The Ultimate Guide to Crystal Singing Bowls

If you have arrived here now, you've likely had an experience that is drawing you to learn more about crystal sound bowls. 

Crystal bowls have a special tone, resonance and accessibility for playing that is like no other instrument. When first experiencing crystal bowls, many people are touched deeply, not just from hearing these instruments, but also sensing them in their physical body (and energy body). This experience is often a bit of an awakening, a discovery that tells us we're a beginner again in a whole world of magical potential. 

Unlike most other instruments, playing crystal bowls is almost instantly possible without any musical training. Crystal singing bowls are for everyone, not just for sound healing facilitators and practitioners. The deepest connection with the possibilities created by crystal sound bowls starts with playing your own regularly yourself as well as sharing the resonance you create with others close to you.

The most important things you learn about crystal bowls will come from the experience of playing them yourself, but becoming as informed as possible about crystal sound bowls is an important part of picking the perfect ones for you. We are excited to share everything we know to help guide you through your journey with these magical instruments.

What Is a Crystal Singing Bowl?

Crystal singing bowls are instruments that create pure, sustained, ethereal tones used in different practices for sound healing. They're constructed most commonly as round bowls of frosted quartz crystal, but depending on the manufacturer and type, they can be made in a range of materials, processes and quality. You can find options for purchase from lower-priced, imported, high-production bowls all the way to higher-priced alchemy bowls made in the USA, each uniquely crafted with precious metals, gemstones and elements added.

They come in a variety of sizes, typically ranging from around 5 inches to around 2 feet in diameter and vary in thickness and height. The materials used, the manufacturing process, and the size and thickness of the bowl all influence the ease in playing, the volume of the sound produced, the length of the tones, and the frequencies heard and felt when being played. 

Crystal singing bowls are often compared to metal singing bowls (or Tibetan bowls), given they are both known as “singing bowls” and played in similar ways.  Although they are both used in sound healing, meditation, and yoga, they have some big differences.  The sound from crystal bowls is typically experienced as ethereal and pure with more matching harmonious overtones, while the sound from metal bowls can be more grounded while having multiple distinctive non-harmonic tones.

A Brief History of Crystal Singing Bowls

The history of quartz crystal singing bowls is hard to pin down, but they are relatively new, having emerged and become popular in the 20th Century. The most commonly told story of their beginning is that they were discovered accidently as instruments while being discarded as by-product of semiconductor manufacturing, being first used as the crucible for growing silicon wafers. This may not sound like a glamourous beginning, but this only adds to the mystique when we consider the magical properties of crystal and the many ways crystals are used in our world.

Over the past few decades, crystal singing bowls have become an essential part of sound healing and sound baths. They're often used in meditation or yoga classes where sound therapy is a prominent part of the session. Additionally, many retailers and yoga studios offer ongoing events, including an introduction to sound healing instruments or educational seminars that use them in practice and encourage people to try them out for themselves. 

The popularity of sound healing, sound meditation, and sound baths has been a rising trend and has recently exploded in popularity. Crystal singing bowls are now the most common instrument included in these sound practices.

In the last 20 years, new and even more complex and beautiful crystal singing bowls have been in development. Those who practice alternative and spiritual healing turn to these new instruments because of the healing and beneficial properties believed to be associated with sound, but also with crystals and other elements. For instance, Crystal Tones Alchemy Singing Bowls have the most options for this, with hundreds of combinations of elements from the crystal and mineral kingdoms incorporated into the bowls, and it's possible to find a bowl that matches very specific personal goals. These alchemy crystal singing bowls activate advanced metaphysical properties and energies through combining these materials and then setting them in motion through vibration. 

Benefits of Crystal Singing Bowls

Crystal singing bowls are popular for their unique sound and because they are now associated with a number of benefits. They're widely used to help with various conditions by creating the space for and empowering the body’s own natural and miraculous healing potential. One of the main reasons people seek out the instruments in the first place — other than an attraction to the sound — is to help with relaxation. Stress can have a detrimental effect, and relaxing can help ease those afflictions. 

Crystal singing bowls may also prove beneficial in: 

  • Meditating - They help improve the meditative state with soothing sounds and vibrations that help center and deepen your focus. 
  • Balancing Energies - Many use a set of bowls, attributing various notes to a specific energy center or chakra within the body. The vibrations are believed to help with alignment, thus promoting harmony within your body. Did you know there are different notes on the musical scale and colors associated with different parts of the body? Here are just a few: 
    • Root - Red bowls, C note
    • Navel - Orange bowls, D note
    • Solar Plexus - Yellow bowls, E note
    • Heart - Green bowls, F note
    • Throat - Blue bowls, G note
    • Third Eye - Indigo bowls, A note
    • Crown - Violet bowls, B note
  • Sound Therapy - People can attend sound meditation, sound bath, or sound journey sessions, where they immerse themselves in the harmonies created by the bowls and other instruments. These are often part of meditation or spiritual sessions.
  • Improving Sleep - A state of relaxation is necessary to sleep. If you're high anxiety or suffering from insomnia, sometimes using or listening to crystal singing bowls can help your mind and body relax enough to get a good night's sleep.
  • Inspiration or Activation - Renewed energy and excitement, new ideas, creativity and clarity, are often reported as “side effects” of playing and listening to crystal bowls, particularly with the more advanced alchemy crystal bowls.  

The benefits of crystal singing bowls may vary from person to person, and the effects can be dependent on the way they are played, if you are listening or playing yourself, the type of bowls being played, the setting, and your personal attunement to the sounds and vibrations as well. 

How Crystal Singing Bowls Are Made

Crystal singing bowls are made using many different materials and processes depending on the manufacturer and type of bowl being produced. Even the location of the manufacturing is important, as the labor standards and environmental impacts of manufacturing can vary greatly between countries. Differences in manufacturing may greatly impact the pricing, sound, aesthetic, and energetic qualities of a crystal singing bowl.

The most common ingredient used in manufacturing crystal singing bowls is silica (silicone dioxide). This material can be sourced in many different forms, including the use of cheaper sands and impure quartzite, all the way up to the mining of more pure and larger pieces of raw quartz mineral crystals. The location of the source of minerals also varies greatly, with some manufacturers buying their materials from common international industrial sources, and higher quality manufacturers like Crystal Tones overseeing the mining of these minerals within the United States, which ensures a careful and conscious extraction process. In addition to the silica, there is a wide variety of other elements that may be used, including dyes or colors, while alchemy bowls may also contain exotic minerals, gemstones and precious metals. 

There are two common processes for forming bowls from melted silica: tubing and spinning with a mold. The detailed methods for doing so are closely guarded, but manufacturers that use higher heat and/or higher pressure from spinning molds are able to burn away impurities and re-align the molecules of silicon into the purest crystalline form. The ability to form a bowl with the highest quality crystalline structure leads to the most pure tones produced, the most ease in playing, and longer sustain times of the tones.

Most manufacturers of crystal bowls design and engineer their manufacturing process around creating a standard set of notes and tones, and then will grind and alter the bowls after forming to ensure the desired note and tuning is achieved. The bowls are created to produce specific sounds on the musical scale, and the size often matters in this respect. Shorter, less wide, and thicker-walled bowls tend to have a higher pitch, while taller, wider, and thinner-walled bowls produce deeper intonations. Other manufacturers, such as Crystal Tones, focus primarily on the size and combinations of materials for Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowls, and the final note and tuning is whatever the bowl happens to be “born” with, which further differentiates each and every bowl with a unique sound like a voice print. Then, there are those that, when played together, create a harmony. 

How Do Singing Bowls Work?

The physical science behind how singing bowls work is simple. It starts with striking the bowl itself to create vibrations directly from the impact, or rubbing the rim with the mallet, which creates vibrations through friction. These vibrational frequencies are then transmitted through the air before being received by the ears and directly by the body. We hear the tones produced by the bowls, and we may sense or feel the vibrations of the bowls on our skin and/or in our bones, while these vibrations also transmit subtly into our muscles, organs, glands and cells. Many people report positive impacts of pleasure, rest and relaxation, from listening to (and feeling the vibration from) the bowls.  

What the bowls are made of may also make a difference for people. Whether based on metaphysical or new age principles, or an inner knowing, keeping different minerals and elements in your proximity is thought by many to have a positive impact. Quartz crystals are highly desired for these reasons, which is often the source material for manufacturing the bowls and what the newly formed molecular structure of the bowl closely resembles. Alchemy crystal singing bowls may be constructed of one or more materials in addition to the pure quartz crystal, which may convey additional benefits to the people in the area around the bowls.

Our beliefs, intentions and our own power for manifestation or control of our quantum destiny may also play a significant role in why crystal singing bowls are connected with positive outcomes for people. It's common for people to notice and discover their own attraction to crystal singing bowls at a time of high potential for a significant shift in their life.  The bowls may be a beacon, a totem or an anchor that signals or allows us the permission, freedom and space to direct our lives in a way that fulfills our highest purpose.

How to Play Crystal Singing Bowls

Crystal Bowls are one of the most friendly instruments for any beginner looking to start playing. Almost any bowl will do, but the larger, lighter, higher quality crystal bowls make better crystal singing bowls for beginners because the sound can be produced with very little effort. However, some beginners prefer the smaller, thicker, heavier frosted bowls because they are less expensive and more durable. 

Make sure you're in a quiet, distraction-free area before you begin. The quiet part is especially important because you want to be able to focus on the sounds you're creating. 

There are two ways to generate tones with the bowls, striking (or chiming), and singing. 

Striking or chiming can be done with several different types of mallets, the most common being a cylinder-shaped felt or silicone crystal bowl wand. When using the cylinder-shaped wand, the first step is to hold the wand lightly and flexibly between the thumb and index finger about ⅓ the way up the wand with ⅔ of the rest of the wand extending towards the bowl and parallel to the floor. Use the extended part of the wand to very lightly tap (think of a gentle kiss) the bowl about ⅓ of the way down the side of the bowl. When available, we recommend using a light felt mallet with a very soft tip as an alternative to the more popular cylindrical wand, as it's easier and safer in our experience. Rubber mallets can be used for striking the heavy and durable frosted bowls, but they should never be used for striking the more fragile clear or alchemy bowls.

Singing, where the bowl “sings” from the friction produced by rubbing the bowl around the rim, is also most often done with a cylindrical felt or silicone wand. For singing, hold the wand in your hand similarly to how you would a pencil or pen, but allow the majority of the wand to extend beyond the fingers with ample length of the wand to make contact with the bowl. Hold the wand above the bowl with the wand extending downward towards the ground and making contact with the outer rim of the bowl, and, the other end pointing up. Begin to make slow, gentle circles gliding the wand around the rim of the bowl using very light contact at first, varying speed and pressure until you hear and feel the vibration and sound start to emerge. Some heavier and smaller bowls may need a very gentle tap on the rim to start the vibration. 

Smaller bowls can be played while holding them in your hand, while larger bowls should be placed on a rubber ring on a steady surface to stabilize them and prevent accidental sliding or drops. Be sure to handle them with care because they are very delicate instruments.

Playing Tips for Beginners

These tips can be very helpful to all players, but especially for beginners experimenting with the singing technique.

  • Don’t psych yourself out. Breathe and relax. Doubting your ability to do it makes it far more difficult, so trust that it will happen with ease. When beginners forget to breathe, the bowls almost never play, and taking long, slow, relaxed breaths usually helps. 
  • Vary the angle of the wand in addition to the speed and pressure. Sometimes the bowl responds best to almost straight up and down, while other bowls may be more responsive to an angle towards the middle of the bowl. 
  • Find that perfect balance of force and volume. If you play your crystal singing bowls too loud, you run the risk of damaging them. Too many vibrations too fast can cause it to shatter. It's amazing to see the abundance of beautiful sounds that can be produced with very gentle effort. 
  • Use only the soft parts of wands and mallets to play the bowl. Wood and crystal handles can chip or shatter the instrument.
  • Don’t place items inside the bowl. The bottom of the bowl can be very fragile, and many bowls break this way.  Even the soft wands or mallets can break the instrument if dropped inside or rattled inside during transport.  

How To Choose a Crystal Singing Bowl

There are many things to consider when choosing the right crystal bowl for your personal circumstance. It's important to know what to look for when buying a crystal singing bowl, such as the note, ease of play, sound quality and other important elements.

  • Note, Octave and Tuning. You may have a specific note you are looking for (like an F for the heart chakra) or a high or low resonance you want to experience with a specific octave of note. Or, it may be important that it plays in tune with a standardized or other specific tuning, such as concert pitch (A4=440hz), 432 Tuning (A4=432hz) or 528 Tuning (A4=444hz). If you already own bowls, a tone in harmony with your existing instruments may be important.
  • Ease of Play and Sound Quality. This includes how easy it is for you to play, the purity or complexity of the fundamental note and any overtones, the volume it comfortably plays at, and how long the sound sustains after you stop playing it.
  • Visual beauty and aesthetic qualities. The bowl may have a certain color, look, or artistic quality. You can choose white, clear, frosted, or a bowl that has been infused with dyes, colors or coated with colorful gemstones or precious metals.
  • Energetic properties. There are also alchemy bowls with precious metals, gemstones, or crystals that are added in addition to the quartz. You may experience a desirable feeling with it even when it's not being played. The bowl may contain special elements or combinations of materials that you have a connection to. 
  • Manufacturing. It may be important to consider if the bowl has been made with materials consciously extracted from the earth, fair and ethical labor, and the location that the bowl was manufactured in.  
  • Size, storage and transportation. Some bowls are easier to store and transport than others. More traditional frosted bowls are more durable, but are large and heavy, making them harder to carry. Smaller and lighter alchemy crystal singing bowls are easier to carry and travel with, but are also more delicate, so they require higher-quality carrying cases.
  • Budget. There can be a wide variation in pricing considering the differences between mass-produced bowls made in China and alchemy crystal singing bowls that are individually produced in the USA, and can range in price from less than $100 all the way up to $60,000 each.  

Because of all of these complex considerations, we strongly recommend using your intuition to pick your first bowl, which we sometimes refer to as your “Bowl Mate.”  Just like a soul mate, you will intuitively know when you have found your right bowl. It will light you up from the inside, and you will know. Don’t discount or deny any connection that you feel, as sometimes you see one you that is very attractive, or you pick up one that just feels right in your hands, or its sound resonates down to your core — these are the best crystal singing bowls you can ever choose. 

Where to Buy Crystal Singing Bowls

If you would like to have crystal singing bowls in your home, you need to know where to shop. It's easy to go online and search, clicking the top result, but that's not always your best bet. Even with a well-reviewed online product, the ease of playing, tone, and sound quality may vary greatly for each actual bowl sold and shipped to you.    

The best place to buy crystal singing bowls is through a seller with experience, expertise, and knowledge of how to play them and also a willingness to spend time advising you on how to choose the best fit for your needs. For example, if you're looking for a bowl to help with your heart chakra, you want someone who is experienced enough to guide you to a selection of bowls that will serve your intended purpose. 

If this is your first crystal singing bowl set, or even you are adding to your collection, it's a good idea to go in person versus buying them online. Nothing beats having the instrument in your hand. But many times, an in-person demonstration isn’t easy to coordinate, so in those cases, it's critical that you see and hear a demonstration of the actual bowls being sold and shipped to you. A well-made video demonstration from the seller, where you can be confident it is what you will actually receive, is nearly as good as being able to play the bowls yourself in person. 

Caring for and Cleaning Your Bowls

To protect your crystal singing bowls, it's best to store and transport them in carrying cases designed and made for that purpose. Always secure them in a safe spot without risk of other items coming in contact with them, and always out of reach of animals or children. Don’t place anything inside the bowls while being stored or transported. 

When playing the bowls, set them up in a low-traffic area in your home, on the ground, with the silicone ring underneath to stabilize them. Ideally, when playing, the bowls are placed on a carpet, rug or yoga mat as a hard surface such as tile or concrete can shatter the bowls with contact. 

Insuring your bowl from damage may also be a good idea, and may be available through a homeowner's or renter's policy through your insurance company.  Insurance may also be available through specialty providers like Music Pro Insurance. Make sure to research and understand what your premium, deductible and limits are for any policy you end up going with.

If you're wondering how to clean crystal singing bowls, it's best to check with your seller about the specific cleaning process for your bowls. Some alchemy crystal singing bowls may have materials used in manufacturing that are sensitive to water or detergents and require alcohol or solvents to clean. Never put them in a dishwasher or soak them in water. Most bowls can be safely cleaned using distilled water and a microfiber cloth — preferably white or cream-colored to avoid a stain. 

Crystal Singing Bowls FAQs

There are many questions that arise for both beginners and experienced users of crystal singing bowls. These are the most common ones we get asked. 

What is the difference between a crystal singing bowl and a Tibetan singing bowl?

One of the significant differences between a crystal singing bowl and a Tibetan singing bowl is the material that they're made with. Tibetan singing bowls are not made with quartz or silicon, and are usually made with a combination of metals — iron, zinc, and copper, with traces of silver and gold — an alloy known as panchaloha. 

Additionally, the sound from crystal bowls is typically experienced as ethereal and pure with more matching harmonious overtones, while the sound from metal bowls can be more grounded while having multiple distinctive non-harmonic tones.

How do singing bowls work on our minds and bodies?

Hearing the frequencies and harmonies that come from crystal singing bowls triggers relaxation, stillness, and rest. There are several theories for why this happens, including but not limited to:

  1. The pleasing sound directly triggers a neurotransmitter release that directly promotes relaxation.
  2. Concentrating on the sound from the bowls commands attention and displaces or replaces unhelpful thoughts and other distractions that are promoting anxiety or stress.
  3. The sound from the bowls triggers stillness and focus, and this tells our nervous system that we can now move into a resting and healing state as opposed to a state of constant readiness.

Singing Bowls may also work by transmitting the vibration into other areas of our body and include:

  1. The feeling of these subtle vibrations on our skin may be pleasurable and reduce felt pain, and promote helpful relaxation and rest
  2. The vibration may impact our body systems or cellular function or epigenetic regulation of gene expression in a positive way
  3. The vibration may subtly entrain and synchronize the physical movements of our body’s trillions of cells, and when our cells synchronize in movement they are more connected, in-tune, and aware of the good of the whole person’s function 

Does the size of a crystal singing bowl matter?

Yes. Different size bowls produce different tones, vibrations and volume levels.  Generally, smaller, shorter and thicker-walled bowls produce higher frequencies, while larger, thinner and taller bowls produce lower frequencies. Thicker, heavier bowls usually can be played with the most force and produce the most volume for listeners, while lighter and thinner bowls are usually played very gently and more appreciated for the complexity and purity of the sounds that emerge.

How many minutes should I use my singing bowl?

Some people benefit from a few minutes, while others play for longer. In the beginning, it's best to start out with just a few minutes to see how they work for you and expand the amount of time as you get more experience. Even a small amount of time each day with the right bowl can open up many magical possibilities. As long as you play each day, the length of time you use a singing bowl is less important than choosing the right bow or set of bowls for you.