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

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Old 04-11-2013, 05:48 PM   #1
Steve Mack
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Default Higher-pitched new reed and drones

I tried out a softer, high-pitched reed the other night, and I noticed that the drones came on simultaneously with the chanter. If I moved the bridles on the drone reeds to reduce air consumption, would this also raise the pitch of the drones so they would agree more closely with the chanter reed? I really like softer reeds, and I'm just beginning to explore the ins-and-outs of manipulating both easy chanter reeds and drone reeds. What experience do you all have with regards to softer reeds and the drones and air consumption? Are there any tweaks other than standard adjustments for both kinds?

Thanks to all who reply.

With best regards,

Steve Mack
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:07 PM   #2
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Higher-pitched new reed and drones

Easier chanter reeds allow the piper who can play them ( and not overblow them) a few advantages:
Longer playing time. ( I regularly play sets over a half- hour to over an hour in length, on gigs that go from one to four hours);
Better ability to play cross-fingered accidentals, in case you ever need to;
The ability to "Pinch" a high B or C#, without shutting down your drones, making quite a number of tunes sit better on the pipes.

Most of those advantages wouldn't do much in a band situation, though, where there's a good deal of safety in have a reed that's strong enough that you can't overblow it.
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:37 PM   #3
Steve Mack
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Default Re: Higher-pitched new reed and drones

Since my band days are long over, I'll take those advantages gladly. Are you saying that a lighter reed make the pipes act like (not identical to) Border pipes?

Tell me more!

With best regards,

Steve Mack
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Old 04-12-2013, 12:40 AM   #4
Kirby Allen
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Default Re: Higher-pitched new reed and drones

For drone reeds there's a certain threshold where a reed just can't stay open and playing or where the easier it is to play the harder it is to keep a steady tone (if not a steady pressure), but experimentation is the best way to find out where that is for your reeds!
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:58 AM   #5
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Higher-pitched new reed and drones

Steve, I have ported a lot of what I consider Lowland pipe technique over onto my Highland pipes. (and vis-versa, I play both). On the whole, I find cross-fingering more reliable on my Swayne Lowland pipes in A than on my GHB, but I can regularly play a high B on either set any time I want to. C natural and F natural are not as reliable on the GHB, except with just the right reed. Last nigh I was playing "The Northern Lights Of Old Aberdeen" in preparation for a wedding this afternoon and selected one of my three in-play reeds as the one with the best high G#, so yes, the right reed and chanter combination on GHB can have all the versatility of a border pipe set-up.
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Old 04-13-2013, 02:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Higher-pitched new reed and drones

I should also point out that an easy reed that does everything you want it to in decent weather can go absolutely spastic if it's cold and raining. ( I had that driven home to me once again yesterday). Itr's a good thing to have one aboard that's slightly stouter for that kind of a day. You wan't have the flexibility of the light reed, but you will get through in one piece ( I'm glad I had one with me yesterday afternoon- 35F and pouring buckets.)
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Old 04-21-2013, 02:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Higher-pitched new reed and drones

In my experience there's a magic period where an oldc chanter reed has got easier to blow, the timbre has a nice patina to it, but it's still stable enough to be reliable. I had one St Patrick's Day that I had six gigs, each playing a full hour, with around an hour of travel time between each gig. If I hadn't had an old magic reed like that I wouldn't have been able to get through that day.

I tend to prefer a chanter reed that's a bit newer, a bit stronger, because it's more stable overall and is more reliable in differing weather conditions, but still past that initial period where it's a bit too strong and harsh.

About drones, you just have to adjust them to suit whatever chanter reed you're using.
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