Being easy to play and still on a budget. Is that what you’re looking for when choosing a handpan in a drum store? Despite the recent obsession and rising popularity of handpans, they’re still quite rare among musical instruments and generally cost a lot. What do you do if you’re a beginner and just want a handpan to start learning? Are there any cheap handpans that are still good enough to play? There are! Keep reading to learn how to find one!
Let’s just clarify who’s who in the handpan world. The steel drum, steel pan and tongue drum are percussion instruments. They can be mistaken for a handpan drum. However, what usually passes for a handpan is a convex drum with a solid resonating membrane surface. If you’re a beginner, the handpan drum might not be the best choice to start with as it’s harder to learn and much more expensive. A good option to start is a tongue drum, which is really easy to play and at the same time much more affordable.
Tongue drums look and sound pretty similar to handpans except that they have curved resonating tongues on the surface instead of the dimples. Depending on the crafter, they have different sound characteristics and technical specifications. The specifications that need to be reviewed carefully are the size of the drum, the shell thickness, the number of overtones and, of course, the sound. For example, the RAV Vast drum has supporting ribs inside the chamber to produce a more sustained sound. Due to a special steel alloy and a shell that is as thin as the handpan’s, the drum produces a really clear and melodious sound with up to 7 harmonic overtones (compared to an average tongue drum that has 1-2 overtones).
Tongue drums can vary greatly in size starting from the smallest ones (no bigger than a bagel) and to the full-sized professional drums. If you want to get a good instrument and not just a dust-collecting table centerpiece, opt for the bigger drum. The average standard for a handpan is around 60 cm.
And definitely, the drums vary in price.
The used handpan
You may still have your old uncle Tom’s guitar from his hippy period, where you can just change the strings and the guitar will sound like a new one. However, second-hand is actually not an option in the case of handpans as the instrument is relatively new (mass production started around the mid-2000s). Some used drums can cost even more than new ones. The original Hang was taken out of production. As the drum is hard to obtain, the price has gone through the roof.
You can get a second-hand drum, if you’re really brave enough to buy a pig in a poke. You never know if the drum still has its original amazing musical characteristics or if it’s already got rust inside the chamber. When shopping for a new one, you can be sure that it’s flawless and is perfectly tuned (besides, you get this feeling of a brand-new shiny instrument).
As you can see, buying a new handpan is really worth it.
Is it possible to get a good brand-new drum at a reasonable price?
When shopping for your very first tongue drum, you’re presumably not willing to spend what you would on a Stradivari violin. But if you’ve already fallen in love with enchanting handpan music, you would definitely want to have a good instrument that is able to create this sound.
Is there an option to have both?
The average price of handpans is around $2000. You can find some options for $1600- 1700. Is it still burning your pocket? Then take a look at the tongue drums, which are more affordable.
But don’t shoot yourself in the foot by shopping for cheap drums that are far from what you dream of. Take a look at the RAV Vast, which has a really good price that doesn’t come at the expense of sound quality. This RAV drum combines all the amazing music potential of a handpan (having its own unique sound) while remaining affordable. This instrument will be good for a newbie from the beginning and even after acquiring a high mastery level as it is a full-sized professional musical instrument.
Want to find out more about the drum? Take a look at the reviews of many beginners and professional musicians who got it. You can find out about the RAV Vast, its potential and its musical characteristics at the brand’s official website. A nice bonus – there’s also a great collection of tutorials and additional materials that will help you choose and learn to play the drum of your dreams.