Welcome to the Saraz family and thank you for supporting our creative efforts. An instrument like this is a significant investment. The following are a few points of concern and recommendations for promoting a long and healthy life of the instrument.
We now offer Froglube liquid rust preventative for sale in the 1.5 oz squeeze tube, 4 oz bottle, 8 oz bottle and presoaked wipes. We strongly recommend this product over any other we have yet found because of its all natural biodegradable, environmental and skin friendly ingredients. Details can be found on the Rust Prevention page
If something is spilled on your Hand Pan and it needs to be cleaned, use Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Taking the rubber trim off first is recommended during this process. After cleaning, it is strongly recommended to apply a coating of Froglube or Ballistol for further protection.
Each shell of our Hand Pans have undergone a heat treatment process that makes them more rust resistant than raw steel. It is still made of steel however and may rust if it is not cleaned regularly and kept oiled with a rust preventative. Natural oil from hands is the most common cause of rust, particularly for people that have more acidic sweat. We recommended that our sound sculptures be wiped down with the provided microfiber cloth after each playing session. It is also recommended that it be cleaned regularly with pure rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) of the highest percentage possible. After cleaning, it is strongly encouraged to apply a coating of FrogLube or Ballistol. A sample of Froglube is included with each of our Hand Pans. We also offer Froglube and Ballistol liquid rust preventative for sale in the 1.5 oz squeeze tube, 4 oz bottle and presoaked wipes. Details can be found on the Rust Prevention page.
How much you should oil and clean your sound sculpture is based on how often and where you play it. If you busk multiple days per week in a hot and humid environment where you sweat constantly, then it is strongly recommended that you oil the instrument every day before and after playing. If you play your Hand Pan one time every few days or weeks and it is always stored inside in a climate controlled environment, then oiling it once every few months is probably fine. If you live anywhere near the ocean, it is especially important to clean your Hand Pan very well and very often! The salty humid air is another common cause of rust on all Hand Pans. Rust can develop on every brand of Hand Pan that spends even a couple days within 20-30 miles of the ocean. While the beach has the most humid and salty air, even areas miles away can be problematic. The issue arises from the acidity of the salt in the humid air. If you live near the ocean, it is strongly recommended that you wipe down your Hand Pan after every playing session, clean it with alcohol and apply Froglube or Ballistol weekly. Try to find the most dry place possible to store it, such as in an air conditioned environment. Don’t ever keep it in the bag if the bag gets moist, which it probably will in such an environment.
It is possible to use too much Ballistol, after which a handpan can sound a bit more muffled. A little bit goes a long way! If too much is used, then the excess can be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol.
If rust develops on your Saraz, one of two options is recommended. There is a product called “Miracle all purpose polishing cloth” with real coconut oil. It takes some effort to polish with this cloth, but this will take the rust off. It will also take off any colored finished such as the blue/purple/golden color on our rolled shell instruments. Another option is to polish the surface with either a “Mother’s Powerball” polishing tool or a steel cup brush and a drill. The cup brush is the best option in our opinion. It is important to find a cup brush with the finest bristles possible to avoid scratching however. Bristle width of 0.006″ or smaller is ideal. Most steel cup brushes sold in stores are much thicker and may scratch the surface. McMaster-Carr and MSC Direct offer an excellent steel cup brush for polishing with fine bristles. This may sound a bit crazy, but this is how every Saraz Hand Pan is polished. As long as the brush is not pressed down hard on the note membranes, it will not effect the tuning. This method may also take some of the color off however not as much as a miracle cloth or powerball. With either method, it is strongly recommended to take the rubber trim off of the rim first. After either method, it is important to clean the Hand Pan very well with rubbing alcohol and then apply a coating of Froglube or Ballistol for further rust prevention.
Average variations in temperature have little effect on the long term tuning stability of our sound sculptures. In general, they should not however be left for a prolonged period in vehicles in the hot sun. In direct sunlight, the tuning may shift minimally but will return to it’s correct position when allowed to cool off. Cooler temperatures typically have little effect.
STORING A SARAZ HAND PAN WHEN NOT BEING PLAYED
It is recommended to keep it in the bag as long as it is dry and not damp in any way. Otherwise, keep it in a dry place where it can’t be easily damaged from falling or something else falling on it.
BEST WAY TO PLAY A SARAZ HAND PAN
Like most Hand Pans, no musical theory is required to enjoying playing our sound sculptures. This is because each of our Hand Pans is like a folk instrument with a particular scale. Although scales vary greatly, there are few if any “wrong” notes or combinations of notes given the complexity of a specific scale. Therefore, the player is allowed to play from a more kinetic and emotional inspiration that can be free of the mind. The notes on our sound scultptures are laid out in the traditional zig zag pattern with the lowest note in the center of the instrument.
While many people assume that Hand Pans are drums or consider them to be so, it is VERY IMPORTANT to realize that they can not be played like many other drums such as congas, bongos, djembes, and drum set. The Saraz, like all Hand Pans, requires a much softer touch. Playing too hard will not only produce a lower quality sound due to distortions of the note membrane’s vibration, but will also likely knock the instrument out of tune much quicker than normal play. The best players play with their individual fingers, not hands. Often the tip of the finger or pad at the end of the finger is used to strike the notes. The most important part is the bounce. If the finger is left on the note for too long, it will dampen and kill the sound. Most people start pulling back on their fingers just before they strike the surface in order to create the quickest bounce possible. Playing is much like touching or testing a very hot surface.
The sound of each tone field is diverse depending on where it is hit because each note is actually 3 notes: a fundamental tone and two harmonics. If one strikes near the dimple, in the dimple or on the edge of the dimple, they are likely to hear more of the fundamental tone. If one strikes on the flat area around the dimple, they may hear more of one harmonic in addition to the fundamental.
Some people choose to play some Hand Pans with gloves. This will produce a more muted “attack”, which is the sound of fingers on the metal surface independent of the notes and harmonics. For those interested in gloves, Silk Glove liners are recommended. Thermosilk makes a great silk glove liner that is available in many sizes and offers little constriction. There is no need to use glove to play our sound sculptures unless desired.
In learning how to play, many believe it is better to “play now and think later”, especially when first exploring a Hand Pan. These are young instruments that are barely over a decade old so techniques are still being developed. For those that would like to learn about popularized techniques or develop new percussion skills, check out the educational DVDs produced by Colin Foulke and David Kuckherman. They can be found at www.handpanfan.com
The use of any mallet or stick on the Saraz is VERY STRONGLY DISCOURAGED! The tuning of the instrument is not guaranteed under these conditions. Playing the instrument in this way will definitely knock the instrument out of tune sooner, especially if played aggressively. Also be aware that aggressively or consistently bending a note membrane will knock any handpan note out of tune much more quickly.
What is within reason will be done to cover any issues with each Saraz Hand Pan. If the instrument is taken care of properly and not damaged by dropping or inappropriate playing, it should last for many years with only minor adjustments to the tuning every 1-2 years for professional musicians and less for hobby players. If the instrument is damaged, it can usually be repaired, however there is a cost that is determined on a case by case basis.
FOAM INSIDE THE INSTRUMENT
Almost all Hand Pans have a resonant chamber. With this resonance comes complications with impedance due to how certain frequencies move in the chamber. There is foam taped inside of almost every 21″ Saraz built before 2016 to deal with this subtle issue. It has been positioned in a very specific place for maximum effect and should not be tampered with or taken out. If it is not tampered with, it should not come lose. If it does come loose, use a heavy duty tape such as Gorilla Tape to reattach it to the same position. If you are unsure of where it should be positioned inside, contact us and we will tell you the best place based on the scale of your specific instrument. We have purposely used tape to attach the foam in case it needs to be removed for tuning work or repairs. Please do not glue it back on if it comes lose. We began building 3 sizes of Saraz to deal with this issue. Very few Saraz built in 2016 or later have foam inside.
Depending on how hard it is played, a tune up is recommended every 12-24 months for professional players or when it feels like it needs it for hobby players. In general, it seems that most Hand Pan notes shift in tuning together so even if the instrument isn’t perfectly in tune to a western standard after years of playing, it may still be in tune to itself and sound fine to a hobby player for years. We are happy to check the tuning or give a fresh tune up to any Saraz Hand Pan. Price is determined on the needs of the instrument. We do not offer a drop off and pick up tuning service at our shop. The instrument will need to be shipped to us. Turn around is typically 3-5 days after arrival depending on how extensive the job is. The customer is responsible for shipping costs to and from us. We can also recommend a few quality tuners around the world whom might be closer to your area.
Our current work load and schedule does not allow for us to consider tuning or repairing any other brand of Hand Pan.
SCRATCHES AND BLEMISHES
You may find irregularities in the finish of your Saraz including scratches or small blemishes formed by a hammer. A Saraz is a unique, hand-made instrument crafted from locally bought steel sheets that often contain such blemishes from the fabricator. Each sheet of steel is hit with a hammer at least tens of thousands of times while most Saraz are hit hundreds of thousands of times. These blemishes have been heat treated and do not affect the sound of the instrument.
REPAIRING A DAMAGED SARAZ HAND PAN
Generally, it is very likely that our sound sculptures can be repaired if they are not excessively damaged. If it was dropped from the top of a building or out of a moving car, it probably can not be repaired. A drop from waist or shoulder height that results in a minor dent or note being knocked out of tune can usually be fixed. In some more severe situations, the instrument will need to be cut open for repairs.
If a Saraz is damaged, please take numerous photos of the damage and make a video of how it has affected the sound of the instrument by playing each affected note individually, then email us and include this information. We will do our best to give you an idea of what will be required to fix it, however it is impossible to really know what it will take until we start the process.
Minor repairs that don’t require taking the instrument apart or working on it for hours will generally be $100-200. If we need to cut the instrument open, repairs could be $200 and up depending on the difficulty and time required. The customer is responsible for shipping costs in both directions. For minor repairs, we might be able to also recommend another builder with the skills to fix it closer to your area. It is strongly recommended that customers take as much care of their instrument as possible as it is not only a musical instrument but also a one of kind piece of art. Insurance for musical instruments is very affordable and offered through many major insurance companies. This option is strongly recommended, especially for those who travel with their instruments often.
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If you have another question that is not answered here, please contact us via email.
Thank you again for your support and welcome to the family. May this sound sculpture bring you many blessings and endless inspiration!