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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Great Highland Bagpipe > Technique & Instrument
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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 01-10-2019, 04:49 PM   #1
Winch
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Default Bagpipe Humidification

Hey Pipers!

I live in the mid-Atlantic area and winter is here. I take special care to humidify my acoustic guitars, and I want to care for my pipes as well.

I previously used a small, clay filled guitar humidifier that was sold as a pipe humidifier, and I'm not sure that it does the job. I'm wondering what you folks are using for humidification.

I'm currently using a long surgical tube with a sponge in the middle...I think it was built for string instruments as well.

Thanks!
Winch
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Old 01-10-2019, 05:03 PM   #2
John McCain
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

I like the clay humidifier. I keep a hygrometer in the case to verify. Used them for years.
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:20 PM   #3
BaggyMcPipes
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

I am no expert- but I've been playing the same set of blackwood pipes for about 15yrs - I'm in a mountain desert, humidity is zero. I've never needed to humidify, though. I thoroughly soak them in oil about every 8-16 months, and that's worked for me so far... That's just me, so take it for whatever it may be worth to you, even if it's value is nill...

Have a good one!
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:13 PM   #4
el gaitero
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

If you keep your house Rh at about 45%- <50% your pipes will be fine.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:29 AM   #5
Matt Weasner
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCain View Post
I like the clay humidifier. I keep a hygrometer in the case to verify. Used them for years.
I'm with John; same here.

I'm in Western NY and it is pretty dry here in the winter. I keep a single clay humidifier in each of my cases and that's enough to keep them at ~50% humidity, even if the set isn't currently in rotation. I do use Pelican cases, and they are "sealed" pretty well, so that might be a factor too.

YMMV.

Matt
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:59 PM   #6
PMT
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

Having a humidifier in your case not only protects your instrument, but helps to keep the reeds stable as well. Joints shrink less too which is a great advantage. I have two in my case. Also keeping the case closed is important, I was always taught never to leave pipes out over night, it was always a disaster with cane reeds. The key to maintaining wood in good condition is to keep the moisture level constant. Regular playing, drying any moisture out of the bores, a light clean with some oil occasionally and don't leave them near air-conditioning, heating or in a car.
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:56 AM   #7
Green Piper
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

If the pipes havenít been played for years and theyíre dry, introduce moisture very slowly. Maybe:

Day 1 - play for five minutes, dismantle, swab store.
Day 2 - play for ten minutes, dismantle, swab, store.
Etc, etc.

Many of the pipers here in Colorado have also invested in hard cases that are sealed. Between playing, the pipes retain humidity. However, if being left unplayed for a while, I ensure that the case is opened regularly to avoid any nasty buildup of stuff.
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:56 AM   #8
el gaitero
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillyWog View Post
Very informative this thread is..

My home stays at 15% humidity.. Temp is always 72f


tnx
Willy
15%?.....recommended Rh in a home is 45-50 % for overall well being. Contrasting this is eg recommended moisture content for eg oak flooring, furniture etc ranging from slightly <10% and upwards. Makes a case for keeping the pipes in its case to maintain a proper level....whatever that is indeed.

Iíve always kept my pipes cased ..and the home interior at the ca 50% level as best possible with seasonal aircon or heating.
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:50 AM   #9
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

I live not far from you. Get a hygrometer. If the humidity in your house is above 45% or so, I wouldn't worry about it. If it's not (mine gets down to ~30% in the winter, but I have gas heat), you can either use a case humidifier, or make sure you play regularly enough that the wood stays well-humidified. It's not overall humidity that leads to cracks, warps, etc, it's rapid CHANGES in temperature and humidity. The instrument can and does adapt to lower-humidy conditions in the winter (and synthetic reeds don't much care); the key is to avoid forcing it to endure overly-rapid changes.
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Old 11-30-2019, 11:44 PM   #10
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Bagpipe Humidification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Bell View Post
I live not far from you. Get a hygrometer. If the humidity in your house is above 45% or so, I wouldn't worry about it. If it's not (mine gets down to ~30% in the winter, but I have gas heat), you can either use a case humidifier, or make sure you play regularly enough that the wood stays well-humidified. It's not overall humidity that leads to cracks, warps, etc, it's rapid CHANGES in temperature and humidity. The instrument can and does adapt to lower-humidy conditions in the winter (and synthetic reeds don't much care); the key is to avoid forcing it to endure overly-rapid changes.
Definitely. Although get a good hygrometer, not one of the ones you see everywhere like chanter caps. They're convenient and inexpensive but ridiculously inaccurate:



I settled on this one after some looking around. Accurate and user adjustable.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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