Necessary Changes

The following information explains why these changes were necessary.

ServicesThru years of analyzing our work and the work of others we came to the conclusion that many of the recurring problems with Steel Pans are due to a less then ideal barrel…the use of too thin metal and too small a diameter. Pan builders have traditionally used 55 gallon (22.5”) barrels as the platform for Steel Pans. History has given us particular patterns of notes that we’ve applied to the instruments. However, in almost every case we’ve been forcing notes into an area that is not large enough (or barely large enough at best). This action reduces the quality potential of each note. Having inadequate surface area forces the tuner to overstretch the metal of the note panel and put adjacent notes too close together. This causes excessive cross bleed and octave cancellation, which leads to interference and “wobbles.” In order to get maximum clarity, strength, and projection each note needs a specific size, shape, geometry, thickness, and interstitial to support it. Add it up and that’s how big a pan needs to be! Because of this, we now only use larger diameter Rigid Rim drums (24.5” and 26”). This allows us to properly align fundamental, first, and second octaves with appropriate harmonics on each note panel.

Our Rigid Rims welded construction pans provide a much more stable platform for each note panel. This increased rigidity also allows for more tension, which better binds the notes in place thus holding tune longer. Many of the problems with older instruments are due to incorrect metal thickness. All of our instruments are now built with thicker steel. I believe each instrument should be built with steel that is thick enough for the largest note.

On most “normal” steel pans you’ll find the larger notes of a row will be raspy and/or unstable with little projection power. It’s because the note panels are too thin. Often times you’ll also find the highest two or three notes of a row to be “boxy” or short in sustain. That is due to the note panels being too thick. I use an Ultrasonic Thickness Gauge to measure the steels thickness down to .0001 of an inch and then thin each note panel to the desired thickness… striving for a variance of no more than 5/10,000 of an inch…(a human hair is five times thicker!) This ultimately results in instruments that are much more consistent in tone and feel. It’s a heck of a lot more work but it makes for world class instruments.

We would never have been able to achieve the results we have without closely studying the work of all the master tuners who have come before us. We’ve employed all the “best practices” that each has brought forth in the evolution of this wonderful instrument that Trinidad & Tobago has given to the world.