Top 10 Best Pan Flutes for the Music Enthusiast in You
Music Authority may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
Pan Flutes are cool instruments that we often see in movies and cartoons, so if you ever thought about picking it up, you’ve come to a perfect place. We’ve scrounged the market for the best pan flute models you could get for the buck, so without any ado, let’s get straight to it.
Number of pipes
Novica 166644 Andean Zampona Bamboo pan flute
Polyester carry case
MoonAngel 22 Pipes Pan Flute
Inkatumi Student Pan Flute Set
Tuning case, cleaning rode, carry case
MoonAngel 18 Pipes Pan Flute
Artesanal Curved Pan Flute
Vangoa 16 Pipes Pan Flute
Mouthpiece, carry bag
Inkatumi 15 pipes Peruvian Pan Flute
Shmyqq Beginner’s 8 pipe Peruvian pan flute
Carry case, mouthpiece, slideable nozzle
Ramos Peruvian 22 Pipe Pan Flute
bamboo pan flute
Carry case, tuning stick
1. Novica 166644 Andean Zampona Bamboo Pan pipe
Novica 166644 Andean Zampona Bamboo Pan pipe
Let’s open up with Novica’s Andean Zampona pan flute. It’s made from high-quality bamboo and it features 23 pipes, making it suitable for more experienced players.
One of the most interesting things about this particular pan flute model is the fact that it isbuilt after the instrument that was originally used by Andes. Andes were an ancient civilization which thrived around the era of the empire of Incas.
That’s the reason why the pipes were designed in a bit unconventional way (in terms of length), but it sounds as authentic and exquisite as any traditional pan flute.
It comes supplied with a polyester case, and though it does cost a bit more than average, it packs a huge value for the buck.
2. MoonAngel 22 Pipes Pan Flute
Next up is MoonAngel’s 22-pipe pan flute. The design of this model resembles traditional Chinese pan flutes, with slightly curved pipes and a bit less space between them. Given that it packs 22 pipes, it’s obvious that this model is intended for more experienced players.
One of the main characteristics of this pan flute is its weight. It’s incredibly light, weighing only 2.19, but it’s also fairly durable.
On top of that, the MoonAngel’s 22-pipe pan flute comes with a gratis protective case. It sounds exceptionally well and it comes tuned in the key of G. Sadly, no tuner stick was included in the bundle, although it could be bought separately in most music stores.
Overall, this pan flute looks beautiful, it packs an authentic design, it’s durable, sounds awesome, and it is made from highly durable bamboo materials.
3. Inkatumi Student Pan Flute Set
Inkatumi Student Pan Flute Set
Inkatumi is one of the most reliable pan flute stores online, so we’ve decided to include a couple of their models in our top pan flute reviews. The first model on the list is the 13-pipe student pan flute set.
We should note that even though this is primarily a beginner’s pan flute set, it packs the same number of pipes as a traditional pan flute (13). It is initially tuned in the key of G Major, although it does come with a tuning stick.
Like we’ve mentioned, this is a ‘student pan flute set’ which is outfitted with a couple of accessories, such as the cleaning rod, a tuning stick, and a soft carrying case.
The Inkatumi Student 13-pipe pan flute is made from premium Amazon Bamboo material which brings a couple of exceptional benefits to the table. Firstly, this type of bamboo sound is remarkably authentic and exquisite, and secondly, it’s as robust as can be.
The dimensions of this pan flute measure 12 inches by 10 inches by 3 inches, so it’s obvious that beginners will greatly benefit from shorter, more ergonomic pipes that are much easier to play than longer ones. Furthermore, this pan flute is pretty lightweight, weighing only a pound.
4. MoonAngel 18 Pipes Pan Flute
Here we’re looking at yet another MoonAngel pan flute, the 18-pipe pan flute model. In terms of design it greatly resembles Novica’s Zampona flute, although it bears a lot of semblance with traditional Chinese flutes (called Paixiao).
This pan flute is very light, weighing only 14.7 ounces, and it’s slightly larger than average, with its dimensions measuring 12.9 inches by 12.8 inches by 2.4 inches. Even though it does pack 18 pipes (which is 5 more than traditional 13), it’s still a very playable pan flute that can easily be used by a beginner as well.
It’s tuned in the key of F, so in case you don’t like how it sounds, you’ll need to purchase a tuning stick. Speaking of which, this pan flute model doesn’t come outfitted with any complementary features, which is probably the reason why it’s slightly more affordable than our previous picks as well.
On a brighter side of things, the MoonAngel 18-pipe Chinese traditional pan flute is available in both right and left-hand variations.
5. Artesanal Curved Pan Flute 13 Pipes
Artesanal Curved Pan Flute 13 Pipes
Here we’re looking at Artesanal curved pan flute set of 13 pipes. It’s one of the lightest pan flutes, weighing only approximately 3 ounces, but it’s also one of the smallest ones with its dimensions measuring 6.5 inches by 3 inches by 2 inches.
Though it might look like a toy due to its petite size, the Artesanal pan flute actually sounds pretty great. It’s actually one of the ‘Amazon’s choices’ in the pan flute department due to its remarkably approachable price, great sound, and durability.
It’s made from high quality bamboo and it packs the traditional number of pipes, making it suitable for beginners and veterans alike. The only drawback of this pan flute model is its lack of accessories, but it does come at a very affordable price to make up for it.
6. Vangoa Pan Flute
The first thing that you’ll notice about Vangoa’s pan flute is that it strays from the traditional design quite a bit. It’s outfitted with a built-in mouthpiece row and rocks a curved design. On top of that, it sounds pretty decent considering the price. Speaking of which, the Vangoa’s pan flute is perfect for beginners, as well as for teaching purposes.
It’s pretty lightweight, weighing only 9.6 ounces, and it’s one of the smaller pan flutes with its dimensions measuring 12 inches by 12 inches by 1.5 inches. It is pre-tuned in the key of C and it packs 16 pipes, a fixed mouthpiece, a carry bag, and a sliding long pipe.
The biggest benefits of this pan flute bundle lie in the variety of accessories it comes supplied with, in its decent sound quality, and its design. It’s not the most durable instrument on the market, though, so you might want to invest extra care during maintenance.
7. Inkatumi 15 Pipes Pan Flute
Here we have another Inkatumi pan flute, the 15-pipe Peruvian pan flute. This particular model features a ‘cleaner’ curve, which means that the pipes were ‘trimmed’ down in equal intervals starting from the longest one.
This pan flute is pre-tuned in the key of C major, but in case you want to retune, you’ll be able to use the complementary tuning stick. Speaking of which, a carry case is also included in the bundle.
This pan flute packs 15 tunable pipes and it is made from Amazon bamboo. It excels in durability and will be able to serve you for years. It doesn’t really have any legitimate drawbacks aside from the fact that it doesn’t particularly excel in terms of sonic performance or playability. It packs a huge value for the money due to its versatility and affordability, though.
8. Shmyqq 8 Pipes Pan Flute
Shmyqq’s 8-pipe pan flute is absolutely ideal for a beginner. It’s very affordable, it sounds pretty great for the buck, and it packs a plethora of beginner accessories. You’ll be able to use the fixed mouthpiece to get the tones out more easily, or you could use the slidable nozzle after you’ve gained some experience. Additionally, this pan flute comes with a carrying box.
It’s made of quality bamboo, although its durability isn’t spectacular. It is pre-tuned in the key of C, and you’ll need to get a tuning stick if you want to shift out to a different tuning.
On the plus side, it is made from quality bamboo that puts up warm, bright sounds. It rocks a Peruvian Antara type design and it boasts a huge level of playability, which is all the more reason why it’s generally great for pan flute starters.
9. Ramos 22 Pipes Pan Flute
Ramos’ Peruvian pan flute is a handmade pan flute made from natural bamboo. It measures 15 inches by 14 inches by 2 inches, and it’s one of the largest pan flutes on our list. It is made by Fortunato Ramos, one of the most famous luthiers of the 50’s, and it’s probably one of the best sounding pan flutes in the price range.
Speaking of which, it’s highly affordable and it’s generally ideal for pan flute players that have some experience with the instrument.
It rocks Inca graphics and Ramos’ watermark, but it generally looks pretty ordinary. One of the best things about it is the design of the mouthpiece, as it allows increased playability.
10. Inkatumi Bamboo Pan Flute
Inkatumi Bamboo Pan Flute
The last model in our pan flute reviews is Inkatumi’s beginner bamboo pan flute. It rocks 13 pipes and it’s made from highly durable bamboo, but what makes it different from most beginner flutes is its petite size (5.66 inches in length by 5.35 inches in width).
It is designed in the classic Peruvian style and it boasts a huge level of playability because of it. Furthermore, instead of using a traditional tuning stick (which is, in fact, supplied to the bundle), you can also use the corks inside the pipes to change the flute’s key.
It is pre-tuned in the key of C major, but re-tuning it is incredibly easy due to the addition of corks inside the pipes.
Types of pan flute
Most people who are not too familiar with pan flutes usually imagine ‘Antara’ or ‘Siku’ simply because these two pan flute types are the most plain and straightforward. There are other types of pan flutes, though:
The Antara type of pan flute hails from Andes Mountains. It features 13 slightly curved bamboo pipes and it’s a traditional instrument mostly played by men of the Andes Mountain villages.
Nai is a Romanian pan flute which sports an exquisite, swiveling design. Nai pan flutes are generally more versatile than most other pan flute types because the curved pan pipes can create a huge spectrum of sounds. While Antara flute has only 13 pipes, the Nai flute usually features 22 pipes which are made from either bamboo or reeds.
Paixiao pan flute, sometimes also called the “P’ai hsiao’ was developed in China and is one of the oldest pan flute designs. Parts of a Paixiao flute were found in China, suggesting that similar instruments were used somewhere around the 6th century BC. Moreover, one of the most distinguishable features of the Paixiao flute is the curved set of sixteen pan pipes.
The Siku pan flute is sometimes referred to as Zampona, and it’s most commonly used by the inhabitants of the same region as the Antara pan flute type (Andes Mountains) even though it was originally created in South America. Similarly to the Antara flute, the Siku also has 13 pan pipes made of bamboo. The biggest difference between Siku and other pan flutes is in the fact that Siku flute can be played by two people simultaneously.
The first Pan Flute was presumably made from river reeds, but nowadays they’re mostly made of bamboo wood.
Depending on which parts of the bamboo plant are used and what type of refining process is in question, bamboo can be processed into all kinds of things. Koreans, for instance, make tea out of its leaves, and it’s a very popular part of Indonesian, Himalayan, and Nepal’s kitchen.
However, Bamboo’s shaft is fairly strong and durable, which means that a couple of bamboo sticks can be processed into a set of pipes quite easily.
Number of pipes
Different pan flute types are outfitted with a different number of pipes. For example, Nai, Siku, and Antara flutes traditionally have 13 pipes while Paixiao has 16, but this isn’t ‘set in stone’. Different brands now manufacture pan flutes that are able to accommodate the needs of players at all skill levels, so it’s not uncommon to see a flute with only 8 pipes (for beginners), and a flute with more than 22 pipes (for more experienced players)
The number of pipes a flute comes supplied with affects its size and ‘fit’. Regardless of whether the flute has only 5-6 pipes or more than 20, the more the number deviates from the traditional ‘13’, the harder it is to properly find the right tonal balance.
However, if the number of pipes is roughly two (or three) times smaller or greater, the situation is substantially less complicated – a flute with only 6 pipes only has one ‘octave’ less, whereas a flute with 26 pipes has one ‘octave’ more.
The size of a pan flute is substantially different than the size of basically any other type of flute, mainly due to the fact that the pan flute is the only ‘flute-like’ instrument with closed air columns. The reason why pan flutes are so small is because the air ‘comes back’ and changes direction after hitting the bottom while still being able to produce the same tonal spectrum.
The diameter of the bore is one of the fundamental acoustic dimensions of a pan flute. Both ends of the spectrum (too wide or too narrow bore diameter) are to be avoided, as they can ruin the sound of the pan flute, however, everything in between won’t affect the sound as much as other aspects of the acoustic dimensions (wall thickness, overall size of the pipes, and such).
A pan flute with a wider bore diameter gets its breadth and warmth, but the wider it goes, the more the focus gets lost in the tone, making it less defined. On another hand, narrower bores benefit from crispiness and definition at the expense of ‘tone strength’ the narrower the diameter is.
Wall thickness doesn’t only affect the sound of pan flute, but its response as well. Furthermore, the thickness of the walls also has a huge impact on fitting the pan pipes and imposes certain limitations to the design.
Basically, thinner walls cut back on tonal stability, which means that the sounds could possibly rapidly change in terms of dynamics. On the brighter side, thin-walled flutes have a lighter, brighter tone quality. They’re also much easier to work with in terms of construction and handling.
On another hand, thick-walled pan flutes have plenty of stability, but lack dynamics. These pan flutes have a richer, darker sound, and their pipes are more difficult to fit.
The ‘other acoustic dimensions’ of a pan flute are basically parameters that have a slightly weaker impact on the flute’s overall performance, both sonic and ergonomic. Those are the ‘pipe length’ and the ‘bore profile’.
The length of the pipes might be extremely accurate, as even the smallest miscalculation could ruin the harmonic balance of the instrument. However, the good thing is that there are ‘margins’ that help pan flute makers decide on the size.
The upper-register pipes have a bigger tuning ‘margin’, mainly because the pipes are usually filled with the tuning material (epoxy, wooden strips, sometimes beeswax), so while deciding on the size of these pipes, the pan flute makers usually try to improve the ergonomic qualities.
The lower-register margins are roughly the narrowest while the mid-register margins are a bit more flexible.
The longest recommended GG pipe length is between 48 and 44 centimeters with its bore being 21 millimeter, the AA pipe length should be somewhere between 40 to 40 centimeters and its bore length around 20 millimeters and so on, until the g” being only 7 centimeters long, with its bore being only 8 millimeters.
Bore profile (camber)
The bore camber refers to the difference between various bore diameters while going along the pipe’s length. This is certainly the most subtle point a pan flute manufacturer is going to take into account, but it certainly has a huge affect on how the flute will sound like in the end.
The most important rule to follow is – the cambers should be cylindrical whenever (if) possible and of equal diameter throughout the length. Deviations from this rule should be kept to a minimum.
Basically, bore’s camber is the same as bore’s profile, which means that you’ll hardly be able to spot imperfections in its design unless you’ve had some practice with the instrument. Small ridges along the pipe’s length can normally be felt pretty easily, but only people who’ve had some experience with pan flutes know that these ridges are responsible for inferior tonal quality of the instrument.
Namely, every ridge and rut in the design of the pan flute contributes to the ‘hour-glassing’ effect, which basically refers to the air ‘leaking out’ and ‘bumping’ along the pre-determined pattern, making certain tones and pitches a bit harder to produce.
Best pan flute for beginners
Players who want to get familiar with the original design of a pan flute should go for the 13-pipe options, and luckily, we’ve come across a perfect model which was specifically designed for students – the Inkatumi 13-pipe student pan flute.
On another hand, the SHMYQQ’s beginner Peruvian pan flute model is drastically easier to play as it only features 8 pipes.
Frequently asked questions
This section is dedicated to answering some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the design and sound of pan flutes:
1. How many pipes does a pan flute have?
Different pan flute models come outfitted with different amount of pipes, and nowadays this is all up to the manufacturers. Traditional pan flutes were usually supplied with 13 or 16 pipes, but as this instrument gained popularity, ‘beginner’ and ‘professional’ pan flutes were invented to better suited players at different skill levels.
Normally, a pan flute with 5-8 pipes should be used by a beginner who is yet to explore how a pan flute works, different tonalities, and such. Players who are somewhat experienced with ‘wind instruments’ should try out a 13-pipe model, whereas those who have been playing traditional pan flutes and are looking to expand their skill set should shoot for 20+ pipe pan flutes.
2. How does a straw pan flute work?
Essentially, a straw pan flute is much similar to the original ‘reed’ pan flute design, as they operate in an almost identical way.
As the player blows through the straw’s ends, the pieces of pipe’s tips start to vibrate together. Just like with other instruments that belong to the same family (wind instruments), these vibrations are what make the sound.
These vibrations then travel along the straws, reflecting and bouncing off the walls. The sheer vibrations emit one set of frequencies while the ‘bouncing’ vibrations emit a different set. Basically, the longer the vibrations travel, the ‘deeper’ the pitch is, and vice versa.
Pan flutes basically work in a similar way, but they’re usually ‘stuffed’ with tuning material (beeswax, wood pieces, and such) that are used to deliberately change the initial pitch.
3. Are pan flute or pan pipes or Syrinx same?
Basically, pan pipes are a part of the instrument called the ‘pan flute’ and their relationship is relatively similar – the ‘flute’ refers to the entire instrument, including the ‘pipes’, regardless of how many pipes are onboard or which material they’re made from.
The ‘Syrinx’ refers to the name that was attributed to ‘pan flutes’ in the first place. Namely, Syrinx is the name of a Greek nymph (not a God) who was one of Artemis’s followers. Syrinx was being pursued by Pan (Greek god of shepherds and flocks) who pleaded river nymphs for assistance. In turn, Syrinx was made into water reeds which were cut down by Pan (who, presumably, fashioned the first pan pipes from them).
Due to the rich background rooted in the Greek folklore, there are people who still use the term ‘Syrinx’ instead of Pan Flute, which is also the reason why these terms are considered as synonyms, but they’re one and the same.
Alternatively, the Syrinx also refers to a music piece, more precisely a flute solo written by Claude Debussy in 1913. According to certain sources, the Debussy’s Syrinx is among the first significant solo flute pieces after the Bach’s Sonata in A-minor (from the 1747).
4. How does the pan flute work?
A pan flute is the end-blowing flute instrument. It produces sounds based on vibrations which are formed by the air coming from the open holes. The way a pan flute operates is simple because most of the ‘physics’ behind the sound is based on the design itself.
The tube’s length determines the frequency of sound. Each tube is ‘closed’ on one end, which means that the vibrations are sent back bouncing the same way they came through (at a reduced octave).
5. How to maintain pan flutes?
Typically, a manufacturer will provide a cleaning cloth and specific instructions on how to clean the model in question. Pan flutes are quite simple in terms of design, so cleaning them and keeping them in shape shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
However, certain pan flutes feature ‘stuffed pipes’, which should be cleaned with a specific tool, which is again, provided by the manufacturer.
6. How to buy a pan flute for beginners?
There are many pan flute manufacturers, so choosing your first pan flute can be pretty underwhelming. However, there are only a couple of things you should keep in mind.
First and foremost, try to find a pan flute with a smaller number of pipes, 5-8 should do the trick. On top of that, Peruvian-designed pan flutes are a bit more ergonomically designed in comparison to ‘traditional’ pan flutes, which will allow you to benefit from increased playability. Lastly, make sure that your pan flute comes ‘pre-tuned’, as you could waste hours trying to tune it in yourself for the first time.
Even though pan flutes seem like simple instruments, they’re a bit more complex than they look like. Regardless, they’re generally easier to learn to play than, say, pianos, and not to mention that they’re several times more affordable. We’ve picked 10 of the best-sounding, best-looking, most durable pan flutes on the market, so it’s up to you to decide which one you like the best.
Our pick is Inkatumi’s Student Pan Flute Set. It doesn’t cost much, it’s made from sturdy Amazon bamboo, it sounds great, and it rocks three beginner accessories, such as the carry case, a tuning stick, and the cleaning rod.