The buying and selling of pans is a growing business. They are now bought and sold all over the world.
As with any instrument, the quality varies according to the instrument maker. The same rule applies when purchasing a pan.
If you are new to steelpans, finding a reputable pan maker is vitually impossible as they are few and far between. If you have friends who play pan, get them to accompany you when purchasing your pan. They will also be able tell you who is rated as an acceptable pan maker .
If based in England, the tuner will most probably be a member of the UK Steelpan Tuners Guild, an organisation that was founded in 2007 to support steelpan tuners throughout England.
If possible go to a Panyard and try out several pans to help you decide which one you would like.
Alternatively, you can look at online shops so that you can compare prices.
When you are in a position to buy a pan it is advisable to find a tuner who can supply you with a case(s) for your pan(s), sticks to play with, a pan stand(s) and advise you on how to care for your instrument(s).
With the demand for pans ever increasing, another alternative is to purchase used pans at a fraction of the price. These pans may be painted or chrome plated. The price will depend on the condition of the instrument and its tonal quality. You may need to re-tune the pan after purchasing it if all of the notes are not in tune.