Buying a quartz crystal singing bowl, whether it is frosted, clear, mineral fusion, or a handle bowl, can be a daunting process. Understanding the many differences in bowl types, sizes, pitches, choices of sets, and how one may want to use them can be overwhelming, especially to the novice. The online information about crystal singing bowls, their origins and use, can be far reaching, differ according to the site, and belief systems and experiences of the author, and even be misleading or not based in fact. How do you know which type, pitch, or size is right for you?
This post is a support to help you choose which crystal bowl is right for you. Please read through it and refer to it often, when making your selection. It will illuminate many things about crystal bowls.
What is a Crystal Singing Bowl?
Crystal singing bowls are made from silica sand which is pure quartz in nature. It integrates the individual particles of sand into an amorphous unified whole, which goes from being crystalline in nature to being amorphous – or glass – in nature. Some bowls are clear. Some are frosted
The most common are the “frosted” singing bowls. This type of bowls are the largest, heaviest, and loudest of the quartz singing bowls available. They provide the most vibration because of their thickness and size, which allows them to sustain a lot of vibration. Frosted singing bowls also tend to be the most affordable comparing to other types of Singing Bowls. Kath do recommend such type of Singing bowls for beginners to start with.
Base of a Chakra Singing Bowl
Crystal Bowls and Chakras Association
It is quite common in the crystal bowl world to correlate specific crystal bowl pitches to different chakras. I do see the value in doing this. For example, there are 7 notes in the major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) and 7 major chakras people work with. It is simple then, if you were to use one note per chakra, to lead a person from one chakra to the next as you go one bowl higher in tone. As you play the C note, you work on the root chakra, and from there you play the bowls ascending in tone, going up one chakra per bowl. This sort of methodology lends to an environment that is easy for people to follow with their concentration and not get lost it. Also, i can see the value in correlating one specific pitch to one specific chakra. People for example may want the tone of F in order to work on their heart chakra. I do know that if you believed that to be a relationship between the two, this belief is conducive to an environment where the sound can be a potent conduit of the healing process.
However, I also think that, if you did not want to buy a certain note for a certain chakra, then there is no need to do so. There is no long standing historical evidence from any mystical tradition to show that the C major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) relates to the chakras, and many different traditions use different notes for different chakras. I have long told customers that you can use any sound to work on any chakra. What is important when working on the chakras is the quality of your own intention and awareness when doing the work, meaning the subtle nuanced movements on your own mind, rather than the specific tone that is coming from your bowl. If you did not want to get a specific bowl for a specific chakra, I recommend buying a crystal bowl you like the sound of. You will get the most long lasting use out of a bowl you really like to hear, and be able to apply that bowl to any meditation you’d like to venture into.
You can or should consult a Singing Bowl Technician (preferably a musically inclined individual eg: Pianist cum a psychic) before buying one who can give you advise and other degree of thoughts to support your purchase decision.
Crystal Bowls and Pitches
When you are buying a crystal bowl, you are buying a certain tone, or multiple tones (several singing bowls) that you would like to use in your meditation and energy work. For sake of categorisation, these tones are broken down with the musical system of notes, octaves and cent values.
Notes and Octaves
Tones are broken down into twelve notes: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B. These twelve notes grouped together make 1 octave of notes, and there are many octave higher and lower in tone. Crystal bowls can play in the 3rd octave, 4th octave and 5th octave grouping of notes. The 3rd octave is considered the lower octave, the 4th octave the middle octave, and the 5th octave the higher octave of notes. So, if you get a 12″ C bowl, you will be getting the note of C in the middle 4th octave. If you get a 18″ C bowl you will be getting the note of C in the lower 3rd octave. Both notes are considered C notes, but the 3rd octave C is much lower in tone then the 4th.
Perfect Pitch Tuning and Cent Value
Imagine a piano. The middle A key on a piano sings just at 440hz, and all the other notes of the piano are tuned in relationship to A equally 440hz. This is the international standard for tuning, for middle A to equal 440hz and for all other notes to be tuned in relationship to middle A.
A single note, such as a C or D, doesn’t represent one specific hz value. The note of C represents a range of hz values. In the 4th octave for example, a C can be anywhere between about 254.18 hz and 269.2 hz. All of the tones within this range are still considered the note of C. So if you just buy the note of C from a dealer, you really don’t know the tone you are getting. It could be in the 3rd octave, 4th octave, 5th octave, and who knows what the hz value of it actually is. Just saying the note is a C can mean many many things.
Cent value is a modern way of distinguishing small variations in pitch that occur in a single note. According to cent value, there are 100 cents between each note (C, C#, D, etc.). Please refer to the graph below. As you can see, if the tone is at 0 cents, then it is a perfect pitch 440hz tone. So a 0 cent C# tone is perfectly in line with 440hz tuning. There are 100 cents (or tones) between a C# and a D. If you have a +45 cent C# note, it is +45 cents sharp of a perfect pitch C#, but not quite sharp enough to be considered a D. If you have a -45 cent D note, it is -45 cents flat of a perfect pitch D, but no quite flat enough to be condsidered a C#. As you go past 50 cents, the note referenced is changed. Example: a +55 cent C# would be referred to as a -45 cent D.
|—– (-50)—-(0 C)—-(+50)—-|—-(-50)—-(0 C#)—-(+50)—-|—-(-50)—-(0 D)—-(+50)—-|
In the crystal bowl world, Perfect Pitch 440hz is considered as anything -10 to +10 cents. ‘0’ cents is absolute perfect pitch, however, most musical schools state that the normal human ear does not hear the distinction below 10c of variation, so the crystal bowl industry determines that anything within +10 to -10 cents is ‘perfect pitch 440hz’. You may like to note that when Kath does the Pitch tuning, i tune to a range of -3 to + 3 cents.
Do I Need A Perfect Pitch Bowls?
As discussed above, a perfect pitch bowl assumes that the middle A key resonates at 440hz, and all other notes are tuned in relationship to A equaling 440hz. In order to have a crystal bowl you can use for meditation and ceremony, you do not need your bowl tuned to perfect pitch tuning. The only reason i recommend perfect pitch tuning to any of my customers is if they are ever going to play the bowl with another instrument. Mostly all instruments in the world are tuned to 440hz standard tuning, so if you would want to pair your crystal bowls with any other instruments it is important for the bowls to be perfect pitch 440hz tuning so all of the instruments play in tune with each other.
The Three Tones Of Crystal Bowls
All crystal bowls, whether they be frosted or clear, have three different tonal aspects. There is first the tone that you get when you strike the side of the bowl with the mallet. This tone can be singular, but is most likely going to have multiple layers of harmonies in it. This tone also most likely will have some small fluctuation of pitch higher to lower, and then higher and lower, etc.
Second, there is the tone you will get when you sing the bowl, by rubbing the mallet around the rim of the bowl. This tone will generally have greater fluctuation higher and lower, and a slightly different pitch then when you strike the bowl. If you learn to play crystal bowls slowly and calmly, you can get the singing tone to settle down into pretty much a steady singular tone, but this takes practice.
Third, once you are done singing the bowl, you release the mallet from the edge of the bowl and the sound calms down and flattens a little into a pretty much singular tone. This is the only tone that is considered when crystal bowls are tuned because it is the most singular tone of the bowl and the one that does not depend on how the person is playing the bowl.
Frosted vs Clear vs Handle Bowl
There are generally three major types of crystal singing bowls: Frosted, Clear and Handle Bowls. Frosted bowls are white, and are rough on the outside. They have the thickest walls out of any of the bowls, so they can hold the most vibration. Because of this frosted bowls are generally the loudest and most vibrant option you can choose. If you would like to play crystal bowls for a room full of people, frosted bowls will give them a full-bodied experience of sound. Kath also highly recommend for beginners.
Clear bowls are clear and smaller than frosted bowls. Clear bowls generally give off two tones when struck; they play a prominent note and then a higher harmonic, around an 11th above. When you sing the bowl, just the prominent note comes through. Clear bowls are not as loud as frosted bowls as they have smaller walls, however, they have a much longer sustain and a clearer tone. If you are playing bowls just for yourself or in an intimate setting, clear bowls would be a great option for you. I suggest buying a clear bowl that is at least 8 inches in diameter, as smaller clear bowls can be difficult to play. When you play multiple clear bowls at once, the harmonics between the bowls are much richer then when you play frosted bowls together. The sound of multiple clear bowls unify into a wonderful experience.
Handle Bowls are basically a clear bowl with a handle on the end of them. Because there is handle on them, you can play them while moving, standing up, or sitting in a comfortable chair. You can also move them across people’s bodies to work on specific locations on their body. Also, because the bowl is stable in your hand, the handle bowls are much louder and easier to play than clear bowls. The only downside to a handle bowl is that you can’t play more than one at a time, because you have to use on of your hands to hold the bowl. I have found value in handle bowls of all sizes, but especially enjoy them 7 inches or larger.
What is a good size for a frosted crystal bowl? Large vs Small Frosted Bowls?
Frosted bowls come between 6 inches and 28 inches. I generally sell 8 to 18 inch sizes, though have other sizes available. Different sized bowls have different properties. Not all tones are possible in all sizes. See the table below for a general outline of how sizes and tones work.
3rd octave C – 16” bowl and larger
3rd octave D – 16” bowl and larger
3rd octave E – 16” bowl and larger
3rd octave F – 16” Bowl and larger
3rd octave G – 14” Bowl and larger
3rd octave A – 12” Bowl and larger
3rd octave B – 11” Bowl and larger
4th octave C – 14” bowl and smaller
4th octave D – 14” bowl and smaller
4th octave E – 13” bowl and smaller
4th octave F – 13” bowl and smaller
4th octave G – 12” bowl and smaller
4th octave A – 10” bowl and smaller
4th octave B – 9” bowl and smaller
5th octave C – 8” bowl and smaller
There are exceptions to this size guideline. Sometimes you’ll find a bowl that does not fit in it, but generally this is how the pitch of different sized bowls work. You won’t find a 3rd octave G tone in a 10 inch bowl. It just isn’t possible. You also won’t find a 4th octave C tone in a 18” bowl. It isn’t possible. There are restrictions for the size of bowl you will get if you want a specific pitch.
Many people only want large bowls because of the strength of their sound. Large bowls produce a large volume with a large amount of vibration. They are also easy to make sing, and easy to meditate too because of this. Many people however, who are sensitive to loud sounds, can’t handle the larger bowls. When playing for a group, you’ll need to be mindful of this in how loudly you are playing the bowl. Another thing to consider with larger bowls is that, past 16 inches it may be difficult for you to get your arm comfortably around the bowl to make it sing. This may be a distraction to your meditation, or something you will need to just get used to. Lastly, it is difficult to get many large crystal bowls around you so you can play them all at the same time. If you would like to play multiple bowls to make harmonies, it is much easier to do this with 10-12 inch bowls, which still produce a good volume.
There is a difference between a 10 and a 9-8 inch bowl. Once you get below 10 inches you get a general decrease in both volume and ease in playing the bowls. I personally like 8 inch bowls, but they do have much less of a sustain, and can take some getting used to. Generally, the most popular bowls are between 10-14 inches. In this range you will be getting a good sound, a good amount of vibration, and the bowl won’t be too big or too heavy for you to carry around and work with.
The Actual Size Of Your Bowl
Crystal bowls have a hand made quality. They are fired by a machine, but the laying of material is done by hand which can result in bowls that have different wall thickness. This is quite normal to get a crystal bowl set that could have 2 10 inch bowls, and the bowls are different thicknesses. There is nothing wrong with this. Further, crystal singing bowls are made in countries that use the metric system, so your 12 inch crystal bowl will most likely not be exactly 12 inches. It could be closer to 11 3/4 or it could be a little over 12 inches. This is all very normal. In the selling of crystal bowls the size of the bowls are rounded to the nearest full inch.
So What Should I Buy?
My top recommendation is buying the crystal bowl you like the sound of and the how you would like to use them. The intentions of the Singing Bowl is Utmost important in my opinion.
If you want to buy more than one crystal singing bowl, I recommend buying a harmonic set. This would be 2-5 crystal singing bowls that are all in harmonic relationship with each other, such as a C, E and G combination. Humans have studied the harmonic relationships between sounds for thousands of years, and there is documented evidence that harmonic relationships help to relax the body and mind. The perfect fifth for example, is known across the world as a purely uplifting and pleasurable interval.
I can also create a harmonic set based off of any one bowl of your choosing, so if you wanted a custom harmonic set just let me know what one sound you really like and i will be happy to put together a harmonic set for you. You can email me at email@example.com
If you would like to work with the 7 chakras, and feel like having a different note for each chakra is a good guide for your meditation, then a chakra set may be right for you. I can also make crystal singing bowl sets in any major scale from a 3rd octave E to a 4th octave D, so if you like the 3rd octave B note the best for example, it may be worthwhile for you to contact me so I can let you know about the availability.
What Bowl Do I Recommend Starting With?
I recommend either a frosted bowl in the key of C or D. These are lower tones that people generally enjoy, and also with the pitch you will get a good sized bowl : 11-14 inches for frosted, and 7-8 inches for handle. These sizes are dependably good sizes for bowls to deliver a good sized volume, and are generally easy to play.
The LATEST Katcova Series of Singing Bowls
Kath has designed and experimented some new materials that are used to craft these Singing Bowls to my perfection. I named them as :
- Platinum Quartz Singing Bowls
- Pure 24K Gold Singing Bowls
- Fusion Frosted Singing Bowls
- Alchemy Singing Bowls
- Cosmic Light Singing Bowls
If you are interested to know more about my new series of singing bowls, get in touch with me.
I have also create a course – Quantum Sound Crystal Bowls Practitioner Course – Level 1 & II. Write to me if you are interested
With the above guide, i hoped you can now get yourself a comfortable harmonizing Singing Bowl(s).