Do I need my pan tuned?

I get this question every time I announce that a tuner will be in town:  "Do I need to get my pan tuned?"  This is a very easy question to answer: YES.  

OK, I'll elaborate.  Basically, I get my pans tuned every opportunity I have.  No matter how many times they've been tuned, and no matter how recent my last tuning.  I do this for a variety of reasons:  First, there are always notes that could use some work.  This goes beyond just tuning – refer to some of my earlier posts about just how complicated tuning is.  Tuners can change the overtones on a particular note to reduce interference of nearby notes or to help the overall blending of the instrument.  Pan tuners often talk about how hard it is to practice because they keep hearing subtle — very subtle — things that they want to try to clean up or improve.  No pan is ever perfect!

Second, when pans are new they are much less stable and will go out of tune more quickly.  If your pan is new, say one-three years old, I think it is even more important to get your pan tuned often.  The metal does take time to settle into its new shape and sound, so as you play a new pan the less stable notes will start to go out of tune quickly.  Brand new pans can have notes go out of tune during shipping.  I should note, however, the better built instruments are more stable right from the beginning. 

Yet another reason to have your pan tuned at every opportunity is this: It is much better and easier to keep your pan in tune rather than letting it go way out and then bring it back on pitch.  Tuning a pan causes lots of stress to the metal.  If you need your instrument to be totally overhauled you run the risk of some notes not holding their tune.  Plus, when an instrument is well-maintained and the pitch is already good, it allows the tuner to fix the little things, making your pan sound its very best.  

I must also note, I was not paid by any tuners to write this blog.  🙂

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