Acceptable tuning accuracy for a mid range handpan?

I received my first handpan last week, and noticed that the tuning of some of the notes is off. By ear it’s fairly hard to notice (especially if the notes are played quietly) but when using a tuner it shows that most of the notes are between 10 and 20 cents sharp, while others are slightly flat.

It’s a mid range handpan (Novapans Gen 3), so I wasn’t expecting it to be perfect, but I’m just wondering if it’s common for the notes to be off by this much, or if it should be re-tuned? I’ll likely reach out to the seller and ask the same, but I figured I’d get the opinion of you guys as well, since I’m sure some of you have experienced this in one way or another before.

Also, is it more common for notes to be sharp or flat? When a handpan typically detunes over years of use, does it usually get sharper or flatter?

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I have a similar question here on the forum, and got no satisfying answer so far… what I know is that out of tune notes are getting sharper normally.

There was a post on facebook last days from Yishama that a tuning should last 2-3 years - in this case I guess for a high range instrument.

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Hello shaneparsons,

and welcome to Handpan Village I am very sorry to hear that. At ther FAQ/website (https://www.novapans.com/handpans-faq/) they say they had not one handpan that goes out of tune in the last 5 Years… they also said that you can tune the handpan yourself - I would 100% advise against that! They say:

Can I retune my Handpan by myself?

It’s possible to retune your handpan by yourself, especially if it is only a slight change to the tuning, typically caused by an accidental knock or drop from below the waist height.

But please don’t go into it, tuning the handpan is a very very skilled job!

Get in contact with Novapan and look for a solution. This Handpans are made in China, Vietnam, Russia, Hungary depending on the generation you buy. But They have exactly one tuner worldwide and it is located in the USA. They advertise the Gen3 with “Intonation: High” - this is not the case with you.I wish you good luck in solving this problem with Novapan. Maybe you can keep us up to date here.

Best regards, Marco

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Thanks for the reply Marco. I reached out to him and will post an update once I have resolved this… One way or another.

Where did you hear that they have a tuner in the US? I was under the impression that I’d have to send it back to him in Taiwan, although I hadn’t looked into it much yet.

I asked novapans at Facebook.

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Hey there,

Good questions to be asking. Typically the tuning accuracy comes down to the maker experience and abilities. Give or take, you will notice most high end makers stick to around 3 cents, mid range can be 10 cents and the lower end usually around 20 cents. This is from my relatively limited experience in retuning other makes myself, but also from talking with many other makers about this.

Typically, when I build my own instruments, I shoot for around 3 cents, however I try to let the instrument “work together” and sometimes it actually sounds better if it’s slightly detuned in relation to itself vs if it’s all exactly on point. When everything is perfect at 0 cents, it can sound rather bland, as well as cause some other undersirable issues.

Something to note, your instrument may have also been damaged in transit, especially if shipped internationally and in a soft case or non protective case.
The next thing to consider is stability. The higher end makers will focus a great deal on stability to ensure their instruments stay in tune over time. I have yet to see a low quality or even mid range maker incorporate good stability into their instruments, it takes significant skill and time to achieve this stability. Which invariably jacks up the price. So even getting it retuned won’t guarantee it will stay in tune, that comes down to the original builder whether this stability is inherently built into the instrument.

Hope this helps

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Thank you, this is helping a lot - following here, bc I had a similiar topic about tuning.

This is exact my experience with a (higher end :slightly_frowning_face:) instrument: The retuning didn’t last long…

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Thanks for the informative reply, it definitely clears up a lot! In my case I feel like poor stability was probably the main culprit, so I’m glad I didn’t try to have it retuned!

UPDATE: I spoke to the seller and he offered to either reimburse me to send it off for retuning, or a full refund for shipping it back to him. I’ve decided that since this is something I intend to cherish / have for a lifetime that I would go with the refund and spend the money on a higher end handpan elsewhere.

This means I’ll be without handpan for a couple of months, and out a lot more money than I initially intended on spending, but this has been a great learning experience for me and I think it’s all for the best.

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Hello Shaneparsons,
this page of Josh Rivera’s site should interest you. Read what scrolls at the bottom of the page …

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