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How To Play Singing Bowls

Singing bowls, especially good quality antiques, have a tremendous range of sounds available for your practice or listening pleasure. Once you master how to play Tibetan singing bowls you will be able to bring out these different sounds through using different ringing implements and techniques. Different mallets, sticks, and playing methods can highlight different aspects of a bowl. You can also isolate sounds even teasing out very high notes hidden under the bass of a very large bowl. Learn how to play singing bowls for beginners below.

Ringing sticks Frank Perry Tulipwood Wand for singing bowls Best Precision Mallets

How to Make a Singing Bowl Sing

To get a feel for how to play and use singing bowls for healing it is helpful to have an understanding of just how the sound is propagating. When you strike the singing bowl you set the metal into motion. That motion, generally hundreds and thousands of back and forth motions per second, moves a column of air. The continual sound you hear is a result of momentum, the motion of the metal remaining in motion. What slows down that motion and extinguishes the sound is friction. Friction comes from the singing bowl itself and we can’t do anything about that but it also comes from anything that touches the singing bowl.

While the entire bowl moves from bring struck, the sound radiates from the rim. With some larger active Tibetan singing bowls you can see the rim dance. Pressing on the rim will stop the sound cold, pressing lower on the sidewall will dampen but not extinguish the sound. The friction within the bowl between the area you are touching and the rim reduces the energy available to move the rim. The part of the singing bowl furthest from the rim, the bottom, has the least effect on the motion of the rim. Should we wish to get the most sound out of our singing bowls we want contact with the smallest amount of surface area the farthest from the rim.

Some Tips on Rim Play

The most difficult technique to master is playing the rim of with a stick or wand. First thing to keep in mind is that it is generally easier to play a bowl with wood than leather, suede and especially felt – so wood against the rim is the way to start. The best way to hold a stick is pretty much the same as you would hold a pen, thumb on one side and propped between your next two strongest fingers. This gives you the best grip and leverage. Positioning the stick perpendicular to the plane of the bowl, straight up and down is a good way to start. Changing the angle so you tilt towards the inside of the bowl can be helpful. The thing to keep in mind is that you always want the force of your hand to be directed to the center of the bowl. This way the contact between the stick and the bowl remains constant and the sound is smooth. If you lose focus or contact that stick can jump off the edge of the bowl and quickly come back making a screech or rattle.

Once you get a bowl going on the rim you can play different sounds by speeding up and slowing down. You can sometimes bring out the next highest overtone by pushing harder against the rim and sharpening the angle of play. For some examples of how much range you can get out of a bowl try playing some of the Number 2 sound clips on bowls we have for sale. These are located on the details page, you have to click the singing bowl photo or the “details” link to get to where those clips are. One thing you can hear in some of these clips are isolated notes, some so far from the deep strike tone it is hard to believe it is the same singing bowl.

Some tips on how to hold your singing bowl

When I play a singing bowl in my hand I perch it on my fingertips. This gives me good control of the singing bowl with the least amount of contact. This is especially important with smaller singing bowls, you can get away with holding a heavy big bowl in the palm of your hand. When I test singing bowls I always play them in my hand so I can bring it close to me to hear and can also feel the vibration for cracks. When I play singing bowls I prefer to have them down somewhere because the sound tends to outlast my patience for holding them. For multiple singing bowls, a playing surface is a must.

Playing on Carpets

Over the years my preferred surface for playing singing bowls has been carpets, especially thin dense ones like Orientals. They are thick enough to insulate and provide good friction to keep bowls in place while minimizing the dampening of sound. You can buy some very pretty cushions to cradle your singing bowls. My experience with cushions is that no matter how you do them they touch not only the bottom but the sides of bowls and can dampen sound prematurely.

In addition to the ancient art of metallurgy the ancient art of carpet weaving is native to the Himalayas. I had the idea that ancient singing bowls deserve an ancient ringing surface so I have acquired old carpets and had them cut into pieces and edged. The edging was quite a task, it ended up taking weeks to finish since even the smallest carpet piece required hundreds of hand stitches. The finished product makes a fine and culturally appropriate surface for a singing bowl.

Buying Tips

Use Suggestions

Care Instructions

Making a Singing Bowl

What Our Customers Say

Bob MetivierBob Metivier
17:26 09 May 24
Ryan, your L6 medium mallet is amazing! Your attention to particular needs in detail is the reason I decided to make my purchases with you.
Aria ThomeAria Thome
17:28 22 Apr 24
Ryan is absolutely amazing at his craft. He cares so deeply that you get matched with the right bowl(s) and will go out of his way to make this happen for you. His knowledge is unsurpassable and purchasing from him allows you to tap into his bottomless education and knowledge!!
Zara D'SouzaZara D'Souza
15:43 03 Apr 24
My entire experience was so seamless. The website is so flexible and easy to navigate. For anyone looking to build a bowl collection, this is the right place to go. I highly recommend reaching out to Ryan. He was so helpful and supportive in guiding me and making sure I make the right decisions. His suggestions were spot on and Im glad I trusted him!! The shipping and tracking was really great as well. The bowls were well packaged when shipped to me. I got an email with the tracking info and Ryan was a great communicator during this phase as well. In the end, I am very happy with the set I acquired.
Zachary NewtonZachary Newton
16:32 14 Mar 24
You are in excellent hands here with Ryan if you are just embarking on your singing bowl journey.I came knowing I wanted a deep resonant bowl or two when I initially reached out. This began a months' long dialogue with Ryan, who was nothing but patient and generous with his time, sending me recordings of additional bowls not on the website and answering my many questions. Over this period, I spent hours listening to dozens of bowls, beginning to figure out what resonated most with me and expanding my search from there. I ended up putting together a small set. When I found a few bowls I was pretty sure I wanted to be the core of this set, Ryan offered to put them on hold for me while I spent some more time listening to additional bowls. So whether you know exactly what you want, or you just have a vague inclination and see yourself at the beginning of a journey--like I was--you have come to a good place.When I finally made up my mind and ordered my bowls, they arrived impeccably packed and already sounding familiar after having spent months listening to their recordings. I have been very happy with them. In the months since, I have spent many hours playing them, and have even added a couple more. I am still on that Journey I began a year ago, and I continue to value the care and patience that Ryan puts into his work as a guide along my path.
Philip MartinPhilip Martin
23:15 08 Mar 24
I heard about singing bowls many years ago but stored their existence in memory. I recently heard what they sounded like on a recording, which piqued my interest. I began looking into where I could obtain some of these bowls and found many options on the internet. I decided on Best Singing Bowls. The website has many different bowls that allow searching for specific notes, octaves, types of bowls, and much more. The website has an image of the bowl and two soundtracks that let you hear what the bowl sounds like. I found this very helpful and received help from Best Singing Bowls on how to play the bowls, the types of ringers and mallets, and the bowl's history. I asked many questions because I knew little about singing bowls. Delivery of the orders came exceptionally fast. I will look to Best Singing Bowls for future additions and ask for the promptly answered guidance I found immeasurably helpful. I found the entire experience very straightforward and seamless. The website has a vast amount of information on the many tabs related to singing bowls.
SvetaSveta
03:56 12 Feb 24
This was the best shopping experience I have ever had online. Ryan has provided an exceptional customer service. He replied to all my questions timely and his suggestions helped me to find the perfect addition to my set. I am very satisfied with the quality and the sound of my newly acquired ancient singing bowls. I received them within a few days of the purchase. Thank you, Ryan!
Jim ManganiJim Mangani
13:32 14 Dec 23
Ryan provides outstanding customer service, quality bowls, and every accessory you might need at highly competitive prices. I've purchased his precision mallet set which is a must for anybody serious about getting the most out of their instruments, in addition to a number of other accessories. I recently purchased a large jambati and Ryan answered all my questions quickly and courteously. He has always shipped items quickly and is a man of his word. You can feel confident doing business with him. On top of this, he has one of the best websites in the business for sorting through his expansive inventory. If you're considering buying anything from him, you should not hesitate!
“Best Singing Bowls is absolutely the right name for Ryan’s collection! It’s been many occasions for many years now that I have not only found bowls with beautiful sounds and energy in Ryan’s collection - but also the kind of bowls that you know the instant you ring them that they are special - unique - with a sound and a power beyond normal understanding. That’s the beauty and the magic of singing bowls. And on top of that Ryan is the best to guide you - always withimmediate precise response and he provides a fast and secure shipment. I can highly recommend Ryan and Best Singing Bowls.” - Shanti inga
Mojca StudenMojca Studen
07:03 22 Nov 23
The very experience of choosing the singing bowls was a pleasure; not only are the audio recordings of the bowls extremely high quality, the collector Ryan himself kindly offered to help me a lot in choosing the right bowls.The shipment arrived quickly, even across the Atlantic.I am absolutely delighted with the singing bowls I bought! The richness of sound and resonances is extraordinary. And all this for a fairly affordable price.Ryan thank you!
Laurie LowenLaurie Lowen
12:29 03 Nov 23
Ryan will answer every question that you have honestly and knowledgeably.He has gathered the best and largest collection of antique Tibetan Singing Bowls in the world.He has a huge inventory that is all cataloged with musical chakra note(s), vibration in hertz, condition, decoration, inscription and includes actual sound for you to listen to the bowl being used with a beater and with a wand. He has tons of wands and beaters to choose from, including those handmade by Frank Perry the world’s leading authority on Himalayan bowls in England.I started with one bowl and was so happy with it and what it did for my life, that over the past two years, I now have six bowls that I have gotten from Ryan. I love every single bowl and play them all every day just for me.These Tibetan bowls are way more powerful than the crystal bowls that are in vogue. Crystal bowls are machine made and have no history. The bowls that Ryan collects and sells are full of old wisdom and energy and years of use. If you listen while you play one, you will receive information and understanding and they will actually tell you how to play them and talk to you. I am a shamanic drum practitioner for the last 30 years and these are one of the best tools in addition to drums for healing that I have ever used. If you are ready to open yourself and receive healing and peace….get one of these bowls. I can guarantee you this as that has happened to me. You will find there is one there that is calling you. Blessings to whoever reads this🙏
Lisa BushmanLisa Bushman
21:26 17 Jan 23
Ryan has helped me develop a set of singing bowls for my sound studio in OH. He has a large selection of bowls and they have great sound quality. Love working with him!
at01musicat01music
19:22 28 Nov 22
I have been collecting antique singing bowls for over 10 years and just recently discovered Best Singing Bowls’ online store. In a short time, it has become my go-to for finding new bowls that add interest to my singing bowl arrangements. BSB’s inventory is quite large and includes types of antique bronze bowls with different geometries and thicknesses I haven’t seen or listened to before.At first, I was drawn just to familiar jambati and thadobati bowls, but after exploring other possibilities I have become a fan of the otherly-appearing trapezoid bowl. The first one I selected sounds cold as steel and reminds me of the clang of a temple bell I heard every day I was in Varanasi 24 years ago. Another small trapezoid I found has a tone similar to its thadobati companions and contributes a well-tuned 5th octave G#, the new crowning high note of my bowl set.My singing bowl experience has also been enlivened by the Best Singing Bowls Precision Mallet sets. The weights and hardness’s of the mallet heads are designed to produce varying tone colors for small, medium and large bowls. The length and balance of the stick handles make it easier for me to reach bowls and strike them accurately in a timely way with less effort than before. They are fun to use and have mostly replaced my use of other strikers. I love to play the bowls and listen to their tones and harmonics interacting to create kaleidoscopic, resonant patterns that gradually fade away into silence when playing stops. For me, it is an exquisite and deeply comforting sound (and no sound) experience.As others mention, the sound recordings and detailed physical descriptions on the website make it easy to compare bowls and select one that best suits your needs. I’ve also found BSB’s customer support to be very responsive and helpful. Pricing is quite reasonable and return policies are buyer-friendly. Highly recommended!
Dylan TweneyDylan Tweney
18:12 23 Jun 22
Ryan has an amazing collection of singing bowls (which I mostly use as bells) and he's really helpful at providing personalized advice and guidance on which ones to select. I have bought two bowls from him so far and they are magnificent: they produce a variety of resonant sounds with long sustain and great complexity. I also really appreciate his efforts to provide accurate descriptions and high-quality sound files for each bowl.
Mel JonesMel Jones
15:57 13 Apr 22
Just wanted to say thank you for the speedy delivery. The bowls are both wonderful and a great addition to my small but happy collection. Appreciate the service.
Sara JennenSara Jennen
13:12 05 Apr 22
I was looking for a singing bowl. Started by looking at new bowls that were priced ridiculously and were obviously factory produced. I stumbled upon this site and filled out the contact form. Ryan got back to me within a few hours. He travels the world to collect antique bowls. He is obviously knowledgeable and passionate about the work he does. After a conversation where he learned a little about me and my intended use of the bowls, I ended up letting him select 3 for me from his extensive collection. I received manipuri bowls that sound magnificent. I have already begun incorporating them into my yoga and meditation practice. I intend to add to my collection over time. I hope that someday I can visit California to select my bowls in person....or maybe even Nepal;) Sat Nam.
Patty CarmodyPatty Carmody
23:54 28 Mar 22
I have been wanting to own a singing bowl for a long time and finally have received a beautiful one from Ryan. His website is interesting on its own for history and detailed knowledge and also has the capability of playing the different tones the bowls can produce. Mine was very true to that sound. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated Ryan’s patience and assist in choosing a bowl and the correct mallets. Mine has a low resonance with higher overtones depending on how it is played and is absolutely beautiful. All of his bowls are antique so you don’t have to worry about whether it is a “new” one made to look old. Everything in the process from beginning to end was a pleasure. No worries and the bowls arrived safe and sound (0h - that’s a good pun ha!) Thank you Ryan!
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