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

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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. 




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  • david on

    Dear Admin, you are my Brother in Christ so I say all this in much love and respect to you. I understand that maybe the sound that you are going for is the traditional steal pan sound, and in that regard I can see why you have 100% satisfaction because they do sound traditional and very much like a steel pan should. But there are makers out there that are going for a much different sound and probably not trying to get the “traditional” sound, in fact their pans almost sound like bells of the purest quality….soooo I guess its just preference and when it comes to making and tuning an instrument of this kind everyone Is just on their own journey of progression right? but im really not sure why you are bashing other makers, or saying there is an agenda against karibpan? throwing “tradition” out the window because that is just an illusion, the other handpan makers are making beautiful sounding instruments that deeply move the inner man! and in no way should anyone be talking bad about them especially since I know for a fact from personal experience that the pans you speak so harshly of have been providing very healing and beneficial music for my grandma and the rest of my family who are Christians, Minister, and Pastors!….anywho we are all just humans and I love you all GodBless in Jesus mighty name!

  • Admin on

    A ’’tuner’’ with over 30 years experience, who comes to flame us on our own website with claims that our instruments are of low quality, but refuses to state his name for the record?

    Really, guy. Come on. If you really want to troll and pretend that are steelpans that we produce and offer for the market are not INDUSTRY STANDARD then be a good troll and jump off a bridge because trolls dwell below the bridges, not on top. You are obviously in the wrong place.

  • Steel Pan Tuner on

    I don’t owe you any explanations or names. That is irrelevant to the facts in my original comment. You really think you are God and can just demand and claim whatever you please. Childish stuff, Rudy. Grow up and work on your instruments, they aren’t anywhere close to high quality yet.

  • Admin on

    Dear Steelpan Tuner,

    Nearly 5 months after this article was first published, your feelings are so hurt that you are still commenting on it.

    Tell me your name and I’ll tell you your game!

  • Steel Pan Tuner on

    Hey there,

    As someone who tunes steel pans for a living, I must say that karibpan your handpans do not sound good. They are built and tunes very poorly. They clearly do not have the proper octave and fifth harmonics tuned and the timbre of the instruments is metallic and twangy.

    Before you dismiss my claims, remember you say this is unfiltered discussion for the truth to come out. I am a reputable tuner of steel pans offering my professional opinion after tuning for over 30 years.

    You really need to look in the mirror to see how you can grow before pointing the finger at everyone else.

    Do you claim to be God or something? Because you sure pass a lot of judgement on others and preach a lot of hatred. A true Christian would realize their position on this world is to love compassionately and let God do the judging.

    Your instruments need a lot of work to improve if you want to make claims that your instruments are better than other handpans.

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