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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