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Handpan Maker Spotlight: Makai Instruments

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

For today's Handpan Maker Spotlight, we'll be learning a bit about Makai Instruments of Pahoa, Hawaii.

Makai was founded by David Galleher, who is not only a talented handpan builder but also an incredible chef! David and I first met several years ago at one of the first American handpan gatherings, Hangout USA, and we have been good friends ever since. I have excitedly watched David's journey firsthand and am continuously impressed by his progress in developing Makai Instruments.

I got a chance to ask him a few questions this week and learn a bit more about the road to the



Company Name:

Makai Instruments - Makai means towards the ocean or Oceanside in the Hawaiian language. Being based in Hawaii and living and working 1/2 mile from the ocean cliffs it felt like an appropriate name.


Year Founded:




Puna Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii


How did you first discover the handpan?

I was making udus in a ceramics class in 2009. I was searching for udu videos on YouTube and found a handpan video. It pretty much changed my life.


What made you decide to start building handpans?

Partly I needed a new occupation as I’d been a chef/caterer for years and was burning out. And of course, I loved the Handpan and the community for years before I started hammering. So I tossed the idea around for a while. In fact, I was going to start hammering earlier but I got scared the first time. The financial commitment and amount I needed to learn were daunting. I had a really inspiring conversation with another handpan builder at HangOut, USA in the summer of 2014 and that gave me the confidence to try.


What is your goal as a handpan builder?

My goal is to make inspiring Handpans. Instruments that give you more than you expect sonically. I try to build instruments that make you want to keep playing.


What would you say your instruments are known for?

Hard to say as I’ve made a lot of different-sounding instruments over the years. I would say that the instruments I build are one of a kind. In an effort to always improve the sound, I end up getting some variety in the timbre.


What's one interesting fact about you, your company, or your instruments?

I was the caterer for over 20 handpan events from 2011-2019. Also, my workshop is a 20-foot shipping container I bought off Craigslist and pulled out of the jungle.


Do you take custom orders?



Do you have instruments currently available to purchase?

Not typically


Do you have a waiting list? If so how long?

Yes. Currently 2 months


For more information about Makai Instruments:


Looking to buy your first handpan? We've got you covered! Planet Handpan partners with the world's best handpan makers to get you an instrument you're sure to love. Every builder, every sound model, and every instrument is individually selected by us to guarantee you end up with a handpan that is truly the best of the best.

Head to the Planet Handpan marketplace to browse handpans from around the globe.

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