When will you have handpans for sale in your new shop? Why is everything sold out? Every month we are only able to post a limited number of handpans for sale. This is because we are also still very busy building custom handpans for prior orders. If nothing is available when you visit- it has been sold.

How can I be notified of when there are new instruments in the webstore? We recommend checking the new shop every month for new and different scales. You can also signup up for our priority mailing list to be notified when we list new instruments.

Handpan, hang drum - What is the difference really? In the year 2000 the Swiss company PanArt invented the sound sculpture and gave it the name “Hang”. The name "Hang drum or hangdrum" is also often used for this original type of instrument. When other builders also started making the instrument, the group name for the type of instrument became “Handpan" or "Handpan drum".

What is the difference between your nitrided steel and stainless steel handpans? There are three main differences between our nitrided and stainless steel handpans. First, the sound/sustain/timbre is long and bright on our stainless steel instruments. This makes them ideal for meditative playing, sound therapy, or players that prefer long sounding notes. Our nitrided steel has a beautiful and slightly more mellow timbre that could be described as more ceramic-like, than purely bright, as with the stainless.

Second, the size of the stainless steel instruments is slightly smaller in diameter by 1 inch and overall by several inches. This makes them fit in the lap comfortably and makes them great and portable for beginners.

Third, the color of stainless steel is either a metallic or straw yellow hue, where our nitrided steel are blue/purple. This is controlled by our heating process, and is what we offer for instrument color.

The scale choices are more limited on the stainless instruments due to the instruments smaller size. Both instruments are rust resistant and require little maintenance. In extreme or harsh humid or salty environments, stainless may be a better choice for some players.

How much do your handpan instruments cost?
Our handpans come in a range of prices. Prices are based on things like sound, steel kind, artwork, number of notes and whether or not a hard or soft case is included. You can find these instruments for sale in our shop every month. Our custom instruments start at a base price of $3250 USD. 

Do you ship your instruments? Yes, we ship our instruments worldwide.

I can’t order a handpan from your store. Why not? Our webstore currently only allows transactions for customers in the United States. If you live outside the USA and are looking to purchase an instrument, we can help you complete a purchase. But you must Contact us first. Extra shipment costs, duties, taxes/import fees will be your responsibility with purchase. We always provide an original invoice for worldwide shipments.

What are your most popular scales? Our most popular scales right now are the various D minor scales ("D Integral 8",  "D Celtic" ), and the "E SaByeD" scale.

Do you have cases for the instruments? Yes. We offer both hard and soft cases as options. The Hardcases are called "Evateks" and manufactured by Hard Case Technologies. These cases are impact resistant, durable and offer great protection for your instrument during shipping or transport. 

We also have new amazing soft cases that are handmade by Namana bags. These cases are extremely comfortable for long transports with a handpan on your back. The bags are easy to store as well. In our opinion, they are the right choice for careful owners that like to be mobile with their handpan.

How big is an Isthmus handpan? the outside diameter of our handpans is approximately 22 inch, with height of 11 inches.

Is there a certain Hertz that Isthmus handpans are tuned in to? We tune our instruments to 440 Hz. We can tune our handpans to 432 Hz as well for special orders.

How does the climate impact my Isthmus handpan?  Generally speaking, humid places requires more attention for the handpan maintenance than dry climate. If you live in a humid place, we recommend applying handpan oil to your instrument at least once a month.

Can I pickup an Isthmus Instruments handpan in person? Yes! We love meeting our customers and getting to know them is one of our main goals! A  pickup for your instrument is always possible, and can be made by scheduling a time beforehand.

Are your instruments heat-treated? Yes. We heat treat and gas nitride our instruments. This process allows for a greater resistance to rust, while also improving some aspects of building, sound qualities and color.

Are your instruments Nitrided ? Yes. All of our handpans are fully nitrided. This helps reduce the chance of rust and improves the sound.

How are your instruments built? The raw instrument shells are formed using a specially designed tools. The tools were developed by Isthmus Instruments and they are used exclusively in the USA.   In the Isthmus Instrument workshop, the blank shells are dimpled, hammered & tuned by hand, heated and tuned several times for the best stability and sound quality.

How long does it take you to build an instrument? (...Five years and counting!) Generally the process can take up to a number of weeks, from raw form to finished instrument.

There is always more to learn with this process in regards to metal shaping techniques, tuning, heat treatments, properties of materials, etc... Isthmus Instruments is constantly involved in R & D to improve all aspects of instrument making.

How often do your instruments need to be tuned? Over time (years), the instrument may slowly begin to drift out of “perfect” tuning. This is normal and can be fixed. A casual or hobby player may not need a retuning service for a few years while a professional musician may need more frequent service.

How do you guarantee the tuning of your instruments? If in the first year something happens to the tuning of your instrument in an unprecedented way, we will repair/ retune the instrument absolutely free of charge. (Any instrument that has been damaged will require a different evaluation). After the 1st year there may be a small fee. We work hard to guarantee that the instruments we build are of the most stable quality. Additionally, Isthmus is involved in ongoing material studies.

Can Isthmus Instruments retune my handpan from a different maker? It is recommended that you first contact the original maker of your handpan for a retuning service or touch ups. If your maker fails to provide you with this service, you can contact Jenny at isthmusinstruments@gmail.com.

Will you build me a custom scale? Yes, we want to work with you to build the instrument of your choice.  There are sometimes limitations around this however, so please inquire for details.

Why did you choose the name Isthmus Instruments for your venture? Madison, WI, where I live and work, is located on an isthmus. To me, conceiving of the Isthmus as a "land bridge" underplays the importance of water to the city and its people. Madison is more like a bridge connecting two incredible bodies of water; it is a special location. Like Madison and its lakes, my instruments are two bodies joined together that produce a sound some say evokes water itself.

Here are some great informational resources: