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I am finally going to buy a pan and learn. After years of thinking about it time and again, Im going to do it. I am of Trini descent, and grew up in Trinidad as a young boy, relatively close to a panyard too. I remember "pushing pan" at carnival time and I was always intrigued by it. Now trying to find a pan community where I am now seems pretty tough. /facepalm - I was right there!!! lol

I bought a "Jumbie Jam" (little beginner pan by Panyard) and I get the basic principle of it all. I do play other instruments, however I feel like the note placement will kinda mess me up later because I know that the notes are in a completely different place on a full pan. So I built a Low C tenor to learn the "proper" placement, however, I quickly learned to appreciate the art of tuning and how complex it becomes. I know it will take years to become decent and I dont wanna wait that long to have a good sounding pan.

So I have been doing some research on all the different types and I narrowed it down to either the double seconds, or the tenor. I learned that the double seconds has a bit more melodic range than the tenor, however I read that the learning curve can be a bit steeper to get started with. Aside from the fact that the double seconds (DS) will cost a bit more, I like the idea of having more range but wonder if I start with a tenor and then move to DS. However will the note placement thing that I stated earlier become an issue? If so, should I just start off with DS or am I misconceiving the difficulty of a tenor to DS transition?

I see some great panists that have the ability to play both very well. However, there are considered some of the top in the industry and have been playing for quite some time. I can improvise well on guitar because I know where the scale patterns are backward and forward, and I imagine that it will be the same on the pan. I just feel slightly disheartened because that took many years....and of course I wanna play like Boogsie or Greenidge and the like by next week..hahaha (is jokes).

I would just like some thoughts from the community. Undoubtedly, many of you probably play both. I just want some different perspectives to think about. Thanks!

Also...Is there a popular structured method / line of books for learning the different facets of playing?

Thanks all! :)

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Marc, please visit sanch.com and look at "PETE the Pan Stick" . Maybe this educational tool for pan can help??????

nice...i dont see you having  aproblem...you seem to have a good musical background as well as a musical ear

 like every new instrument... the key iz learning the note placement...so with time thiz will fall into place

you indicated that you also improvise on string instrument...so...no problem...perseverance and patience

are the keys to your success...all the best bro...

Boogsie, Greenidge and Narell all play the second so that should tell you something, you might not be able to play like them next week but the week after who knows?


I can tell you that tenor is easier to play, but, it is harder to sound good on. Double seconds are harder to play, but are easier to sound good on. Now just think about that awhile and it will make sense. Tenor pan playing is single notes for the most part and is similar to sounding good on a xylophone (not easy). Dbl seconds can be single notes., but generally the player will use occasional chord tones to fill out the sound. This is an easy task on second pans as the chord notes are lower in pitch and larger in size. But., if you are moving around a lot., just get a tenor pan or Why not learn both? Good luck and just have fun.-JT.

Since you are learning from scratch, learn to play the Double Second first (which is more difficult) then the Tenor, if you learn in the reverse you might not learn to play the Double Second,

Hey Marc - When I started, I took on seconds because that was the one I was attracted to the most. I liked the way you could move a lot more - your arms that is, when you're playing - than tenor. And, I love harmony. On the seconds you play a lot more chords than melodic single-note progressions. Or, single-note harmony with the tenors. I like that a lot.

I still love seconds, but one thing you have to accept is that you are not *heard* as much in a large band. When you listen to recordings, the tenors stand out loud and proud and usually carry the tune. Seconds, you have to listen closely to hear them. Apart from that, I find many players do not like seconds, that is they don't like playing them themselves. Like, a very very talented arranger I know who can play *anything* on any pan, will say openly that the seconds are his least favourite. I do *not* know why, but that's what he says.

On the other hand, when you hear a master on the seconds playing solo, to me, it's much more impressive than a master on tenor. But I'm biased!

Good luck!

John in Toronto

the double sec is a more flexible instrument, and has a greater range......you can play lead, or you can accompany....even though I saw Robbbie do a masterful job accompanying a classical singer on a tenor (which is really a soprano instrument ) at a wedding.they are both wonderful instruments.....I dont  think

the learning curve is any more difficult on a ds

Hi Marc, I guess you might be very confused by now. It's your choice.

Ok I get it fully now

Thank you all for your input. I have decided to go with the tenor for now. I just ordered it on Friday. Its an oversized bore tenor and I'm pretty excited!!

@Caspar: I checked out your videos and I think that you are a very good player. :) I will read your post two more times when I get the pan to make sure the info sinks in. Thank you!


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