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

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Old 11-07-2018, 11:51 AM   #11
Randy McIntosh
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

I use the Blair tuning app on my iPhone
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Old 11-07-2018, 11:59 AM   #12
Pppiper
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
Thanks for all the input so far. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the numbers, etc. Are there any phone apps I can get to tell me what the actual Hz are on the chanter and drones. I used a tuner app on my phone to get a rough idea, but it doesn't give me an actual number other than to let me know it's calling A 440.
Also, sorry for the very basic nature of these questions, I am really quite ignorant on the whole subject. I'm sure there's more dumb questions to come.
Pete
Only thing that's dumb are folks who never ask questions when they need to.

This begs a question then, are you purposefully seeking a Bb sound .. that is to say, your "A" on your chanter = 466 hz?

If not (or actually, even if so), what are you using for chanter and chanter reed, including the approx age of the chanter?

Ignore the following if it's already common knowledge ... standard concert tuning is set by the standard that A is equal to 440 hz. In keeping with that standard, Bb is equal to 466 hz.

Highland bagpipes though, do not adhere to this standard. In general, the "A" on our chanters currently tends to be anywhere in the range of 475 to the low/mid 480s. My solo chanters currently tend to be around the 480 range.

I also have used the Blair "Bagpipe Tuner" app. Think it costs like $12. Well worth it if you don't have anything else. I don't use tuners all too often on a solo basis, only sporadically, and/or if I need to match someone else or tune a band.

There's a "learn" button on there, which will prompt you to play your "A" on your chanter .. and then the tuner will "lock in" on whatever Hz that note is. Just opened up mine, and last time I used it must've been summer ... it's set to 484.

Does any of this make sense? Additional questions? Please don't shy away from asking.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:07 PM   #13
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

Quick addendum to my last.

If you're purposely wanting an actual Bb for your "A" on your chanter, then I maintain that you'll likely need some drone reeds that are designed to utilize a lower pitch. If you need suggestions, ask. I don't want to "push" any one product .. there are a few out there.

Plenty of folks purposely pursue an actual Bb (466) sound for their chanter/pipes. Some want to play with orchestral/session instruments. Others simply like the sound of a lower pitch for their pipes (personally, I'm one of these, though at the moment, I'm not bothering with a flatter setup).

If, however, you're NOT purposely trying to seek a 466 sound, then the problem is actually more likely your chanter setup, which is why I asked about what you're using.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 11-07-2018, 02:26 PM   #14
Clodhopper
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

Randy,
Thanks, I'm going to check out that blair app. I see there's a clip that goes on the drone or chanter, do you have that or just the mic on your phone?



Nate,
At this point I am just trying to get the drones and chanter in tune with each other. I may try to join a pipe band somewhere down the line where I would obviously need to be in tune with other pipers.
The chanter is the Naill one that came with the set, which I bought new in 1985. The reed is one of 5 I bought when I got the Cannings about 3 or 4 years back.
Another issue I am having is that I am finding even the "easy" chanter reeds are gut busters for me a this point. Not sure if it's because I'm 30 years older now, just out of condition, or if there's something I should be doing to make them easier for me. I remember when I was in the pipe band we seemed to always be doing various kinds of manipulation to chanter reeds, but I don't remember it being too scientific or effective. Probably what I need is a good book on setup and maintenance to try to get a better handle on the physics involved.
Anyway, thanks again,
Pete
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Old 11-07-2018, 02:53 PM   #15
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
... just trying to get the drones and chanter in tune with each other. I may try to join a pipe band somewhere down the line ...
The chanter is the Naill one that came with the set, which I bought new in 1985. The reed is one of 5 I bought when I got the Cannings about 3 or 4 years back ...
Another issue I am having is that I am finding even the "easy" chanter reeds are gut busters for me a this point.
Hi Pete,

Few things then. Firstly, I highly suggest picking up a couple new chanter reeds. Cane chanter reeds do not age well what-so-ever. The wood dries out, and the longer they go unused (in my experience) the worse they'll tend to go. It's likely your "easy " reeds from 3-4 years ago have become very stiff from drying out. Maybe you can revive them, but you'll be better served in investing in one or two newly made reeds. Plus, lots of makers are very accommodating when it comes to strength. Colin Maclellan, for example makes what he dubs "senior reeds." They're made to be quite easy to blow. Many others offer similar accommodations, I only mention Colin because I've dealt with him quite a bit.

Also, you said you're coming back after a long hiatus. My stamina drops significantly after even 2-3 weeks of not playing, let alone years. It will take time for that to build back up again. Not forever though ... try to play at least a bit every day (if you can), and within a few weeks, you'll already begin to notice a difference. For me at least, it's my lip muscles. They'll give out eventually, just like any muscle. The longer you've been away from playing, the worse it'll be initially.

Once, I had a cold that kept me from playing for more than a month. After that, I couldn't play for more than 5 minutes before my lips would start to fail me. But playing as long as I could every day had me back to normal in about a month (normal for me is at least 1-1.5 hours straight, no trouble).

Back to pitch. A non-dried out chanter reed would likely make a hell of a difference. And I shouldn't think a 1980s Naill chanter would be pitching anywhere near Bb (let alone less). My guess would be mid 470s? (if those numbers don't make any sense, feel free to ask for more clarification).

That, in turn, should fix the issues you're having with your drones (I believe). But, as Patrick said, if you inadvertently purchased "high-pitch" reeds, that could be a contributing factor as well. One thing at a time though, I say your chanter reed(s) is the culprit.

Best of luck, ask away without fear if you're wondering anything else. And please do let us know how it goes. Others will assuredly run into your issue someday, it helps everyone to be able to see how things went for you.

Cheers,
~Nate

Last edited by Pppiper; 11-07-2018 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 03:00 PM   #16
Randy McIntosh
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
Randy,
Thanks, I'm going to check out that blair app. I see there's a clip that goes on the drone or chanter, do you have that or just the mic on your phone?
I have both the wired clip on and the wireless.

With the wired I have to use it with the 1/4 to 1/8 plug dongle (as the mic comes with the 1/4 plug) but which I can't use anymore without the dongle for the lightning port on the newer generation of iPhones. That means I would have to carry 2 dongles. And 2 connections is not a great idea IMHO.
So it sits at home. But I did use it in the past when I didn't need the second dongle.

The wireless mic (Bluetooth) which I love and use whenever I use the app
unless I'm just doing chanter then I would normally just use the phone mic.
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Last edited by Randy McIntosh; 11-07-2018 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 03:25 PM   #17
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
Randy,
... even the "easy" chanter reeds are gut busters for me a this point. Not sure if it's because I'm 30 years older now, just out of condition, or if there's something I should be doing to make them easier for me.
Sorry, one more consideration, be sure your pipes are well set up and efficient.
- Bag is air-tight.
- Blowpipe valve doesn't leak
- Reeds are set in well, and there aren't any leaks
- Stock and tuning pins well hemped, no leaks
- Drone reeds aren't taking too much air
- Etc.

There's a good video here, that runs this over:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmfoqyIwiic

This might all be set ... if so, sorry ... but great. But just in case, thought I'd bring it up.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 11-07-2018, 05:11 PM   #18
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

I really like the Braw Tuner phone app for tuning chanters.

For your purpose, to get a basic idea of where your chanter and drones are tuning at, an ordinary tuning app like the Plano Tuner might be fine. It not only tells you the name of the note you're closest to, but also the specific cycles. But be aware that the tenor drones are an octave lower than the chanter!! So if the chanter's Low A is 466 an in-tune tenor drone will NOT be at 466, but at around 233 cycles.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 11-07-2018 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:35 PM   #19
Shawn Husk
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

To the OP;

First of all get some new chanter reeds. Old reeds tend to open up and thus result in a very flat pitch in the chanter. You could take a look at the mouth opening of your chanter reeds and see how far the tips are apart. If they look wide open give them a dunk in some clean water and then give them a squeeze to close the mouth opening up. This will make the reeds easier to play and they'll be sharper in pitch.

If that doesn't work get a couple newer reeds from any reputable maker and give them a try. A 1985 Naill chanter should pitch around 475 or so and you should be more than able to get your drones set just fine to that pitch with your Cannings.

All the best.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:48 PM   #20
Clodhopper
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Default Re: Drone tuning trouble

I downloaded the Braw app just to try to get a sense of where the chanter was. According to that it was blowing at 458Hz. I could get one of the tenors in tune with it but the top was just hanging onto the tuning pin by about a quarter inch.
If I get a chance tomorrow I'll check the other reeds I have and see if any of them are closer to being in range. Is the height that the reed seats in the chanter something to be considering as well? Seating further in would raise the pitch?


Shawn, I'll try what you recommend too.
Thanks

Last edited by Clodhopper; 11-07-2018 at 07:55 PM.
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