Handpan Care: The Basics

To use a soft case? To use a hard case? That is the question. Whether ‘tis better to protect your handpan with a case that will protect the edges and timbre of the beautiful musical instrument with something soft or hard is a common quandary for the handpan enthusiast/owner. Here at Handpan.com, we’re here to answer any questions you might have in regards to storage, care, and usage to make sure you have the ultimate experience and guide to handpan care. We’re always welcoming suggestions, so feel free to add any comments below, if you’ve found something particularly beneficial in your handpan care regiment. We’re all ears!

Here’s what we’ve come up with as our Ultimate Guide to Handpan Care:

1. STORAGE & TRAVELING

As with many instruments, the handpan requires delicate care in order to retain its original sound quality. The general consensus is to use the sturdiest convenient case. While some hardcases can be big and bulky to carry around for daily use, soft cases offer minimal protection and won’t always protect an instrument from a fall or a bump.

Always keep your handpan securely in place in your car. Having your precious musical instrument bouncing around in your trunk is a recipe for disaster. When flying with your handpan, you must also use extreme care. Some flights will allow your handpan in the overhead bin; others may not. Running out of space in an overhead bin, when you only have a softcase is not a fun experience! Many handpan players head to their gate early to get priority boarding, since they are traveling with a delicate, rare, and expensive instrument. At the least they will get the front of the line to make sure overhead bins are available. Hardcases will protect your instrument if sent with luggage, though you are at mercy of the airline/TSA if it gets opened or not.

Always make sure to do your due diligence. Even though there are professional musicians traveling on airlines with their entire equipment safely protected, we’ve all heard the horror stories. No one wants to become that story.

2. CARING FOR A HANDPAN

One of the greatest concerns many handpan owners have is how to prevent rust from accumulating on your handpan. Natural oils from your hands while using the handpan are the main culprits in producing rust on your musical instrument, as well as humidity and the salts from ocean air. After each playing session, it is recommended that you wipe down your handpan with a microfiber cloth, so as to avoid accumulated acidity from sweat. It is important to consult with the maker of your instrument for proper care procedures as many handpans are not recommended for beach use. Each handpan has a unique metal and finish that can alter what care properties will work for an instrument, and what can even cause damage to the instrument. Some instruments are even built that despite regular care, will still see rust within the first 3-6 months.

Depending on the climate and humidity of your native region, you may want to increase the frequency of your care process. On the subject of temperature, avoid leaving your handpan in the hot sun for long periods of time. The heat can alter the tuning and it is recommended to keep the instrument at room temperature. Keeping your handpan in a dry, cool place, where there is air to breathe are optimal conditions for your instrument.

Tzevaot handpans are built to be highly resilient against rust and heat — though it is recommended to use common sense. Regular use it is recommended once every 2-4 weeks to oil your instrument, or after every beach use. It is also recommended to keep your Tzevaot handpan in a shady place in a case on a hot day when it is not being played. While some recommend usage of products such as Froglube or Ballistol or a variety of others — these can be quite costly for regular maintenance or harsh to the skin and nose, when applying and playing. Tzevaot recommends using oils found around the house such as olive oil — though coconut oil tends to be a favorite.

3. PLAYING A HANDPAN

Playing a handpan may seem pretty self-explanatory; however, there are a few safety precautions we can share to help you take better care of your handpan, in the long run. First, try to avoid wearing any jewelry while playing. Rings are always requested to be removed, and bracelets and necklaces that dangle always pose a risk. The use of other metals upon the steel may knick the instrument, creating a possible dent, or unintentional damage. and can put the instrument out of tune. Second, striking the handpan softly, without too much force is important in generating an ideal sound, over a long period of time. The use of a mallet or stick of any kind is highly discouraged. There are handpan players and professionals who will use specially made mallets and know how to properly strike the instrument that it won’t cause damage — though the player does take a risk if not properly taught on proper mallet use.

These may seem like extra precautions you don’t need to take in caring for your handpan; however, the benefits of protecting your handpan while it is still in mint condition are enormous. You’ll thank us later, when you hear the reverberant sound of the handpan playing with the same resonance and depth, as when you first brought it home. Guests and music aficionados will take note of how well you have taken care of your handpan. Over the years, the instrument will thank you, with each caress, as the notes last and linger in the ether.

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