The Pantheon Steel Web-Store 'Makers Section'

In this post we’ll be highlighting the Pantheon Steel Web-Store ‘Makers Section’ (for those who aren't already familiar with it). And as such, my words will mainly be formed of dreaming, and longing, and drooling - all of a nature that will unfortunately most likely never be sated. Because unfortunately, at the time of writing, I do not live in the kind of place where I could freely bang on steel with hammers all day, and all night. But, perhaps, circumstances favor you better?

The ‘Halo’ makers, Pantheon Steel, offer a variety of items via their online store, from soft-bags, to Halo stands. But it is very much the makers section of the store that captures the imagination of all who secretly (or more actively) dream of becoming a Yoda-like master of steel, able to manipulate it to the desires of one's will. And bring forth Angels.

From HandPan shells, and circular cut steel sheets, canvases upon which aspiring tuners (and those more experienced) can work, and hammers both hand-manual, and pneumatic, with interchangeable heads, to suit any task. Through to ‘tuning rings’, devices that hold the blossoming HandPan in place, during sinking, shaping, and tuning. And the ‘Lazy Du’, a proprietary device that enables easy rotation of the HandPan to be, during manufacture.

 In fact, they sell pretty much everything you’ll need to set up your very own Willy Wonka style HandPan factory. But, it’s certainly worth reading through, and digesting thoroughly, the ‘Caveat Emptor’, that Pantheon Steel kindly took the time to write, and publish. That to me reads along the lines of, “Yes, we know you’re very excited, and we know that you’d like to get started right away, but please, do not waste $5000+ of your hard earned money on this stuff, if you really haven’t thought it through as well as you might have... this world does need more HandPan makers, but it does not need more people with impulsively emptied bank accounts, and broken dreams”.

A message that should certainly be considered strongly. But at the same time, it’s great that Pantheon Steel are able to offer pretty much everything necessary (bring your own dedication) for the would-be HandPan maker, and/or those already tuning, all in one place. For those who have done the math, and decided that this is a path that they're committed to.
Visit the Pantheon Steel Webstore Makers Section

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The Caisa HandPan Wooden Foot Stand - Do I Need One?

Being a fairly thrifty person, I’m going to be honest and say that had I bought my Caisa brand new, I probably wouldn’t have splashed out the extra cash for one of the wooden foot style Caisa stands, on top of the nine hundred odd Euro that the Caisa HandPan itself costs new these days.

However, seeing as I didn’t buy mine brand new, and that it came with the wooden stand (and a bag) as part of the package I got for a good price secondhand, I can now say that without a doubt, the wooden foot stand is almost a MUST (for me). Making for a much more pleasant (and safer) playing experience.

WHY?

The Caisa drum (or HandPan if you prefer) is pretty damn big. And considerably bigger than my lap. And trying to balance the Caisa on my lap while playing, without having to stop playing to readjust its position every five minutes is almost impossible. And highly annoying. With it slipping, and sliding off every five minutes.

But the wooden foot stand, which is solid and weighty, and screws easily into the bottom of the Caisa drum. Can be gripped between the thighs while playing. Which when played sitting on the edge of say a bed, with room for the wooden stand to protrude beneath, offers a comfort, and stability to play that really would make that extra 50 Euro (or there abouts) spend seem worth every penny. And the fact that with stand attached the Caisa handpan resembles a gigantic metallic mushroom can only be a bonus.
NOTE - The wooden foot stand should be seen more as a playing-aid, rather than a permanent stand for your Caisa drum, and as such, it should be detached after play, and your Caisa stored away safely (in my opinion).
Conclusion: The wooden Caisa foot stand is by no means a necessity, but if you can afford to spend that bit extra, it definitely comes recommended.
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What is the Difference Between a 'Hank Drum' and a 'Steel Tongue Drum'?

The PANArt Hang ('Hang Drum')

Hank Drum (made from Propane tank)

Hank-style Steel Tongue Drum made from custom-made shells

Tambiro - A Pre-Hank Invented Steel Tongue Drum

On websites such as this one (and others like it), you may have noticed that the terms ‘Steel Tongue Drum’, and ‘Hank Drum’, are used fairly interchangeably. Which could lead to confusion. And while this post should be considered to be ‘as I understand it’ (and arguably a little bit anal), rather than necessarily encyclopedia factual. It (attempts) to explain the difference between the two terms, ‘as I understand it!’, for those interested in such things...

The ‘Hank drum’ (sometimes referred to simply as a ‘Hank’), is the ‘Hang-inspired’ instrument invented by ‘Dennis Havlena’, back in 2007. Made from a (usually new) Propane gas tank, the Hank drum has tuned tongues cut into its upper surface, mirroring the note layout of the PANArt Hang (‘Hang drum’). And is essentially played in the same manner.

The name Hank drum is a combination of the words ‘Hang’, and ‘Tank’ (with an additional hat-tip towards ‘Hank’ (the Propane Salesman) from the animated TV show ‘King of the Hill’). And as such, a ‘true’ Hank should be made from an empty Propane tank. As per Dennis Havlena’s original instructions.

Steel Tongue Drum

All Hank drum are steel tongue drum, by their very nature (being made out of a steel tank with tongues cut into it). But (technically) not all steel tongue drum are Hank drum. Many who produce steel tongue drum for sale commercially have found that custom-made shells are preferable to Propane tanks, in many ways. Though not being made from a Propane tank, the Hank moniker, as per its initial meaning is not necessarily fitting for these instruments (we certainly won’t slap you should you refer to a steel tongue drum as a Hank however - it’s certainly quicker to type, and less of a mouthful to say).

And additionally, while Hank, and Hank-inspired instruments are generally of most interest to the HandPan community, the Hank was by no means the first steel-formed tongue drum. With instruments such as the ‘Tambiro’, (see video), and the ‘Whale drum’ (though with neither typically utilizing the HandPan-style note layout) proceeding the Hank, in date of invention.
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HangBlog - The Voice of PANArt

A Video by HangBlog

If you’ve been searching for an official PANArt website, in order to find out more information about the Hang (or ‘Hang Drum’), you may have come across the archived version of the website PANArt ran back in the early 2000’s. But other than that, you’ll have found that PANArt do not (at time of writing) operate a website. And it seems unlikely that they ever will again. However, while PANArt themselves do not operate a website, there is a blog author operating seemingly by proxy, on their behalf. Like a PANArt Metatron. And it’s the closest you’ll get to hearing directly from the Hang makers themselves online. 

Meet the HangBlog

Personally, I do not ‘resonate’ with the blogs author (Micheal Paschko), who while being knowledgeable in all things Hang, is a man who appears to spend the majority of his time lurking the internet ‘advising’ unsuspecting HandPan musicians  and internet users alike, of exactly how they’re not playing / referring to / etc. the Hang in the ‘correct way’.  And nor am I in tune with his generally negative point-of-view aimed towards all HandPan other than those made by PANArt.  And additionally believe it wise to be aware that the HangBlog author has very close ties with PANArt, in addition to being, or having been within their gainful employment - if seeking unbiased advice, or opinions on HandPan other than the Hang.  



But, with that said, the blog itself, as an authoritative container for Hang based treasures not found elsewhere, primarily in the form of official announcements, and newsletters released by PANArt, and passed directly to HangBlog for publication - make the HangBlog an essential online destination for those enchanted by the PANArt Hang, looking for more information. 

Visit: HangBlog

* In addition to HangBlog, Micheal Paschko also operates the HangHang.info website. And the main PANArt dedicated Facebook group.  Other useful (though arguably biased) sources of information, for Hang/HandPan addicts to peruse.
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Vertical-Style HandPan Play

So today I have been trying something new, something that some of you will have tried, some of you will have ‘perfected’, and something that those of you yet to find your HandPan, will no doubt try at some point, when HandPan finally meets lap.

I’d seen it before, but it was after listening to some excellent usage of the technique in the songs of Simon Wood, that finally inspired me to give it a serious try myself. And what I’m talking about is ‘vertical-style’. A style of play that some say transforms the HandPan from one instrument into two. But it could equally be said to be a style that utilizes just the one instrument, but that utilizes it as a whole.

It has to be said, for me at least, after some attempt, that it’s not as easy as the guys in the attached videos make it look. But hey, “nobody ever said that it was gonna be easy!” And as a player who doesn’t feel like a natural on the HandPan, but who intends with persistence to achieve level ten awesomeness ninja skills at some point in the hopefully not too distant future. I know vertical-style, is something that with (lots) of practice, I’m going to need to master.
Thoughts on Playing Vertical-Style:
* Feels like an increased chance of damaging your HandPan, with it balanced on its side (go careful).
* Opens up the bottom, but (for me) limits access to many of the top notes.
* Sounds better (imo) on HandPan with a tuned GU (or Gu-like opening).
* Sounds AMAZING when done well.
Anyways, this post is not intended to teach you how to play vertical-style HandPan (though watching the embedded videos over and over, certainly isn't going to hurt). But is instead intended to open your eyes to an alternative style of play. Should you have previously not been aware of it.
Have fun. :)

[NOTE] Colin Foulke's DVD 'Intermediate to Advanced HandPan Techniques', gives excellent instruction in the style of Vertical Play, More info here.
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The 'Golden Sound' HandPan - Made in Germany

(!) This post may now be out of date - but has been left published for archive purposes.  It may still prove to be of interest, but some (or all) details may now be out of date (!).

If you’re a fellow HandPan fanatic, you’ll most likely know all that we know, about the ‘Golden Sound’ HandPan already, and quite possibly more. But if this is the first you’re hearing of it, well, we’re happy to share the little that we know.

Debuting on ebay (2012), with little information to be found regarding them online, Golden Sound HandPan have been selling pretty well. Based pretty much solely on the fact that to many, the attached YouTube clips sound pretty decent. And certainly considerably better than the no-tone HandPan ‘look-a-likes’, frequently offered for sale on ebay.

* It is generally believed that the Golden Sound HandPan are made from the same shells used by Eckhard Schulz to produce the 'Blue Point Steel Harp'. And they do share a look. Though (at time of writing) the tuner is unknown, and appears to be happy to remain anonymous.

* A number of different tuners
are believed to be using these same shells, something that has made this ‘family’ of HandPan the most difficult of all to follow the development of.

* The Golden Sound HandPan is made in Germany.

* The last known price = 1600 Euro (including bag).

Your main point of contact for more information at time of writing seems to be the YouTube user ‘Docmelorythm’, the user who uploads the videos used in the Golden Sound ebay auctions, and who may, or may not be the tuner (but who certainly has much to do with the selling of these HandPan).
Discussion on the latest developments surrounding new HandPan like the Golden Sound can usually be found over at the HandPan.org Forum.
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The Music of Joan and Kampah - HandPan from the Streets

If you’re one of the five hundred thousand and counting YouTube users to have watched them play Hang on some steps in Spain, or one of the thousand-plus people to have ‘liked’ the video, you may well recognise Husband and Wife HandPan playing duo, ‘Joan and Kampah’.

With thousands of albums sold while performing on the streets of Europe, and South America, Joan and Kampah, have very much paid their dues, with five years-plus of street performances under their belt. And now thanks to the combined magic of BandCamp, and this thing we call the interweb, the music of Joan and Kampah is now available for immediate digital download online too.

From the couples twelve-track 2009 debut album, ‘Camino’, featuring the beautiful, ‘Abrazo’, and the surreal, and a little bit crazy-sounding (reminds me of 'Gogol Bordello' - but with Hang), ‘Gatos’. Through to the couples 2012 release, ‘Aikyo en Vivo’
, with the four-piece outfit, ‘Aikyo’, (whose beautiful YouTube video of them performing in a forest reminds me of ‘that' scene from the movie 'House of the Flying Daggers' - but with less Kung-Fu, and more HandPan), the music of Joan and Kampah, is sure to please, when you're looking for HandPan music with that little something extra. Enchanting in its entirety, and delightfully experimental in places, you can listen to/purchase music from Joan, Kampah, and friends, by visiting their BandCamp page: HERE
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The HandPan Logo / Pictogram

The HandPan Logo
The HandPan Logo
Having coined the name ‘HandPan’, as a means through which to describe their Hang-inspired instruments to the world, without using the ‘H’ word, Kyle Cox of Pantheon Steel, also set about creating an appropriate logo, generic in nature, to accompany the newly coined HandPan moniker.

A HandPan pictogram consisting of black hand-print image, with a red HandPan inset within the palm, this generic HandPan logo is both explanatory, and stylish. And while it shares the same color scheme commonly used by Pantheon Steel for their own ‘Halo’ logo, and associated accessories. As far as is known (though it’s probably worth checking with Pantheon Steel first should you intend to use it for your own purposes), this specific logo was always intended for use within the HandPan community as a whole, for as and when 'HandPan' needed to be expressed graphically.
[Additional] Clothing such as hoodies, and t-shirts, featuring the HandPan logo can be purchased: HERE
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Here and There - The Music of Simon Wood

I have come to believe, having listened to a healthy share of HandPan music in recent years, that playing HandPan tells a man’s (or woman’s) story, like no other instrument I’ve ever heard. The initial ease of play allows beginners to start writing, while the later addition of skills, allows the player to refine their story into a masterpiece. And it never ceases to amaze me, just how many beautiful stories that there are to be told.

Simon Wood

Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, Simon Wood, uses his music to bring a little light into the lives of those most needing, frequently working with, and playing with, children in care, older folk, substance abusers, asylum seekers, and seemingly anybody else, who could use a friend in their corner. That is, when he’s not travelling the world, playing Hang, and HandPan with the likes of Davide Swarup, Spyros Pan, and Colin Foulke.

Here and There

Featuring both PANArt Hang, and BEllArt BElls, ‘Here and There’, Simon Wood’s debut
HandPan album is eight tracks of awesomeness. Eclectic to some degree, but very much keeping pace with itself, in terms of mood, and ambience. Which, if I were forced to some up in only three words, I would describe as being, ‘peaceful’, ‘transcendental’, and a little bit ‘mournful’ in places too. And the mix of solo HandPan tracks, with some of the best HandPan and electronic mash-ups I’ve yet to hear, really works for this album. From the gentleness, and fragility, of tracks such as ‘Three Times’, and ‘Always Searching’, through to the uber-cool, ‘Ten Thousand Suns’ (a track that the ‘repeat’ button on your media player was very much made for). Music to have an epiphany to!


To preview and/or purchase Simon Wood’s album Here and There, you can visit him over at his BandCamp page: HERE, or for more info on the man behind the music, you can visit Simon over at his personal website: HERE

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Other PANArt Hang, and HandPan Forums


If you’re looking to keep up with the latest in all things Hang, and HandPan, there’s no better way than by joining up to, or at the very least regularly reading through, some of the online forums dedicated to the subject matter.

HandPan.org

At the time of writing, HandPan.org is pretty much your number one go to place, to find out what’s going on in the world of HandPan. With discussions covering everything from the latest HandPan news, and developments, through to building tips for D.I.Y. makers, and a ‘swap and sale’ section, where HandPan are regularly sold, or traded. While I’d like to claim the title for my own website, HandPan.org really is the 'home of HandPan' on the internet, for beginners, and accomplished players alike. Visit the Forum

HangForum.com

Dedicated to the PANArt Hang, and the Hang alone - HangForum.com is run by those with close ties to PANArt, and for my tastes, that comes across a little too strongly. HangForum can be a good source of info on the PANArt Hang, and there’s no denying that its members are both knowledgeable, and dedicated to all things Hang. But personally, the overall vibe of the place does little for my palate (though your tastes may differ). Generally seen as one for the Hang purists only. Visit the Forum

Hang-Music.com Forum

The forum at Hang-Music.com is the forum that gave birth to HandPan.org. Problems arose over the discussion of non-Hang HandPan (reportedly, with complaints made by PANArt). And the forum was essentially closed, and moved.

The Hang-Music forum still exists though (at time of writing), and while there has been little activity there in quite some time, the Hang-Music forum is particularly interesting as an historical archive, with threads such as those discussing the coming, and birth of the Pantheon Steel Halo, and other early HandPan, being of particular interest (to me at least). Visit the Forum
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Ravid Goldschmidt - Calm Upon You

Meet Ravid Goldschmidt, to me, the most ‘elegant’ Hang / HandPan musician I’ve ever heard. And a man with a playing style, very much his own.

Some say that the voice of a PANArt Hang resembles the sound of a choir of Angels. And with his heavenly, classical sounding playing style, Ravid Goldschmidt, above all others, I can imagine most likely in the position of Angelic choir master. Playing upon the golden steps, with white gloved hands, welcoming in those who have passed, to days of peace forever after.

Little personal information about Ravid is offered up within his websites biography. Merely telling of his profound fascination with the Hang. And of his move to Barcelona in 2004, a base from which to perform across Spain, and Europe.

“I think something beautiful happened to this young man, a realization of some kind..." comments one YouTube viewer - in a statement that sums up the emotion of Ravid’s sound beautifully.

Ravid has recorded, and/or performed upon a number of hypnotic albums, including the 12 track, ‘Ravid Hang’, the epic 16 track, ‘Calm Upon You’, and the ‘Llama’ album, featuring Ravid on Hang, alongside Silvia Perez Cruz on vocals. All of which can be purchased from Ravids’ website: HERE. Or alternatively, if you fancy watching some more of Ravid’s video performances, you can visit his YouTube channel: HERE

American-Made HandPan / Hang Drum Alternatives List


This website, like most not targeted towards some kind of localised niche, receives the largest portion of its visitors from the U.S. And whether reaching this site out of initial interest in the ‘Hang drum’, after watching a YouTube video or two. Or in the final stages of searching for a HandPan to purchase. If only to save on shipping charges, and import taxes, it makes sense in many ways, if possible, for Americans, to buy American.
Though (at time of writing), as you may well already be aware, in the world of HandPan, due to the limited number of pans in existence, and the limited number being produced at any given time, to add to the stock - things are rarely that easy. However, with that said, just a few short years ago, there were NO American makers. And now, at time of writing, already a handful of HandPan makers based in the U.S.A have emerged. And no doubt the future will give bloom to more.
And so with that in mind - we'll try to keep this page updated with all known American-made HandPan.
Pantheon Steel Halo

The most established, trusted, and most sought after of the American-made HandPan has to be the Pantheon Steel Halo. Solid in build, and sweet in tuning, the Halo, is considered to be among the best HandPan currently available. And seems to get better with each new HandPan built.

Unfortunately though, as with the PANArt Hang, and other highly sought after pans, obtaining a Pantheon Steel Halo is either not easy (should you go the waiting list route / lottery), or not cheap (should you buy via ebay). With roughly only around 300 made per year (at time of writing), and 14,000+ people having signed up to the Pantheon Steel lottery. You’ll need to be lucky to win the chance to purchase one via the standard route. Or willing to shell out $6000-$7000 to buy one new from Pantheon via their single monthly ebay auction.

More Information

Dave Beery’s Genesis HandPan

With 15+ years of steel pan tuning under his belt, many were hoping that Dave Beery would try his hand at making HandPan. And now, with his range of Genesis HandPan, he has. A relatively new member (at time of writing) to the HandPan family, Dave Beery’s Genesis HandPan are sounding better and better all the time. They’re cheaper than the Halo, and more easily available too (for now). So if you’re looking for an American-made HandPan to purchase, the Genesis (and it’s smaller sibling the ‘Symphonette’), are HandPan certainly worth taking a look at.

More Information
Zen HandPan

Made in California, by the maker known as, 'Manny', Zen HandPan are among the more pleasing recent additions to the world of American-made HandPan.  Very little is known about them at time of writing, however, in terms of a makers dedication to the goal of producing a 'quality' handpan, with the Zen, the results appear to very much speak for themselves (i.e. this is a sweet sounding pan).

More Information

More American-Made HandPan:

* Saraz HandPan
* Aura HandPan
* Symphonic Steel
* Tzevaot
* TerraPan
Note - While the Bali Steel Pan is not made in the U.S.A, due to trade agreements with Bali, the importation of a Bali Steel HandPan to the States should not incur import taxes.  Find more info on the Bali Steel Pan: HERE
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Dead Can Dance - Anastasis (Featuring the Hang)

While at some point in the future, hearing a Hang, or HandPan, used in some kind of ‘mainstream’ project, or by an outfit of some recognition, may lose its excitement. Becoming more and more common, as it inevitably will - that day has not yet come (at time of writing).

And with ‘Dead Can Dance’, primarily consisting of: ‘Brendan Perry’, and ‘Lisa Gerrard’, having sold over 500,000 thousand copies of their 1993 album, ‘Into the Labyrinth’, and with their 1996 release, ‘Spiritchaser’ reaching the number one spot of the World Music Albums Chart. You can be sure that with the track ‘Anabasis’ (meaning a military advance, or retreat), from their similarly titled 2012 release ‘Anastasis’, is going to bring the Hang, and HandPan, to the attention of many who had previously not heard of what is still (at time of writing) a very new, rare (and incredibly beautiful) instrument type.
Anabasis 

The Second track on Anastasis, Anabasis is six minutes fifty of hypnotic Middle-Eastern sounding beats, with the Hang firmly at its heart. Overlaid with the haunting vocals of both Brendan, and Lisa. All set to a collage of exquisite beauty. Which carries the viewer through soundscapes, and landscapes, and throws in a healthy dose of time-lapse for good measure. All of which makes for the mesmerising audial/visual journey that one fan describes as being, ‘full of passion, grace, and fire’, while others describe the album as being, ‘inspiring’, and ‘powerfully emotional’. And I find myself inclined to agree with each of them.

You can preview, and/or purchase Anastasis at Amazon: HERE

Additionally, ‘David Kuckhermann’, professional percussionist, and HandPan player, has been touring with Dead Can Dance on their recent tour. With one attendee describing David’s performance as sounding like ‘angelic sounds drifting throughout the Energy Centre, in a dream that nobody wanted to end’. Nice!
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Blue Snowball Mic Test - Recording HandPan


Having been considering purchase of a microphone to plug into the netbook for a while now, to do a little HandPan recording with - I did a little looking around online for options, and the one that peaked my interest most, was the ‘Blue Snowball’ mic, a ‘budget’ USB condenser microphone, with a seemingly great reputation.

Repeatedly recommended within the HandPan community to those looking for a decent microphone without having to break the bank, spoken of highly by Harmonic Hearts man, ‘Danny Sorensen’, and known to have been used by Pantheon Steel to record the original Genesis Halo sound samples. In addition to generally receiving glowing reviews outside of the HandPan community for everything from podcasting, to recording live performances. I decided to give the Snowball from Blue a shot.

The Look

While arguably the looks of a gadget like this are superfluous to its function. If you like your gadgets to look hot - this thing is proper sexy!  Larger than you might think from the pictures online, the Blue Snowball USB Condenser mic is solid, and is uber stylish in design, comes available in a choice of colors, and sat upon its tripod, strangely reminds me of some kind of behemoth-like planet destroying robot from outer space (but maybe that’s just me). Either ways, the Blue Snowball is a very nice looking piece of kit.
Setting up

The reviews for the Snowball Blue on Amazon would have you believe that setting this mic up is a doddle. And they weren’t lying. Plug and Play, the Snowball installed its drivers in seconds, and Audacity (free recording software), recognised the mic straight away. I hit the record button and I was off. It just couldn’t have been easier.

Price

Mine cost me about $80 - which puts it within the ‘budget’ price range for a ‘semi-professional’ microphone of this type. Though many reviews claim that the Snowball by Blue is not simply just among the best of its range, but that also, it outperforms microphones far more expensive too.
Is it any good?

I’m impressed. Not blown away, but definitely impressed. With bonus points given for the fact that it is notoriously difficult to capture all the intricacies of any given HandPans voice, using recording equipment. So that while, to my ear, the quality of the recordings would not be suitable for radio play (at least without some tweaking), the quality beats the crap out of that I was previously reaching using my digital camcorders in-built mic. And i’m sure that with a little playing around, in terms of mic position, room acoustics, and perhaps even twiddling with a few dials using Audacity (or your audio editing software of choice), it’s only going to sound even better.

I like it. The Blue Snowball is reasonably priced, super-solid in build, and catches some nice audio. Sometimes gadgets like these can be a huge let-down, and when they are, I’m more then happy to send them back for a refund. But I get the feeling, the Blue Snowball, is gonna be sat on my desk looking all sexy in black (white, and chrome are also available), for some time to come...
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Buying Pre-Sunk / Pre-Formed HandPan Shells

While ideally, if we were to start trying our hands at HandPan making (a half-dream of ours), we'd like to learn from scratch, shell sinking and-all. It does seem like there could be some advantages to buying pre-formed shells. For one, it’s going to take a lot of the ‘grunt’ work out of building a HandPan - the endless hours of bashing away with a hammer, and the noise that must accompany that process (although much hammering is obviously still involved in the tuning process). And for another, buying shells from a known and trusted manufacturer, eliminates the need to experiment with different metals (something to save for later - when pushing your skills) - by providing a proven blank canvas upon which to work.

Handpan shells, are the blank steel domes from which Handpan can be formed, and tuned. They can be hand-hammered into shape (using a mallet, or compressed air hammer) from sheet-steel, or formed using other methods, such as spinning, and deep-drawing.  And in terms of what sellers are currently offering, some come completely blank, while others are now being sold with either the Ding (top nipple-like note), or the Gu (hole in the bottom), already in place.  

As more sellers arrive on the market, prices are naturally beginning to fall with the increased availability.  And a number of highly-regarded makers are known to have either experimented with, or use exclusively, Handpan shells produced by other makers.

As hinted at above, probably the most important thing to check for when looking to purchase pre-formed Handpan shells, is some kind of evidence that the shells are fit-for-purpose.  While the qualifications required to produce good Handpan shells, are not necessarily the same as those required to become a good Handpan tuner, without being able to hear a Handpan that has actually been made with the shells in question, you can't really be sure, that the shells being sold are suitable for the construction of Handpan.  And have the right qualities to sing.

The thickness of the metal, for example, is just one factor, that if too far off, could render a Handpan shell useless for the purposes of building Handpan.

Hang Drum Music on iTunes - Hot Picks!

While we’re more than aware that tastes in music differ considerably, and that you’re more than capable of selecting your own favorite albums, and performers. Often, we’ve found throughout our life, is that the best musical gems, that we would never have discovered otherwise, have been passed to us by a friend. And as to some degree we like to consider ourselves your friend ;) we’ve taken time out of our busy schedule, just for you, friend, to open your ears to some of the best ‘Hang drum’ selections to be found on iTunes. Ready, and waiting to flow like silk into your eardrums via your iPod, iPhone, or whatever Apple based device you favor.
Living Room - Manu Delago, and Christoph Pepe Auer

A collaboration between master Hang musician Manu Delago, and Christoph Pepe Auer, ‘Living Room’, is an eclectic, and chilled eleven track offering. And while mixing things up with a variety of other instruments, Living Room features a more than healthy dose of Hang (as any Manu album should). And the overall blend makes for some sweet audio bliss. Creating the sort of vibe that (during my Uni days) I would have used to impress bohemian friends over a smoke with - to elevate myself to the level of Uber-cool. :)
Living Room

Beats for Your Feet - Hang Massive

One of the most celebrated Hang outfits around at time of writing, ‘Hang Massive’, is the joining of former ‘Hang Playing Hedge Monkey’, Danny Cudd, with Markus Johansson. And together, like a Hang-Playing Power Ranger, they’ve been producing some of the most listened too (and shared) video/audio online. And at eight tracks long, and featuring what has become one of the most recognisable Hang tracks in the world, the epic ‘Once Again’ - in addition to some other really cool live shizzney, Beats for Your Feet, if any Hang album were ever to be considered a ‘classic’, would certainly be in the running.
Beats for Your Feet

Knee-Deep in the North Sea - Portico Quartet

Among the first Hang albums I ever heard, was Portico Quartet’s ‘Knee-Deep in the North Sea’. The Jazz-hang fusion of awesomeness that blew me away as it popped from Apple-approved ear-buds, as I walked along the shore-line of an incoming tide, on a cold, grey English beach. So that while the Portico Quartet seem to be moving more, and more away from the Hang, the instrument that arguably mad etheir name, in recent years, Knee-Deep in the North Sea still remains a testament to what once was, for these London’s South Bank buskers, and Mercury Music Prize nominees. And to all who fell in awe to this classic nine track Hang-Jazz masterpiece, back in the day.
Knee-Deep In the North Sea (Deluxe Edition)

The Yoga Sessions - Masood Ali Khan

With a title like ‘The Yoga Sessions’, you’d expect this album to be pretty much exactly what it is. PANArt Hang at its most relaxing, and spiritual. And The Yoga Sessions by Massod Ali Khan doesn’t disappoint.  Another personal favorite of mine from the days of having first discovered the ‘Hang drum’, The Yoga Sessions is eleven tracks of downloadable bliss. And is an almost guaranteed remedy for fighting off the blues of those long days when nothing goes your way - especially when enjoyed lying on the couch, with a glass of nice wine. Or, of course, for those of you who practise such arts (as the name suggests), the album makes for the perfect soundtrack to accompany a little Yoga.

Dharma Wheel (feat. Suzanne Sterling)

Travel-Friendly HandPan for Sale - Smaller HandPan for Holidaying With...

I love my Pantheon Steel Halo. - It sounds AWESOME! Carrying my Halo any great distance though... not so much! So that while I’d very much like to do a Rafael Sotomayor and jet off to the Philippines with my pride and joy in tow, to play alone, like a one-man miracle of sound on an all-but deserted tropical island. The idea of dragging the beast all the way there with me, is just so off-putting, that personally, I just don’t think I’d bother.

And while the same could be said of many of the larger HandPan (Caisa, Bali Steel, etc.), there are some HandPan that are somewhat more diminutive in size, and as such, are far more lazy traveller (AKA ‘me’) friendly.
The Baby Caisa HandPan

Built by ‘Bill Brown’ of Kaisos Steel Drums, the same bloke who produces the standard Caisa HandPan, the ‘Baby Caisa’, with a 45cm (just short of 18 inches) diameter, is the Caisa’s travel-friendly little brother.

Known also as the ‘Caisa Bakpak’, this HandPan weighs in at under 3KG. And other than its more slender build, is essentially the same as its larger brethren. Available in three tunings, and two designs (at time of writing), and with nine notes per Baby Caisa, the Baby costs 1100 Euro, and according to the website, takes 10-60 days from time of ordering, for your instrument to be completed, and dispatched.
You can find more information, and/or order a Baby Caisa HandPan: HERE
The Six-Note SpaceDrum

The smallest member of the French-made HandPan family, the ‘Spacedrum’, the 6 note Spacedrum is another option for those looking for a more travel-friendly HandPan. Weighing in at about an inch larger (in diameter) than the Baby Caisa, and a tiny bit weightier, at 3.3KG, the six-note Spacedrum is priced (at time of writing) at 649 Euro. Which while considerably cheaper than the Baby Caisa, as per its name - the ‘6’ note spacedrum features only six notes, in comparison to the Baby Caisa’s standard nine. However, in terms of pros and cons, the six-note Spacedrum does feature the more standard (Hang-style) ‘GU’ type bottom. And for an extra 50-odd Euro, can be purchased with its custom-made protective bakpak.
You can find more info, and/or order a six-note Spacedrum: HERE
The Genesis Symphonette HandPan

Built by ‘Dave Beery’ of Daves Island Instruments, and the smaller brother (or sister) of the standard Genesis HandPan, the ‘Symphonette’, with its 18 inch diameter, is roughly the same size as the Baby Caisa, and the six-note Spacedrum. Making it another (and the last at time of writing) suitable candidate for a ‘mini-me’ style, travel-friendly HandPan.

Believed to be priced around the $1000 mark (at time of posting), the Symphonette, is available in a number of different tunings, and in a number of different finishes, such as in distinctive bronze, and black powder coat. And, on a personal note, is my favorite of the bunch (judging by YouTube videos), and the one that I’m currently considering purchase of for my own travels...

You can find more info, and/or purchase a Genesis Symphonette: HERE

More (I will update this section as I discover them):


* Or alternatively, if you insist on taking a larger HandPan on your travels with you, and you haven't already, you might want to look into getting yourself a protective case of some kind: HERE

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