What Are MUTANT Handpan? - Answered

The maker behind one of Handpan Bay’s most popular offerings in recent times, is L.A. based, Terence Jay, of “Nirvana Handpan”. And the instrument that is currently setting Handpan Bay alight, is a twelve-note “Mutant” Handpan.  

Mutant Handpan are something kind of new that we've only seen popping up (or at least going by that name) in recent times. And in addition to its twelve notes, this instrument also features a Gudu Hang style udu-port, plus a mandala design on the under-shell.- making it quite the showpiece (you can take a listen below)...

Popularised by the Golden Mutant Handpan of Jan Borren, the Mutant-label appears to refer to the inclusion of a pair of additional “eye-like” notes towards the front of the Handpan.  And this specific configuration (that a number of other makers are also now beginning to make use of) appears to have been born when Handpan-musician Kabecao visited Jan Borren at his workshop in the Netherlands - to co-create the instrument that you can hear below...

Though with that said, U.S. makers, Pantheon Steel, have also been experimenting with what they named "grace notes", since as far back as 2012, to similar effect.  And with EON-Art having produced THIS "Silver Mutant", featuring only one "cyclops" style additional note, perhaps, for our needs at least, the Mutant-tag will come to serve best as a definition for any non-standard note layout. Though if that also includes the likes of the thirteen note chromatic Spacedrum, and also additions like Booty Taps, perhaps then the term would become too all-encompassing to be useful.

Regardless though, we're liking the Mutants. And for those who enjoy theirs with two-eyes, as per the Kabe/Jan recipe - you can hear another example, this time built by Satya Sound Sculptures, below...


As a side-note, if our own experience is anything to go by, their probably isn't a Handpan musician alive who hasn't, while out with Handpan on back, been told that they kind of look like a Ninja Turtle.  And for those happy to embrace their turtle-power, and become a bona-fide Handpan-wielding Hero-in-a-half-shell, you could do worse than to check out the totally-bodacious Turtle case from Hardcase Technologies (pictured above).  More info available: HERE.

EXTREME Handpan’ing - Not Your Every-Day Performances

We all know how it is.  You hear your precious across a crowded street, or as an unexpected surprise in an online video, and instantly; you’re smitten.  She sings so sweetly that you know you have to have her.  And in time you win her heart, and your life becomes better than you ever could have imagined.  But as the days pass things slowly become a little stagnant.  And it isn’t that you don’t love her anymore, but, the time has come to begin trying to spice things up a little.  To rediscover that old spark!

And so, with that slightly cringe-inducing post introduction out of the way (almost), should you find your Handpan-love beginning to wane a little, and find yourself in need of new and exciting ways to play. - the following are our three favourite examples of “EXTREME Handpan’ing”. Players who have gone above and beyond in pushing the boundaries of experimental Handpan-performance to the limits…

Inverted Playing

If sitting in your favourite comfy chair, or perched under a tree by the side of a babbling brook, Handpan placed firmly on lap, or stand, no longer rocks your world - why not take inspiration from YouTube user, Wiz Bom, and try hanging yourself upside down by your legs, swinging back-and-forth, for a little inverted Handpan-play.  And for double the fun, you can always invite a friend to join you…

Handpan Skiing

Arguably the coolest video on our list is the following performance by, Jeremy Nattagh. Who, with Handpan strapped to his body, skis down the snowy-mountainside while playing - in his video "video of the week #18', which, as a side-note, has become one of our favourite series of video performances of recent times. They may not all be EXTREME. But they are all very much worth checking out (which you can do here)...

Circus Hang

The following video has been around since 2011, and is one of those videos that pops up from time-to-time over at Facebook.  Usually to the amazement/amusement of any who had not previously seen it. The performance features the "Acrostiches", an acrobatic French circus troupe.  And an unknown (to us at least) Handpan performer.  

It may now have some age to it - but this particularly unusual Handpan-centric acrobatic display, remains one of the (if not thee) most EXTREME Handpan performance(s) ever caught on camera...

The Mysterious Case of the eBay "PANArt Integral Hang Prototypes"

eBay has thrown up some interesting Handpan auctions over the years, mixed in with a fairly generous sprinkling of scams.  And while the majority of those scams are of the traditional “you can buy now for only $2000 - wire-transfer me the money outside of eBay where you are no longer protected” kind.  Or even the intentional/unintentional naming of non-PANArt instruments as being "Hang", (a legally protected trademark) - to the point where PANArt employed HangBlog Author, Michael Paschko, to act on their behalf to sniff these misleading sales out, and have them removed. Occasionally, those looking to separate you from your cash in less scrupulous ways, try to use more creative means...

The Mysterious Case of the eBay Integral Hang Prototypes

Currently (at time of posting) for sale on eBay are a pair of Handpan going by the descriptive title of “Hand Pan Steel Drum SWISS Handpan D Integral 2008 Prototype”. Which is a pretty vague initial description, should the following story be true…

‘Hallo everyone,
few weeks ago in our Family's House in Switzerland I found 2 Old Hangs. My Father said that he bought them from PanART team as a experimental prototype of Hang Integral 2008.So I got them as a present. Unfortunately I'm not a musician and don't have any time to learn. AndI have my own young Family with small child,so we would like to get some money out for a trip to the Canary Islands(our warm dream:).But I have to say that because they had scratches and because I'm painter and photographer I already repaint them( just a bit with black spray),so now they look much better .My father was worry that it can change the sound, but I think that the sound can be already deform from the long time between the luggage..I'm not sure at all..Anyway they doesn't sound so bad.Video with example I'll try to upload on Vimeo with private password(write me please). Hope it can be interesting for some nice alternative people and for some collection!’

And you can see the photograph of one of these supposed Hang-prototypes above-right.

The Integral Hang

The Integral Hang was PANArt's 2008 launched model, and was described in the following way by Hangblog author, Michael Paschko:

And you can see a picture of a bona-fide Integral Hang pictured right.

Does Not Compute

While here at HPM our mind is currently a little fried from over-indulging in Mandela Effect videos over at YouTube, to the point where we're now questioning EVERYTHING we thought we knew. These
just look to be all kinds of wrong. Sure, the Ding looks approximately right, but we can't see any PANArt logo/branding on these things. And while that could be explained away with the whole "prototype" excuse. The tone-fields just don't look like PANArt tone-fields. They look more like the tone-fields of the readily available Vietnam Handpans. Spray painted black? Password protected video?

Ultimately, while this person deserves a little extra credit for going above and beyond with their attempted pilfering (presuming that's what this is) - these auction listings scream of a scam attempt of the misleading kind. It's a little too late for an April Fool's gag. and should you find yourself reading this post, having stumbled across these two items for sale over at eBay and are considering purchase - we'd have to advise you to be especially cautious. They have a stink to them. Don't they?

“HandClap” - A Percussive Handpan Accessory from Hardcase Technologies

Hardcase Technologies, the Italian company behind the ever popular Evatek range of Handpan protective cases (and a bunch of other stuff), have given us so many interesting things over the years since they appeared on the scene, that you always know that something new is just around the corner…

The HandClap

The HandClap is a customizable wooden percussive "add-on" for the Handpan. Using magnets (we believe) to attach a variety of small percussive additions to the Handpan's rim.

And the Hardcase Technologies description reads as thus:

'Connect the groove within you and let the rhythm flow on your Handpan with the innovative and unique HandClap.  Enjoy discovering an alternative way to play your Handpan.  All you need to be inside the Groove is a Clap. The first RIM Add-On for handpan in the world, only by Hardcase Technologies.'

It looks as if we've stumbled across these before the official launch, though now that we have, we can't not share at least a short post about it. However, with the video still being in "super-secret" mode over at YouTube, we're not going to embed it here yet - but you can find a video over on the Hardcase Technologies website (along with a bunch of info): HERE

New PANArt Instrument - The Hang Gede

At time of writing this post we checked the two largest Facebook groups for any chatter of PANArt having launched a new member of their Pang-made "new-Hang" family of instruments, and found none. Are Handpan-folk yet unaware of its existence, is this thing just so unspectacular that nobody is really interested in it, or have PANArt finally achieved their wish of completely separating themselves from the Handpan-movement that they themselves spawned with the creation of the Hang, and have now become, irrelevant to it?

The Hang Gede

The latest addition to the Hang-family of instruments is the, “Gede”.  In appearance it is not dissimilar to the Hang Gudu, and the Hang Urgu (all three of which can be seen together in the video below). And while to begin with, on its own, it does sound to be fairly unimpressive - when partnered with its siblings, there is definitely something of interest going on there.  But whether it’s $200 worth of interesting, is a different question altogether…

‘The Hang Gede® is prestressed and tuned by hand. The ringding has the partial tones Bb4, Eb5 and F5. The frequency of the air resonance in its cavity is 185 Hertz (Gb3). This pitch can be lowered by up to one octave by hand.’ - from the PANArt website.

For those who aren’t aware, PANArt have been moving varying degrees of away from the traditional Handpan-style of instrument that they invented (with the aid of Reto Weber) for a good few years now, rejoining the path they were treading before the Hang exploded all over the internet, to continue to create an almost Gamelan-like family of instruments.  And the Gede fits firmly within that concept. Alone, it is an instrument (or Sound-sculpture if you prefer) that is easy to dismiss.  And even as part of the ensemble, it is never going to take centre-stage.  But then, the Gede was likely never intended to. This isn’t some "Diva" like the original Hang, running amok all over the internet causing havok - to the point where its makers all but disowned it., The Gede, like the remainder of the Pang tribe of instruments, has strong family values.  Sounding better as one of many, than alone.

And for those unfamiliar with the Pang instruments of PANArt, we always recommend (in addition to visiting the official website) checking out the Gu’ Band. Who, as can be seen in the (very) brief teaser video below, appear to have once again gotten early access to yet another of PANArt’s newest creations…

You can find more information on the Hang Gede over at PANArt’s website: HERE

Would You Rent Out Your Handpan? - The Sharing Economy and Peer-to-Peer Lending

Would you rent out your Handpan?

If you’re not already aware of it, the latest “big thing” online is the rise of the “sharing economy”, and the rise of the peer-to-peer renting platforms that facilitate such transactions.  If you’ve heard of any of these services it is likely “Airbnb”, the platform that allows individuals to rent out their homes or spare rooms for cash, in the same manner that one might book a hotel room - while also offering unique experiences. But in addition to Airbnb, there are now a multitude of similar websites and services catering to varying different niches. Such as the Google-backed “Turo”, that allows people to rent out their automobiles (by the day or by the hour), “Liquid”, that offers a similar service for bicycle rental, and “Spinlister”, that allows people to offer their sporting equipment, such as snowboarding and surfing gear for rental.  With the mantra of this new industry being “access, over ownership”.  And with every area of interest now seemingly getting its own dedicated services, the music industry, is not without its own.


Just as you can rent out your spare room, car, or bike, to make a little extra cash, Sparkplug allows users to rent out their instruments, and music gear.  Or of course on the flip-side of that coin, should you need a piece of equipment to meet a particular need, but don’t want to purchase it outright, Sparkplug connects you with those willing to rent out their equipment to you on a temporary basis.  

At time of posting there aren’t yet any Handpan available for rental on the site (that we could find), but if we were looking to hire some pro recording equipment, a full drum kit, or a cello, we’d have no problems finding it available there for rental..  And no doubt in time, Handpan will follow.  Possibly even yours?

Visit Sparkplug.it


And likewise, as with Sparkplug above, the Studiotime platform allows for the peer-to-peer sharing/rental of recording studio time, services, and equipment.  Meaning that whether you’re on the search of affordable place to record your latest masterpiece, or perhaps even have your own studio that you’d like to offer up for the benefit of others to use - now you can.

The Shellopan Fablab

Interestingly, while not operated in such a web 2.0. manner, there is already a project happening within the Handpan community that operates very much within the boundaries of this peer-to-peer sharing economy.  The “Fablab” based in France, and operated by the makers of the Shellopan brand of Handpan.  

While it is possible for fledgling Handpan-makers to grab themselves some steel, or an old oil barrel, and a hammer, and go old-school. Setting up a modern Handpan-building laboratory with all of the latest professional tools and equipment, can be a costly affair.  And that is something that the Fablab has sought to address - by offering shared resources on a pay-per-play type basis.  From Handpan shells, to glue, to the use of tools and tuning stations - the Fablab reduces the costs required to gain access to the kind of resources that might otherwise be cost-prohibitive.  Making it the first (that we know of at least) sharing-economy based Handpan-specific project.

Visit the Shellopan Fablab

Three Slovakia Made Handpan

Slovakia is a central European country known for its dramatic natural landscape and many castles. Near the Austrian border, capital city Bratislava features a pedestrian-only Old Town with a lively cafe scene. Rising on a hill above the Danube River, Bratislava Castle houses a branch of the Slovak National Museum, with displays ranging from Roman artifacts to 20th-century arts and crafts.  And while you might not yet find any Handpan displayed within the museum's walls, as we explore three Slovakia-made Handpan below, it should be clear, that as with all things, it is now only a matter of time…

Ziva Handpans

Built and tuned by Rastislav Pablo Belko, based in Trenčín, a city in western Slovakia of the central Váh River valley near the Czech border, Ziva Handpans, despite being relatively new to the scene, have already built up quite the fan-base.  And in lieu of too many words on our part, you can take a listen to two 2017-model Ziva Handpan below, from over at Rastislav's YouTube channel...

Singing Steel Handpans

Our second make of Handpan hailing from Slovakia come courtesy of the Singing Steel team, who make “musical instruments that harmonize and heal”.  And while there isn’t a huge amount of video of these to be found online at time of posting, you can check out a couple of videos of these Slovakia-made Handpan below (and visit them over at their website here for more info)...

Djangar Pans

Our third and final (for this post) Slovakia-made Handpan is the work of Handpan-builder, Dušan Martinček, whose creations go by the name of, Djangar Pans.  We’ll share a couple of recent videos below for you to take a listen to, and for more information, you can find the Djangar Pans Facebook page here...

Three High-End Steel Tongue Drum for Sale

While not everybody agrees that Handpan, and steel tongue / Hank drum should be grouped together as instrument types, however loosely - for those not having much luck in their search, or those not willing, or able, to meet the price tag associated with the majority of bona-fide Handpan, Hank-style steel tongue drum have a now fairly established history of serving as entry-level / stepping-stone instruments, into the world of UFO-shaped singing-steel.  In general, the majority of Hank utilise the Handpan style note-layout pioneered by PANArt with the Hang.  They’re of an approximate size and shape to Handpan.  And to more and lesser degrees, they (arguably) have a similar kind of sound.

And so with that in mind, while there are certainly cheaper alternatives to be found than these, with this post, we’ll be taking a peek at three of the more “high end” steel tongue drum.  Steel tongue drum that (again arguably) go some way to filling the gap between a Handpan, and an empty-propane gas tank with some tongues cut into it.

Popularity - The Rav Drum

We dropped a post on the RAV brand of steel tongue drum back last year, following in the wave of some great RAV videos appearing online, and a huge amount of positive chatter.  The RAV makers utilize a revolutionary tongue-tuning technique quite different to that of the traditional steel tongue drum, to create an instrument that has in many ways become the current “sweetheart” of the Handpan-world, regardless of the fact that these aren’t even technically Handpan.  With the only real downside to that being , that if the Handpan has taught us anything in the past, it’s that with demand, comes waiting.  So while the RAV may be the most sought after (at time of posting) of the three - you can expect an at least short period of thumb-twiddling between placing your order, and getting your hands on your RAV. Available to order from the RAV Etsy store: HERE.

Range and Availability - GUDA / StandArt

The GUDA range of steel tongue drum are among our own personal favourites here at HPM. They have a signature earthy-brown coloration, and ornate detailing.  And when it comes to range, GUDA / Zen-Percussion also win out, being available in a wide range of sizes, styles, and prices, from the smaller Freezbee model, through to the more Handpan-sized StandArt model, that you can hear in action below.  And if you’re looking to get your hands on something in a hurry, these are generally available for immediate purchase over at the official ETSY store: HERE.

Heritage  - 1Tone FunTone Pro

1Tone were among the first makers to take the idea of Dennis Havlena’s “Hank drum” (tongue drum made from empty propane gas tanks), as an alternative to the more difficult to come by PANArt Hang / Handpan, and bring them to market in a more commercial way.  1Tone’s no longer produced “Eclipse” model was among the first Handpan-alternative instruments that we learned of here at HPM back in the early days of this website, and indeed, was the first we purchased on our own path of singing-steel (and we still have it).  As stated above the Eclipse model is no longer offered by 1Tone, having been replaced by their more recent model the FunTone Pro.  And you can take a listen to that below, or find them for purchase: HERE.

The Dangers of Crowdfunding Handpan-Related Projects

With the rise of websites like Kickstarter, and Indigogo, “Crowdfunding”, has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way for internet-users to come together to help facilitate the creation of innovative new products, and services.  And the world of Handpan has not been completely untouched by this relatively new phenomenon.  Though unfortunately, to date, the success of crowdfunded Handpan related projects, is something that has frequently been brought into question.


The first attempted crowdfunded Handpan-related project that was brought to our attention here at HPM, was that of U.S. Handpan-producers, Tzevaot, who back circa 2011 started a campaign to raise funding for tools and materials to kickstart their Handpan-building venture.  The campaign received a large dose of criticism from the core Handpan community at the time, primarily due to them (for right or for wrong) being labelled as being “big business”, in comparison to the primarily artisan-centric movement of the times.  And the Kickstarter campaign was ultimately cancelled.  Leaving Tzevaot to fund their venture through other means. Nobody (other than arguably Tzevaot themselves) lost out financially due to the failure of this campaign, but Tzevaot's reputation took a bit of a beating just as they were starting out, and in some circles, it has never really recovered.


Next came the crowdfunding of the Oval - an instrument that billed itself as being “the first digital Handpan”.  And while at time of posting the first Oval’s are beginning to make their way into the hands of those who crowdfunded the development of the project, estimates provided at time of funding for completion and delivery proved to be somewhat optimistic.  Leaving many backers irate, waiting over a year longer than originally expected, to get their hands on their instruments.  So that while the project has ultimately seemingly proven to be a success, there are definitely lessons to be learned here, for those considering throwing their money at a product that at time of funding is little more than a concept. i.e. delivery estimates are estimates only - and you could be left waiting much longer than expected.


A similar project to the Oval above, production and delivery of this crowdfunded product has already fallen behind schedule.  Re-confirming what we said above about estimates being just that - estimates. Meaning that while this will hopefully still turn out to be an awesome piece of kit when finished, should your patience not be pretty flexible - crowdfunding might be something that you’d be better off steering clear of.

Kaizen Drums

Kaizen have been producing steel tongue drum since at least 2012, and for a while they had a pretty solid reputation.  However, a crowdfunding campaign to raise the cash needed for new tooling that appears to have occurred in 2015, has seemingly changed that.  With the Kaizen makers reportedly having welshed on all of their promises, leaving many of those who funded the project out-of-pocket, and without their Kaizen drums.


A similar story to that of Kaizen above, though arguably much much worse, is the cautionary tale of Cosmopan. When former PANArt affiliated steel pan tuner, Werner Egger, launched a Facebook-based crowdfunding campaign to produce affordable Handpan built out of Thailand in 2015, many got on board with the project. With funding of $20,000 - $40,000 reportedly being raised (with some claiming it was considerably more than this).

Seemingly production was for a while moving forward as expected - with tooling being purchased, and a number of photographs appearing online showing the proposed Cosmopan in various stages of development. However, come late 2016, early 2017, things appeared to have gone horribly wrong with the project. With the man at the centre of it all, Werner Egger, reportedly having vanished off radar. No longer responding to communication, leaving all who had invested in the production of the Cosmopan unknowing of the projects fate. And without their promised instruments.

So that while the story of the Cosmopan possibly might yet not have reached its climax. At time of posting, the Cosmopan project serves as the ultimate cautionary tale of the dangers of crowdfunding Handpan-related projects. Particularly, when conducted outside of one of the websites established for such means - where there is little chance of any intervention, and/or mediated resolution.

Hamsa Handpans

If you were thinking that this was going to be yet another tale of woe - you’d be wrong.  Because while there are evidently issues with the concept of crowdfunding in regards to financing Handpan-related projects, sometimes, it does all go as planned.  As can be seen with the crowdfunding campaign of Hamsa Handpans.  Who have seemingly been delivering quality instruments to their happy and content backers as expected.  

Why did the Hamsa Handpan campaign work where others encountered problems, or outright failed? Prior to launching Hamsa Handpans, and the financing campaign that went hand-in-hand with the new company, Stevan Morris, the man behind Hamsa Handpans, had spent a good few years working under seasoned steelpan tuner, and Handpan-maker, Dave Beery, of Dave’s Island Instruments. Equipping him with the experience needed to begin building and tuning Handpan from the very beginning - with only the funding required to get started lacking.  

With the lesson being, that crowdfunding can be a useful and mutually-beneficial way to aid in getting more of these beautiful instruments out into the world - but, if the money you're investing isn't money that you can afford to throw away - you'd better be sure that you're backing the right horse.

Homemade “Hang Drum” like Instrument - Made from Empty Plastic Bottles

Want to play the Handpan but the costs of purchasing one are just too prohibitive?  Perhaps it’s time to get creative…

Over the years we’ve stumbled across a number of homemade Hang/Handpan inspired inventions, such as this stringed invention, and this PVC tube built instrument, built by Dennis Havlena.  The man who also invented what is without doubt the most successful Hang-inspired instrument to date (other than the Handpan of course), the Hank drum, made from empty propane gas tanks.

However, this recent video by Edward Black Rose, is a new one on us.  It’s a Handpan-inspired instrument built from empty plastic bottles.  And to our ears - it sounds surprisingly good…

How is this thing put together?  We’re not really sure - other than how it looks to be put together.  If you’re interested in learning how to make one perhaps try hitting Edward up over at his YouTube channel.  Where hopefully, there will be a tutorial video to follow. (Update) Like this one.
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