Looking for the best hang drums in 2020? Well, hang tight, we’re going to kick off with some background and get straight into the reviews after.
Playing hand percussion can be one of the most stress-relieving things that a person can do. The hang was originally created in 2000 and has gone on to become an extremely popular instrument worldwide. It’s regarded as a very exotic instrument with a unique tonal quality. The hang has been used on the soundtracks for many TV shows and movies due to its ability to create somber, and at times, haunting tonal backdrops. It has some similarities with a steel pan drum and can be played with either fingers and hands or mallets. In most cases hang players use their fingers and hands to produce soft and melodic tones. Hang are melodic drums, like pitched percussion and are categorized in the idiophone class of instruments which are defined by how they vibrate to create pitch.
Hangs are pre-tuned to different modes. This means that you can buy a hang in a certain key and mode. Typically hangs are tuned to either minor or major scales. The nature of their tuning gives them a strong modal feel. Playing modal music is good for inducing relaxed and hypnotic states as there is no major shift in the root note. The player can effectively sit and explore the mode by improvising rhythms and melodies over the home key.
Hangs are produced by several different manufacturers nowadays and there are even some electronic hang options available. Due to the surge in popularity of hangs, alternative and more affordable drums called “handpans” are now available. Handpans are very similar to hangs, so we will use the terms interchangeably. In most cases handpans are a lot cheaper to purchase and provide an affordable entry into this area of music. In this article we will look at some of the best hang drums and handpans on sale today.
1. Hapi Mini Steel Drum Review
To begin with we are going to look at some of the entry-level hang drums which won’t hurt your bank balance too much. This in particular is a cheap and affordable option for anyone interested in purchasing a hang. The Hapi Mini Steel Drum is small but sounds great. It’s 8-inches wide and 5.5-inches high, which makes it easily playable to the hands. The weight of this drum is minimal too, coming in at only 3.4 lbs. Needless to say, portability is a huge plus with this instrument and you will have no issues traveling to and from gigs carrying this compact instrument.
It’s available in three different scales. You can choose from C major pentatonic, C major, or D Akebono pentatonic. The C major pentatonic spans 8 notes over an octave and a half. The C major option covers low C to high C with a standard Ionian scale. The Akebono pentatonic is closer to an Aeolian mode without the 4th and 7th degrees of the scale. This scale also spans an octave and a half.
- Beautiful tone
- Small and portable
- Selection of scales to choose from
- Playable with mallets
- Doesn’t have the volume of a full size hang instrument
Listening to the Hapi Mini, it’s no surprise to hear that they are used regularly in yoga and meditation sessions. This is a great option if you want to dip your toe in the world of handpan drums without spending a lot of cash. The Hapi Mini will also suit children as the size is manageable and the weight means it can be easily lifted and held by all.
Take a listen to the Hapi Mini Steel Drum here:
2. CVNC Harmonic Handpan Review
This handpan by CVNC looks and plays just like a regular hang instrument. It has that typical exotic U.F.O. look about it and is just over 21-inches in diameter.
It’s in the mid-range when it comes to pricing and could be prohibitive to certain entry-level players, who would be better off looking at some of the cheaper options on this list.
With that said, for the money you get a 9-note instrument, which is tuned to D minor. The weight of the harmonic handpan is around 16 lbs which makes it quite hefty in comparison to some other handpans. In order to assist transportation, the supplied carry bag makes it much easier to get around.
- Travel bag included
- 16lbs in weight
- Limited note scales available
3. Pyle Professional Pan Drum Review
The Pyle Professional Pan Drum is a good choice for anyone with a moderate budget looking to get into hang music. This particular drum is a great tool for creative types who like to sit and jam on a motif for long periods. It’s made from steel and is ideally suited to playing with either fingers or pan mallets. It is only 8-inches wide and roughly 5-inches high, so it’s a great deal smaller than most standard hangs.
If you find yourself needing to transport the drums from one place to the other often, you can use the hold-all. This travel bag is hand-woven and makes it convenient for the player to keep these drums with him at all times. The bag looks great and it is big enough to be used for other carrying purposes. It’s quite lightweight, so carrying your drum around is not a big chore whatsoever.
- Travel bag included
- Plays well with hands, fingers or mallets
- Can be stored on a hanger to save space
- Lacks the classic “hang” look and feel
The Pan Drum sounds great, looks spectacular, and is ideal for the musician on the move. It’s moderately priced for a quality instrument. The handy carry-bag makes it easy to transport and protect it from the elements too.
4. Harmonic Handpan Hand Drum Review
The Harmonic Handpan is an authentic high-end instrument from Vietnam. It’s handmade by Vietnamcreations and extra care and attention has been given to the purity of the tones created. This really sets it apart from many others.
In terms of pricing it is on the higher end of things, but the additional cost is justified, as the sound produced is of the highest quality. Depending on where you order it from, there may be additional duty and import fees. These drums are shipped straight from Vietnam and it’s often difficult to source them from any other place. Once ordered, it will usually be shipped within seven days.
This handpan is tuned to D minor, F major, or Akebono which centers around B flat.
You can order this handpan in three different finishes; black, gray, or stainless steel. If you’re curious about the different looks and sounds, you can contact the seller directly and they will provide a detailed video which will demonstrate this hang in action.
- Customize your scale and look
- Handmade to perfection
- Fast shipping and good customer service
- Quite low in weight considering the full size
- You may face duty and import fees on delivery
- Handmade options like this handpan tend to be out of beginner budgets
Also included is a backpack, which has been made specifically for this drum. This makes it a breeze to carry around on your back when walking and ensures protection when you are not playing the instrument.
This is one of my favorite options on the list, I actually bought it on a recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, before I’d even seen it on Amazon! On a positive note for you guys, the price was pretty much the same.
5. Bali Steel Pan Review
The masterminds behind Bali Steel Hang Drum are Negah Resna, Ketut Suda, and Chris Anderson, who are renowned instrument makers. These magnificent instruments are manufactured on the island of Bali in Indonesia.
In order to purchase a Bali Steel Pan you must contact the makers directly. They can guide you through the process which will determine the size, color and scale of the instrument. You can choose between major and minor keys (F and D) and different scale orientations. Once you are happy with your customized hang drum and have ordered it, it should reach your doorstep within 10-15 days (in most cases).
- Weight is only 11 lbs
- Full size hang
- Many scales to choose from
- Unique sounding
- Basic carrying case.
The Bali Steel Hang Drum is made in Bali, Indonesia by experts to provide you with the best sound outcome as possible. It has a lively sound outcome and will provide you with a wonderful experience. Moreover, you can customize its scale according to your preference, which adds a personal touch.
6. Tzevaot Handpan Aeolian Drum Review
This is the most expensive hang drum on our list. The Tzevaot Handpan is an Aeolian scale handpan which has a scale based around (G), C, D, E, F, G, Ab, Bb, and C. Moreover, it embraces a frequency of 440 hertz. The 440Hz overtone gives the drum a haunting sound over the base tone of G.
This drum retails for way more than any other hang on this list and may be excessive for beginners. It’s important that you know and like the sound of the instrument before you buy, so take a listen to the Tzevaot here:
7. Happybuy Handpan Review
This handpan from Happybuy is made from heavy-duty material and is effectively a full size hang. It has a unique blue look and has 9 notes centered around a D minor scale. Looking at the construction of this instrument, it is handmade from two concave shells which form a seal around the rim. The material used is a sturdy nitrogen steel that adds to its robustness.
The notes on this handpan are based on the mode D “Aeolian”. Aeolian is a typical minor key in classical music. The scale includes the notes D, A, Bb, C, E, F, G, A – so you get two root notes, D, and two perfect fifths, A. The actual sound projection from this hang is impressive. The drum resonates loudly and is a pleasure to the ears, no matter where you strike it. Generally, people opt to play it with fingers and hands and produce serene, calming, and warm sounds.
It is very easy to store and comes with a custom carrying bag. You can easily carry it on your back so weight-wise it’s not too cumbersome. Also included with the Happybuy Handpan is a metal stand that you can use to mount the instrument when playing.
- Full size
- Heavy-duty material
- Durable and reliable
- Astounding vibration sounds
- Stand included
- Not widely available online
Happybuy have created a hang drum that is versatile in its scale orientation and is a pleasure to play on. It is very easy to get to grips with and even beginners will love the feel and sound of this hang. The vibration is particularly powerful when certain combinations of notes are struck with the hand, fingers, or mallets.
8. Lark Music Handpan Review
The Lark Music Handpan is another D minor hang that has a solid steel construction. You get the same Aeolian scale in D minor that comes pre-tuned on the Happybuy handpan. According to the product text, the manufacturers check each note with a tuner and so they guarantee to provide you with beautiful resonance vibrations.
- Full-size handpan
- Fairly priced
- Protective carrying case.
- Some players find it sounds better with mallets
The Lark Music Handpan in D minor sounds great and is a nice price While it may seem like a lot of money, to put this it’s price in perspective, that’s well under the price of a top range electronic drum kit, guitar, or piano.
With this considered, the Lark Music Handpan is definitely one to consider if you’re looking at investing in a quality mid-range hang.
Purchasing your first hang can be a daunting experience. We hope that this article has explained some of the important factors to consider when buying a hang drum.
Hangs and handpans are great instruments to play practically anywhere, from busking on the street to large concerts and orchestras. Hang music has exploded worldwide and the demand for hang players has never been higher.
We wish you the best on your hang adventure!
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