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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Other (not GH) Bagpipes > Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes +
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Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes + For all types of (non GH) Bagpiping discussions.

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Old 11-14-2015, 06:43 PM   #1
msw
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Default New (to me) SSM

Greetings from southeastern Vermont. Recently, I received a stand of what appear to be ssp, there are three drones in a common stock, two chanters, and the whole deal is mouth blown. (it was a I-don't-want-'em,-you-pay postage deal). never could resist a 'good deal.' so, some 'ignoramus questions:'

the reeds included are (to be polite) just flat dreadful - as in, they work badly, except for most of them which don't work at all. what ought I to do?

there are two chanters (I am given to understand that this is a two key set, A & D) but I cannot tell which chanter is which, and I have no idea which reed goes where (there are two cane reeds, smaller than GHP, and one actually squalks. the other does nothing, and may yet end its days as a cat toy). can anyone offer any advice?

the wood is kind of pretty - I suspect rosewood. is some sort of treatment (oil or somesuch) required or expected?

Getting back to piping after a long hiatus, but my wife works nights, and it's impossible to play GHP and have her sleep, but smallpipes in the basement might work.

which is quieter, ssp or fireside pipes?

appreciate any help or suggestions.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:42 AM   #2
nickt
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

msw,

Three drones indicate to me that they are unlikely to be a combination set (suit 2 separate chanters) particularly A & D. It is possible D & C may work with the same 3 drones depending on tuning.

Regarding chanters.

A is longer in length- similar in length & hole spacing to a GHB chanter with smaller holes.
The D chanter would be much shorter.

In my ssp the reeds are interchangeable between A C & D chanters.

Regarding reeds.
Cane reeds tend to be based on Northumbrian smallpipe reeds but this can vary depending on the maker.

What make are the small pipe (often stamped as per ghb on the chanter) if this is known then replacement reeds can be sourced. I am wary of playing to much with a working reed but as yours aren't working then a couple of thing bear mentioning:

1. generally cane reeds go with bellows driven pipes as the moisture variation is less and the reeds therefore are more stable & longer lasting.

2. cane reeds are adjusted by moving the position of a metal bridle above the staple and binding of the reed. The bridle opens and closes the mouth of the reed. This may be worth experimenting with.

I suggest you find someone locally that plays smallpipe either scottish or northumbrian or possibly uilleann to assist setting up or see about getting replacement reeds. Another possibility is to send the reeds to a reed maker to obtain a replacement to get the pipes going.

As for the question between fireside & ssp I don't know as I have no experience with fireside pipes. My ssp are about the volume of a violin as a rough guide. These are made by Bill Hart (Australia).

If you want to post a link with some pictures of the pipe & reeds I may be able to add more.

Good luck

Nick
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Old 11-15-2015, 08:22 AM   #3
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

A couple of thoughts- if you're in Southeast VT, you're very close to Michael MacHarg, pipemaker in So. Royalton and his son Iain MacHarg, Pipemajor of the Catamount Pipe Band and at Norwich U, in Marshfield.

Pictures of the pipes in question would help in identifying them.

Most combination SSP sets have four drones, but I play a D chanter sometimes with my A set using only the three, removing the mid section of the bass to tune to D.

Generally SSP are quiter than Firesides in my experience, depending on the make of smallpipes and especially the reeds.

I though SSMs were surface-to surface missiles, a different device altogether ;-)
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Last edited by Klondike Waldo; 11-15-2015 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:39 AM   #4
msw
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

thanks to all for the info! I am in the throes of trying to bend the camera to my will (or bend the computer to the will of the camera)

aaaaaaargh ... frustration!!

one of the chanters is about 13 1/8 inches in length (from the edge where the chanter meets the stock). the holes are spaced similarly to GHP, but are small, like those of a GHP practice chanter. the conical bore opens up to just a wee bit over 5/8 inch at the bottom.

the other chanter is a bit shorter, about 12 1/4, and the holes are larger, pretty much like those on GHP. it also has a conical bore, which opens to about 3/4 inch.

there are three drones in a common stock, measuring 7 1/2, 12 1/2, and about 27 inches, respectively. some synthetic drone reed thingies plug into quarter inch hole at the bases of these drones. these reeds work badly, when they work at all. the bore diameter of the drones is about 3/16 inch.

there are (as mentioned previously) an assortment of chanter reeds: some cane and some very much like the practice chanter reeds.

I hope to have the camera-download-photos issue solved soon, and i'll try to post some photos.

Thanks again for the help!
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:32 PM   #5
zarb
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

Conical Bore? Are you certain? Scottish Smallpipes have a cylindrical bore. Border Pipes in all their permutations and varied names have conical bores.
The photos have now become very interesting.
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Old 11-15-2015, 05:55 PM   #6
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

Bell diameters as indicated and conical bore would indeed indicate something in the Borderpipe family, not smallpipes. Pictures would definitely help clear this up.
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Old 11-16-2015, 02:51 PM   #7
Scratcher
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klondike Waldo View Post
Bell diameters as indicated and conical bore would indeed indicate something in the Borderpipe family, not smallpipes. Pictures would definitely help clear this up.
Given that the OP comments that the reeds are smaller than GHP ones I'd have thought that was a given.
It would also explain his comments on the dreadful sound.
Border pipe chanters usually sound like a walrus with sinus problems to everyone bar devotees.
Cheers
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Old 11-16-2015, 08:46 PM   #8
msw
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scratcher View Post
Given that the OP comments that the reeds are smaller than GHP ones I'd have thought that was a given.
It would also explain his comments on the dreadful sound.
Border pipe chanters usually sound like a walrus with sinus problems to everyone bar devotees.
Cheers
Scratch
a walrus with sinus problems ... what a hoot ... crude, uncultured, and spot on accurate!! that's what I'm getting (when I get any noise at all) ... nothing like the mellow melodies in the videos ...

thanks for patience ... still trying to figure out how to post photos ...
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Old 11-17-2015, 07:09 PM   #9
Bob Gerard
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

Quote:
Originally Posted by msw View Post
a walrus with sinus problems ... what a hoot ... crude, uncultured, and spot on accurate!! that's what I'm getting (when I get any noise at all) ... nothing like the mellow melodies in the videos ...

thanks for patience ... still trying to figure out how to post photos ...
Such sounding Border Pipes could certainly help repulse border jumpers
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Old 11-18-2015, 06:47 AM   #10
msw
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Default Re: New (to me) ssm

still trying to get the photo posting thing thrashed out ... the FAQ and 'how to' sections keep pointing me to buttons which I can't find or don't exist ... can anyone tell me how to post a photo ...

frustration!! (insert cuss words here)

Thanks!
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