Selecting your scale

When you order from Celestial Sound you have the option to design your instrument right down to the fine details. You will get to decide on the Material, Size, Scale, Tuning and Aesthetic. To find out more about your options, read on below and we can work through the design together.

 Once you’ve completed this checklist, we will be able to provide for you a quote to craft your instrument. At any stage during your time on the waiting list, you may reach out to us for guidance or clarity surrounding any of this.
Be sure to check out the Care and Cleaning page for information on how to look after your instrument.

Our Standard Scales

The standard scales are intentionally selected to offer a broad spectrum of musicality, encompassing the light and dark as well as simplified and saturated. There are major, minor and exotic scales as well as diatonic and pentatonic scales, and much in between. There is enough to suit many individuals so we encourage you to take the time to really sit with these scales and find what calls to you.

Our Advanced and Custom Scales

We also offer a small selection of advanced scales and can cater for different types of custom scale orders at an additional price. We can expand on variations of all scales, including those in our common scales list. 

If you are called to a scale that we don’t offer on our Standard 53cm or Aki 50cm instruments, then please do reach out, we’d be happy to talk about what we can do.

Your guide to choosing the perfect scale

Tips & advice from our team

It is a difficult and sometimes daunting task to decide on a scale given the diverse selection. There are literally hundreds of scales to choose from, let alone the subsequent variations thereof.

For this reason, Celestial Sound has chosen a diverse range of some of the best and most popular scales to narrow it down and help simplify your choice. These can be found on the Standard and Advanced Scales pages with many links to videos and further information. To break it down and simplify the process, we separate the multitude of scales into 3 categories or genres; Major or joyous, Minor or melancholic, and Hijaz or exotic middle eastern. From here you can greatly narrow down the choices based on which genre you prefer. See the Scales pages to find the Scale Map as this may help educate your senses.

Choosing the Right Scale

The most important thing in choosing the right scale is that you find the one that resonates with you the most, one that calls to you. This, in our experience, is far more important than selecting a scale that will have all the notes, or that will collaborate in the same scale as another instrument or another player etc. When you’ve found the right scale for you, it will be very hard to put the instrument down.

To begin, you can narrow down your selection by considering which of the 3 genres on the Scales Map draws you the most. From there you may consider which scale is your favourite within that genre. There are a number of ways to feel out a scale, these are:

1. Try them out!

One of the best ways to select a scale is to try some out and feel into which one resonates with you. You may do this by getting involved with your local handpan community and attending any meetups. There will invariably be a selection of different makes and scales there and you can ask the owners if you can try them. A good resource for this is PanOz Festival, Handpan in the Round and the Sydney Handpan Community.

2. Video Demos

Another more accessible way to research different scales is to watch as many videos as you can on YouTube. Using the common name variations of each scale, you can find an array of videos made by all sorts of people of these scales. This will give you a broader idea of what each scale has the potential to sound like, as each player will be able to bring something different out of the scale. For example, if you’re interested in the Cerridwen scale, you would search “D Celtic Minor Handpan” or “C# Amara Handpan” on YouTube.

The more you listen, the better you will train your ear to become familiar with what is calling to your heart. Eventually, it will become obvious which scale resonates with you the most.

 3. Ask us for advice

Remember, at Celestial Sound, we are very passionate about sharing our knowledge and experience with our customers. So make sure to pick our brains while you wait on our waiting list, we may be able to help steer you in the right direction!

Other Factors

There are other factors to consider when selecting a scale, David Charrier from Master the Handpan has summarised it very well in this blog post, we recommend reading it HERE.

Video Resources

Choosing a Matching Scale

It is quite common for our customers to want to expand their handpan family by adding more to the collection. Therefore we get asked a lot about matching scales. It’s a difficult question as there are countless possibilities and it ultimately comes down to the intentions of each individual and what they want from a ‘matching’ instrument.

We’ve tried to highlight below some of the more common ways that you might go about matching a pair, but understand that with the vast array of scales out there, possibilities to match are in no way limited to these 3 categories. There may also be some cross over and variation within each category so use this as a guide and feel free to consult with us while you wait on our waiting list.

We’ve made some videos below to show examples of some matching scales and how they can be used.

Common options for matching scales

1. Relative Scales

This refers to a scale that is a relative mode or scale to the one you have, meaning they will share exactly all of the same 7 notes in the scale. Examples of this are written in the description of each of the Standard Scales on our website. This is best if you would like two people to jam together with the two instruments. For example the A minor is relative to the C major , D dorian , F lydian to name a few. Here’s the break down:

A Minor:    A B C D E F G A
C Major:    C D E F G A B C
D Dorian:  D E F G A B C D
F Lydian:    F G A B C D E F

2. Expanding Scales

This is when two pans don’t share all of the same notes, but do still share many of them. Each scale has notes that will help to expand and elaborate on the other scale. These are typically a little harder for two people to jam together with, and instead are best suited for individuals that would like to play with two pans at a time in front of them. A good example of this is when you can combine two scales to make many more scales.

3. Chromatic Scales

This is when there are multiple instruments that are used to create a chromatic set, filling almost every single note on a Piano between multiple octaves. This is usually achieved with 3 instruments minimum and can allow for around 25 to 30 unrepeated notes. These scales are not possible to jam together but could be used to expand each other as the second point above. This is best for professional musicians striving for the ultimate flexibility on the Handpan.