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Old 07-26-2008, 02:03 PM   #81
John McCain
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

FWIW I played either blackwood or ebony pipes for 17 years then got a good deal on an unused Dunbar P3 set.

I really like them and have used them often. I've received many compliments from the unwashed regarding the tone. I think they sound fine, big and bold (glass rockets in the drones), but lack some of the resonance (harmonics) of a wood set. I haven't compared them to wood Dunbars, but to Henderson, Sinclair, Lawrie, MacRae, Moore, MacLellan sets.

I recommend them to my students and think poly sets fill more than one area of need for many. I also think it takes trained and acute hearing to distinguish a well set-up Dunbar poly to an equally well set-up wood set. The poorly set-ups ones sound, well, just as bad as one another, too.

HTH, John
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Old 07-27-2008, 06:38 AM   #82
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCain
FWIW I played either blackwood or ebony pipes for 17 years then got a good deal on an unused Dunbar P3 set.

I really like them and have used them often. I've received many compliments from the unwashed regarding the tone. I think they sound fine, big and bold (glass rockets in the drones), but lack some of the resonance (harmonics) of a wood set.
So you haven't compared the tone of your Poly Dunbars with an ABW Dunbar set of identical internal dimensions, by switching the same set of reeds back and forth?

Then what you're actually saying is "my set of Dunbars lacks some of the resonance (harmonics) present in the BrandX and BrandY pipes". Without comparing a poly and an ABW set with identical internal dimensions, you're not comparing the materials at all, you're comparing the dimensions. As has been stated many times by many people, the internal dimensions of a drone have a much greater impact on tone than does the material.

Evidently I'm about the only person here to compare ABW and poly Dunbars side-by-side by switching the same set of reeds back and forth. The bass drones, which as best as I could tell with my crude measuring had identical specs, sounded absolutely identical. Identical harmonics, volume, everything. The poly tenors had MORE harmonics and were a bit louder, the ABW tenors were mellower/less volume/less harmonics but the internal dimesions were different. Dunbar had used different specs on the two sets of tenors, resulting in different timbres.
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Old 07-27-2008, 06:54 AM   #83
John McCain
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: John McCain</div><div class="ubbcode-body">FWIW I played either blackwood or ebony pipes for 17 years then got a good deal on an unused Dunbar P3 set.

I really like them and have used them often. I've received many compliments from the unwashed regarding the tone. I think they sound fine, big and bold (glass rockets in the drones), but lack some of the resonance (harmonics) of a wood set.
So you haven't compared the tone of your Poly Dunbars with an ABW Dunbar set of identical internal dimensions, by switching the same set of reeds back and forth?</div></div>

Re-read my post - that's exactly what I said. That little lack of resonance of the polys is very apparent to me to all the wood sets. Based on what you experienced, I would likely notice that wood sets of Dunbars would lack that same resonance.

But I don't believe that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper
Evidently I'm about the only person here to compare ABW and poly Dunbars side-by-side...
Your experiment and experience is terrific and I applaud you on your curiosity but trying to be as nice and fair as possible, and realizing the inherent limitations of sound files, I wouldn't take your tuning or tonal judgment based on your website samples.

Somethings I need to hear for myself - All IMO.

Adding to my post above and again FWIW, I've found the one set of Dunbar polys I own, and several of my students, very easy to tune, great locking, dimensionally stable, and terrific for many applications. I particularly like using them to play for dancing.

Best, John
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:05 PM   #84
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

There has been so much info thrown out here from some very knowledgable people. But let me see if I have one major point right.

There seems to be a little back and forth over tonal quality of the polys vs. the ABW. I get the sense that both are "good", but in different ways.

It seems to me that one of the biggest objection I hear about the Polys is that the condensation from the drone pipes tend to foul the reeds quicker than from the ABWs. Is that correct?

If that is the case, what do y'all feel about a set of pipes with a ploy chanter yet with ABW drones?
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:22 PM   #85
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Hello Michael.

I have both ABW pipes and P2 Dunbars. I've used various drone reeds in the P2's. I presently have Henderson drone reeds with home made tongues in the drones. I did this to make them mellower and more air efficient. I think you would have quite a time telling them apart from an ABW set. I would agree that wood is 'mellower' (slightly) but the reeds you are using are by far the most important factor.

I would agree that the P2's will condense up quicker than the ABW's. I'm presently using a simple home made tube type water trap with excellent results. They are tied into a traditional L&amp;M medium bag. I keep the bag seasoned and the trap in place. I've only had moisture issues with this setup in very cold weather. I consider them nearly as reliable in the cold as my ABW set.

I usually play the ABW's with my poly band chanter. I also have an ABW chanter that I use for solo's. I have never played the P2's with an ABW chanter, so I cannot comment on that combination.

John


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Old 07-29-2008, 08:45 AM   #86
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelR.S.
If that is the case, what do y'all feel about a set of pipes with a ploy chanter yet with ABW drones?
This is a very common set up. Most lower grade bands use this setup for a number of reasons. With the pitch drift it seems Chanters are a consumable item with the pipe somewhat like the bag. As a beginner, a poly chanter would be fine, but as you progress I am sure you will want a ABW for solo work, and your band will supply a poly for band work. Usually, when buying chanters with your pipe, the price is very much better for ABW, so it is a good oppurtunity to get one, however, by the time you really see the benfit the desired pitch may have crept. I think that not likely though. I put this to a student who will likely never compete, he decided for the difference in money he would go with the ABW. Some go the other way and are equally happy.

For solo I have used both but find the stability of the ABW better, real or imagined.

Mike
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:08 AM   #87
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

I've been on vacation a while, and haven't been able to keep up with the discussion. I'm glad to see there are still some interesting comments being made on both sides of the argument.

I would like to comment on something bob864 said a while back while I was gone, though...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob864
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bugz</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
Not at all. I'm just demonstrating what would be necessary to resolve these recurring 'which is better' threads. If you don't use procedures like these, all these comments like 'ABW drones sound warmer' or 'cane reeds sound fuller' are absolutely meaningless.

Superstition and wishful thinking is what I see most often in discussions like this.
Based on what you've written, you seem to think that the only way to be sure of anything is to be able to completely describe it with a formula.
</div></div>
Not at all. I'm just saying that if conducting an experiment, if you don't carefully eliminate extraneous variables and conduct the experiment using careful controls, you may just end up reinforcing your biases instead of determining actual facts.

Quote:
I can't begin to write a formula to describe the mileage I get driving my car, but I know it's better when I go 65 than when I go 85.
Invalid comparison. Now, if you were to say something about your mileage using Firestone tires vs. Michelin or Goodyear tires at the same speed, that would a better comparison, particularly if you were to add secondary attributes like road noise, handling, and smoothness of ride.
Quote:
Personally, I don't care if anyone can ever explain why ABW chanters sound better than Delrin. To me, the fact that they do is all I need. And I don't even care if the reason they sound better is purely psychological! Perception isn't more important than reality; perception is reality.
In your previous listening experience, have you ever had the opportunity to listen to the same piper with the same reed play the same tune under the same conditions, with neither you nor the piper being aware which chanter, ABW or Delrin, were being played, and did you have a statistically significant number of trials, and further were there some trials where the Delrin chanter was played twice, or the ABW chanter was played twice for some trials?

If you want a valid double blind experiment, these are the kind of measures that need to be taken to prevent preconceptions and personal bias from distorting the test. If you haven't conducted an honest experiment like that, then all I can say is that I fully believe you when you say that you THINK that ABW is superior to Delrin, but neither you nor I can say whether that is a valid belief, or if it is because someone that you respect highly told you it was true, or perhaps you read somewhere that it was true, or if because you think the ABW chanters are more attractive looking, that subconsciously influences your opinion when you hear pipes being played.

Perception is a tricky thing, and people convince themselves all the time that they KNOW that something is true, when in fact it is not true at all. Even among scientists, there are things that they KNOW to be true, and even when experimental data calls that knowledge into doubt, they will persist in their original mistaken beliefs until the evidence becomes overwhelming. That's just human nature.

I don't know one way or another where the truth lies, which are why I'd like to see further VALID research conducted.

Alas, it is not a question that can really be resolved here.
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Old 07-31-2008, 05:49 AM   #88
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by bugz
In your previous listening experience, have you ever had the opportunity to listen to the same piper with the same reed play the same tune under the same conditions, with neither you nor the piper being aware which chanter, ABW or Delrin, were being played,

The only way you could do that is to find a piper with no feeling in his fingers.
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Old 07-31-2008, 09:53 AM   #89
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

I'm a complete noob. I'm not even on my pipes yet--I've only been playing a month and a half. I don't know if what I have to say is valid or not--I certainly don't have extensive piping experience to be able to tell.
I was fortunate enough to have been gifted 2 practice chanters, one is a Dunbar poly and the other is a G&amp;C (?) ABW. Both are of regular length. I was playing on the Dunbar one because it 'looked newer' for my first month. I read through this whole thread and decided to pick up the ABW one to see if I could tell the difference in sound.
And not only could I tell a difference in sound, but a difference in the feel of it. The ABW's tone was brighter and "buzzier" (don't know the bagpiping term for that). It was also louder. I used the same Walsh practice chanter reed in both. Because I felt that it sounded better, I felt like I could play it better (I felt like my D throws became more rhythmic, my gracenotes popped more...in general, I felt better about my playing. Whether that's correct or not...who cares?)
I have a background playing the flute (I've played for about 23 years and would consider myself to be advanced, but not professionally so) and in my mind I can liken the experience between the ABW &amp; poly chanters to playing a nickel plated vs. playing a gold flute. Each can sound beautiful in the hands of experienced players. But I'd still rather play the gold one.
The materials of woodwinds is probably a debate that will continue until the end of humans' time on earth. What's great is that new materials are constantly being utilized to meet each player's expectations about what sounds "right." I thought Bob864 said it nicely. Perception is reality.
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Old 07-31-2008, 11:29 AM   #90
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes


This has been a really entertaining thread with some great points and observations..........but.....
I cringed when I read this....

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob864
I took a graduate course called "Statistical Processes for Industrial Design." One of the cornerstones of the course was that you don't really need to understand a process in order to be able to improve it , you just need to figure out some of the variables.
I am not picking a fight here Bob but I totally fail to understand how anyone can
1/ improve something they do not understand.
2/ know if a change is an improvement or not.

Any silly bu@@er can change things.... It takes a deep understanding of a subject to know if changes made are actually improvements or just differences especially in a subjective topic like musical tone.
If it is as easy as "figuring out some of the variables" I would suggest that improvements of any kind or degree would be the result of pure trial and error rather than by informed, methodical and controlled changes.
I am not saying dumb luck will not result in an improvement of something, I am stating an opinion that understanding and experience are a million times more likely to produce results......in anything.

Standing back for the flak now....
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