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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 07-13-2008, 01:12 PM   #1
MichaelR.S.
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Default ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

OK, boys and girls, what do you think or like? Which are better?

African Black Wood pipes or Delrin ("plastic") pipes like the Dunbar P series? Or are they the same?

And it seems that many major manufactres at least offer Delrin PCs.
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Old 07-13-2008, 01:28 PM   #2
Hump
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

You'll find huge amounts of material on this topic by searching the site.

I have ABW and delrin pipes, and like them both. I can't leave the ABW's in the car like I can the plastics.
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Old 07-13-2008, 02:31 PM   #3
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

I owned at one time two Blackwood sets of Dunbars and a plastic set of Dunbars.
I compared the tone of the drones drone-by-drone.
The plastic and ABW bass drones were indistinguishable in tone.
The plastic tenors were a bit louder, the ABW tenors a bit mellower, but I noticed that the internal dimensions of the plastic tenors were a bit different from the the ABW tenors. I'm sure it's the dimensions, and not the material, which causes the difference in tone.
I don't know why different specs were used on the plastic tenors vis-a-vis the ABW tenors.
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:50 PM   #4
countrypiper
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

What do you want to do with your pipes. If you want some hard wearing travel pipes that will stand up to rain, heat and a few knocks - plastic is much harder wearing than wood. If, on the other hand, you're a traditionalist, and want an instrumnet made from timber - then so be it - but they can't be treated as harshly as the plastic pipes. I have four stands of pipes - and none of them are plastic - but I'm seriously thinking about getting hold of some for when I travel.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:19 PM   #5
Mr. Woolery
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

I personally think it is a matter of what is important to you. The plastic pipes are not much cheaper than blackwood pipes. A little, but not like the price difference between plastic and wood practice chanters or even pipe chanters. So, I wouldn't look at plastic pipes as a way to save any serious cash on the purchase.

I thought about getting delrin pipes when I first got my own pipes (had been using my dad's old set up to then). I decided that I wanted real wood. Personal aesthetics, not some special knowledge about tone or sound. I like knowing I have real wood drones. Just seems more proper to me. But I use a hide bag, too. I love the smell of Airtight in the morning!

As a note, I do believe that wood makes a very real difference in the sound of a chanter. I'm not experienced enough with plastic pipes to have any clue about how the drones might sound different (given same dimensions, same reeds, same day, same player). The difference in tone of a wooden chanter is discernible and worth having. My teacher now suggests to students purchasing a first bagpipe that they spring for the blackwood chanter at the start, since the cost of an upgrade is a lot better than paying for a new blackwood chanter later on. As more than one student has ended up doing.

-Patrick
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelR.S.
OK, boys and girls, what do you think or like? Which are better?

African Black Wood pipes or Delrin ("plastic") pipes like the Dunbar P series? Or are they the same?

And it seems that many major manufactres at least offer Delrin PCs.


Think of the two as stuffed animal (plastic) and real animal (wood).

Both will be there to give you comfort and joy . . .

Plastic is heavier, builds up more moisture during play so you will need to figure an individual moisture control system for you, sounds great with proper reed set-up, and plastic does not need critical attention to care and responsibility.

Wood will need that special attention of care and responsibility just like a real animal, wood is lighter (so if your projecting mount sits right on your collar bone-wood is lighter. Button mounts may be a solution for this too.), wood like plastic will sound great with proper reed set-up, and wood is beautiful and expresses individual character.

I have played poly Dunbars for the majority of my piping life and I as well as others enjoy their sound. I play a variety of wooden chanters for the most part though (my preference). However, in April, I went all plastic: Dunbars with the latest poly Shepherd chanter. The end result was very good.

Recently I have had the privilege to play a set of ABW Boothes which are also really nice.

I like both a lot and play twice as much to prevent jealousy amongst the ranks.

I am glad the price of plastic is closer to wood to eliminate any misconceptions that a lower price=cheap.

In the end, it is what fits your lifestyle and personal wants.

Hope this helps

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Old 07-14-2008, 01:01 PM   #7
MichaelR.S.
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

I'm told that with the Delrin pipes the interior of the drones can be made much smoother than ABW (wood being wood after all) and, being "plastic", polished to a reflective high gloss.

It seems to me this all would have a pretty profound effect on how they sounded. Some people have said tyhey sound "richer". Whatever they may mean by that.

I also understand that the cost pound for pound (or however they compute it) of Delrin v. ABW is close to the same. But what keeps Derlin pipes a bit cheaper is that there is less waste in the manufactoring process.

With ABW you may have a block of wood that looks perfect on the outside, but when you drill into it you can find a big ole knot or some other defect. Plus if it cracks or splits during any step of the process, that's that.

With Delrin, IF there is a problem, the piece can be melted down and reformed as a block to start over. As well as, basically, the floor shaving swept up and reused.

Of course, none of that affects the quality of either type of pipes that eventually make it to market from a quality pipe maker/seller.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

The plastics came in handy last year when I had to check them when returning from the worlds. I didn't worry about the baggage handlers doing anything to them whilst in transit. That was a relief.
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

How far do you want to go with your playing?

I do not believe any serious piper would consider a plastic instrument in the higher grades.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: ABW vs. Delrin ("plastic") Pipes

Go Wood, unless you plan on total abuse of your pipes. And if that is the case, play a drum.
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