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Old 08-07-2019, 01:33 PM   #1
super8mm
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Default Valves in Drone Stocks

I hope this is a simple question about the valves in the bottom of the drone stocks.

Do they help hold the air in the bag and then open when you strike in?
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Old 08-07-2019, 01:50 PM   #2
Matt Willis Bagpiper
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

Depends on the valves, as there are many on the market and function differently...
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Old 08-07-2019, 02:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

Quote:
Originally Posted by super8mm View Post
I hope this is a simple question about the valves in the bottom of the drone stocks.

Do they help hold the air in the bag and then open when you strike in?

The intention is more that when you stop, they cut off the air supply sharply.


They are a bad idea and you should not use them.
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:08 PM   #4
super8mm
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

Thanks guys, with a engineering background I like to know why and how things work
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Old 08-07-2019, 05:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
The intention is more that when you stop, they cut off the air supply sharply.


They are a bad idea and you should not use them.
I think that's a bit of an over-simplification... There are a lot of options out there and they have different purposes and uses.

1. Elastic band valves: These are the most numerous, but my (personal) least liked. They work on the principle that the airflow coming through them has to be of sufficient volume/pressure to keep them open. If the pressure drops, they close, and voila! Perfect cutoffs! Except... I have heard countless stories of the elastic band breaking at the wrong moment and suddenly you have a terrible cut off. And of course it's at a major event or gig...

2. Shepherd Tone Enhancers: These have a small amount of desiccant and a stationary valve, so they cannot fail. Their biggest issue (IMO) is how much volume they cut from the drones. It can be rather significant. That said, a set of Dunbar poly pipes with Kinnaird reeds and tone enhancer can sound quite nice! Loud drones + loud reeds + volume reducing tone enhancer = quite a lovely sound.

3. Highland Reeds valves (can be used alone or along with their moisture control system): These are my favorite. They have a stationary valve, but it can be adjusted via a screw. They only reduce the volume by a small amount and for folks on full synthetic bags, these can be a lifesaver for cutoffs. There are several drone brands out there that I cannot stop successfully (no amount of emptying the bag would fix this issue) in a fully synthetic bag without these valves (and these reeds work flawlessly in a hide/skin bag). For my pipes in synthetic bags, this is my go-to valve. For hide/skin bags, I tend to go with sealed bags (no zipper!) so no valves either...

I'm sure there are others, but I did want to give my thoughts rather than just say "they all suck and practice more" because the nature of a fully synthetic bag and certain makes of drone reeds will never give you a great cut off (in my experience) without a valve, and I am not going to be at the mercy of a thin piece of elastic in any valve I choose.

Also, I enjoy a big drone sound, so the tone enhancers are off my list, but they definitely (in my experience) have their place.
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

In general, I think most of the times that drone valves are utilized they could/should be avoided. Many people use them as a set of training wheels, and they can cause more problems than they 'solve.' For example:

----Some people use them as a way to cheat their way into steadier pipes. Because the valve has a little resistance to it, it evens out the airflow behind it going to the drone reed.
----Some people use them as a way to cheat their way into good strike ins. Usually, this happens with drone reeds that aren't set up to their best potential, or the reeds just plain don't suit that set of drones, because of this smooth airflow property.
----Some people use them as a way to cheat their way into good cut offs. Similar to strike ins, this usually is just treating a symptom and not the actual problem.

However, there are a (small, like tiny) handful of situations where they make sense. But, overall, they harm more than they help from what I have seen.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

Perhaps the loudest argument (did you see what I did there?) is that Drone Valves significantly affect tone. Tone is produced in both directions from the drone reed. Energy is projected both into the bag, and out of the drone. That's not airflow, because that is clearly in one direction, but the energy pulse which produces tone. Putting what is, in effect, a hellacious cork in the system before the drone reed reduces the energy transmitted to the bag to no good purpose. I'm not sure that most drying systems don't do the same thing, but at least those systems provide to the piper a benefit that cannot otherwise be created.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

interesting comments, Thanks
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Valves in Drone Stocks

Matt, I appreciate your reply on this topic of drone valves.

I am still a beginner (transitioning from over a year on PC to finally playing the pipes) and my PM/instructor is really keen on the Highland Reeds valves. As you point out, I think these are better than most from everything I've read. I also went with a Bannatyne Hybrid bag on his urging. I am new, and it's his band, so I am giving him a lot of ground on these decisions. As I begin to establish myself as a more experienced piper, I think my next step might be to transition to a zippered hide bag (maybe the Gannaway tie-in style with zipper) and try ditching the valves altogether and see how that goes. Worst case scenario there, I would still have the zipper to pop the valves back in if I get flack from my PM. What I use in my solo playing may be a different story. Maybe someday I will move on to the sheep. Then again, maybe not. I have read a lot of pipers are quite happy with their Gannaways.
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