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10 Tips for Choosing Handpan Scales

Sailun Tires

While watching another video with a handpan musician whose hands dance around the drum and create an enchanting melody, you finally decide: “I want one too!” You go to the store with the clear intention of buying an instrument for yourself. But the number of scales is freaking you out. How do you choose one? Here are 10 tips to make choosing the scale of your handpan drums as easy as pie.

Tip 1 Consider the player

Who’s gonna play the instrument? Is it gonna be an adult or a kid? A newbie or a pro? A solo player or a jam session participant? It’s essential to decide these things first, especially if you still haven’t decided on the instrument.

There are many different drums related to handpans that are available for sale: pan drums, opsilon handpans,  tongue drums, handcrafted tank drums, etc. Handpan drums will be the choice for pros as these drums require having solid technique and hours of practice. At the same time, tongue drums like the RAV Vast drums will work great for everyone as they combine the amazing sound that professionals are hunting for and the ease to play that makes them suitable for total beginners and children.


Tip 2 Exercising your ear

Before jumping to the choice of drum, take your time to surf through music videos and the sound recordings of the different handpans and tongue drums. Make a note of the scales you liked the most. Look for performances of professional musicians that reveal all the capabilities of each scale.


Tip 3 Check out your playlist

When choosing a scale, you’ll see that they mainly have a minor or major mode. To understand which one you need, go to your playlist and scroll through it. What music do you prefer? Slow and moody or happy and uplifting? If you prefer soft and relaxing melodies, choose the minor mode scale drums. These will let you produce mysterious and meditative melodies. If your playlists are rather full of fast and entertaining songs, then the major mode with its motivating melodies and catchy rhythms will be your choice. You’ll also see that each drum has its key note which determines the overall sound of the drum.

Tip 4 Learn the variety

Know the options available for purchase. It’s like choosing a coffee. Which one do you like? The cappuccino or the hard espresso? Or maybe a whipped-cream latte with syrup? You need to examine the menu and read the list of contents before going to checkout.

Take a look at the websites of handpan instrument brands. Each producer creates their own scales – examine them carefully. The RAV brand provides a short video for each of its drums, so you can see and hear a professional musician performing the sound of each scale.

Tip 5 Decide on the culture (American, Asian, Arabic)

Do you prefer a traditional sound? Or are you maybe a fan of ethnic melodies? The scales of the handpans and tongue drums produce different sound that can remind you of traditional Asian music or the rhythms of native Americans. Take a look and choose one that connects better to your inner feelings.

Tip 6 Think of how you’re gonna use the drum (meditation, solo playing)

What is your main purpose for playing? Do you want to use it for relaxing meditation? Or do you want to make records playing solo in a studio? Or do you maybe want to join a music band and play with other musicians? The RAV Vast makes it easier to choose as each drum denotes the purpose it will work best for. Just take a look at the description of each drum.


Tip 7 Check your budget

Determine the budget at your disposal. The more complicated the scale is to play (and to produce), the more expensive it is. If you don’t feel experienced enough to handle a whimsical scale, opt for a more versatile option. If you’re choosing from the RAV Vasts, take a look at the B RUS or D Minor. These scales will give you an easy ride and will let you save your money, too.


Tip 8 Choosing the number of notes

Handpans and tongue drums mainly have 8 notes surrounding the central lowest note – the Ding. However, there are some options with additional notes that are usually placed on the Ding (like the B Celtic Double Ding RAV Vast) or on the bottom (like the F Pygmy RAV Pan, which has 2 additional bottom notes). These additional notes provide greater room for experimentation and will be of interest to more advanced musicians.


Tip 9 Check out the most popular scale (best sellers)


If you don’t want to delve into all these particularities, just take a look at the most popular scales. The most requested ones will be marked with a “best-seller” or “recommended” label. The majority cannot be mistaken!


Tip 10 Don’t limit yourself to one scale

You can find your most beloved scale on the very first try and it can be your Juliet. Or you can keep searching and find your love after trying many others. Don’t hesitate to experiment and simply enjoy the process!


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