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When It Comes To Handpans, EVERYONE is an Expert! (Part 1)

This is quite an in depth topic, so I will have to go in parts and before I get to the meat of the matter, I just need to set the stage. 

So let's imagine for a moment.....


Can you imagine if a Black Trini or other another Black Caribbean native went to Southern Germany or Switzerland, studied the manufacturing process of Lederhosen, and took an old, outdated pair of Lederhosen from the 1940's back to the Caribbean and marketed, reproduced them, and tweaked them here and there?

Can you subsequently imagine the outrage if this same fictional Black Caribbean native then began to seek patents on modified lederhosen and mass market them as a Caribbean invention for up to 10x MORE than the price of traditional Bavarian lederhosen!? 

The Bavarians would be in an uproar! 

This ficitonal scenario is somewhat analogous to the recent handpan phenomenon, while the real life scenairio where steelpan is being culturally misapropriated and exploited by Europeans is something that is willfully ignored and disregarded by many in the handpan community.

The only real difference in these two scenarios is that Europeans never had to endure the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonization under the domination of negroes!

Were the shoe on the other foot so to speak, and Europeans in the position of the negroes and vice versa, I would dare say that this fictional scenario of a Black Trini patenting a tweaked out pair of lederhosen and being able to charge 10x the amount of the original lederhosen on the world market would be permitted and the norm, quite frankly. 

Slavery and colonization of the negroes itself was a game changer in every way! One way it changed the game is it forced a beaten down, oppressed population of West Indian negroes in T&T to start being resourceful with discarded materials and invent the steelpan in order to escape the tyranny and misery of colonial oppression. 

It is safe to say that all things that negroes in the West create (steelpan, jazz, hip hop, reggae, etc) are open and subject to expoitation by Europeans, but anything exclusively European is generally closed for the most part to negroes.  

Look no further at the handpan community by and large, and this much is clear.

But for historical reasons due to the legacy of slavery and colonization, this ficitonal scenario of the Caribbean business man patenting a version of lederhosen and mass marketing them as a CAribbean invention would never be allowed to come to pass! 

On the contrary, in keeping with my assertion that things created by negroes are always open and subject to exploitation by Europeans, the steelpan is another perfectly fitting example! It is an open playing field for the Handpan Mafia and other  unscrupulous makers to exploit as they please obviously. 

Racism unfortunately, plays a role in every aspect of human activity and music is certainly not an exception. Just because racism does not affect Europeans in the negative way it does negroes on a daily, constant, never ending basis, they as the beneficiaries of ''white privilige'' reap the rewards of the suffering of negores to this very day and have historically as a group.

Therefore, there is a strong sense of entitlement present in huge swaths of the handpan community which is largely comprised of Europeans or those of European descent, a sense of entitlement that allows many of them like the trolls here to claim with impunity and a straight face that the handpan is a ''Swiss creation''.  Regardless of the fact I have proven that this is a bold faced lie in previous posts.


But I learned a long time ago that life is not fair, and I am reminded of this cold, hard fact everyday. This does not prevent KaribPAN from enaging in socially conscious, ethical practices when conducting the business of pan, however! 

Our integrity speaks for itself! 

Concerning handpans, a phenomenon that I witness among many self proclaimed handpan enthusiasts is the tendency for them to more often than not, put on a ''tuning expert'' hat when discussing various instruments from various makers. 

Keeping in line with the strong elitist attitude that is prevalent among many such self proclaimed handpan enthusiasts, these individuals naturally feel that they know best about all things handpan/handpan tuning. They operate from a completely subjective point of view while touting themselves as ''experts''. 

Considering the fact that the handpan in its modern reincarnation is less than 20 years old and there are still yet many more innovations to be made regarding the instrument as far as tuning techniques, shell crafting and geometry, etc,  it is unwise to think that a new, one dimensional handpan maker  who just began tuning within the past 15 years (the approximate age of the reincarnated handpan) has the edge over a steelpan tuner, who has been tuning pans PRIOR to to the modern reincarnation of the handpan. This is elitism at its worst and it is quite prevalent. Just read through the comments on the previous blog posts, NONE of which were made by traditional pannists, and my point will become clear if it is not already. 

In order to make my point even more clear, I will highlight some DISHONORABLE mentions from the comment boards in order to illustrate my point! 

First, we have ''Todd G.'', who provides opportunity after opportunity for me to dismantle piece by piece, the lies of many of the other handpan trolls whose sentiments he echoes. 


Todd G. states that:


  • ''First, the assumption of a “mafia” implies an organized structure that controls things. There are a number of makers, but in no way do they act cohesively (which is probably for the best)''


    Undoubtedly, there is an organized structure that controls things at the top of the handpan industry in terms of artificially inflating handpan prices. And then they maintain that they have ''thousands'' of clients on their waiting lists in order to maintain these artificially high prices over time . These ''waiting lists'' are strictly a tactic used by the Handpan Mafia to limit demand at the overly inflated, high end of the market. 

    Todd G. goes on to state that:


    ''In the end, those in the market, potential buyers, make decisions about which makers and instruments are the best. It is far more a case of “bottom up” decisions from players and buyers, rather than a “top down” imposition from the makers. ''


    Again, Todd G. is unabashedly displaying his ignorance because as I just explained, due to a limited hand pan supply, especially at the high end of the market, it is a MAKER'S market, not a buyers market, becuase when supply is limited, products are more expensive, handpans included! So again, Todd G. and many other commenters like him would like you to believe that everything they teach you about Econ 101 should be thrown out the window! 

    What reasonable person would take anything someone like Todd G. has to say seriously, I mean, who do these trolls really think they are fooling?

    There is virtually no industry I am aware of including the handpan industry where buyers determine the value of a product where demand is greater than supply! 


    Todd G. goes on to say,


    ''Second, pointing to a 100% satisfaction rating clearly ignores those who have chosen not to buy an instrument because they deem it of poor quality.''

    Here is another fallacious tactic that TROLLS like Todd G. use to discredit KaribPAN! 

    A 100% customer satisfaction guarantee from multiple customers is an OBJECTIVE standard by which to measure the quality of a maker such as KaribPAN or an other outfit for that matter!

    Instead of applying an objective standard, Todd G. would like reasonable readers to belive that a SUBJECTIVE, UNKNOWN standard of measure, such as the people who DO NOT (focused on the negative again) buy from us as the benchmark of a good maker! Pray tell, Todd G:, how do you quantify those customers who never bought from us or anyone else? 

    The answer is, you cannot quantify them because it is a SUBJECTIVE criterion by nature!


    I think I am done with Todd G. for right now because at this point, he has lost all credibility if he had any in the first place.

    Now I will move to Seth, who is just basically parroting off the same TROLLING comments as all of the other handpan trolls who thought they would get an easy meal over here! If you notice, the trolls who were swarming about stinking up the joint so steadily have now realized there is no food here! So they are slowly slinking away and now the REAL discussions can begin! 


    Seth states, 

    ''I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for you to understand that handpan COMES from steel pan, but it’s not a steel pan, so it’s different instrument and, as every instrument, we can trace the moment it has been created: 2000, Bern, Switerland by PANArt.''


    And this is precisely one of the reasons why KaribPAN is on this grueling, painstaking mission! Ignorance is rife among the handpan community because there are many other people just like Seth who are completely ignorant of the history of the instrument that they claim they love.. Either that, or they willfully suppress that history in Handpan Mafia like fashion and perpetuate the lie that the handpan is a European invention.


    Todd G. and Seth, congratulations on receiving the first ever, ''KaribPAN DISHONORABLE Mentions!









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  • Theblogwriters Atwat on

    Its a metal drum like many other metal drum, who cares who makes it or where its from, all i care about is how it sounds when i play it

    Making a drama about this and that is just a waste of energy, get off the internet and grab a drum and have a play and enjoy life more, if you have any friends to play along with you ,might even enjoy the metal drum playing a bit more as they will also not care who it was made by!

  • Pope Francis on

    All unholy handpan mafia trolls – pay careful attention:

    I shall curse those who curse the sacred and holy Karibpan outfit and their collaborators. They have been chosen. Do not mess with the best, as you will always be less, i digress, with finesse.

    Yours truly,

    Big papa P to the F

  • Nick on

    Tbh, i don’t really care. It seems like you are not even open for discussion. Everything that is beeing pointed out to you, you shoot off as trolls and don’t seem to even be willing to take in consideration. I for myself know quite some makers personally and they are kind and honest hard working people that try to make a living from their passion. I’m trying to learn to build myself and some of these people have helped me guide with every single step along the way and some even never asked me any fee for it return. so i also know quite a bit of things they have to deal with in their businesses and this stands in big contrast of the things you claim here as “facts” sir.

    Again, no personal grudges

    Best Regards,

  • Georgia on

    My son plays a plethora of instruments, including the piano, which incidentally was developed from the Harpsichord, which incidentally was developed from the Harp, which he also plays. The Harp is one of the most earliest stringed instruments…. developed from the very ancient lap harp the ‘Lyre’ from Greece.But wait a minute, the Kora, also a very early stringed instrument, also resembles the Harp…but has its origins in Africa, not Greece….and there is evidence that the Lyre was played also in parts of ancient middle east…not to mention large areas of europe and Ireland….so I guess it really isnt exclusively an acient greek instrument!! The piano and Concert Harp truly are related but are a fusion of lots of cultures and influences, both very distinct and beautiful in themselves. I cannot imagine the ‘Harp’ camp campaigning against the ‘Piano’ camp as to its historical development and authenticity as an instrument! Can you imagine that?! I mean, that would be rediculous, right? Both enjoy the unique qualities and musical enrichment that each instrument afford…regardless of its origins or historical influences… fact we now see orchestras filled with instruments that have similar origins and influences….(much the same as people of the world) producing the most amazing music that inspires and enrich our lives.
    Josiah doesn’t care if they originated from Greece, Africa, Middle East or Europe…all he knows is that he plays both and loves both…..and that’s all we should care

  • Willow on

    Personal taste and opinion are indeed subjective, which is why they are, in fact “personal”. But whether you or I like it or not, it is personal taste and opinion that make somebody buy a product, or not. So to anybody running a business, I would imagine it is important to them to understand what the taste and opinions of the potential customers are, to be able to sell their products and have a consistent income. Which is the point I have been trying to make clear, but doesn’t seem to happen… Not sure how else I can explain the fact that “people liking something, helps them make the decision to buy it”, and vice versa. Sorry I triggered an emotional response in you as such that you see my efforts as spamming and trolling, I was only trying to be helpful. Just like many many other people on here. Honestly, you call them trolls. And even though some of them could be nicer about it (but I think that maybe they say the things the way they say them, based on your own example…), a lot of them are only trying to be helpful. I wish you could see that. Good teachers know that learning never ends and he/she realises that every student or novice can give the teacher new insights, IF the teacher has an open mind and an open heart. Thank you & Peace.

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