Last Updated on July 11, 2023 by Shanta Roy
Pan flutes are a sophisticated folk musical instrument featuring a series of pipes of increasing length.
We can find a wide range of pan flute versions worldwide in terms of materials, size, thickness, diameter, cross-sectional profile, and so on.
Wood, bamboo, PVC pipes, giant cane, ivory, and local reeds are common elements used in construction.
They usually charge from $150 to $1500, depending on the type.
However, people with excellent knowledge of music can build their pan flute within a low budget. Let’s dive into the details without delay.
Step 1: Gathering your materials
We will be using bamboo here because it is easily available, small, long, and incredibly strong. It also has a large opening to produce great melodies. Hence it’s perfect for building a pan flute. If you prefer other heavier varieties, it may affect the tune.
Make sure to collect a few more pipes than the process requires because some can be wasted later. It is okay not to have perfectly straight pieces, but they should not be crooked either.
They must have a medium thickness and constant diameter throughout the wall. Besides, you’ll need basic manufacturing tools like scissors, clag plugs, duct tape, measuring tape, etc.
Step 2: Make a clear plan
Determine the increasing number of pipe lengths your pan flute will contain. For example, you can use eight pipes of 8.5, 9, 10, 11, 12.5, 13.5, 15.5, and 17.5 cm lengths. Feel free to include or remove pipes as per your wish.
What notes they will generate is difficult to say since it depends on the width as well. So, you should consider length, thickness, width, and the opening diameter while making the incremental size chart.
Step 3: Resizing the Wood
First, rough-cut the pipes using your scissor or tube cutter such that the length will be slightly longer than the actual size.
It will make the precision cuts easier. If the bamboo seems too thick, try peeling off the outer layer of its exterior.
Step 4: Baking the pipes
The moisture percentage of a bamboo’s outer wall is way lower than the inner part. It shrinks a lot based on the humidity variations of the environment.
It tends to crack because of the tension employed by direct exposure to heat or dry climate. Baking them at a controlled temperature is the solution to avoid such issues. Set the temperature of your oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the bamboo for 50 to 60 minutes.
Increase the heat by 50 degrees twice and wait an additional half an hour each time. This phase will result in well-dried bamboo pipes that hardly break and have a pleasant fragrance.
Step 5: Sealing the bottoms
Next, you have to clog the tube floor to get lovely melodies. Make a flat piece of molding clay larger than your bamboo pipes. Stamp the tubes into the clay layer, rotate them in both directions and lift them up. You’ll get clay circles with the same diameter as the pipe’s opening.
Now, put the clay plug into the pipes and wrap the tape around the bottom. It will assist in securing the clay plug inside the tube.
Step 6: Cutting to size
It’s time for the final cut. Place your measuring tape or ruler against the pipes and mark the desired length with a marker. Make the precision cuts while holding the tubes firmly with the other hand. Or, you can ask someone to hold the pipe when you are cutting.
Step 7: Testing the sound quality
Before assembling the wood pieces, be sure that they are capable of producing your wanted tune. Play it to check whether it sounds right or not. Compare the outcomes to the same keys of a piano or another instrument. If they match, you can glue the wood pipes together. Otherwise, you have to try again with a new bamboo pipe.
Step 8: Attaching the pipes
Sort them from shortest to longest. Bring all the plugged bottoms on the same side and reinforce them using duct tape. You can also glue them for extra support.
And that’s all. Now you have a brand new DIY wooden pan flute that gives the same performance as the commercial ones. 🙂