A lot of people interested with singing bowls, sooner or later, will stumble upon juxtaposition crystal vs metal singing bowls? Especially if you’re looking for your first bowl and you’re not sure which kind of bowls are for you. Maybe you have already started researching and got confused with different types and names in the overall abundance of choice?
Maybe, you want to become a sound healer, and you’re looking for some great set of bowls, but you’re not sure, which kind of bowls to choose. Then, definitely, you need to ask yourself a question, what are your expectations towards instruments you want to work with, what kind of mood you want to generate with people attaining your events?
Are crystal bowls greater than metal bowls, or the opposite, can we say anything like that? Of course, there’s no such answer, but they’re very different in a sense, yet very similar in the other sense. That’s why it’s good to learn something more about both of them before making a choice.
There are certain features, like material they made from, the sound they make, the look they have and some others, that make them different from each other.
However, the few thing are pretty much similar. They are played, less or more, the same way, you need to use the same kind of accesories for using them. They serve the same purpose, being used for meditation, for healing, and for relaxation in general.
Very often, crystal and metal singing bowls are used together during the sound bath these days. They are absolutely complementary. If you are new to the topic, let’s start by shortly distinguishing them for you at first.
WHICH ARE WHICH?
I will make clear, what I mean by calling one of them “metal”. Usually people call metal bowls Tibetan, and they are made from bronze metal. When we hear someone mentioning singing bowls in the conversation, probably we see this kind of bowls in our heads. They are the most common.
Crystal singing bowls are made of quartz crystal. They are very similar in shape to metal singing bowls, although their walls are definitely more straight. You maybe have seen them already, they’re becoming more and more popular.
DO NOT BASE YOUR OPINION UPON PREJUDICE
It’s true, that for some people, the only real singing bowls always will be traditional metal singing bowls. However, there’s no base for that, other than prejudice.
Some people have just their own preference, that they get used to. When crystal bowls appeared, they found them as something new and threatening the market position of traditional singing bowls.
It definitely diversified the choice, but I wouldn’t say it blown away demand for metal singing bowls. Their position is unthreatened actually. They are too amazing and unique instruments. There always will be people attracted to them and loving the way they sound and look. They give aesthetic experience, that only the metal singing bowls can deliver, nothing else.
From the other hand, some retailers selling crystal singing bowls advertise their products in opposition to traditional singing bowls. They tell, that crystal bowls have this special features, that make them better instruments for meditation and healing. I write more about this in “HEALING ATTRIBUTES” section of this article.
Well, I believe, no one could measure such things really. And in reality, it’s a matter of our personal preference. Somehow, what we lean toward, it’s probably what’s better for us, and it’s something we should decide to go for.
That’s an advice, that works always, when we’re thinking of buying a singing bowl. It’s all about the sound we want to work with, somehow, the right bowl will always find us, and it’s our intuition, which leads us along.
Metal singing bowls are instruments, which history goes to ancient times to the bronze age, where people learnt how to make, not only weapons, but also instruments out of this noble alloy. History of the metal singing bowls is quite mysterious, as there is no precise information about them, but a lot of clues only. Check out my article here to learn more.
There are some antique singing bowls, that are hundreds of years old, but to be honest, singing bowls became popular in the second half of XX century. They have spread all over the world as a great meditation device, used by musicians, sound healers, and at our homes, where we can joyfully use them for our benefit.
Most of the bowls made now, coming from Nepal. Probably it was always the case, that usually they were made in there. However, the most right to say, it would be to say, they’re from Himalayan region. Tibet isn’t actually the place, where there are many traces of their use or significance. That’s why we really shouldn’t call them “Tibetan”. Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid, when that’s the name, under which they’re already known.
Crystal singing bowls were discovered, somehow by chance. They were used in computer science industry as quartz crucibles for chips production. Somebody, simply found out, that they give a sound when tapped. That’s the way they went through, from Silicon Valley to California’s and later world yoga studios.
Soon they started to be made directly as musical instruments, and then started to vary in kinds, colors and forms. Slowly became very popular for their unique sound, look and other features, used for the sound healing already at the turn of 80’s and 90’s.
Comparing to metal singing bowls crystal singing bowls are a modern invention.
SIMPLY DIFFERENT MATERIAL
There are two kind of metal singing bowls, that it’s easy to find on the market. The first group of bowls is usually made of brass metal, they’re made on the lathe, and then sometimes hand-hammered for the “hand-made” look. They’re much cheaper. Some experts wouldn’t even call them singing bowls. Well, they are very affordable bowls, that can serve their purpose, especially for beginners.
The other group, it’s what we would call the real singing bowls. They’re made from the bronze bell metal, which is an alloy of copper 78% and tin 22%. The sound of the bowl, made of this material is beautiful, warm and deep with long resonance.
Probably these are metal singing bowls, you really want to have and they’re of course more expensive, than brass metal bowls, but that are not crazy prices. Important note, the bowls made from this material are always a hand-forged instruments by artisans, that are in the business from generation to generation.
Sometimes you may hear of metal singing bowls being made from 7 different metals. Well, that’s a common myth. Some sellers may even put there all the 7 metals, but in quantities, that are not relevant anyhow, and just to adjust to this “7 metal” myth.
The base of the metal singing bowl sound it’s always copper, preferably in an alloy with tin, what constitutes the bell metal.
Crystal singing bowls on the other hand are made of quartz crystal in 99,99%. However, it’s not like somebody cut out the crystal bowl from a piece of a natural crystal, nor they haven’t been found in the cave.
They’re made from silica sand, which is basically 99.99% quartz crystal, in other words, it’s pure sand. Melted in high temperature, then formed to a shape of a bowl. After cool down, tuned to desired frequency, so it plays with a certain note.
All crystal bowls are made this way. It’s not a mass production process, but each bowl is formed as a unique item. Along with growing demand, different types of crystal singing bowls have been invented but will talk about this later. Here, you may learn more, of how are crystal singing bowls made exactly.
Metal singing bowls are beautiful objects. Shape of the brass bowls is more regular, as they’re made on the lathe. Sometimes coloring and the general outlook may seem somehow cheap, but they are still good to play. The shape of the bronze bowl is rather irregular. However, the bronze bowls are real pearls.
Bronze bowls are solid and strong. The size vary from 4″ up to 14″ in diameter, sometimes more, and the color may also vary. Usually they are in the color of a dark gold, shiny but very nobel. Of course, they will be darker if there’s some impurity in the alloy, for example, some iron or so.
New bowls have visible hammer marks, that you can easily recognize. When the bowl becomes older, oxidation goes on and patina appears on the surface, what gives a desirable glance to a bowl. By this feature you can be able to state, how old is the bowl, if you’re an expert.
Crystal singing bowls actually look like very solid glass bowls. You may find different kinds, the most popular and relatively the cheapest are frosted bowls. The bowl like that has a sandlike texture on the outside, what looks like they’re actually frosted. Depending on quality of the bowl this texture can be rough or gentle. The inside of the frosted bowl is fully fused quartz. They are thick and heavy bowls.
There are also thinner bowls, which remind more of glass bowls, they’re called crystal clear singing bowls. It’s because they’re transparent and more delicate in comparison to frosted bowls. The process of production is more demanding, what ends up with more expensive product. They’re pure quartz made and they are fully transparent, but not the same way as glass, you may spot opalising quality to it, as crystals split the light.
You may also find crystal bowls, that have different metals and mineral additions like platinum, gold, ruby, amethyst and so on. That determines the look. They’re many beautiful crystal singing bowls on the market. I wish everyone to visit the shop, where they offer different collections of crystal singing bowls. That’s the feast for the eyes, for the ears, and for the state of mind, as crystals itself have very positive impact on our wellbeing.
Metal singing bowls have the sound much richer in harmonics and overtones than crystal singing bowls. Traditional singing bowl is actually a standing bell, so you may expect it will act same way. Long sustain, a lot of metallic characteristics within the sound, power and resonance.
Regular metal bowl will have two dominant sounds. You get the fundamental tone, when you strike the outside wall of the bowl with the striker or a mallet. The other tone is a singing one, which is actually the dominant frequency, that you get, when playing a singing technique.
Fundamental tone is lower, than a singing tone, but there’s no rule, what’s the difference in frequencies is between these two tones. It depends on an individual bowl.
Basically, it’s not so easy to make a bowl, that gives you desired note, so that’s the random thing. However, it can be measured, therefore, good retailers will inform you, at least about the fundamental tone pitch of the bowl.
In the case of crystal singing bowls, frosted bowls give just one sound, whether tapped or played with a singing technique. Clear crystal bowls have two distinctive notes. Similarly, to traditional bowls, you get one lower fundamental tone and clear overtone when you play the singing technique.
The sound of crystal versus metal singing bowls is different. It’s more clear with easy to distinct one particular tone. When, the metal singing bowls give the sound rich with buzzes and hums, where the main tone is rather dominant frequencies.
Basically, both metal and crystal singing bowls share the same kind of healing effects. The most obvious one is deep relaxation and synchronization of hemispheres, what in overall brings peace of mind, and drastically quiets the mind chatter.
Furthermore, with relaxation the physical benefits follow like, lowering the blood pressure, immunity boost, improving breathing and reducing stress. Some people experienced actual pain reliefs and inflammation healing.
Looking at the characteristic of the metal singing bowls sound, it’s more like the “OM” sound, which is the fundamental sound of the Universe according to Eastern beliefs. That represents a wholeness of vibration, that affects your body, like an ocean of sound, that massages your whole being with its resonance.
Crystal singing bowls give a different quality of sound, more direct and precise. Some people say, they are like laser, that affects instantly places in you, that need a healing.
Enthusiasts of crystal singing bowls claim, that crystal singing bowls, being made out of quartz crystal, which is basically silicon based molecule, affects the human body much better than traditional singing bowls.
It’s because the human body has around 7 grams of silicon within, so when the crystal bowls are in action, on a subtle level, our bodies immediately welcome this vibration, as it’s something super familiar to them. Hence, trough playing crystal singing bowls we have the ability to transmit and amplify our healing intentions very efficiently.
The main metal, that traditional singing bowls are built from is copper, it’s around 78% of it in a typical bronze bowl. The amount of copper in a human body is usually something between 1,4mg to 2,1mg. That’s much less, than the percentage of a silicon in human body. That’s sort of proof for crystals singing bowls lovers to say, that crystal bowls are more effective.
My opinion is, that there is something in the sound of crystal singing bowls, that is familiar, warm and very cozy. However, somehow I like the sound of traditional singing bowls as well, because it’s more cosmic in a sense, more universal, giving more vibration.
One thing about metal singing bowls is, that it’s hard to break them. Simply, if they fall down on the floor they will not smash. Crystal bowl may smash, no doubt, especially if it’s clear crystal type of the bowl. They are still solid in a way, but definitely much more fragile, than crystal frosted singing bowls, which have thicker walls.
Of course, a frosted bowl still may crush, when fall down. It’s very heavy and made of crystal. So the thing is, when you travel with crystal singing bowls, you must be always more careful, than when you travel with metal bowls. They actually can be also more heavy than metal bowls, especially if you have frosted bowls set.
Therefore, for traveling reasons, metal singing bowls are better. They are maybe heavy, but every instrument has some size and weight, whether it’s guitar, drums or a singing bowl.
CRYSTAL VS METAL SINGING BOWLS
I would say it’s a preference, that decides, which type is for you. If you’re looking for a certain note it should be easier with crystal bowls for example. Which you are rather a fan of the rich metal singing bowls sound, then that might be something for you.
If you are afraid you will break your crystal bowl, cause you are planning to travel with them from time to time, you should consider being extra careful or just choose metal bowls for this reason.
Maybe you like, the way traditional bowls look like, maybe you like crystal singing bowls look, you see, it’s a preference. All you need to do is to decide, what suits you better. What’s more practical for you.
Probably the best way to look for singing bowls is to judge by heart, listen to your intuition. There are the answers, in the end, you’re looking for something, that you’re gonna stay longer with. Maybe some features are not so important. Listen to your heart, before you buy, found the answer there.
I think, actually the most important feature is the sound. Ask yourself which sound you love, that’s probably the type of bowls you should go for.
There’s also other way, you can mix the bowls in your set. To enrich your own experience and maybe the experience of your clients. I believe, metal singing bowls are better to create a vast universal space, when crystal bowls give their warm and laser like clear sounds to cut through our blocks and bring the instant healing. I would definitely recommend including them both in your set.
Which bowls do you prefer? Do you have something to add, maybe you have your own personal experience with singing bowls? Join the discussion by leaving the comment. You are very welcome to do so!
All the best!
Founder of Sound And Bowl