The Symphonic Steel Story

Symphonic Steel is really just me, Sean Beever.  I have been building handpans since 2013, and tuning steel since 2004.

I started tuning steel during my high school years when I joined my high school steel drum band as a freshman.  I couldn't believe that such a beautiful and unique sound could come from a piece of sheet steel by *just* hammering it.

So, at age 13, I decided that I had to learn how to make steel sing.  It turns out that it is much more difficult than it seems!  Over the next couple of years, I continued to practice tuning steel.  I eventually came into contact with David Beery, a prominent steel pan builder not too far from where I lived, and now, also a prominent handpan builder.  I worked as a contract tuner during my Junior and Senior years in high school which allowed me to hone my steel tuning skills.

I also sold a handful of sets of steel pans to various high schools around the country during this same time.

Upon graduating high school, I veered away from steel tuning and worked at Disneyland as a ride operator and supervisor for nearly 4 years.  Near the end of that period in my life, David Beery contacted me asking if I wanted to help build this 'new' (at the time) instrument called a handpan.  He knew I had the tools and the know-how.  It definitely paid better than Disney, so I found some free time to sink shells for his 'Symphonette' handpans.

After a few months of making those handpan shells for Dave, I decided to start my own handpan manufacturing business.  I knew how to do much more than just sink the shells.  Tuning, which is the most difficult part of the process to master, was something I already had a decent amount of experience with.  It only made sense to start Symphonic Steel in the spring of 2013.

Over the years, I have produced around 800 handpans.  Each one has been shaped and tuned by me.  Over the course of that time, they have one through various changes for one reason or another.  One thing, however, has always remained the same... my strive for creating a better handpan than the last.  I engrave my name on each handpan that I build.  If it is not good enough for my name, then it is not good enough to sell.  My reputation for quality is something I strive and continue to maintain.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!  Hopefully it helps paint a little bit of a picture about how Symphonic Steel and the Iskra handpan came to be.

Sean Performing at Hangout USA.
Sean and Josh Rivera at a handpan builders Q&A at the Steel Mountain Handpan Festival.
Sean performing on the steel pan with the SMCHS steel band (2009)