about sonobe

Handpan Maker / Tuner - Ryo Sonobe

In 1990 and 1992, I have travelled to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for the purpose of studying the production of steelpan instruments.

In 1995, I had the opportunity to learn about making a various ranges of steelpans under the guidance of the master pan-tuner Denzil "Dimes" Fernandez famous as a invention of Bore pan .

This experience led to my career of selling steelpans of my own .

~I have been to Taiwan and HongKong for repair their steelpans and made some steelpans by using local oil drums~

~I have taught steelpan making at private high school class for 14 years~

In the summer of 2012, I got involved in researching a vibrational mode of special metal disk at the National University of Hiroshima.

(The musical instrument which realizes a musical scale born from a plant)

Then I got very interested in frequency analysis、non-integer harmonics,vibration modes and so on.
From 2014, After this super experience,  I started to manufacture the handpans.

Now I'm making "4th Generation" pans from beginning of 2017.

Words from maker

First of all,

This instrument is not a percussion instrument such as a drum.

Originally called "Sound Sculpture" as you know.

So listen quietly to the sounds,tone of harmonics and various overtones.


When playing the notes,

Be aware of touching gently as much as possible.

Using the index finger to touch the edge of the dimple quickly. 

Then beautiful sound will be born.

Center note,

Play with the whole index finger or tip of the index finger or thumb.

For countless overtones (as it called Shoulder Notes) mixed around the Ding (center note), please tap it with a fingertip strongly.


In recent years, there are people who perform on the street to earn some money.

As they try to make the sound as loud as possible, they tend to beat strongly like a drum.

Being hit like a percussion instrument is unwilling style as this instrument.

So please stop such a rendition.


In the mountain side or riverside, nature such as the the forest, please playing with your own heart.

For a while, forget about time and daily life,

please release the whole your body and soul.


Thanks for reading.


Handpan Maker / Ryo Sonobe

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