How to Make a Pan Pipe Out of PVC

By Kevin Krause

The pan pipe--or pan flute--is a wind instrument consisting of tubes of different lengths that when blown over create a musical pitch. Named after the Greek god Pan and having a long standing presence in folk music, traditional pan pipes have been made of various materials, from wood to clay. You can create a set at home with PVC pipes and duct tape. The finished instrument is played in the same way that you would blow over an empty bottle to create a pitch.

Cut the PVC tubing to size with a hacksaw or other saw equipped to cut plastic piping. In creating your pan pipe, each tube will generate a different note. You will be making a pan pipe with five different notes, so you will need to cut five pieces of PVC pipe to size. Cut a 6-1/16 inch piece to produce the lowest note C. Cut a 5-3/8 inch piece for the note D, a 4-3/4 inch piece for E, a 3-15/16 inch piece for G and a 3-7/16 inch piece for A. Don't worry about cutting the lengths perfectly, but get them as close as possible to keep the notes in tune.

Place a small amount of modeling clay on a table or other surface and flatten it out. Press the open end of one of the pipes into the flattened clay. Pull the pipe straight up, and the clay should remain pressed in the end of the tube, sealing it. Repeat this step for each pipe. If you do not have modeling clay, cover the end of each tube with duct tape.

Line up your pipes from longest to shortest so that the open ends of the pipes are even. This will be the side of the instrument that air is blown over to create notes.

Wrap duct tape around the aligned tubes to hold them in place.

Blow air over the top of the tubes to produce musical notes. The pan pipe will be played in the same way that you blow air over an empty bottle to produce a pitch (see "Resources").

Tip

Add more pipes to your pan pipe to create additional musical notes. Cutting pipes to different lengths will also create different notes.

Warning

If creating pan pipes as a project with children, be careful when cutting the tubes to size. Do not let children handle a sharp saw or blade.

About the Author

Hailed as one of his native Baltimore's emerging writers in Urbanite Magazine, for the past five years Kevin Krause has been writing everything from advertising copy to prose and poetry. A recent grad holding a degree in English and creative writing from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, his most recent work can be found in The Urbanite.