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Old 07-16-2018, 06:39 AM   #1
Kevin Palm
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Default Bb chanter tuning?

Hi, all!

My current solo setup is a McCallum Bb ABW chanter in my Gibson pipes. I don't compete, so I use that setup to either play solo or with a singer/songwriter friend of mine. I'm working in a new chanter reed, and I was wondering what the common tuning scheme is with a true Bb chanter. Do you try to get a reed that will balance natively at 466, or get it to balance wherever it does naturally and tape holes to force A466 tuning? If I was just playing solos, it wouldn't be a big deal, I'd let it balance wherever, but I want my pitch to be compatible with the guitar of the guy I perform with.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:01 AM   #2
el gaitero
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Palm View Post
Hi, all!

My current solo setup is a McCallum Bb ABW chanter in my Gibson pipes. I don't compete, so I use that setup to either play solo or with a singer/songwriter friend of mine. I'm working in a new chanter reed, and I was wondering what the common tuning scheme is with a true Bb chanter. Do you try to get a reed that will balance natively at 466, or get it to balance wherever it does naturally and tape holes to force A466 tuning? If I was just playing solos, it wouldn't be a big deal, I'd let it balance wherever, but I want my pitch to be compatible with the guitar of the guy I perform with.

Thoughts?
Are you using a bespoke Bb reed...e.g. from Shepherd and so marked?
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:11 AM   #3
Kevin Palm
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

Yep, a Shepherd Bb reed.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:15 AM   #4
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

My experience with the Shepherd Bb reed plus a Campbell Bb chanter (which I understand to be a McCallum Bb chanter with the fancy reed mechasnism) is it works perfectly to acheive 466 Hz. YMMV

Our band toyed with Bb for a while, but we went about it the wrong way: casually and with a different make of Bb chanter for each person. We found that many chanters would rather tune to the low 470s than 466. I would stick with reeds designed to get closer to 466.

Having said that, instead of playing the Campbell Bb (for reasons I dont care to get into), I taped down a 476 Hz Colin Kyo when I got to play with Carlos Nez. It worked out that the tape job required did not result in an imbalance of note volumes and Carlos said he liked the less strident tone.

A few things to consider I guess.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:25 AM   #5
Kevin Palm
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

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Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
My experience with the Shepherd Bb reed plus a Campbell Bb chanter (which I understand to be a McCallum Bb chanter with the fancy reed mechasnism) is it works perfectly to acheive 466 Hz. YMMV
So you're saying that that reed/chanter combo should balance pretty much natively at 466?
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

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Originally Posted by Kevin Palm View Post
So you're saying that that reed/chanter combo should balance pretty much natively at 466?
That would be my preference, Kevin.
My Mcleod chanter tends to like playing around 470 Hz, so if I know I'll be playing with concert pitch instruments, I'll usually use my older RG Hardie chanter which pitches at 466.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:53 AM   #7
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

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So you're saying that that reed/chanter combo should balance pretty much natively at 466?
In my experience, yes.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:55 AM   #8
Kevin Palm
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

Thanks, guys! I have some work to do!
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

A couple of key points.

Most Bb chanters work best with a Bb reed. You can muscle a Bb chanter down near 466 with a standard reed but the whole set up isn't as well behaved.

As Patrick and others have said, other chanters work well down in the 466 range. (I also have an older hardie chanter that piches well down there).

Remember that the guitar can tune up or down as well. If your chanter is balancing well but sitting at 468 on a hotter day, make your guitarist tune up to match you. You can recalibrate a Korg or other electronic tuner to match your Low A and then pass it over to him/her to align their strings.

Cheers
Ross

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Old 07-16-2018, 09:12 AM   #10
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Bb chanter tuning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
I taped down a 476 Hz Colin Kyo when I got to play with Carlos Nez. It worked out that the tape job required did not result in an imbalance of note volumes and Carlos said he liked the less strident tone.
This is not directed at you Kevin, but I feel compelled to elaborate for anyone listening in. This was done not by simply taping. You pull the reed out until the high A is in tune to the 466 Hz reference and then tape the rest accordingly. What happens is the amount of tape needed generally increases as you go down the chanter, and generally the holes are getting bigger which helps with note volume balance and such.
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