. Buying a handpan is your choice and decision, not a salespersons. They should advise and answer questions, not push for the sale.
- Do not buy from a maker you can find no information about – This one is a bit obvious but in any case. You should check customer views and reviews from forums or facebook groups. If you can’t find mention, just ask. If the maker is known, someone will be able to let you know and expect several answers, not just one. They could be a shill.
Enjoy Your New Handpan
I hope this handpan buying guide has been of use and service to you. If so, please share on your social channels for anyone else who might be interested in making a handpan purchase might benefit.
Once you have bought a new handpan, connect and enjoy making amazing music.
There are some more articles on site that may interest you, so please do browse around from the menu at the top of the page or check out my recommended gear pages with items I have used, endorse and recommend. I do not have great lists of items, just top picks for the various categories.