Everything about hang drum original, analogues, alternatives

What is a hang drum

Hang drum is one of the youngest musical instruments in the world. It was invented in 2000by two Swiss, Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer. The hang drum was created as a result of years of research of music and instruments from around the world.

The creators of hang drum were inspired by:

  • steel pan -  concave metal drum from Trinidad,
  • gamelan - traditional Indonesian ensemble music,
  • gong music,
  • Indian clay drum gatam,
  • African clay drum udu,
  • bells, cowbell in particular.


Because of its resemblance to an UFO, hang drum was called the "space instrument".

You don't have to be a musician to play.

The main idea of the new hang drum is that it is more important to feel the music than to play the musical instrument skillfully. It is made so that everyone can play it, because the notes the hang drum can play perfectly combine with each other. It's possible thanks to pentatonic scale.

Pentatonic musical instrument.

Hang drum is a pentatonic steel drum, aka idiophone. In simple terms, it is tuned according to a scheme that only includes the notes that sound well with each other.

How does hang look like.


The classic hang drum consists of two connected hemispheres of nitrided steel, the upper of them is called Ding, and the lower — Gu. On the Ding side there are 8 tonal areas (fields) with dents that make up the “tonal circle” (scale, harmony). In the center of the circle is a central dome called "Ding". Ding is usually the lowest note of the hang drum scale. On the Gu side is a hole the size of a human hand. It serves for resonance. Gu can be used to create deep "gurgling" sounds or to modulate the sound of Ding.

The technique of playing the hang drum.

The most common technique for playing hang drum is similar to drumming. However, you can extract the sound with hang drum in many different ways even without knocking it. This is largely due to the individual approach to performance. In addition to fingers, you can play with your finger bones, nails, palm, fist. You can rub the membranes with your fingers, causing them to hum  (the technique is similar to playing standing bell or musical saw).

Due to the different techniques of playing, different timbre (overtone) tone of the hang drum sound can be achieved.

Usually the musician puts hang drum on the lap (horizontally or "on edge") and plays sitting with his legs crossed. Hang drum can also be put on a drum rack.

Hang drum from the creators.


Felix and Sabina, who invented the hang, became the founders of the production company of steel hangpan drum PANArt Hangbau AG.

In 2001, PANArt opened a chain of stores, which by 2005 had spread throughout Europe, and one store was opened in the United States. But PANArt ceased to cope with the demand for hang drums and in 2006 it was forced to stop selling worldwide. Since that year hang drums can only be purchased in Bern, directly at the manufacture. The same year the company stopped selling the instruments by Internet.

The latest versions of hang drums from PANArt are called Gubal and Balu. There is no price range for hang drums at PANArt page. Different sources claim that the price range for different PANArt hang drums is of $ 1500-2500.

In order to become the owner of a PANArt hang drum, one needs to write a letter to pangmusik@panart.ch. But manufacturers do not respond to all the requests. In your letter you should justify, why you should get the original hang drum.

Analogues of hang drum.

The lack of supply for the demand led to the fact that different masters from around the world began to create hang drum replicas. And since the name of the musical instrument, "hang drum", is a registered trademark of PANArt, hang drum analogues (and there are several dozen of them today) have other names (the name often contains words "pan" or ”handpan").

It's hard for an inexperienced pto erson distinguish hang drum analogues vsually. At the same time, all analogues have their own unique sound, and each instrument has its own fans.

Cheap Chinese counterparts.

You can find many of them at Amazon and Ebay. A distinctive feature of these drums, in addition to the price , is that their tuning is prone to errors. So they may not sound perfect. Nevertheless, these low-quality fakes are in demand.

How to tune a hang drum.

Any hang drum, original or equivalent, requires tuning every 1 or 2 years. This is usually done by manufacturers.

Alternative to hang drum with small weight and size.

Hang drum is quite big (with a diameter of about 50-60 cm), and it also weighs a lot (more than 10 kg). That's why a bit later steel tongue drums (aka metal tongue drums) started appearing. They are much smaller and lighter, but are based on the same principle of “Anyone can play”.

You can literally "touch" such hang drum at our page. We produce them in Bali, the birthplace of gamelan, that inspired the creators of hang drum.

Our small hangpan drums are called UFO Drum.

They're tuned by an experienced master of the Royal Gamelan Orchestra of Indonesia.

UFO Drum is much cheaper than the original hang drum. You can take them with you what travelling. They come with a handy bag. UFO Drum weighs from 1.5 to 2.5 kg depending on the model.

All UFO Drum, as well as the hang drums, are idiophones. The sound of such instruments has been used for vibroacoustic therapy since ancient times.

You can choose your sound for UFO dram online by simply clicking on the tabs with the mouse.


The difference between hang drum and UFO Drum:

  • SIZE: hang drum - 50-60 cm, UFO Drum - 23/27 cm.
  • WEIGHT: hang drum - more than 10 kg, UFO Drum - 1.5/2.5 kg.
  • TUNING: hang drum - required every 2 years, UFO Drum - is not required.
  • PRICE: hang drum - more than $ 1500, UFO Drum - $ 250/290.

The similarities of hang drum and UFO Drum:

  • Pentatonic.
  • Idiophone.
  • Metallic.
  • Similar technique of playing.
  • You don't have to be a musician to play.


We love our little alternative to hang drum and hope you will like UFO drum too.