Steeldrum Tuning


Quickinfo: Tunings cost $ 100.00 to $ 150.00 per instrument; ensemble rates run $ 750.00 per day.



Getting your pan retuned is a normal part of owning a pan, and should generally be done on an annual basis by a professional pan tuner. You should not attempt to tune your pan yourself, even if you think it just needs a minor adjustment.

A good tuner should be able to get your pan in tune to a point where it holds its tuning for a significant period of time. Additionally, a good tuner should be able to address any concerns you have about your pan.

Lastly, tuning is a relatively slow process. It can take several hours per instrument to properly tune a pan so that the adjustment is stable, and that the proper work has been done to bring the notes into a consistent timbre. If you're getting your pan tuned every few months with the same recurring issues, you are most likely not being given good service.

Who is tuning my pan?

Steve Lawrie has been tuning steelpans professionally since 1992, when he started a steelpan company known as "PanMaster Steelband Services" in South Africa.

Between 1992 and 2000, PanMaster made all the steeldrums sold in South Africa, as well as exporting pans to Brazil, Australia, Botswana, the UK, and the USA.

From 2003 to 2007 Steve was head tuner at Panyard, Inc. Steve is still located in Akron, Ohio, and continues to perform tuning work for Panyard Inc from time to time.

If you are looking to keep your pans in tip-top condition, you need look no further.

What will it cost?

Pricing depends on the instrument and how much work may be required to retune it. Many pans simply need a basic touch up to bring the pitches back in tune. If Steve has worked on your pan before, the cost for this is usually in the range of $ 100.00.

Youtube video of a pan being overhauled

If your pan is badly out of tune but still just needs pitch adjustment, the cost for this is usually $ 150.00 Occasionally a pan may benefit from a complete overhaul and rebuild. This is normal for older instruments or for pans that have been poorly cared for. Pricing on this is usually billed at $ 65.00 an hour, but you will be amazed at the results! Check out the video of Steve overhauling an older pan he was sent (click the image to the left).

Before any work is done on any instrument sent for tuning, Steve will perform a thorough examination of the pan and give a written estimate (if required) of the work to be done.

Tunings can be done either in Akron or at your facility. In either case, the costs involved in sending the instrument to Steve or transporting him to the instrument(s) are not included in the tuning costs. Accomodation costs may also need to be covered.

The prices quoted here are "per instrument"; so for example, tuning a pair of Double Seconds will cost $ 150.00 (not $ 150.00 x 2).


On-site Tuning Tips

Here are some tips that will make the tuning experience more enjoyable and more productive.

The tuning will be need to be performed in a well-lit room, away from any noise-sensitive areas. Access to a power outlet is required. For example, a typical band room is a good place, since it is usually fairly well soundproofed, and located in a place where noise is not a major factor.

Additionally, the tuning area itself needs to be free from noises that might interfere with the stroboscopic tuner. So for example, areas such as a machine shop, a busy corridor, or a room adjacent to a band rehearsal in progress are not suitable.

It is also generally a good idea to have the tuning area close to the instruments. Having to move instruments one at a time from a storage area to a tuning area simply slows down the task of tuning the pans, and adds to the physical strain involved in performing an already physical task. So for example, having instruments in storage in the same room where the tuning will happen is acceptable, but having them located 2 corridors away in another room is not.

Having the instruments all out of their cases, hanging on stands, and CLEAN can really be a big help. Some of the tools used in retuning pans have been very carefully polished and shaped; dirty and rusted pans can damage the hammer faces. As a general rule, Steve does not work on rusted instruments without first cleaning them. Additional charges may be incurred for this service.



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