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Old 06-03-2020, 09:04 AM   #31
Alain Marion
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

After reading and watching several reviews about the Ackland 480s, I contacted Terry and asked him if he could make a higher-pitched version of his new drone reeds. I wanted to try them in my replica of a c. 1870 Duncan MacDougall pipe, which sounds wonderful but is not "reed-friendly". At $70 CDN including shipping, and with Terry's generous offer to take them back and reimburse me if I wasn't happy with the results, these reeds definitely deserved a try!

After a bit of adjustment to the bridles, I got the drones to tune exactly where they should on the pins at 478 Hz, while at the same time producing a fairly full and very rich tone. I really like the deep bass, and the blend with the tenors is quite pleasing. Overall, the drones are fairly loud and vibrant, but still maintain a good balance with the chanter. Terry's reeds are also air efficient, which is definitely a plus at my age!

Over the years, I've tried pretty much all the synthetic drone reeds in my MacDougall replica. In terms of overall performance (tone, volume, tuning position, air efficiency and ease of strike-in/cut-offs), there aren't many others that match the "short Ackland 480s" in this instrument.

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Old 06-03-2020, 09:44 AM   #32
el gaitero
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

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Originally Posted by Alain Marion View Post

After reading and watching several reviews about the Ackland 480s, I contacted Terry and asked him if he could make a higher-pitched version of his new drone reeds.
Good to know. I was just yesterday wondering the same. I play ‘short’ EZ’s in my ‘75 FS Hardie’s ( usually @~475) ...the tenors often struggle to get much above the hempline and not become unstable. They sound great at the hempline with the EZ’s ..but I’d like to get ~ 1/8” above the hemp.
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Old 06-03-2020, 01:26 PM   #33
Alain Marion
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

Hi El Gaitero,

When playing Ezeedrones, I have noticed the exact same thing with the tenors of my MacDougall replica: as soon as some hemp is visible, they may suddenly become unstable with the slightest fluctuation in bag pressure. Not always… but it's never fun when it happens… At the hemp line, or below (as is typically the case with most reeds…) they sing and are extremely stable. With the short Acklands, however, I can tune them slightly above the hemp without any issues - so far at least!
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Old 06-03-2020, 02:05 PM   #34
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

I finally had a chance to really check out the 480's in my tenors in my Atherton MacDougall repro's and found them very loud and very buzzy.

They tuned appropriately on the tuning pins and they were pitched correctly (same as my Rockets) but I couldn't move the bridle any more without the drone cutting out. The sound compared to my Rockets was night and day different and they just don't work for me in those pipes.

Jenni
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Old 06-03-2020, 02:49 PM   #35
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

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Hi El Gaitero,

When playing Ezeedrones, I have noticed the exact same thing with the tenors of my MacDougall replica:
Were they 'short' EZ drone reeds? After proper warming up I can nudge my tenors up to a fat 1/16" above the hempline...approaching an 1/8"...depends on the environment, chanter reed,the Rh..all the usual variables
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:08 PM   #36
Alain Marion
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

El Gaitero: I'm having this little issue with both short/high pitch and regular length Ezeedrones. In the end, it's not really a big problem because as soon as the top drone section is a hair below the hemp everything is perfectly fine - always. Strange though, that such a minute tuning difference would have this kind of impact...

Burp Birl: My Duncan MacDougall repro was made by Pierre Blanchet from Brittany, not by Atherton or Dunbar. Bore specs may be slightly different in each case; or, more likely, the fact that I'm playing "short" 480 Ackland reeds might explain the differences in tone and performance.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:52 PM   #37
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

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Originally Posted by Alain Marion View Post

...

Burp Birl: My Duncan MacDougall repro was made by Pierre Blanchet from Brittany, not by Atherton or Dunbar. Bore specs may be slightly different in each case; or, more likely, the fact that I'm playing "short" 480 Ackland reeds might explain the differences in tone and performance.
The gurgle above the hempline on ‘old bore’ pipes is seemingly due to those bores being smaller than current day bores. To alleviate the gurgle and tune higher a thinner diameter reed will do the trick....but alas...it would be one of those old skinny thin cane reeds. I found this to be true with sets of old Henderson’s ...1920-ish...and some mid 50’s Hardie’s....but the skinny old cane reeds in the old case tuned high...modern syn reeds had to be ca 1/4” below the hemp to stay smooth. New bores will easily accept a #2 pencil slid in....old bores hardly, if at all.
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Old 06-04-2020, 04:24 AM   #38
T.Ackland
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

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Originally Posted by burp birl View Post
I finally had a chance to really check out the 480's in my tenors in my Atherton MacDougall repro's and found them very loud and very buzzy.

They tuned appropriately on the tuning pins and they were pitched correctly (same as my Rockets) but I couldn't move the bridle any more without the drone cutting out. The sound compared to my Rockets was night and day different and they just don't work for me in those pipes.

Jenni
Jen, how did the other 2 sets work out in your friend's pipes?
I really appreciate the feedback for the record.
Thanks, Terry
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Old 06-04-2020, 04:33 PM   #39
burp birl
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

Terry,

A small group of us used to play on Monday evenings and we just started playing together again last Monday. Only one of the piper's (with the Premiers) showed up that have your Overtone reeds and unfortunately, she hasn't been practicing much and she was really struggling to keep ONE drone going.

I'm hoping that we can check them out next week...she left Monday evening muttering something about how surprised she was at losing her all her strength in a few weeks of non-playing. I think she's going to be practicing every day again.....

I know the man with the Legacy model just came back from his remote cabin early this week and hopefully he was able to take his pipes with him and practice a bit (because he too fell off the practicing podium) and we'll see how it goes next Monday (hopefully he'll show up).

Will keep you informed!

Jenni
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Old 06-05-2020, 11:12 AM   #40
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Default Re: Ackland 480 Drone Reeds - Play Test, Comparison, & Review!

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Originally Posted by burp birl View Post
I finally had a chance to really check out the 480's in my tenors in my Atherton MacDougall repro's and found them very loud and very buzzy.

They tuned appropriately on the tuning pins and they were pitched correctly (same as my Rockets) but I couldn't move the bridle any more without the drone cutting out. The sound compared to my Rockets was night and day different and they just don't work for me in those pipes.

Jenni
Jenni, how strong are your chanter reeds? FWIW, I think Terry's reeds are fine for a lot of pipers, but they did not work out for me playing a senior/easy reed. ( disclosure: I'm over 70 and had two hernia operations last year, so no need for anyone to coax/nag/harangue me into playing stronger reeds).
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