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Old 06-04-2018, 04:41 AM   #27
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 248
Default Re: Polyester thread instead of hemp = game changer!

Originally Posted by Paul M Burke View Post
I'm almost positive that reeds are made of materials also, and while I think technically a grass, they look very like and behave like wood. I'm sure that another major component of reeds is hemp.
The wooden cane of the reed is very thin and much more prone to heat and moisture. That's simple physics. It is much more likely that reeds are going to be the cause of pitch change in the instrument, than that the plastic or wood of the drones or chanter are the cause for pitch change. That's my point. And, if you like: replicate my experiment and report your results.

I don't think you can say that the effectiveness of hemp is anecdotal hearsay. It seems to have worked fine for many, many years.
Not my argument. My argument is that while hemp may have been perfectly sufficient, the proposal that polyester string may hold more advantages is worth pursuing.

I have literally have people tell me that they hear a difference between yellow and black hemp. I find that either completely ridiculous, and worrying admirable that someone can hear so sensitively that the color and composition of thread on a chanter reed and pins can be determined by ear.

Etc etc. It is this kind of thing that happens a LOT in the piping world: assertions without backing. Hypotheses without testing.

As to conservative dismissal of innovation, I think that piping today in terms of playing styles, tune types, reed types and materials, bags, air management and even turning and decoration have undergone huge inovation in the last 30 years.
And yet, we continue to hear how "cane is superior" and "hide bags make all the difference in the world to tone". These are conservative arguments that have little empirical support.

Except with cane. A post in another thread actually reports scientific, replicable tests and data that suggest a much greater harmonic frequency to cane. At which point, the question is one of trade off, the balance between maintenance and stability vs tone. That's why many of us avoid cane: we get perfectly fine tone with composite reeds, and they are a lot easier to manage. Not everyone feels that way, and that's fine. But at least we are now talking about empirical data.

With regard to sewing thread on, say, tuning pins, if the condensation in the bore is not absorbed by this polyester thread does it "pool" in the bore? or find the area of least resistance and flow downwards? Will this flow of water erode the wood?
Let's call that a hypothesis. Test it and report the results.

I'm sure I'll have other questions. I like a good inovation. But not change for changes sake.

And yet, change for change sake allows us to experiment, test, reject, but also potentially innovate.

So - I guess I'll rethread my pipes and see if polyester threads are as good as the OP's experience of them.

J David Hester
Alt Pibroch Club
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