Articles in Category: english blog

Almost 3000 pans and 1200 musicians for Panorama finals !

on Monday, 24 February 2020. Posted in english blog

Almost 3000 pans and 1200 musicians for Panorama finals !

Almost 3000 pans and 1200 musicians for Panorama finals last Saturday!

Here is some news from the Steelpan community ... This weekend the finals of the Panorama took place, in the middle of the carnival in Port of Spain (Trinidad), this competition has been a real institution since 1963. The winner of this year is the Steelband "Desperadoes" and you can see a video of their performance here:

I’d like to take this opportunity to relay information about the reissue of a book that has become rare: "The Illustrated Story of Pan" by Kim Johnson.

Kim Johnson is the director of the Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, he is considered as a reference in the history of the Steelpan. In a recent exchange, he told me that he considered the Handpan to be an interesting offshoot of the Steelpan and that it should therefore be welcomed as any cousin should be.

To all those interested in the history of the instrument that gave birth to ours, I invite you to support this fundraising campaign for the second edition of this book:…/the-illustrated-story-of-pan-th…

makers survey feedback

on Monday, 01 May 2017. Posted in english blog

shellopan deep drawing tools for hanpan shells

Here is a feedback following the survey launched 6 months ago. The idea was to ask the makers and apprentices which future developments in the Shellopan cooperative could be the most interesting for the community.

The availability of different sizes of shells and the possibility of experimenting with a thicker material (1.1mm) collect the most demand. Although I have received a lot of demand for ready-to-use nitrided material, very few have expressed interest in a material prepared with long nitriding recipe (although the PANArt licensed nitriding process seems to have advantages...).

I have received a lot of demand for the supply of shells and this volume can not be supplied with the production that I realize today. The limit does not come from the production tools but comes from the choice of steel, all the steel are not equal (the standard DC04 is not a guarantee of quality, the tolerances of the norm are too wide, it is by example frequent of having a DC04 with DC05 characteristics). The level of knowledge of the links between the physical / chemical characteristics of the steel, the impact of nitriding, the most appropriate tuning technique and the timbre of the final instrument is not yet sufficiently developed.
I am sorry if I could not answer all the requests, I decided not to compromise on the choice of the material because I personally use the same steel as the one I share. The arrival of other manufacturers of shells should make the market more fluid but I can only recommend to any buyer to ask for the real characteristics of the purchased steel or shell (physical, chemical, thickness distribution, depth of nitrided layer...).

I am currently working on the production of the 6th Shellopan shell batch, always with 1mm steel and a deep drawing method optimizing the thickness distribution (you can have more information on the fablab page of the shellopan website : ). For the 1.1 mm steel, I will have to produce my own steel (25 tons minimum). Such a volume will only be feasible if I can obtain guarantees concerning the physical and chemical characteristics of the material. This warranty is for the moment impossible to obtain and I would inform you of any progress.

The elements that make a recording, a great one!

on Wednesday, 30 November 2016. Posted in english blog

The elements that make a recording, a great one!

Here is another article from Spyros Pan, well known player in the Handpan community comming from Greece, he wrote an essay argued by his experiences about studio recording of handpan sound (and valuable info for any kind of recording) :

"The first step to a good recording is to identify and know what it is you really need. This is the most important factor that will also determine how many “benjamins” you will need. Studio or home recording? Do you want to make a youtube recording or are you looking into pressing your material into vinyl or cd?  Will you choose analog equipment or go digital?..."

You can read the full article on his blog and discover his musical universe on his website


What Makes a Great Sounding Handpan?

on Monday, 28 November 2016. Posted in english blog

What Makes a Great Sounding Handpan?

Here is an article from Lauri Wuolio, well known player in the Handpan community comming from Finland, he wrote an essay about what are the sound caracteristic of the handpan :

 "A good cupola (handpan) sounds amazing. The sound is full, warm and resonates deep inside you. But what is the essence, or the soul, of that sound? What makes a good cupola recording?..."

You can read the full article on his blog

and discover Lauri's work on his website


Building a Handpan : what is possible to do in one week ?

on Monday, 25 January 2016. Posted in english blog

Clemens playing his fablab made Shellopan / Handpan

Following the path of (hand)pan

For a long time i was enchanted by the sound of the soundsculptures, but only a little more than a year ago my first instrument found me. A revolution took place inside of me, i was opened up to a new dimension – playing music. It is possibly one of the most fullfilling and blessing experiences a human being can have.

Of course i was intrigued to find out how a lump of steel can turn into something as beautiful as a handpan. These soundsculptures seem to be alive, to have a soul of their own, or at the very last be able to become a mirror of our own soul.

The deeper i dived into the marvelous world of handpan the stronger grew the desire to try and hammer on steel myself. When i met Matthieu from Shellopan at the end of last year and learned about his work, suddenly there was a chance to give in to this desire without investing a lot of money into equipement that i was not sure i could handle and yet still work with proven material (some of the most beautiful instruments i have played came from that very same material).

So finally there i was at the workshop of Shellopan, ready for the next step on the path of (hand)pan. To prepare myself i had spent hours and hours reading in the makers section of, reading Panart's early publications, Ulf Kronmann's book on steelpans and of course reading in the „steelpan bible“ (Anthony Achong's „The secrets of the steelpan“).

Matthieu was ready too, he had put a lot of thought into the best way to introduce a greenhorn like myself into the woes and wonders of tuning steel. He decided that a reversed engineering approach would be the best way.

On the first day he handed me an old Shellopan prototype, an already glued instrument which was not in tune anymore and let me have my way with it. So i started with the last step of the process, the fine tuning. After about 8 hours of hammering, the conclusion i came to after my first day was: this is even harder than i thought! (and i didn't expect it to be easy) I had not only not managed to come even close to tuning one note on the instrument but got it way more out of tune than it was before.

The second day was dedicated to the step that comes before glueing and after shaping: the tuning of an open shell in the tuning ring. The shell had already been worked on and an experienced and skilled tuner could have finished this step quite quickly. Not me though ;-) I spent all day hammering on this shell and at the end of the day i had managed to come close to tuning two notes on this shell and ruining a couple more of them. Matthieu and Delphine saw the notes i had ruined as challenges and i learned a lot watching them correct my mistakes, while they explained to me exactly how they were going about it. That day before going to bed (which was inside the workshop, perfect to be fully immersed into the world of handpan production) i decided to try again on one of the notes on the prototype that i had hammered to be more than 300 cents sharp on my first day and, lo and behold, within 15 minutes linotune showed all three bars in green. What a wonderful moment!

The third day was finally the day to start on my own shell, but first Delphine showed me how to work on the interstitial areas and note borders with the airhammers. After that i started to draw the notes of the chosen scale (Amara in C#) on a raw shell. Matthieu pressed the notefields and after that i started to work with the airhammers. This step turned out to be a lot more difficult than it looked when watching Delphine and of course correction work from Matthieu was necessary again. After that the shell was put in the kiln to temper it (trying to go for a pink color as i wanted to build the first pan for my 4 year old daughter who loves all things pink). After that Matthieu showed me how to losen a note and then i started to work on the notes in the circle of this instrument #1.

This kept me busy all of day four and five. I learned how important the preparing steps really are for the tuning process and that attention to detail is key in every step. I managed to get some notes close to the desired frequencies (mostly within 10-20 cents) others were not as close and the lowest note i just couldn't get anywhere close. Matthieu tuned the central note, as i was afraid to mess it up. The central note is the best part of the finished instrument, he did an amazing job on it. Delphine in one turn tuned the circle of notes (the „choir“) in about an hour and then the first instrument i have ever worked on was ready to be glued. It is very hard to put into words how i felt, i hugged Delphine and Matthieu and was very very happy and excited!

The instrument came out surprisingly good, but that is only because every mistake i made was corrected again by Matthieu or Delphine.

This is a little attempt to recapture the experience of my week at Shellopan, but i feel it only scratches the surface. I haven't mentioned the warm and nice people i met and the creative and inspiring atmosphere i felt, the late night jams and conversations, the tasty food and the many beautiful shared memories i will forever cherish.

Thank you so much Matthieu for welcoming me into your home and sharing your knowledge, skills and wisdom with me! I will forever appreciate how much you helped me to get started on this never ending journey of tuning steel and can't wait to return soon.


handpan building steps

Tools and Sharing

on Tuesday, 20 January 2015. Posted in english blog

Creating our own tools is certainly exciting but the investment capacity of the amateur / enthusiast are naturally limited. A collective project helped to create deepdrawing tools whose production is shared among several makers apprentices in Europe. The goal: industrial technologies access and getting a stable raw material to focus on tuning learning. Such raw materials with a very basic shape provides a free space allowing everyone to develop their own touch and accents. Its development takes into account unusual quality criteria for the industry.

The success of such a project seems very encouraging and the idea of going further in this direction worth exploring other tools, other members, a Handpan "fablab", makers meetings ... any ideas and opinions are welcome!


on Sunday, 30 November 2014. Posted in english blog

Learning how to tune a HandPan requires some equipment in order to improve. Our first prototypes series allowed us to determine the tools we need for better results in our work. We decided during the year 2014 to focus on the construction of our own workshop and tools.

Essentials are: a shop press (in red), a stamping tool for centering pieces (yellow) and a tuning stand (gray) ... All in our new shop!


Below, the marriage of a tire fitter, a truck rim, a conveyor motor, concrete vibrator and a roller wheel to give birth to our first metal spinning tool ;)

A few more tools to build and we will be ready in early 2015 for our second prototypes series!

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