How to make bamboo pan flutes

By | April 7, 2021


Cut a length of bamboo to serve as the instrument’s lowest note. The longer you cut this tube, the more you put on your pan flute. What pitch it will produce depends on the thickness of the bamboo you have. Thicker bamboo will produce deeper notes, but it will also require more air and breath control to play.


Clean the bamboo piece. Run the wire brush bracket through the bamboo several times to remove any loose debris or sawdust. Blow at one end and out the other to stop soiling the pipe.


Sand one end of the bamboo charcoal piece. Use a small fine grit paper and work it with the inside and outside of the pole tip with your fingertips.


Make a sound on the bamboo tube. This allows you to test the pitch and get the one you want. Hold the tube straight up and down (perpendicular to the floor) and place the ground edge against the lower lip. Blow into the tube, directing your airflow down to produce a musical tone.


Adjust the length of the tube to get the pitch you want. Without adjustment, the pipe will probably be close to matching a rise in the western scale, but not exactly. Test the pitch with an electronic tuner, which indicates whether it is sharp or flat to the nearest pitch. If it is flat, remove a small piece of wood from the bottom of the pipe (use sandpaper instead of the saw if the pitch is very close). If it is sharp, trim the pole to match the next raise.


Set steps 1-5 for each note you want on your tubes, making each tube shorter than the last.


Connect the pipelines. Spread a length of tape (or other similar material) flat on your work surface. Lay the pipes next to each other, arrange them at the shortest point with the ground tops lined up in a straight line. Fold the ribbon around the tubes and tie it. Tie another length of ribbon over the tubes under the first one.

Pan flutes, or pipelines, are one of the oldest and simplest instruments. While a pan flute can be made of any tubular material, it is a great way to make a set of tubes that look as good as they sound.