The Halo is a precisely tuned, resonant metal instrument made of nitrided steel, designed to be played with the hands while it sits in the player’s lap.
The Halo is intended to be subtle, responsive, and expressive. A Halo should reveal itself in proportion to a player’s growing skill. It has no “wrong notes” and lends iteself to improvisation and meditative exploration.
The Halo was created by Kyle Cox and Jim Dusin of Pantheon Steel, and evolved almost two years before its public debut. It was inspired by myriad contemporary instruments, notably the steelpans of Trinidad which were Pantheon’s first business, and by a famous evolutionary and revolutionary sound sculpture invented in Switzerland. (While we would prefer to express our gratitude and debt to its creators, they have requested we not mention them or their creation by name, and we defer to that request.)
The latter sculpture demonstrated a new instrument form, made by extending the steelpan to encompass a tuned, ported, resonant space, and carefully controlling materials, form, tone field shape and orientation, and tuning process. For lack of a better term, we call this new form (and the Halo) a “handpan.”
The Batch One Halo was Pantheon Steel’s first exploration of the possibilities of the handpan. It is an evolving expression of our own interests and capabilities in instrument making, within the possibilities revealed by the handpan form.
We intend the Halo to offer its own unique voice to a growing family of hand-played metal instruments. The Halo has a different timbre than other handpans (or sound scupture), a different feel under the hands, and a deeper range.
The Halo Stratus, introduced in February 2011 of our Batch Two offering, is a sibling instrument to the Halo made with a higher register. The Halo Stratus has center notes of F# and G.
Where the Halo was a baritone, the Stratus is an alto, a higher-voiced instrument with a similar timbre, that can be played on its own or compliment Halos with center notes of B and C respectively.
The Halo Cirrus, introduced in late 2011, is a third sibling in a middle register. The Halo Cirrus has center notes of Eb and E, adding a tenor voice to the family.
In 2014, Pantheon introduced the Halo AG. The AG, just as its predecessor, encompasses the Genesis, Cirrus and Stratus voices, but is smaller and tuned in different keys allowing for more sonic variety.
The color is a natural heat oxidation sealed with non-toxic, earth-friendly oil. There is no finish other than the oil.
Painting is strongly discouraged. Unlike other steel instruments, such as steel tongue drums, the timbre and sustain of the Halo are a function of its comparatively thin steel and specific finishing. Painting a Halo would result in a quite possibly undesirable change of timbre, and may affect the life of the instrument.
Yes, there is serial number etched in each Halo.
Please visit the Models page of our website for the currently offered sound models (tunings).
We are constantly exploring which sound models work best on the instrument, and will together provide a range of moods, colors, and where possible, keys. These new sound models will be offered when we can, as we can. Stay tuned; the way we offer tunings for each Batch will likely continue to evolve!
Custom sound models are not offered currently.
Yes, but only immediately. We understand that it is difficult to tell which sound model will “speak” to you, and the importance that such a major purchase be one you are completely at peace with.
However, you have to pay the shipping to return your current Halo, and for its replacement; and you may have to wait for your replacement to become available.
To minimize the chance of this happening, please listen carefully to available recordings of the tunings you are considering, and you can try our virtual Halo player here on our website. Obviously, there is no substitute for playing a tuning yourself, but this is the best we can do otherwise.
Halos that have been owned more than a month cannot necessarily be returned, though we do try to work with owners to find solutions on a case by case basis.
A backpack-style Evatek case by Hardcase Technologies, is the primary accessory available, as well as care and cleaning products. See our web store page for details.
Every Halo ships with a free Evatek and Care Kit.
Yes, over time we anticipate adding more accessories. Please join our waiting/mailing list to be notified when new accessories are added.
Yes, and certainly for the worse! Do NOT affix to or scribe anything on your Halo.
No, the Halo is designed to be played either on the lap or on a stand.
Do NOT weld or expose any other form of intense heat upon your Halo!
We use UPS within the United States, and the US Postal Service for international shipping (except for Canada and Australia).
Expedited shipping is available for a surcharge for both domestic and international customers; inquire with us for current rates when your Halo is next in line.
The Halo ships in a reusable reinforced custom carboard box measuring 27″ x 27″ x 13″ for Halo 22″ and 27″ x 27″ x 14″ for Halo 23″. Please keep the box for future use!
Every Halo ships insured by Pantheon Steel unless you explicitly request otherwise.
Your new Halo will be placed inside an Evatek case and shipped in a carefully prepared strong reusable cardboard box.
Please keep this box for use when shipping your Halo back to us for tuning or repair work.
For Batch One, shipping was free to many destinations except unusually expensive shipping destinations (such as Australia, Taiwan, and a small number of other remote locations) in the purchase price of the Halo, as a special thank you to our first customers for taking a chance on us.
Shipping for Batch Two – Batch Four was charged shipping.
In the future, we are planning to once again include shipping with the purchase from of the Halo.
It will listed as a sale and international customers will be responsible for any and all customs or import taxes/duties.
However, often duty is charged on the insured value of the instrument. At your request we can ship your instrument uninsured, but if we do so you undertake all risk yourself. We will not replace (or freely repair) instruments damaged in shipment which are not insured.
We recommend insuring it for what you paid for it! 🙂
First, you must join our waiting list via the box labeled ‘Join the List’ at the bottom of this page.
Once you’re on the list, you’ll be notified when we take a ‘batch’ of orders and also when we run a flash sale. Be sure you don’t spam us!
To get a Halo of your choice, you must successfully participate in one of our batch lotteries.
To purchase one of our ready-made Halos, you must be successful in our weekly online flash sales here on our webstore.
We do not have nor plan to have any distribution or wholesale arrangements.
There is and will be a long waiting list for a Halo of your choice for the foreseeable future. Demand for specific sound models far exceeds our ability to make them quickly.
We will send a mass email to our list the next time we run a batch lottery. All you need to do to participate is to follow the simple instructions we provide.
Our lottery process does not require that you be sitting at a computer at a specific hour and day, but our flash sales do require that. Flash sale Halos typically sell quickly!
You must be on the waiting list to participate in future lotteries and/or learn of our flash sales.
Heh, that IS the question!
Special introductory pricing in 2009 for Batch One Halos was $1500 USD, which included free shipping to most destinations worldwide, and a choice of free Soft Bag or Halo Stand, as a thank you to customers who believed in us and put up a deposit long in advance of receiving their instrument.
Batch Two Halos cost $1800 USD, which includes a Soft Bag; shipping costs depend on destination.
Beginning in Batch Three and Four, we turned the entire lottery process upside down by instituting a sliding scale in which people named their price. After a series of mindful calculations we determined who would be able to purchase a Halo. This process allowed us to sell Halos from as low as $130 all the way to $10,000. The average price settled between $3000 – $3500.
This process may or may not be used for New Era Halos.
Your first step on the path to get a Halo is to sign up for our Waiting List using the sign up box at the bottom of this page.
Everyone on our waiting list will be notified when a “batch” of Halos is going to be made available. Currently, we hope this will be more frequent than it ever has been.
Starting with Batch Two, orders were accepted by lottery. Everyone on our wait list has had the chance to get on the production list every time we have held a lottery. Only people on our waiting list are eligible to participate in our lotteries.
Email announcements will be sent prior to us opening the lottery so you have plenty of time to participate in our process. The lottery process does NOT require you to be at a computer at a specific hour and day.
We have run our lotteries differently each time. Stay tuned to our communications for the latest lottery processes.
For our first batch of Halos, we took deposits, but based on our experience with that process, we are revising our policy so that this is no longer necessary.
We are deeply grateful to our first pioneer customers, who put up a deposit on a brand new instrument, and in a very real way made the Halo possible at all. All of you directly contributed to the Halo’s success so far and we hope you are proud of that fact.
This only affected customers for our first production batch, as for subsequent batches deposits are not being collected.
No, you are automatically re-enrolled and remain on our mailing list. You are eligible to participate in future batch lotteries.
Unfortunately, we can’t accept instruments, artwork, or other barter in exchange for a Halo.
When our steel provider and bank begins accepting barter as well, we will be quite happy to change our policy!
No. We do not have a purchase agreement or formal policy about second-hand sales.
That said, we DO ask and prefer that you give us the option to purchase your Halo back from you at your original purchase price (if the purchase originated with us) if you choose to sell it. That will help us make sure that your instrument is in tip-top shape before it goes to its next home, and it will in a small way keep our waiting time as short as possible.
We would also prefer that if you do sell it to someone other than us, that you not sell a Halo on eBay, but instead, offer it within a community forum of people who love these instruments at the price you originally paid.
Because we do not have a conventional waiting list, joining our mailing/waiting list does not guarantee that you will ever receive an instrument. You must participate in our batch lotteries to get on a production list for a Halo.
If you win the lottery and acquire a position in a production batch, you will receive clear notification.
Once confirmed that you are on a production list, we will not contact you until we have a Halo ready for you. We do not make estimated delivery dates because of variabilities in the process.
If we have any questions or comments about your tuning or accessory choices, need information from you, or have special opportunities for you, rest assured, you will be contacted! 🙂
If you move, are going to be out of contact for an extended period, or do need to contact us, do not hesitate to write us, of course, but be aware that because of the volume of email we receive, there may be a delay before we reply.
Occasionally, we offer flash sales on our website for immediate Halo purchases. Keep your eyes on our webstore for these opportunities as they will come sporadically and infrequently.
Generally speaking, we are on the honor system.
If there is a problem with your instrument that you were not expecting, or you are not happy for some reason with your Halo, we will attempt to “make it right” – up to refunding your money if necessary.
The main reason we do not have an official warranty as such however is that the Halo is not a complex machine with moving, breakable parts!
If it is well-treated, it should need only infrequent recoating with oil to protect its surface, and occasional tune-up to keep in perfect tune.
Damage from accidents is another matter, of course, and would not be covered by a normal warranty. But we hope that your Halo will never have an accident!
No. We do not accept money before your Halo is ready.
Regrettably, we do not have the capability of offering financing.
We have sold Halos for fixed and variable prices. Please stay tuned to our communications to learn what procedure we will use next.
Pantheon Steel is located in Farmington, Missouri, about an hour south of St. Louis. As your turn approaches, we will be in touch, and the possibility of a hand pickup can be discussed at that point, but it is not possible to arrive unannounced and expect to pick out and purchase a Halo.
The Halo is a hand-made craft instrument and demand far exceeds our ability to make them.
A standard tune-up costs $150 USD, plus all shipping charges.
Repair costs depend on the severity of damage, but simple repairs may qualify as tune-ups.
A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not comfortable in certain climates, neither is your Halo.
Room temperature is optimal, but we understand that isn’t always possible. Try at all costs to avoid extreme and high and low temperatures.
Try to keep the Halo out of direct sunlight, especially while playing, as the heat will temporarily detune your instrument.
It is best to keep the Halo out of direct sunlight, especially while playing it; differences in temperature on the surface can temporarily detune your Halo. (It will return to proper tuning when it cools!)
We recommend that you baby your Halo. Store it in a safe place away from unruly children, large pets, or randomly falling objects.
It is recommended that you keep the Halo in its soft gig bag or hard case to prevent dust or undue humidity.
To combat humidity we recommend placing a packet of desiccant (such as a Moisture Eater) in the bag with your Halo.
We currently recommend that the bag be left OPEN to prevent moisture from being trapped in the bag with the instrument.
Nitrided steel is corrosion-resistant, but not corrosion-proof. Please be sure to keep your Halo as dry as possible at all times and wipe it down with your included microfiber cloth frequently.
We also recommend that you make sure to keep your Halo well protected by our included Seal1. Only apply as frequently as needed. Too much will dampen the sound.
To combat humidity we recommend placing a packet of desiccant (such as the Moisture Eater) in the bag with your Halo when it is closed.
We currently recommend leaving the bag OPEN (unzipped) to prevent moisture from being trapped inside.
Currently the Halo ships with a care kit made especially for use with it.
For daily cleaning, use only the included dry untreated microfibre cloth.
Very infrequently, use the included Seal1 rust inhibitor for surface treatment. This should only be needed periodically.
Every time your Halo visits us it will of course be checked and retreated if necessary.
To combat humidity we recommend placing a packet of desiccant (or rechargeable Moisture Eater) in the bag with your Halo. If using a Moisture Eater or other rechargeable desiccants, please remember to frequently expel the moisture in order to avoid corrosion!
Return shipping from us depends on destination. Canada costs $100 USD, most of Europe $150 USD, Japan $175 USD, New Zealand $200 USD, and some other destinations can cost as much as $400 USD.
Contact your preferred shipper for a quote when sending a Halo to us.
Be sure to write “FOR REPAIR” on the box when send a Halo back to us, both to avoid duties, and so we know why it is arriving and can attend to it as quickly as possible.
You might get lucky, but let’s try not to find out! Almost all repairs we have done on Halos are from damage from falling (or objects falling ON the Halo).
Assume your Halo will be damaged if dropped from that height. Please be careful!
Many factors go into what causes an instrument such as this to either stay in or go out of tune. So far, Halos seem to be staying in tune quite well.
We do however recommend tuning at least every few years.
Of course, your Halo will not be harmed if you wait longer than that! The concern is not damage, but rather that we are perfectionists and ideally would like all Halos to always be in tip-top condition. We want to emphasize that we are not looking to make money on this plan. It’s simply put forth for the well-being of the instrument.
Also, the longer you wait to have your Halo tuned, the more work it may require, and thus the tuning fees may be higher.
The most obvious sign is if your Halo starts to sound “off” compared to other fixed pitch instruments like electronic keyboards or other instruments, which do not go out of tune.
A more subtle sign may be that notes that originally pealed clearly now sound “dull” or muted.
If it still plays well with fixed pitch instruments, then you should be fine. You can also make and email a quality recording (mp3 or youtube video) playing each note very slowly so we can reference it with Linotune.
Very strategic hammering, the use of a strobe tuning app called Linotune, well-trained ears and years of experience!
Tuning is an art, guided by hard science. There is no substitute for long experience putting a hammer to steel.
If your Halo is dented or dinged, it should be returned to us, or another well-qualified artisan, for repair.
In the unhappy case that this is necessary, please call us, or email us with the words Halo REPAIR in the subject line of your message, for instructions on how to get your Halo repaired as soon as possible.
Please do not try to perform any repairs yourself! It would be all too easy to make things worse even with the best intentions.
The tuning and timbre of a Halo depends on very careful balancing of stresses within the steel surface, and repairing damage is (like tuning) a specialized skill.
Do not alter the instrument in any way whatsoever, especially the top playing surface!
The tuning and timbre of a Halo depends on very careful balancing of stresses within the steel surface.
We are not insurance agents so please speak with yours for reliable information!
Our unprofessional and unreliable opinion is that we can think of no reason you should not in principal be able to add the Halo to a current policy, but that will no doubt vary by jurisdiction, insurer, and policy.