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LeoBenHan 09-23-2014 03:38 AM

NSP Reed
I got my first set of Northumbrian Smallpipes yesterday, but I can't get any notes out of the chanter below the left hand, and even the left hand notes are very quiet and not in tune. What could the problem be, and how can I amend it? Thanks.

Rob_Say 09-23-2014 10:20 AM

Re: NSP Reed
Congratulations! There are a number of possible causes and potential fixes - if this is your first set of pipes then I would advise not touching anything but rather to find a local NSP'er who can talk you through this.

Amongst the possible reasons for the behaviour you describe are:
- reed has closed up
- pressure problems when changing hands
- leak on the c# key (unlikely .. you'd get squeaks on the right hand)

Do you know the history of the pipes (when they were last played) or who made them?


LeoBenHan 09-28-2014 09:25 AM

Re: NSP Reed
Ok thanks, I'll look into those things and see if i get better results.

The pipes were made by Dave Burleigh, but the main body of the bass drone, the drones stock, the inlet pipe, bag and bellows are not original (which i lnew when i bought them). The previous owner told me they played beautifully, but ive yet to experience this for myself. I suppose thyre turning into a bit of a project!


CalumII 09-28-2014 01:01 PM

Re: NSP Reed
If you have not heard anyone play them I am afraid there is a fair chance you have bought something that will require remedial work before it makes any kind of music.

Rob_Say 09-29-2014 12:30 AM

Re: NSP Reed
Hi Leo - not surprising that they're a Burleigh set - he has been by far the most prolific producer. Bag and bellows replacement is not uncommon especially on older sets - replacement of 'static' parts like stocks and drone standing parts is very unusual (the chanter frequently goes through bouts of fettling).

Given what you've said, it's next to impossible to diagnose such an unknown set remotely. Hie theesel' away to a pipers' meeting and have a chat with players / fettlers to see what's what - you should then be able to work out if it's just setup or a major hiatus.

Your best options are probably to get along to any of:
- 1st Monday of the month (6th Oct), NPS are having an 'away day' at the Cumberland Arms in Byker (drinking Wylam's 'Northumbrian Piper' Beer!)
- 2nd Wednesday of the (8th Oct), Cleveland Branch mtg
- 2nd Saturday, (11th Oct) St Marys Gateshead

Historically there have been groups meeting in Yorkshire but I'm unaware of anything formal or advertised at the moment.

For information / warning - it's a very small pool of fettlers and many makers aren't working on other peoples instruments at the moment. Which means there is often a significant wait to get work done.



Richard Evans 09-29-2014 01:32 AM

Re: NSP Reed
I'm going to be at Manchester Pipers' Day next Saturday, doing fettling/maintenance all day. Could take a look then if you can get over. Sounds like the chanter reed is dead and/or leaking key pads.

Get in touch direct if you need more info about the pipers day- richard(at)


Rob_Say 10-07-2014 07:26 AM

Re: NSP Reed
Hi Leo - don't know if you managed to make it to any of those dates (or the Manchester day) but if not; I've just learnt that the 11th Oct in Gateshead is actually being billed as a 'Pipes fettling surgery' - which is exactly what you need!



LeoBenHan 11-14-2014 02:20 PM

Re: NSP Reed

Thanks for all the replies, they're all much appreciated!

I'm really sorry for having not replied: It slipped my mind now that I'm back at university and whatnot, so piping has rather been on hold (don't want to upset house-mates!).

Again, thanks for responses :)

TwitchyFingers 11-14-2014 03:44 PM

Re: NSP Reed
Sod the housemates! Keep practicing.:thumb:

LeoBenHan 01-14-2015 01:06 PM

Re: NSP Reed

Originally Posted by TwitchyFingers (Post 1272036)
Sod the housemates! Keep practicing.:thumb:

Thats just what i decided to do! ;) I'm learning to play the violin too, so God have mercy on them!

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