What I've done here is to combine the basic idea of an ancient, simple & 
really beautiful east African instrument called the "Goni" with the notes 
and alternating "right-left-right-left" playing patterns of the hand-pan 
(Halo, Hang etc) and came up with a most enjoyable and easy to build 
9-stringed instrument that lends itself beautifully to the same kind of 
wandering improvisation that is the hallmark of metal Hand-Pans playing. 
A Hand-Pan player should be able to pick this thing up and feel quite at 
home quickly.

Cost to build is on the order of twenty dollars, all new parts.

The traditional African Goni can perhaps be thought of as a kind of basic, 
less complicated 8-string, pentatonically tuned  Kora. It is played by the 
Dioula People of Burkina Faso but is far less well known than it's 
cousin, the Kora.

My "Goni-Pan" (for lack of a better name) has 9 fishing-line nylon strings -- 
8 for the main melody and one, low in pitch, that corresponds to hand-pan's 
central "ding". Anything that can be played on a hand-pan can be played on 
this "Goni-Pan" whose strings are laid out to simulate the 
"right-left-right-left" hand-pan configuration which raises in pitch 
the further you get from the notes closest to you.

This thing is quickly tunable to ANY hand-pan scale - Ake Bono, 
Limoncello, Minor Penratonic 9 - ANY scale - you name it & can be also used 
to discover just which of the many hand-pan scales are your favorite.
Rarely, a hand-pan scale's "ding" goes way low to an "F" note. This Goni-Pan
can be made to sound nicely in scales using this low F by substituting 100 Lb
fishline for the 80 Lb line for the lowest note - the "ding".
CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video showing what this Goni-Pan sounds like
and also to show examples of a few hand-pan tunings.
To be sure, this thing does not resemble the sound/tone of a hand-pan, but it 
sounds really nice and can be nearly as much improvisational fun as a Hand-Pan 
- I own both.

Do not let this quagmire of seeming complication deter you -- anybody - anybody
can build this thing with just everyday, basic tools. If you run into complications, 
let me know ( dhavlena@gmail.com ) & I'll help you along.

Parts for making one:
- A hardwood lawn-rake handle ($4 locally) works PERFECTLY for the neck
- Just about any size larger (8" diameter and up) gourd (I used the bottom half 
   of a common "figure 8" shaped "bird-house" gourd).
  Things besides gourds can be used too - see below.
- A small piece of just about any type leather - rawhide OR 
   tanned. See below
- 9 inexpensive guitar-type tuning gears (elderly.com - economy tuners)
- A few lengths of regular monofilament nylon  fishing line
- Three hardware-store dowel rods
- A bottle of any kind of wood glue (Elmers, Titebond etc)
- A small package of 1/2" brads (or upholstery tacks)
- Small piece of 1/4" thick softwood for the bridge

With no frets, fretboard etc, absolutely nothing is fussy or critical.

This is not yet gourd season around northern Michigan, so I  recently used the 
bottom half of a a craft-store spiral-wound bamboo decorative "pot" instead of 
a gourd. Worked perfectly as would large enough wooden salad bowls ETC. Use your 
imagination - nothing fussy here (sound doesn't much care what it's resonator is!)

While rawhide is supposedly the best, I've had great luck using soft, tanned leather 
and once mounted (rough side up) thoroughly rubbing-in copious amounts of common wood 
glue (which itself is an animal product). This stiffens up the soft tanned leather and 
works fine for this instrument.  Salvation Army is a good source of leather -- ladies 
old coats etc - for a few dollars. 
In closing, I must put in a plug for the unmodified traditional west African Goni. 
What a truly sweet, simple & BEAUTIFUL sounding instrument it is!! It's 8 nylon (fishing 
line) strings are traditionally tuned in a pentatonic scale and is a REAL joy to play.
Please do check out Abou Diarra's magnificent Goni playing at this youtube site:
CLICK HERE Abou Diarra playing a Goni - incredible harmonics about a minute in!!.
Altho the commentary calls it a (closely related) N'goni, he's actually playing a Goni.
I truly fell in love with west African instruments after a recent trip there. FAR to little time in this life!!!

Dennis Havlena - 7/26/2012
Webpage at www.DennisHavlena.com

Click here to access my webpage