Cart 0

The Advantages of Buying a Handpan From Traditional Steelpan Makers vs. A One-Dimensional Handpan Maker

hand pan handpan hang pan hangdrum karibpan steel drum blog steel pan steel pan blog steeldrum steeldrum blog steelpan steelpan blog

The handpan is essentially a steelpan that is played manually, without mallets. In addition, convex steelpans, a category of steelpan instruments to which the handpan truly belongs, were invented and experimented with in Trinidad & Tobago and surrounding islands long before the recent explosion of the so called ''handpan''. The very first original steelpans were convex in shape, and only later circa 1948 were they altered on a wide scale to the now standard concave shape that we all know. 

With that being said, the vast majority of handpan makers exclusively manufacture handpans, and have little to none of the knowledge required to successfully craft and tune a quality traditional steelpan instrument, i.e. tenor pan, double seconds, etc. 

Considering the fact that the handpan market is relatively new with its rebranded ''debut'' occuring a short time after the year 2000, it is unwise to think that a tuner who tunes handpans exclusively at the current time would have the required tuning experience required in order to properly tune an instrument. The reason being, that aforementioned tuner would lack the decades of éxperience that is usually required to hone a competent, qualified tuner. 

Many of the handpan outfits on the market today have only jumped on the handpan bandwagon due to pure greed, as they sell poorly tuned instruments for what is more than many individuals' monthly salary. In short, it appears that many handpan dealers are focused solely on the money they can generate via the instrument, while there is no actual love of the instrument present. So the products generated by them are essentially soul-less by default. 


When you purchase a handpan from traditional steelpan makers like KaribPAN, you can enjoy the fact that your instrument has been professionally and consumately tuned by a Caribbean tuner with nearly 40 years of experience tuning traditional steelpans. 

The reason why a steelpan tuner in general will more often than not be a superior tuner to one who tunes exclusively handpans is, a steelpan tuner will instinctively know how to tune a handpan, but the same cannot be said about a handpan ''tuner'' who attempts to tune a steelpan, i.e. tenor pan, double seconds, etc. 

More importantly, the steelpan tuner in general will more often than not fundamentally have a better understanding of how to properly manufacture a handpan, than a handpan tuner, who in most cases would not be able to manage to manufacture a decent tenor pan, for example. 

Handpans are also easier to tune than traditional steelpans for the simple fact that they have less notes! A tenor pan for instance can have 28-36 notes, while handpans have on average 8-9 notes. Essentially, for steelpan tuners, there is less of a learning curve when transitioning to handpan making/tuning, than there is for handpan makers/''tuners'' who would like to transition into making traditional steelpans. 




Older Post Newer Post

  • Van on


    I just asked you a straightforward question…I wasn’t trolling or implying the truth to be one way or the other, nor was I accusing you of anything in the least. I just wanted to hear your opinion and insight, and my request was met with a hateful response that boarderlines a tantrum. I can see that you are protective over something important to you, and I can respect that. I’m just confused as to why you would assume such things of me, a stranger, whom you know nothing about, aside from the one friendly question I’ve asked you. I honestly can’t tell if this is a joke or not.
    Take care,

  • Admin on

    Dear David,

    Thanks for your comments.

    You mention this idea of the steelpan ’’progressing’’ through the handpan, but if you have read any of our blog articles, how much of this ’’progress’’ is actually unique in its own right? Also, did you ever question yourself and think that perhaps what you may think is progress is actually spiritual decay via the steelpan as well a cultural misapproriation on a wide scale?

    Just some things you will hopefully ponder once you read through our blog. We have written extensively about this subject from day one. This article here you we are currently commenting on was on of our first articles we published. But since this article, as you can see, we have published over 40 revealing articles about the true nature of what you know as the handpan industry is really all about.

  • david on

    and respectfully dear brother I personally feel that although tradition must be kept and maintained properly, that without the folks that venture away from and outside of tradition we would lack innovation. And so much of our inspiration that comes from these innovative creations that push us musically and get our brains moving into these different realms that before we couldn’t even access. In no way am I saying one is better than the other but I firmly believe that we need both. That without modern innovation you cant have tradition, just the same as without darkness there is no light. we must have the duality for any of it to mean anything. I hope that you might see where I am coming from but again all of this is just my humble opinion, Much love and respect my brother

  • david on

    Dear admin,
    I appreciate you quick reply and I respect your opinion…I guess it really comes down to each individual musician having the right to his own preference in instruments and how he wants them to sound, whether it be traditional or modern :) anyhow, Much love for you and your convictions on keeping things within the traditional “ways”
    Be Blessed in Christ!

  • Admin on

    Dear David,

    Thank you for your comment. If I may ask, what do you think the benefit is of tuning a handpan so that it sounds like a bell? Why not just get actual bells in different tones and play those? Its a cheaper to do that than buy a handpan, and with the bells at least you get the authentic sound of the bell, if that’s what you want.

    Also, a handpan is basically a steelpan with a resonance chamber for all intents and purposes. There is no getting around this fact no matter how you try to slice it. From a distance you would not be able to tell which instrument is which unless you actually saw it being played. i have been fooled myself many times.

    Also, let us not pretend that the steelpan does not already sound good on its own merit. Let’s not try to act like the handpan is this special instrument with a special sound that is altogether different from the steelpan. That is what this whole blog is about anyways, and quite frankly, people who try to draw such wedges between the two instruments piss me off.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published