Building & Tuning Process

6 New Professional 27 inch Steel Drums PansPalm Beach Pans

Building and tuning process for the 27” Solid hoop lead (Tenor) Pans

For best results, follow these procedures.

Building Process:

  1. Sand all grooves on the drums before building starts. The grooves are from the spin circle during the sinking process. Place outer notes about 1 ½ inches from the rim. The rim does take away from the notes because of the thickness of the metal. Don’t place octave notes in front of larger notes. This will keep bleeding down. Make sure to create scoop and get the sides back on each note. This will make the note play clearer.
  2. Measure the depth, place the notes and begin shaping the instrument. Remember the shape is very important or the drum want get its true sound potential.
  3. Once the instrument has its final shape and depth, groove the notes a slight larger than what the templates looks.
  4. Slightly burn the instrument to keep everything in place. Do not burn for a long time.
  5. Prep instrument for final shape.


Sanding and Buffing before tuning

  1. Use the grinder on and between notes over the instrument. This is to remove metal (thinning metal process quickly) on 18 gauge steel only. Major reminder: be careful of the angles of the grinding because of certain marks left behind. Use grinding grits 36 and 50. Each one with a pass. Don’t be scared of the surface.
  2. Remember to grid C, C#, D, E flat, and E a little more. All instruments are different so F, F#, G, and A flat could to a little thinning. Don’t be scared to thin out A, B flat, and B because these notes are smaller and sometimes the metal is tighter.
  3. Underneath the drum, grind the octave notes only. Be careful not to grid to much metal. This is a feel process. This does make the notes vibrate better and the 2nd octaves to come in clear.
  4. Sand the drum with an orbital sander to remove any marks on the instrument from the grinding process. Use sand paper grit 80-120-220. This process will take more time and each grit could take between 3 to 5 passes.
  5. This same process will be on the underneath side too.


  1. Make sure to Double line the note.
  2. Bubble the outer notes only and pre burn only. Do not burn inside note.
  3. When tuning the outer notes, concentrate on getting 1st and 2nd octave in place long with the tonic of the note. Put the harmonics in pitch to make the instrument play true. Be patient with this process.
  4. With the inside notes, tune each note into pitch. When the note is in pitch it will sound weak. Burn the note into pitch which will cause the note to be sharp. Rock the note into pitch. This will release the note to make it vibrate.
  5. Note: C, C#, and D will need the 2nd octave in place so pinch and give it neck. These notes need it to make them play true.
  6. If the notes are not playing true, you will have to regrind the drum and start the process over with the sanding. Remember, if you take too much away the metal will get to thin and problems could occur. The drum will tune but you most think and have a lot of mojo up your sleeve.
  7. Make sure the instrument is finished and the octaves are lined up before the instrument is going to chrome or paint.
  8. Blending: Should not take long because all of the hard labor is in place. Start from the inside out to blend the instrument. Take a longer mallet and hit each note hard to make sure the note stays stable. This process will make the quality of the note brighter.

Skirt work:

  1. For chrome skirt: Use sand grit level 80- 120- 220 and take couple passes as needed. Trying to get a mirror finish look.
  2. For painted skirt: Use sand grit level 80 to rough in skirt. This is to make everything uniformed and so the paint can stick. The best look is black or any colored skirt with a white playing face and bottom. Use a clear coat on the face after paint to hold in longer. Use a black permeant marker to outline the playing notes.


Written by Eric Fountain on April 22, 2015





Leave a Reply