The content of this article is outdated.
It is of interest only to readers interested in the history of the Hang.
You can read up to date Information about buying a Hang in the article
Information about purchasing a Hang in the Hang Library.
You’re probably reading this article because you would like to know how and where you can buy a Hang. Perhaps you saw a Hang player busking on the street and were fascinated by the sound of the Hang. Listening, you were moved by the desire to be able to lay your hands on such a wonderfully resounding metal instrument. Maybe you have already found that Hanghang are not available in music shops or from Internet retailers. Also you may already found that there is no website for PANArt (the Hang Makers).
Some have reacted to this situation with irritation, and are disconcerted or angered. They fear that there is no chance to find a Hang of their own and may think the Hang Makers from PANArt are elitists. But those who have had the opportunity to personally meet and get to know the Hang Makers (Sabina Schärer and Felix Rohner) know that this assumption is far from the truth.
But, why isn’t it possible to order online, from a dealer, or in a shop? In order to understand, one has to know a bit about the history of the Hang and how it has been developed and offered in the past.
In January 2000 the Hang was born from the idea to meld together the properties of the Indian Ghatam and the Trinidad Steelpan. Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer had put much time and creativity into developing, tuning, and building Steelpans with new materials and methods. The result was the use of prefabricated, deep-drawn steel sheet blanks, which were then processed using a hardening procedure in a kiln (gas-nitriding). Such hardened shells ended up also being used as raw material for the building of the Hang.
In 2001 the Hang Makers debuted their new instrument at the Frankfurt Music Fair. They also created a website where they presented and gave information about the Hang. The Hang Makers didn’t foresee so many people from all around the world being placed under the spell of the Hang. In the following years an international dealer network was developed, and the instruments were available in various regional markets worldwide. 4,300 Hanghang were sold by the end of 2005.
The winter 2005/2006 brought a change. There were only two people who faced the world-wide interest in the Hang. Only two hands able to properly wield the hammers that coax the melodious tones from each steel hemisphere, and these hands were only able to work so fast and so often. There was another pressing need to explore the sound possibilities of the Hang. The high demand and production of large numbers of instruments put them into a bit of a frantic work schedule and didn’t allow them enough free space and time to experiment and explore possibilities for the advancement of the Hang.
As in previous years the Hang Makers went into “Hangruhe”. This refers to when the Hang Makers set aside the winter season each year as a quiet regenerative time when they can research and develop their instruments. During this time they created a new generation of the Hang. They were able to create a warmer overall sound for the Hang with several changes including moving the center Ding note from F3 to D3. A new coating of brass made them less susceptible to go out of tune. These updates in quality led to a more complex production process. It was no longer possible to keep up the production numbers of the preceding years.
This put the Hang Makers in the uncomfortable position of having to adapt and change. They made the decision to give up the international dealer network and shut down their website. Another significant change was the Hang of the first generation had 45 standard scales that the buyer could order from, but the Hanghang of the new generation were not based on traditional scales. Each new Hang had the tones D3 (Ding), A3, D4 and A4. The remaining tones in the tone circle were chosen as the Hang was made and based on each individual instrument’s sound and resonance. These changes meant that from now on a Hang would only be available if one travelled to Bern and personally selected a Hang in the Hanghaus by the river, as the connection between the Hang and the player was now a more meaningful and personal process of choosing from Hanghang with individual sound patterns.
In the “Hangruhe” during the winter of 2006/2007 Sabina Schärer and Felix Rohner were able to develop further improvements of the Hang sound. By slightly changing the orientation of the tone fields on the top side of the Hang they obtained a clearer sound and a stronger radiation of the tones. They continued to refine the Hang toward an instrument which depends less on the virtuosity of the player and more on an intuitive play of the hands with the Hang’s now stronger overtones and tone resonances.
In February 2008 PANArt presented yet another chapter in the history of the Hang as well as the latest in their pursuit of the sonic potential of steel: The Integral Hang. Looking back over the various stages of Hang development one can see a focused direction. Compared to the large number of Sound Models of the first generation the second generation was a reduction and distillation of possibilities. The new Integral Hang of 2008 consists of a single Sound Model. With a D3 Ding the Tone Circle is A3, Bb3, C4, D4, E4, F4, and A4. Other changes consist of a very slightly oval shape to the Gu side, an indented circular division of the now lacquered Ding and a change to the overall surface treatment of the instrument.
Since the demand continues to exceed the small production, one must mail or fax a letter to PANArt directly. Their address is: PANArt Hangbau AG, Engehaldenstr. 131, 3012 Bern, Switzerland. The fax number is: +41 31 301 33 32. It is not possible to obtain a Hang via e-mail request. The old published e-mail address email@example.com is no longer valid and the e-mail address for repair issues published at the beginning of 2008 is really only intended for repair requests. Anyone sending to this e-mail address requesting a Hang will only receive the following automated response: “This email address is for repair only. All other requests with snail mail.” It is better to avoid this unnecessary exchange; as it does not do service to your, or the Hang Makers’ time.
Sending a letter to PANArt requires a large dose of patience because quick replies are not possible. PANArt schedules specific windows for purchase of Hanghang. After their “Hangruhe”, which this year was not in winter, but March-May, PANArt plans for visits in summer and fall of 2009. They are contacting those who can obtain their Hang a few months in advance of the windows. PANArt also sent messages to those who do not have appointments or set dates for purchase in the near future. In March, about 1,000 letters went out to those who have written PANArt, letting them know that they will not be able to receive a Hang in 2009. They also plan to send out a letter at the end of the year with information about PANArt’s plans for 2010.
Those that have a purchase agreement have the option of picking up a Hang either personally in the Hangbauhaus Bern or to have one shipped. Since the Integral Hang no longer has different Sound Models, it is no longer required (but highly advisable) that one chooses a Hang in person. Another update to the process is that an agreement is required of all the buyers. PANArt has asked that they be given pre-emptive rights to buy back Hanghang if an owner is considering selling, and that the resale price should be no higher than the acquisition price.
This agreement has been created in response to the 2007 explosion of the second hand market for Hang. There were Ebay auctions with prices between 2,500 and 6,000 Euro. This agreement allows the Hang makers to try to keep the prices from ballooning. The price of an Integral Hang has been set at 1,300 Euro (status 2009). International purchases have a slightly higher cost due to shipping costs along with possible VAT and customs expense. Included in the price is a hard, natural fiber protective case.
If you are considering to send a letter to PANArt, it is recommended to read a number of important publications by PANArt in the Hang Library.
I also recommend to study the comments carefully and read, the article about the current situation of the Hang in the year 2011/.
The statements and opinions in this article are based on information found as of the below listed date of update of this article. While information presented in this article is from research through a number of sources by the author it should not be considered an official statement from or by PANArt Hangbau AG.
A complete list of all comments from May 19th, 2007 to September 3rd, 2010 you can find in the comment archive of this article.
Updated: November 21st, 2009