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

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Old 11-12-2018, 01:02 PM   #21
Keith Jeffers
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Evansville, Indiana
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Default Re: Favorite blowstick? And worth it to repair a blowstick?

Originally Posted by Chicagopipes View Post
Not at all. Last night was the first night this season we turned on the heat. I live in California now. Average relative humidity has been about 52%. I wasn't playing any more than 15 minutes/day. Almost every day, but I'm working on endurance.
Okay, interesting. If the blowpipe fits you well and you want to keep a matching set, then have it lined and repaired. If I saw a picture of it I could give you an idea of the severity of the repair. I wouldn't bother sending it out of the US for repair if you go that route with it. There are plenty of folks that can do it right here. I would contact Mike MacHarg (the wee piper) or Roddy MacLellan. There are others out there that will do a professional job and a fast turnaround, do some homework on it before you send it.
Repair work isn't fun in the slightest bit, so expect to pay for quality work. The best will make it look seamless.
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Old 11-14-2018, 06:00 AM   #22
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Default Re: Favorite blowstick? And worth it to repair a blowstick?

Originally Posted by Chicagopipes View Post
I live in California now. Average relative humidity has been about 52%.
The last several days here in SoCal have been around 10%.

I'm sort of in the middle of the blowpipe issue.

1) On the one hand the pipes are a musical instrument. The purpose of every component is to contribute to the overall functioning of the instrument, and a higher level of functionality is provided by a big-bore Delrin blowpipe (less backpressure, more freeblowing, can't leak, can't crack).

2) On the other hand a set of pipes is something of a work of art, vintage pipes are artifacts, and many pipers want their pipes to look nice.

I follow #1 in the main. Almost 20 years ago I had Greig Sharpe make me a big-bore Poly blowpipe with a small Glen style imitation ivory projecting mount to sort of match the old Glens I played at that time. It has a .36 bore all the way through including the mouthpiece. To achieve the wide-bore mouthpiece he used bigger-diameter threads than normal to attach the mouthpiece to the blowpipe. I've never seen another blowpipe or mouthpiece like that, and obviously that blowpipe and mouthpiece aren't interchangeable with ordinary ones.

I no longer have those Glens but that blowpipe is so free-blowing that I've used it with several different sets over the years whether its style matches or not.

A vintage set of pipes I got several years ago came with a one-piece (integral mouthpiece) poly button-mount blowpipe that's .356 all the way through. It's also very freeblowing.

I also have a RG Hardie Maxi-stick that has a .375 bore BUT the mouthpiece has a .300 bore due to using the usual thread sizes for the blowpipe tenon and mouthpiece socket. Ditto the Ayrshire Big Bore blowpipe, .375 bore but narrow-bore mouthpiece. Obviously it defeats the purpose of a big-bore blowpipe somewhat to have a constricted narrow bore for one-third of its length.

Compare these bore sizes to the blackwood blowpipe that came with my 1960s Lawries which is .260

I have no interest in having to force air through a vintage narrow-bore wood blowpipe when freeblowing poly ones are to hand. Those old blowpipes can sit in the cabinet.
proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

Last edited by pancelticpiper; 11-14-2018 at 06:32 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 03:23 PM   #23
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Default Re: Favorite blowstick? And worth it to repair a blowstick?

If it were me, and I am a poor college student and even when I am not poor I don't have money to throw around, I would do the plastic replacement for now and then save up to have the original blowpipe bored out and sleeved, which will render it impervious (nearly) to cracking issues in the future. Or you could get a replica made in plastic and keep the wooden one just for historical value.

In terms of plastic blowpipes, here are my thoughts:
-Airstream- these blowpipes are almost ubiquitous for being blow-friendly, but their durability isn't as high as other makers. They use a molded design to make their blowpipe, and as a result of that the seams that run the length of the piece are weak points. Great bore, valve can be hard to get to, but otherwise good. They were the last to adopt an angle adjustment design.

-Crisler- now made by David Lindsey- I really like this blowpipe. It's only length adjustment (for now), but it's even more blow friendly. Material durability is higher and cost is a little lower than airstream, though the valve is really good but also is a slightly fragile design where the valve seats. If you are prone to dropping your blowpipe, I would be careful with this (be careful anyway but especially with this design). David's also a great guy, and he can do the externals of the blowpipe to match your current one so the look of your pipes remains unified.

-McCallum- 2nd major maker to adopt the angle adjustment, but otherwise these are work-horse blowpipes. They aren't the fanciest things in the world, but they get the job done. Great value, aesthetically very easy to pick out. These have more angle adjustment degrees-wise than the newest iteration of the rg hardie ones, but that is neither here nor there.

-RG Hardie- 1st major maker to adopt the angle adjustment. The newest flexi-stiks are quite good, and they have a slimmer profile than the old super bulky ones. No complaints with the new ones, other than they don't adjust for a broad range of degrees, at least not as much as you might initially think. Beware of the old design, which was laughably chunky and leaky, so don't buy a used one that doesn't look like the new ones.

-Ayrshire-They're alright, but for the same money I think you can get a blowpipe that isn't going to require an add on of a new mouthpiece.

-Walsh-doesn't make an angle adjustment blowpipe, but for my money, it's one of the best looking and working length adjustable blowpipes on the market. Uses a normal flapper valve, so it's a buy once and use forever type of tool.

-Gibsons-I don't know much about them other than they are visually unlike a real set of pipes

To me, if you were using a straight blowpipe without issue, buying the angle adjusting ones is pretty much overkill. Of these mentioned, which are most of the ones I know of on the market today, I would either get the Walsh or the Crisler. The Wylie is too expensive for my wallet, and I am sure it works well, but these do too and they do the same thing for less money.
Serving Jello with a ladle since... forever
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