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

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Old 08-03-2019, 07:55 PM   #11
MacTallanambeann
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

Thanks for the input CalumII. I know what you mean about the climate changes, man I really miss a cold crisp winter. Haven't had a winter to speak of here since 2010 and I never even had the heating on in the house for most of last winter it was that mild. I think we had maybe four of five days of morning frost and a couple where there was snow on the mountain tops!

I'm interested in what you say about where to buy cane though I'm far from sure that I wouldn't be just wasting my money. I am not talented with wood or plant materials if I am honest. Metal, plastic, stone behaves itself around me but woody things just don't like me. I can measure 100 times, cut once and the dimensions will still be wrong
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Old 08-03-2019, 08:05 PM   #12
MacTallanambeann
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

Just a wee, fresh question that springs to mind....
What is the reasoning behind ridge cut reeds versus the 'plain' kind?

I have to say that I have never really been a fan of the ridge cut type as, when I was young, these seemed to be absolutely the most evil and gut busting reeds you could find whereas the plain kind always seemed pretty mellow. As a result of early experience I tend to go for the plain kind whenever I have the choice.
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Old 08-04-2019, 08:31 AM   #13
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

The trick is I find to find a method that is known to work, and then just to spend half an hour doing it for a long time. I found it best to start off making one reed at a time, rather than in batches - batch making is slow at first and I found it more frustrating to make a batch of six that were unusable than one that was unusable!


The thing about ridge cut reeds is they are less sensitive to blowing pressure, which makes them easier for a pipe major to manage when tuning a band. There are other differences as well, primarily the quality of the top hand, but that's essentially why they exist.
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

What you say about the ridge cut reeds makes sense I guess. I have to say that I have always sought reeds out that had the ability to tweak the pitch and tone by altering blowing pressure so that I have access to that 'flavour' that doesn't necessarily correspond with perfect pitch. Not much of a band player. In the past I never lasted long with any particular band before the politics and egos got on my nerves and I had to walk so being in tune and in step with others has never been important to me.

When you talk about the quality of the top hand do you mean that it's better with a ridge cut? I find that the non ridge cut allow me to squeeze or ease to find the sweet spot of each note.

In regard of tinkering with Reed creation, can you do it without Reed splitters, gougers and all the other expensive shiny toys that are on the reed supply websites? Looks like it could be very expensive just to make a few reeds to simply learn about the process.

Last edited by MacTallanambeann; 08-04-2019 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 08-04-2019, 06:18 PM   #15
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

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Originally Posted by MacTallanambeann View Post
When you talk about the quality of the top hand do you mean that it's better with a ridge cut? I find that the non ridge cut allow me to squeeze or ease to find the sweet spot of each note.

Other way round, I'd say - in particular you find that if a ridge cut reed has a problem, it's usually unfixable, whereas there are a variety of tricks that work with a molded reed.



Quote:
In regard of tinkering with Reed creation, can you do it without Reed splitters, gougers and all the other expensive shiny toys that are on the reed supply websites? Looks like it could be very expensive just to make a few reeds to simply learn about the process.

Oh yes. Offhand you'd need to buy a gouge - about 30-40 - unless you *really* like sandpapering - but everything else can be done with pretty cheap/commonly available tools, I think.
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

Ah so you think similar to my own personal experience that the molded (I knew there was a specific name rather than just 'the other type' ) are more flexible than the ridge cut. I did often note as a youngster that, if a ridge cut sounded wonky the pipey would typically dismiss it rather than trying to fiddle or persuade it.


By the way why is it that I always found that a bad reed revealed itself instantly with a horrible 'F' when the other notes all seemed fairly OK? Is there a specific reason why that note is the critical one?


I can't deny that you really have tempted me to try my hand at reed making but I'm not going to rush into it as I am a terrible one for trying to work at too many things at the same time and should probably dedicate the lions share of my time at the moment to my playing which has definitely gotten very rusty in the last two or three years since I last dedicated myself to piping.
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Old 08-05-2019, 01:55 PM   #17
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

Here in Southern California Arundo Donax grows wild along seasonal riverbeds.

Uilleann pipe reedmakers have told me they really like the California cane, which they said is more resistant to weather fluctuations than the Spanish or French cane.

They have had harvesting parties here. In a few hours they have enough cane for years.

According to where you live, you might have a local free source.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:33 PM   #18
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

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Here in Southern California Arundo Donax grows wild along seasonal riverbeds.

Uilleann pipe reedmakers have told me they really like the California cane, which they said is more resistant to weather fluctuations than the Spanish or French cane.

They have had harvesting parties here. In a few hours they have enough cane for years.

According to where you live, you might have a local free source.
That’s interesting. One of my professors in college who is a professional oboe player said she harvested some cane when she moved to San Diego to make reeds but found it to be wholly unsuitable for reed making.

Maybe it’s naturally a bit harder? - good for pipes, bad for oboes
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Old 08-05-2019, 06:20 PM   #19
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

I've heard from a friend of one prominent UP reed maker in CA that arundo donax suitable for reedmaking is growing more scarce in his neck of the woods. Some cane has been cleared away for development or, ironically, to preserve other aspects of native habitat.

California cane got a lot of attention when uilleann pipers like Paddy Keenan started using it for their reeds. (Paddy often gets cane from Ted Anderson, which he refers to as "California gold." I believe Ted has a website that sells cane and other reedmaking supplies.)

In the UP world, there's been a lot of talk in recent years about alternative sources for reeds, such as elder and spruce. Here in Oregon, elder for reedmaking isn't all that hard to find. Aside from McTy, who I think makes GHB reeds from elder, I'm not sure how widely these materials have been used in the GHB world, but I wouldn't be surprised if we hear more about them in the future.
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Old 08-05-2019, 11:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Chanter reeds, what makes good, what makes bad?

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I've heard from a friend of one prominent UP reed maker in CA that arundo donax suitable for reedmaking is growing more scarce in his neck of the woods. Some cane has been cleared away for development or, ironically, to preserve other aspects of native habitat.
Arundo Donax is a non-native, invasive species in North America and, at least here in San Diego, is seen as a pest to be removed.
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