The pre-owned, second-hand handpan market is a great place to be right now. Maybe not for owners or manufacturers but if you are looking to buy your first handpan, now is the time.
Where to buy a second-hand handpan? – When buying a second hand handpan the most likely place you will find one online. This is both the safest place to purchase a pre-owned handpan, but can also be the most dangerous. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid being disappointed with your purchase.
This guide is specifically if you are looking to buy a handpan or tongue drum in the second-hand market. If you are looking to buy a handpan from new, then please take a look at my full handpan buyers guide, which will walk you through what to look for and what to look out for!
I will go on to explain why there has never been a better time to buy, but also why it is a more risky market place today than it has been for the last 20 years.
Buying a Pre-Owned Handpan in Detail
For someone just discovering handpans and wanting to own their first instrument, there has never been a better time. There are more handpans on the second-hand market now than ever before.
Whilst in the last ten years or so there have been few quality makers and therefore few handpans available even new, second-hand instruments were few and far between. Add into the mix that because of the scarcity they retained value very well, and it was the case that most often you would be looking at paying the same price, or at least very close to it, as to what you would need to pay for a new one.
The difference was, you could find, choose and pick up a second-hand handpan very quickly and be in ownership much faster than if buying a new one. The trade-off of paying a similar price to new was simply getting your hands [quite literally] on one sooner.
That was, and still is to an extent, not a bad trade, as mostly handpan owners covet their instruments and look after them very well. This means even second hand in most cases, you were buying a nearly new handpan in pretty much the same condition as it was originally delivered new.
That particular situation has changed little. What has changed is that there many more makers now producing quality instruments, it is often faster to buy new and previous handpan owners are buying a second one, a different model, scale or note count and offloading their first instruments to go toward the cost of the new.
In addition, with more new handpan creators pushing more instruments into the market, it is becoming more competitive, they are more available than ever, and new prices are coming down. And so the second-hand market is getting the knock-on
The final word in this section is the influx of cheaply produced poor quality instruments arriving from the east. I go into more detail into what to be aware of with these cheap handpans, in a separate article on what to be aware of when looking at budget handpans.
I will also cover below, the dangers of buying second hand, what to look out for and how to avoid huge disappointment. For now, let’s keep things bright and look at the advantages and benefits of entering the handpan world with a pre-owned handpan.
What are the Advantages of Buying a Second-hand Handpan in 2020?
There is no feeling like buying something brand new. That no one has owned before you. It’s yours, you connect and have the exclusivity of being its only owner. There are hundreds of thousands of material things this can apply to.
We take for granted often the ability to buy things from new, but also we take for granted buying something pre-owned. Houses, Cars, Boats, Collectables and many others are things we wouldn’t think twice about buying after someone else has owned them.
You should feel no different about a handpan. Some of the advantages of considering a pre-owned instrument are..
As mentioned above prices of second-hand handpans were not a great deal lower than new versions for a long time. In 2020, that situation is changing and you can purchase a really good, top quality handpan, not at a fraction of the price of new, but certainly in the region of 60-80% of the original price. A situation that really is favoring the buyer.
How much cheaper are second-hand handpans? – Typically a saving of 25% can be made on the original price of an instrument when buying second hand. This should include a recent retune, but may not include shipping.
There are exceptions of course. the PANArt Hang™, for instance, needs little introduction, and prices for the original handpan instrument remain between 4-10x the original selling price. but we are talking a rare and classic model and that is widely accepted, even though they may not be the very best instruments available in this day and age.
The amount you will save will depend a great deal on the maker, model, and age. For most instruments, these days, whilst some flipping continues and second-hand prices remain the same as new for the more sought after models, you should be able to achieve a good saving and be in possession of your handpan quite quickly.
Here is a handy chart to give you an idea of just how much you could save.
The handpans listed in the chart below are examples currently on offer in the last week on the handpan Sale page on Facebook
The first is a big saving, but you can see from the remainder, that up to 25% saving is typical when buying a second-hand handpan
|Innersound D-Minor 9
|Aether C# Celtic Minor
|PanStream 2017 d-Minor
|Saraz C# Pygmy
|Rav Pan F Pygmy
|Ayasa Romanian Hijaz E
|PanAmor D Hijaz
This is the thing that is changing the landscape of second-hand handpan ownership. Greater availability, a wider range of options and the ability to get your hands on a hardpan far quicker than if making a new order from a creator.
This is the element that has kept prices higher over time, but a quick look at some of the second-hand handpan sales sites will show you that even second-hand instruments can be sat for a while looking for a new owner. This all works in your favor, so consider this a huge plus for you when looking to save a few dollars on buying your first handpan.
You still have to be a little wary when buying second hand, and scrolling down to page will take you to a checklist of things to look for when buying so as to remain as safe as possible.
But the sheer number of newly listed second-hand handpans coming onto the market is increasing weekly, giving you, the buyer, greater choice and bargaining power.
Decide what type of second-hand handpan you want. The table above displays just some of the maker’s instruments on the market. I advise doing as much research as you would when looking for a new one, listening and watching on YouTube to as many different brands, styles, and scales to get a rough idea and shortlist of what you are looking for.
This can still be a difficult task in making a final choice, so I would do the following before scouring the second-hand pages.
- Choose a scale or two you would be happy with
- Make a shortlist of makers handpans
- Use the pricing table above to help set your budget
I have a basic guide to choosing a handpan scale. It is not extensive but covers my favorite scales and some of the more popular ones you have probably heard in handpans videos to date. It may not help you in your final decision but it will get you started for sure.
Where to Look for a Second Hand Handpan?
OK, so this part IS important because there are places you should definitely NOT look to buy one. There are more places that you should exercise caution when looking, and then there is the best place to look, which still comes with the caveat of following a few golden rules to ensure you remain safe in making your purchase.
For the sake of keeping this in a fine mood and positive, I will start with the best place to find one, and work down, which can culminate in my BUYER BEWARE 2nd HAND HANDPAN CHECKLIST
Second-Hand Handpans on Facebook
OK, so weirdly, if there was anywhere I would not be looking to buy anything at all it would be facebook, new or old, but in the case of handpans, I feel the community is as good as it gets here and in particular the Swap and Sale 2nd hand Handpan facebook group will give you a great handle on the range of instruments available to buy.
Endorsement of the page itself is no guarantee of the quality of the handpans offered for sale, nor the accuracy and fairness in price, so as suggested above, please do your research and use this guide to help you avoid poor offers.
What I will say is at the time of writing, 16 individual new listings were added in the previous 7 days. Most of which are included in the pricing table higher up this page.
That’s a pretty good rate, so a little patience and a few weeks of looking should ensure you find what you are looking for, at least in terms of scale if not maker.
The other thing to consider of course is this is a worldwide group so the instrument you find that suits your shortlist may not be within touching distance. I would recommend for sure, being extremely vigilant if buying without physically being able to see or feel first. In fact, I would avoid doing so, with one exception…
That exception is if you find a listing that is endorsed by the actual creator who can vouch for both its authenticity and in some cases, its current state.
Below is a perfect example of an endorsement of the quality of a second-hand pan for sale by the original maker themselves. This handpan looks in pretty poor shape. An explanation is given that whilst there are some cosmetic issues, these are in no way affecting the sound quality of the pan, and the cosmetics are explained, along with treatment and remedy applied by the original maker who endorses it fully after handling it himself.
Pre-owned handpan for sale on eBay
eBay is great for a number of things, it can be shocking for others. I’m not about to claim that buying from eBay is the most dangerous thing you can do, in a way it is no different from selling a handpan on Facebook other than, on facebook, the community is strong, there is a great deal of knowledge, and if something looks dodgy, you can be sure, there will be an eagle-eyed enthusiast pointing it out.
This is not the case on eBay o you have to consider you are on your own in that respect.
That is not to say that a good second-hand handpan can not be found on the platform, Indeed there are many good instruments listed there, but the proliferation of poor quality instrument with little to no moderation in place is just a little too dangerous for me to consider as a place to be going to do this type of business.
If all else fails and you find exactly what you are looking for, I would advise one thing and one thing only. Do not buy unless you can physically go to the vendor, see, feel and touch the instrument.
Try to get some more information or endorsement of the quality of the instrument from the original maker, or express a wish to have it retuned by the original maker before making the purchase – That will sit as your safety net.
If it is good, the seller is genuine and a tune check is a viable option, there should be no disagreement in the request.
If this is something the seller is not prepared to consider, give it a wide berth, and look elsewhere.
In almost all cases, the buyer foots the bill for shipping. As expressed above, my preference for buying second hand it to be able to view the instrument, make my decision at that point, and therefore no shipping expense will be added to the cost of buying.
If you are buying and require shipping, you may want to consider some insurance in addition to the shipping cost. You will also preferably have ti shipped in a custom made case, or at the very least incredibly good and secure packaging, tracked couriering and as mentioned, insurance for the cost of your item.
Often you will find a second-hand handpan available for sale that has been recently been retuned by either the original creator or another reputable handpan maker. Certainly, this is something I would be looking for if I spotted an instrument I wanted to buy. It is not essential but goes some way to avoid disappointment on receipt, not to mention the additional cost of having your second-hand handpan retuned. Which could turn out to be expensive depending on the model and state it is in.
Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed with Second Hand Handpans
This section is not here as a warning that all second-hand sales are suspect on the internet. Indeed, the vast majority of handpans offered for sale second hand are genuine, without drama and will complete with no problems at all. But that is not to say there is someone out there who wants to take advantage of your current passion to get your hands on a handpan as soon as possible and at a bargain price.
So these tips will help you ensure you get a fair deal and avoid any scammer lurking out there.
Do at least some, if not, a LOT of research before looking to buy
I have mentioned this in the sections above, but to reiterate. Do a good amount of research before deciding to buy your first handpan on the second-hand market. That goes for whether you are a first-time buyer or are an existing owner looking to use the market to add another instrument.
If you are a first-time buyer it is essential to get to know your way around the major manufacturers, the scales you are interested in, and to get an idea of the current price points. The table further up this page will give you a good guide fo the current second-hand market pricing and the potential savings you can make against new products.
Buy a Second Hand Handpan made by a Respected Maker
OK, this is a bit tricky if you are just beginning your search for a handpan, as you may not know the good ones from the [let’s say] not so good ones, but it does emphasize the importance of doing at least some research before diving in.
Of course, you followed step one above and will now recognize some of the more common and better quality handpan makers around the world.
The advantage of looking for a respected maker’s second-hand kit is you can potentially have the maker take a look at it for you as part of the purchase process. They can even tell from photos and videos to a good extent what conditions the handpan is in. If possible, have the seller get the instrument retuned by the maker before so you can have a direct endorsement of its condition.
Ask Around the Handpan Community
The handpan community, especially on facebook is the most knowledgable and educated group you will find. If you have any questions or any doubts, just get to a group and ask your questions. They may not be able to give you any guarantees, but they will certainly give you an honest opinion and point you in the right direction.
If they tell you to stay away from something or warn you of something else, take heed. They have nothing to benefit from these warnings themselves. So if you have seen an offer that looks to good to be true, don’t want to believe it, ask the community and they repeat that it is not. Take heed. They know better for you and are looking out for your best interest and to maintain the safety of the buyer’s community too.
Don’t Buy Second-Hand Handpans on eBay
OK, I did say above that many honest transactions do take place on eBay for second-hand instruments, but in terms of this checklist to ensure you don’t get scammed, the advice is to avoid it.
Your safety is not guaranteed, you may never see or hear from the seller, let alone the item you have paid for and it is just not worth the risk with far better places to use.
Always Request a Video of the Handpan Being Played
This is absolutely essential. Buying on the evidence of a photo alone is leaving you open to all sorts of problems. Not least if it is in tune or not. That may end up being the least of your problems. It is not unknown for someone to steal a photograph of a beautiful looking handpan and make a sale on the basis of that, only for something entirely different to turn up on delivery.
If a video is included, ensure that every note is played and played fairly too. If you notice a note being omitted in the playing of the handpan, this could be a sign of a duff note or damage being avoided. Ideally, you will want the seller to be playing up and down each note on the scale several times.
Be Careful of ‘Hang Drum for Sale’ adverts
For one, ‘drum’ is an incorrect term and it is highly unlikely anyone who has any knowledge of the instrument would be selling a handpan as a hang drum.
This is a bit of a naughty tactic that has been used to tempt less knowledgeable buyers into thinking they are getting something special.
Little caveat: I have used ‘drum’ in places on this website in some articles. The reason for this is many ‘newbies’ still use this term when searching for handpans and if they find my articles, they are informed pretty quickly within the article that the term is incorrect and I set them on the right path in terminology.
Where Possible, Go and Meet The Seller to See The Handpan
I would say this entirely essential in 99% of buying cases. Obviously sometimes this is not possible given the geography of the sales of second-hand handpans, and personally I would have to let one go, even if it was what I really wanted. I would exercise some patience in the hope that one would come up for sale a bit closer to home so I could visit and get a hands-on experience before buying.
If a seller refuses the option to see the handpan before selling then this is a clear sign that is something is wrong. A genuine seller would have no issue if they were not concerned about the condition of the handpan and making the subsequent sale after inspection.
One other thing to consider is seeing if you can find someone with experience of handpans from the community to go with you. This can be a bit tricky and you may have further trust issues.
Take a tuning aid or app with you, so you can get some real hands-on and check the tuning of the instrument if you know how to use it.
Examine the instrument thoroughly, top and bottom for dents, scratches marks and more. Take a look inside as well, it should be clean inside the gu hole. many a handpan can be damaged from the inside as well the outer. Damage on the inside will not be as obvious.
In any case, I would also consider not going alone anyway. The chances are you are going to be in possession of a fair bit of cash if that is the sale condition, and you want to ensure your safety wherever you meet with money on you. I won’t go into the possibilities, but you can imagine them for yourself.
Ask Why It Is Being Sold
This may sound a bit daft, but if the information has not been offered already then, it is a reasonable question. Of course, it is simple for the seller to give any answer, so this question works the best face to face, so you can look them directly in the eye when they offer the reason. Your gut and instinct are good indicators as to whether the answer is genuine or not.
Any doubt, then walk away.
If the Second Hand Handpan Price seems to Cheap to be True – IT IS!
No one is about to give away their prized handpan possession. Don’t believe claims that the money is needed desperately. A good second-hand handpan will sell for the right price to the right person, and if the seller is in need of the money that desperately, they know what it is worth and what it will sell for.
Make sure you know the right price too and don’t be tempted into buying something that looks to good to be true, it almost always is.
Thanks for Reading and Good Luck
Thank you for taking the time to read through this guide to buying a second-hand handpan. I hope it has been of some help and can move you forward in search of your first handpan.
Please return to your research, and I hope you find the exact handpan you are looking for, in the scale you prefer and at a price within your budget. Once again, don’t be too impatient, the market is turning in your favor right now so the right handpan for you will come along pretty soon
Please Share This Guide
If you have found this guide helpful and think others would benefit from the information contained, then please feel free to give it a share on your social media channels or any facebook groups you are a part of. You will be doing them, and me a great favor – Thanks again – Steve.