We have spent learning how to build instruments made of this material nitrated steel but over the last couple of years there's been a lot of interest shown among makers and players alike in a new material stainless steel,so today I thought I would make a comparison of two instruments.
Nitrated steel nitriding is a gas heat treatment process that case hardens the surface of a raw steel shell this provides a couple of advantages for handpans,
the first is that it creates a corrosion shield on the surface of the steel and helps protect the instrument from rusting,
the second is that it increases the sonic potential of the metal and provides a great canvas for tuners like myself to build instruments that have warm tone strong volume and long sustain all of these things put together it's easy to see why nitrated steel has been the material of choice for makers and players since the hand pans first conception.
Now let's look at stainless steel.
Stainless is also an iron and carbon alloy but with an additional component most stainless is made up of somewhere between 10 and 30% chromium which results in a material that is highly resistant to rust and corrosion.
also stainless is higher in elasticity than most carbon Steel's making it resistant to deformation.
One of the first things that stands out is that stainless steel instruments have longer sustain than nitrite at steel instruments in each tone field there are three frequencies built into the note the fundamental the octave and the compound fifth above the octave one of the most sought-after qualities of a well-built handpan is its ability to sympathetically activate and resonate other notes within the scale some people might describe this as the sound bloom of a handpan what this means is that when you strike one note on the scale the frequencies built within that tone field should be the same as other.
In summary handpans have a warm rich smooth tonal quality to their sound.
Stainless instruments have a clear powerful almost angelic sound,both instruments are very well protected from rust and weather, stainless is more protected due to the nature of the surface.
Nitriding steel may get rust if scratched and expose the raw steel underneath.
Both materials are very aesthetically pleasing with each one offering different options for color,stainless steel handpans are usually more cost-effective and more suitable for beginners.
I believe that every handpan should have accurate stable tuning strong volume and long ringing sustain. I strive to achieve that in every instrument that I build in both nitrated steel and stainless steel.