Sound therapy is at its high nowadays. Literally from all directions one is surrounded by various sound healing options: meditations, ceremonies, workshops or simply singing bowls sellers offering a vast offer of sound related products. Whereas this might have its positive sides (more selection, competitive prices, etc…) on the other hand creates a mass confusion in the acquisition phase. This unique article is therefore for the first time giving you a full breakdown of the selection criteria with some practical tips before investment. Introduction: 6 most important things to consider when buying singing bowls: Step 1 – Purpose of use (Crystal or Metal) Step 2 – Therapeutic Vs. Meditation type of metal bowls Step 3 – Root frequency (base note) Step 4 – Tone sustain (ringing time) Step 5 – Vibration intensity (tactile transmission) Step 6 – Integration flexibility (with other tools) Step 1. First we need to be clear about the use of the singing bowl/s… Are you intending to do 1 on 1 private sessions or group sound meditations (a.k.a. sound-baths)? Or are you using them just for fun or music making? In general, my advice is to always start with metal alloy bowls. Unless you’ll be conducting only group sound meditations, metal bowls offer more flexibility and better integration in diverse applications. The usually strong transmission of vibration can be experienced as audible sound and experienced as tactile transmission thus making them ideal for individual and group settings. Metal bowls prefer to be hit (tapped) with a soft padded mallet and occasionally rimmed (rubbed) with a wooden/suede wand. Dispersion of sound into silence is one of the core therapeutic features of metal bowls. On the other hand, crystal singing bowls usually emanate louder and more piercing tones. That’s chiefly due usually being rimmed (rubbed) therefore, the sound is rather “constant” allowing us to additionally “build up” on the already existing sound pressure level. Unless using the “clear” type of bowls that are usually thinner and meant to be tapped, the sandblasted “frosted” type of bowls will sound with a quite short and often “duller” tone in comparison with the clear ones when hit. In majority of the cases Crystal bowls are somewhat limited while working in private 1 on 1 sessions. 2. In the second step we need to understand that there is a subdivision between Therapeutic and Meditation metal bowls... In Nepal and India where the majority of singing bowls are produced they are offering 2 main types of them: 1. The so called ”Tourist” or Souvenir type. Those are usually made of thick brass and are heavily decorated: (with engravings, etching, bossed-out motives). The proper definition of those however would be “cast” bowls. They are usually of small to mid-size diameter 2-7” (5-18cm) and offer inferior transmission of vibrations (compared to the hand hammered). 2. The second type of bowls are the hand hammered ones also known as Therapeutic bowls. They come in different sizes and shapes. The common denominator among them is that they are hand manufactured using bell bronze metal. During the last 50 years a lot of myths arisen in their regards: for instance commonly wrongly called “Tibetan” bowls, that were presumably made by monks in Tibetan monasteries under a secret alchemical formula of 7 metals is perhaps one of the biggest lie in the field of sound therapy. One of the newest trend is also the so called “Full moon” bowls that gained notable popularity within the last 10 years. Finally there are only 2 options: “Contemporary” or “Antique” hand hammered bowls. 3. Each singing bowl possess a multitude of frequencies. Metal bowls contain a lot of overtones (often misinterpreted as harmonics) whereas Crystal bowls being precisely and repetitively machine molded posses a more sinusoidal “pure” sound properties, usually resulting in one very pronounced fundamental frequency with not so evident and considerable overtones. If we strike the bowl with a proper* mallet we will be always able to determine what is their “home” note or tone. The root note is often assigned to a particular “healing power” or “chakra”. Hence if the bowls are coming as set they should have consistent and precise root frequencies. Often a metal bowl has a dim root note, therefore the user might get deceived into believing that the bowl is possessing another root note (usually the 1st or 2nd overtone). That’s even more evident when we are using an inappropriate mallet, for example a mallet with a too small beater head diameter or a mallet that it’s not padded enough. Unfortunately, nowadays it is very common trend of bowls being tapped with a wooden wand, that not only evokes higher pitch notes but also builds tension within the human body. The wand is meant to rim/rub the bowl not to strike it. 4. Tone sustain (ringing time):.. As most of the sound therapy tools are Idiophones, the time they vibrate (produce sound) is of crucial importance. This transition usually offers the opportunity to access presence. As a rule of thumb we can say that a good singing bowl should have a sustain of at least 20 seconds from the impact of the mallet until the sound is approximately at 30% of its initial power. Hand hammered bowls will be ringing longer compared to the machine produced ones. More metals creates more sound interference due different densities among them.