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How to choose a Handpan ?

August 02, 2022 4 min read

Here you are ! Looking at how to choose your first handpan. That i is a first and very important step in order avoid any mistake or scam ! No worries, we will guide you during this process and help you make the best decision. 

To help you as much as possible, we will organize this topic in 3 main points. First we will look at the handpan scale, then the numbers of notes and to finish the frequency. Without taking into consideration the price which is subjective, this approach may be a good start.   

Note : The good news with handpans is that it is built on a diatonic scale, allowing you to create good music without any musical knowledge. The Diatonic scaleincludes five Whole steps and two half steps in each octave, in which the two half steps are separated from each other by either two or three whole steps, depending on their position in the scale. This makes it is easy to play a tune, without two notes sounding bad next to each other.

What is the best scale for a handpan ? 

A scale isany set of musicalnotes ordered byfundamental frequency orpitch. A scale ordered by increasing pitch is an ascending scale, and a scale ordered by decreasing pitch is a descending scale. For the handpan, major and minor scales have in general eight notes arranged in ascending or descending order. This scale allows you to build melodies and harmonies into your melody. 

The major scale

The major scale sounds happy and positive. It can be majestic or sentimental when played slow. If you are looking for a joyful music then go for this scale. This video will give you a good idea of what you can do with a major scale. 

The minor scale

The minor scale will give you a darker and more tragic sound. If you want give your music a melancholic or mysterious aspect this choice will be perfect for you. Depending on your playing style, you can make a song driving, suspensful and intense. Here is another video with a minor scale so you can better picture the idea. 

The flavorful scale

This scale is a little special. It can be major and minor and will differentiate through its cultural flavor. Popular flavorful scale for handpan will include Indian, Middle-Eastern and Chinese giving your handpan sound a specific and beautiful sound. This scale being very specific, be sure to love it because it may be hard to combine it with other more conventional scale. 

What is the most popular handpan scale ? 

The most popular scales are the kurd, the celtic minor and the integral
These handpan are a perfect choice if you want to play with other handpan player and with other type of instruments. 

How many handpan notes ?

Now that you made your mind about the scale, let's choose the number of notes you want on your instrument.


The best choice for beginners - You are just starting to play the instrument so why make it hard. Note that starting with a 10 or plus handpan notes is by no means a wrong choice. However, you may improve quicker by being familiar with the 9 notes. Do not worry ! This is not a choice you will regret over time. 9 notes handpan offer great varieties of choice and combinations. In my case, i have played a 9 notes handpan for years and i am still improving and finding new melodies. Not forgetting that a single note can produce different result based on the technic used. 


Thechoice for intermediate level - You are familiar with a 9 note handpan which has now no more secret for you. This may be the time to open on a wider musical horizon. Handpans with 10 notes or more will help you to unleash your creativity and improve your technique learned before. It is obvious that having more notes on the handpan will offer more possibilities and will help you find new melodies easily.  

Choose the right frequency

Here there are two schools. The 440 HZ and the 432 HZ.
440 Hz is the standard accepted pitch reference for tuning musical instruments. 432 Hz is an alternative pitch argued by some to be superior due to personal preferences or spiritual beliefs. However this is n

The 440 Hz

A 440 is a musical note used as a reference pitch. This note is the A located above the middle C of the piano keyboard. Its frequency is 440 Hz. It is the note given by the usual mechanical tuning forks, in forks and in one tone, the electronic tuning forks or software allowing to choose the desired note or frequency.

432 HZ

Some believe that music from instruments to 432 Hz is warmer, easy on the ears and have a brightness that brings mental clarity. This frequency is mostly used in meditation and relaxation music. However, the 432 Hz may be a problem if you want to play with other instruments with a 440 Hz frequency. 


Trust your instinct. There are no perfect answer to what handpan you should start with. This is a question of preference and feelings you want to experience and share while playing. Spend time watching videos are the different scales, find time to go in a store and try it directly and do not hesitate to ask the vendor for some videos showing how the handpan sounds. Choosing a handpan is a very personal choice and will only depend on your vision and musical preference. There are no wrong choice once you got your quality handpan.  

alexandre zunino
alexandre zunino

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