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Old 07-17-2018, 07:54 PM   #23
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Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 235
Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post
So I had a gig this past weekend in South Lake Tahoe. I had two chanters with me (I try to always have a backup with me, with a 2nd reed ready to go), and more than a dozen other new reeds (most of these were Shepherd, but I also happened to have a Husk or two, and a Melvin or two).

I live right next to the water near Boston, Mass ... and as far as I'm aware, the elevation up in South Lake Tahoe was more than 6,000 ft. I believe that's the highest elevation I've ever been. I've heard tales of bagpipes having issues at various elevations, but I kind of figured that if I had a couple of chanters and bunch of reeds, I should be able to get by without issue.

Well, I was kind of correct, in that I got through the weekend in relatively decent form, 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 the whole weekend.

Also worth noting that the air was considerably drier than on the Boston coast.

So any thoughts/tips from the collective out there? 20 years of playing, and I've NEVER encountered such trouble.

Was it the elevation? The humidity plus elevation? Gremlins? And besides the cause, what to do about it in the future?

Appreciate any feedback.



Itís always the gremlins.

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