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  • Writer's pictureRonald

Pan Flute FAQ

Updated: Jun 18, 2022

I want to share with you some of the pan-flute-related questions that I usually receive. I hope it helps to give some clarity on the pan flute as an instrument.

1. What is a tunable pan flute?

There are two types of pan flutes. First, we have the tunable ones, which means that they have corks inside each pipe that you can push to change the tuning of each of them. Second, there are non-tunable pan flutes, which are closed at the bottom of each pipe and are fixed in a specific tuning.

Advantages of tunable ones:

You can set it up in different keys to match the specific songs you want to play.

If by any chance the instrument gets out of tune, you can easily tune it back by yourself.

Advantages of the non-tunable ones:

They are fixed in one key and they rarely get out of tune, but if they do, it can be difficult to tune them.

2. What is the difference between a beginner and a professional pan flute?

Many things, to begin with, we could talk about the material. Professional pan flutes are made with a different variety of bamboo, which is thicker, more durable, and provide a deeper and more reverberating sound. Also, professional pan flutes undergo a special treatment process with specialized materials (this usually involves oiling, applying specialized glue, and varnish).

Beginner pan flutes are inexpensive because the process is not as rigid as with professional pan flutes and the variety of bamboo used to make them is thinner. Both of them are tuned and you can play music with them. I would say that the main difference is the durability and sound quality.

3. Why there are different numbers of pipes?

Well, that is what is referred to as ranges. I am sure many of you guys have heard the term Tenor (like Luciano Pavarotti or Placido Domingo) and Soprano (like Monserrat Caballe or Sarah Brightman). Those refer to different voice ranges. A tenor has a potency that goes from a certain lower note to a certain higher note (usually on the lower spectrum). On the other hand, sopranos have a range that leans towards the higher note spectrum. It is the same in pan flutes, there are pan flute varieties to play on a higher range and others to play in the lower one or on both. Think of them as violins, violas, and cellos; each of them has a different range of capabilities.

4. How do I take care of my pan flute?

It is important that you don't put it back on its case immediately after playing because the humidity of saliva can promote the development of mold. Let the flute dry for at least 40 minutes and then put it back on the case. Oil the upper part of the pipes once a a month or more depending on how often you use the instrument. Keep it away from extreme temperatures because bamboo is susceptible to weather changes. Don't put chemicals on it. If you want to polish it or to be shiny, use natural beeswax to do it.

5. Why can't I get a sound of it? Is it defective? It takes time to learn how to blow the pipes. Most customers expect to be able to play at an advanced level as soon as they get their instrument. The truth is that the pan flute is not different than any other instrument, it will take you some time to learn how to play it and even how to make a sound of it. In my personal experience, it took me about one week to get a sound from the pipes (the bass ones). It took me at least two months to get a proper sound from the smaller pipes (high pitch).

6. Can I play different music genres with it (rock, soul, reggae, religious, etc).

Yes, the pan flute is an incredibly versatile instrument. It has been traditionally perceived as an instrument to play world folk songs or tribal music; however, you can play any kind of music with it.

7. What is the difference between a South American style pan flute and a classic style one.

The South American style pan flute has its pipes tied together and usually with a thinner variety of bamboo (bamboo reed). Romanian-style pan flutes are glued together and use a thicker variety of bamboo.

8. What is the difference between right-handed and left-handed pan flute?

A right-handed pan flute has its lower notes on the right and higher notes on the left. The left-handed pan flute has its lower notes on the left and higher notes on the right.

I hope these answers were helpful. If you have any pan flute-related questions you can contact me at

Ronald G.

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