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How is a handpan made?

The production of a handpan is an extremely intricate and complex process involving craft, knowledge and patience come together to create a special product. It is impossible to dive deep into the process and techniques but we can describe the process to some extent. The thing that makes making a handpan extra difficult is that it takes years of training to create the right muscle memory to feel and know where and with what force to hit while tuning.

If you darling watch then read, under the how-to-make-a-handpan text, you can also watch our production video.

  1. Material selection: The steel most commonly used is stainless steel, ember steel and nitrided steel. Each steel has its own personal characteristics. Nitrided steel has a shorter reverberation and resonates less. That means the sound retains itself to the point of attack. Stainless steel resonates and reverberates much more than nitrided steel, making it the bigger favorite. The long reverb makes it easier to play handpan as the beautiful sounds resonate longer. With nitrided steel, you are more likely to want to play faster. Embersteel again has its own sound but differs very little from stainless steel if you ask us. Once you’ve made your choice of material, after that it’s time for nut placement.
  2. Layout of note fields : Depending on your scale and the choice of the number of notes you want placed on the hand pan, the notes are positioned. The position of the notes and which way they face will help determine how the notes interact when played.
  3. Forming the central note (Ding) and dimples: The central note (Ding) and dimples, the holes in the tone fields, are formed using a high-pressure press. This controlled pressure gives the handpan its characteristic shape and sound. Using a hydraulic hand hammer, the tone fields are formed and rammed into the material. The shape and placement of each tone field contribute to the resonance and sound quality of the instrument.
  4. Fine tuning of the tone fields: After the tone fields are formed, the tuner proceeds to fine tuning. This delicate process is performed by hand, with the tuner using his hearing and experience to precisely tune each individual tone. The tuner often uses a special app to measure the exact frequency of each note. This allows the tuner to monitor progress and make adjustments to ensure the handpan is perfectly tuned to the desired specifications. The interplay between artisanal skill and modern technology results in a handpan with a balanced and harmonious sound.
  5. Oven process and multiple rounds of voting: After the initial rounds of voting, the shells go into the oven. The heating process results in a slight detuning of some notes, after which the instrument is retuned to the desired frequency. This process of heating and fine-tuning is repeated in multiple rounds of voting. This makes the instrument more stable and the steel hardened.
  6. Gluing the shells: After the voting rounds, the shells are glued. The glue takes several days to dry completely. After drying, the instrument undergoes another round of tuning to ensure that the joints are stable and that the desired sound is maintained.
  7. Assembly: The finished shells are assembled into one unit, with special attention paid to proper positioning and mounting for balanced resonance.
  8. Finish and protection: The surface of the handpan can be treated with coatings or protective layers to prevent corrosion, if desired. Any artistic or decorative finishes can also be added.
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