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Old 10-20-2018, 12:42 AM   #1
PRAIRIEPIPER
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Default "B" Flat Set up

I'm interested in setting up one of my set of bagpipes in "B" Flat. I have a chanter from the 1960's but not sure what they were tuning at around then. And I was wondering if anyone knew of any reed maker making "B" Flat drone reeds and chanter reeds?
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Old 10-20-2018, 05:01 AM   #2
TangoCharlie
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

B Flat Chanters tune to 466 Hz. Both Ezzedrone and Balance Tone make specific B Flat Drone reeds but you can tune most normal drone reeds to B Flat by using extenders. Either cut some poly tubing and pop it I the top of the drones to lengthen the drones, an inch is usually more than enough. Another way is to extend the drone seats by using hemp.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:26 AM   #3
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

You say “one of your sets” so you might have a set of drones that already tunes to Bb naturally, or at least on the reeds’ you already have flattest tuning screw setting.

Old chanters are hit and miss. Often near Bb but can be squirrelly to reed. If you decide to invest in Bb chanter, I like the Shepherd Orchestral. Shepherd and G1 both make Bb chanters and chanter reeds.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:28 AM   #4
DapperDan
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

Did you try setting a reed in the chanter and see where it pitches? If it's close to Low A @ 466, you could probably get it to Bb by moving the reed up or down and taping some holes a little bit as necessary. Curious how it goes. There are Bb chanters, but, you know, $$$. Also there's a Bb chanter reed, wonder if it would lower the pitch slightly on a chanter?

good luck
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Old 10-20-2018, 07:18 AM   #5
Tom1136
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

I play a Shepherd Orchestral chanter and Shepherd Bb reeds from Pipers Hut. Had to add drone extenders to my Tenors but easy to reed and plays beautifully. I used to play an older Shepherd chanter but reeding was hard. I have tried Bb flat reeds in my newer McCallum chanter but it just doesn't work full scale. Probably could tape and make it work but if you're gonna play much at that setting(weddings with organ) I'd suggest the right chanter/reed.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:10 AM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1136 View Post
I play a Shepherd Orchestral chanter and Shepherd Bb reeds from Pipers Hut. Had to add drone extenders to my Tenors but easy to reed and plays beautifully. I used to play an older Shepherd chanter but reeding was hard. I have tried Bb flat reeds in my newer McCallum chanter but it just doesn't work full scale. Probably could tape and make it work but if you're gonna play much at that setting(weddings with organ) I'd suggest the right chanter/reed.
Are the Shepherd chanter reeds you have stamped Bb?...if not,..they’re not.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:46 AM   #7
Rooklidge
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRAIRIEPIPER View Post
I have a chanter from the 1960's but not sure what they were tuning at around then. And I was wondering if anyone knew of any reed maker making "B" Flat drone reeds and chanter reeds?

What's the chanter? Shaping a modern reed meant for higher pitch to an old chanter will drive you nuts. G1 makes a Bb reed that works well in older Hardie, G&M, and G&C chanters. Expect the hiG to be sharp and B to be flat on many old chanters. Tape and file accordingly. Kinnaird Edge drone reeds get down to Bb on many drones and are still air-efficient. Otherwise extenders may be needed. Having to open up drone reed tongues to get down to Bb can be tiresome. Go for reeds made for that pitch.
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Old 10-21-2018, 02:43 PM   #8
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRAIRIEPIPER View Post
I'm interested in setting up one of my sets of bagpipes in B-flat. I have a chanter from the 1960's but not sure what they were tuning at around then. And I was wondering if anyone knew of any reed maker making B-flat drone reeds and chanter reeds?
If you want to play in modern Concert B-flat for performance purposes (playing with pipe organ, orchestra, brass ensemble, rock band, or what have you) in my opinion you'll get better performance from a modern chanter designed to play at 466 with ordinary modern reeds. These are available from several makers.

Though yes the standard GHB pitch in the 1960s was around 466. Old Hardie chanters from that era are known for playing well. But the old sharper High G and D were still common. To me that's the main advantage of modern B-flat/466 chanters: they're designed to play in the modern Highland pipe scale.

I use a McCallum B-flat/466 chanter and it's great. I've done many gigs with it, brass gigs and organ gigs etc.

About drones, you probably won't have to worry about the bass, just tune it further out.

About the tenors, for years I used home-made brass tubing extenders that worked great.

Now I've come upon an even better method (IMHO) and that is to have drones that want to play at 466, that naturally play there, and need no coaxing or special reeds.

I have two sets that love playing down at 466 now: 1940s Starcks (got from Rooklidge!) and 1960s Lawries. The drones sound fantastic at 466 using ordinary (not long) EzeeDrone reeds. They strike in reliably and are very stable. For a couple years now I've kept the Starcks going at 466 as a standard thing.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 10-21-2018 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 10-22-2018, 05:18 AM   #9
Kevin Palm
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

FWIW, I play a McCallum Bb chanter as well with the Shepherd Bb reed (Stamped "Bb" on the reed itself). For a while I used the long EzeeDrone tenors and a cane bass, but I switched to the new Balance Tone Bb reeds in all three drones, and they make my Gibsons hum!
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Old 10-22-2018, 09:18 AM   #10
Dan Bell
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Default Re: "B" Flat Set up

I agree with those who've said that your best bet is a modern purpose-made Bb chanter and reeds. My own setup is a G1 Bb chanter, standard Shepherd reed (although they DO make b-flat reeds; I just didn't have any on-hand) and Ezeedrone long reeds in MacLellan drones.

I've also set up standard Ezeedrones to play at 466: it can be done with many sets of drones, but the tuning screws will be almost all the way out, which can make them unstable. For that reason, I find the Ezeedrone long reeds preferable.

Old chanters are hit or miss: they did play at lower pitches, but with reeds that were substantially different from modern ones. SOME old chanters work well at 466 with modern reeds (we set up some Hardies and Naills that worked fine) but some come with big-time balance issues. This route can be OK if you're willing to put a lot of time into it, but for professional-level performance, I wouldn't bother.

Just my $.02.
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