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Old 06-17-2018, 09:06 AM   #21
Forum Silver Medal
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Richmond, Surrey, England
Posts: 328
Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post
..... but what a nightmare. EVERY reed became rather unstable .. lots of squeaks and squaks, and also loud burbles on many notes, especially low G, and often on E and C. In general, if I was really, really careful with pressure, I might avoid the burbling, but it felt like trying to under-blow a practice chanter.

Almost no chanter/reed combo would produce c-natural and/or fnatural ... I either needed to switch those tunes into major, or tape down the holes and try to remember to play normal fingering (because if you play the cross-fingered on a heavily taped down note, the chanter will nearly cut out)...

... And whenever I got a reed to work passably, it would be misbehaving a couple hours later for the next show. So I was tinkering and futzing around....
Much to the chagrin of visiting pipers, this was standard stuff in Johannesburg where I learned my piping and led a band One learned to live with it but there always was a lot of footling around due the the combination of altitude (6,000 feet) and lack of humidity. For us, traveling to compete at sea level was always a boon. Not only our pipes, but our cars also went better there.

In really dry weather we would run small amounts of water into the bags to help. And then off course every now and again there would be an overcast day or even a rainy one and that played havoc with our pipes which were set up for dry conditions.

There is no simple solution for this particularly if it's not an everyday thing but only an issue when you visit. The advent of synthetic done reeds has helped enormously and also synthetic bags without much moisture control (maybe remove yours during the visit). For the duration of a short visit, the best advice is to probably set the chanter a bit flatter than usual and ensure that there is a bit of moisture in the bag.
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