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The question often arises “Where do I buy a handpan” or “Where can I buy a Hang”. Quality varies widely in the realm of the Handpan. Secondhand sales and sales over the internet are “buyer beware”. The high demand and low supply of the handpan has created high prices in secondhand markets like eBay. There are also scams all over the internet for these beautiful creations. So… where do you get one?
The first place to look for a Handpan is with a maker. All Handpans are hand built and there are makers around the world. Most makers have waiting lists of one to several years. The task of acquiring a Handpan can often require a lot of patience. Some recommended high quality Handpans include:
Pantheon Halo – USA
The Pantheon Halo is the centerpiece in both Journeys: Handpan Solo and Journeys. It is lovingly crafted by Kyle Cox, Jim Dusin, and the rest of the team at Pantheon Steel in Missouri, USA. The team at Pantheon has constantly pushed the evolution of the Handpan (a term coined by them for the genre of these instruments). Their instruments have changed drastically from the first generation to the current offerings in their 4th batch/generation. Along the way, their experimentation has produced innovations such as the “inpex”, “neutro” building process, and more. They have created many different sound models and their instruments are amongst my favorites.
Pantheon Steel has a long waiting list for their creations, but they utilize a unique lottery system to distribute their creations to the people on their lists. They have been a pioneer in distributing their instruments and utilize a system where people who can afford to pay more for an instrument and wish to do so subsidize those who cannot afford an instrument. This allows wider range of accessibility to many people.
Colin Foulke – USA
Colin only recently publicly announced his handpan creations to the world, after several years studying and honing his craft under some of the world’s greatest builders. It was no surprise to those who followed his journey in private that his instruments would instantly shoot to the top of the list of handpans in the world. These are some of the finest handpans one will find anywhere, and this is due to Colin’s undying passion for the instrument, community, and his unwavering dedication. Colin has already gained recognition for his playing with handpan players around the world. He has released albums as a solo project, a duet titled “The Dimples”, and several instructional DVD’s both solo and with David Kuckhermann. Colin’s playing can also be heard on the song “Dancing in the Mist” on the Journeys: Handpan Solo album.
ESS AsaChan – Switzerland
The AsaChan is one of the top creations available today created by Ezahn in Switzerland. The AsaChan is characterized by a double yellow ring around the central dome. Ezahn is an artisan, crafting these instruments in small numbers. Ezahn has raised the bar for the handpan world with many of his creations, including innovations like the “Double-Ru”, adding notes to the underside of the instrument to extend the range and scale, etc.
“SPB” – Russia
The SPB is made by an artisan named Victor Levinson, near St. Petersburg, Russia. Victor is an artisan and, like Ezahn, chooses to work with a private clients. The SPB is of supreme quality and considered on of the best of these types of creations available. Victor has also pushed the genre into new directions with innovations like the first “9 note” instrument, with 9 notes around the central dome. Victor uses the term Pantam to describe his instruments. Pantam is a term originally coined by the Hang-playing community in Israel. It has since become a name to describe creations with certain sound characteristics.
Ayasa – Netherlands
The Ayasa is made by Ralf van den Bor from the Netherlands. Wow! The first time I played one of Ralf’s pans, I was blown away. Ralf is a very talented builder and his instruments have a clean, minimalistic appearance and an amazing sound. He has produced one of the world’s finest pans. Currently, his waiting list is full. Keep in touch at the link above for updates.
PANart Hang / Gubal
The Hang was the creation that inspired it all. Unfortunately, the Hang is no longer being made. But, an exciting new creation has taken its place, the Gubal. There are only a few Gubal in the world at the moment, so experiences with it are scarce, but it is a beautiful and interesting creation, with a deep bass sound due to the enlarged bottom cavity and the hole to activate the bass resonance at the top of the instrument. Hang are often sold on eBay and within the community of Handpan players, but be careful! It’s best to play before you buy.
Saraz – USA
The Saraz is made near Asheville, NC, also known as Pan City USA! It is made by a team led by Marc Garnier. The Saraz is quickly gaining worldwide acceptance and it is easy to see why! Marc and his team have a great passion for the instrument and are constantly working to improve their creation.
Symphonic Steel – USA
The Symphonic Steel handpan is made by Sean Beever in California. Sean has developed his own unique creation using shells made by Pantheon Steel. These are high quality instruments and Sean is rapidly becoming one of the world’s top builders. Sean uses a lottery system to ensure all interested parties have an equal opportunity to receive one of his creations.
Aura Handpans – USA
The Aura family of instruments was founded by Jon Antzoulis from early experiments in 2011. Jon has progressed quite nicely and has added other talented members to the Aura team. Currently pans are being built and tuned by Jon and Rebecca Dancyger. Aura pans are not nitrided, but undergo a different sort of heat treatment. There is a waitlist at the website to purchase an instrument.
Isthmus Instruments – USA
Isthmus Instruments aren’t as well known as some of the other makers on the list, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pass them over! The team at Isthmus is making great strides in the artform. They’re handbuilt in Madison, Wisconsin. Jenny Robinson is the builder and tuner and has been working on building pans for the past four years. She has learned from some of the best makers and is definitely up-and-coming! She also works with Shlomo Calvo, her communications manager, and they are both a delight to work with. Being nearby to my Michigan home, I jumped at the opportunity to spend a bit of time with an Isthmus C Aeolian and really enjoyed it. They also hosted a Midwest Handpan gathering and have plans to host more in the future! There’s a video on their youtube channel that you can check out below.
Bellart BElls – Spain (no longer produced)
The BElls is a creation from Spain, made by Luis Eguiguren. The BElls has gone through many generations of instruments, from the original “V.1″ Bells to the current “BElls Premier”. The BElls includes many scales that are similar to the early Hang scales, as well as many new, exciting scales. The BElls is currently only available in the Protus tuning, which is the same tuning as an Integral Hang. They are available on a pickup-only basis and offerings are made through their website as well as their Facebook page.
The BElls Jibuk tuning can be heard on the, Final Day, from Journeys: Handpan Solo.
Dave’s Island Instruments
A well-established steel drum maker who also makes the Symphonette and GAIA Handpans. These are great instruments and available with a relatively short wait-period or in their shop in California, USA.
The Aciel handpan is created in France by Michael Colley and Jimmy James. The team at Aciel has furthur explored this art form with a lot of experimentation, with great results. These up-and-coming makers are definitely ones to follow. Their Facebook page often has “flash sales” where you can get an instrument without a waiting period. These are high-quality instruments from this team and have made it into some high-profile players, including David Kuckhermann (Youtube). Check them out!
Created in Israel by Nobuya Yamaguchi. Nobuya is making some wonderful strides with his art. He is a metal-sculptor turned musical, creating and performing on steel instruments since 2001.
COMING SOON: There are also some other great creations out there. I’ve had trouble keeping track of it all over the years! As these are newer creations, experience with them is few and far between. It is best to find out about these new creations for yourself and to research them on Handpan.org, the Facebook Handpan communities, and listening to Youtube videos. The community of makers of these instruments is growing every year. The best way to acquire a handpan in short time is to find a new, promising maker and get in early on their waiting list. This requires research and patience. You don’t want to shell out your money for something mediocre that you won’t be happy with. There are also a long list of makers who would be better off avoided for reasons such as quality issues, high price/quality ratio, ethical concerns, etc. So, again, make sure to do your research and feel free to ask questions!