Pan Sound - Need tuning or just the way it is..

I have had my pan for about 2 months.  I started learning with a set of lessons I purchased online and I am now working to learn songs from Brad's books.  Just this week, I realized that the Bb on my pan (in the outer ring) doesn't really ring at all, meaning it makes a sound when I hit it, but the sound doesn't linger like the other notes.  I don't know if it has always been that way and I was just too focused on hitting the right place at the right time, or if I did something to make it that way.  For those on this forum who are more musically inclined, I am wondering if you have some input on whether this is something that is wrong and could be corrected by a tuner, or if it is an idiosyncrasy of my pan and something I will have to live with?

Thanks!

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Hi lori,

I had a note like that years ago, and some tuners told me that it was just a badly constructed note that "wouldn't behave itself".. then a tuner came and fixed it.  So sometimes, it seems, that a note is bad adn then again the right tuner can fix it...

I had one note (B) that never quite sang as nicely as other notes.  After each full pan tuning, it got a bit better but never wonderful, and I was told that it might never be perfect due to construction, and told the B was often a tricky note to tune.  Oddly enough, my drum was later knocked out of tune on the adjacent E note after I got it back from baggage claim from an air flight.  My tuner fixed the E, and voila, the B is now noticeably better, and as wonderful as the other notes.  So don't give up hope, maybe a great tuning could do the trick (or a Samsonite gorilla in baggage claim!)

I thought I would give an update... I bought my drum from Coyle Drums in March and, after I posted this, I contacted Alan Coyle.  He said he would work on it if we could figure out how to get it to him.  I just happened to be traveling to Pensacola, where he is located, that weekend, so I took the drum.  He worked on it for about an hour and it definitely is better. On a side note, I talked to him about the best way to travel with a drum.  He highly recommended putting the drum into the case face up.  He said he knows that goes against conventional wisdom, but based on where the case is the strongest, that is his recommendation. 

Hi Lori, we sell pans at VistaPan Steel Instruments, and here is a blog pertaining to the subject that we deal with a lot:
It is normal on Low C Lead pans for the B note to have noticeably less ring, less sustain and less body than all the other outside notes. B is the highest note in each ring of notes and has less ability to excite harmonics in other notes. If you listen closely, you'll notice that, generally speaking, the higher the note is in the ring (ascending chromatically from F#), the less body and sustain each note has. Also, the thickness of the metal is a necessary compromise, so by the time you reach the top note in the ring (the B), the metal is a bit thicker than ideal for sustain, ring and body.

Once a pan is played and you hit that note thousands of times (called "pounding in"), and then when the tuner eventually tunes your pan, - he can then often achieve a little more sound out of that B note. In fact your entire pan sees an improvement in sound quality when tuned the first time after "pounding in".

Also, there is often a small "sweet spot" on the note that allows the player to coax a little more out of it. Make sure the mallet is as parallel to the note surface as possible. This will make the B note a little fuller, since more rubber will hit the note. Play with a twitch of the fingers so that the contact of the mallet to the note is as momentary as possible. These techniques will improve the sound of all your notes including the B. In addition, solo players often find ways to make a phrase with the B note sound fuller (using a grace note, adding the octave note, playing a lower harmony note with the B when appropriate, not lingering on the B more than necessary, etc).
This may be a slightly different issue than tuning, but just be aware that "B" is not generally the best note on a lead pan

John, outstanding insights on the B.  I find your comments on B to be familiar with my own experience for my own pan.  My latest tune has produced B at its best so far.

I did not know that.

John skoczen said:

Hi Lori, we sell pans at VistaPan Steel Instruments, and here is a blog pertaining to the subject that we deal with a lot:
It is normal on Low C Lead pans for the B note to have noticeably less ring, less sustain and less body than all the other outside notes. B is the highest note in each ring of notes and has less ability to excite harmonics in other notes. If you listen closely, you'll notice that, generally speaking, the higher the note is in the ring (ascending chromatically from F#), the less body and sustain each note has. Also, the thickness of the metal is a necessary compromise, so by the time you reach the top note in the ring (the B), the metal is a bit thicker than ideal for sustain, ring and body.

Once a pan is played and you hit that note thousands of times (called "pounding in"), and then when the tuner eventually tunes your pan, - he can then often achieve a little more sound out of that B note. In fact your entire pan sees an improvement in sound quality when tuned the first time after "pounding in".

Also, there is often a small "sweet spot" on the note that allows the player to coax a little more out of it. Make sure the mallet is as parallel to the note surface as possible. This will make the B note a little fuller, since more rubber will hit the note. Play with a twitch of the fingers so that the contact of the mallet to the note is as momentary as possible. These techniques will improve the sound of all your notes including the B. In addition, solo players often find ways to make a phrase with the B note sound fuller (using a grace note, adding the octave note, playing a lower harmony note with the B when appropriate, not lingering on the B more than necessary, etc).
This may be a slightly different issue than tuning, but just be aware that "B" is not generally the best note on a lead pan

Cloy makes some of the most amazing pans out there.

Lori said:

I thought I would give an update... I bought my drum from Coyle Drums in March and, after I posted this, I contacted Alan Coyle.  He said he would work on it if we could figure out how to get it to him.  I just happened to be traveling to Pensacola, where he is located, that weekend, so I took the drum.  He worked on it for about an hour and it definitely is better. On a side note, I talked to him about the best way to travel with a drum.  He highly recommended putting the drum into the case face up.  He said he knows that goes against conventional wisdom, but based on where the case is the strongest, that is his recommendation. 

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