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Old 06-10-2018, 02:04 PM   #1
Tedley
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Default Fitting cane drone reeds

I make and play cane drone reeds. New pipes and most from the past century have drones that were designed and optimized for playing at a lower pitch, like A=466 (B flat) or similar. My 40's Hendersons take cane reeds which are much larger than modern pitch reeds to play at B flat than A=478. The sharper reeds are so small in diameter that they will slide into the bore without a wrap on the reed. The flatter reeds have a bore which is much closer to the drone bore. An unwrapped reed will not slide into the drone bore. I have seen pipes from the late 1800's that are longer than what is used today. As we are around B in pitch today, I was wondering if the lengths of the drones should be made shorter so there is not the mismatch of reed to bore that is now needed? Virtually all pipes from other cultures use reeds which the reed bore is only slightly smaller than the pipe they play in. I think reeds that are closer in size would act better and sound better than the present mismatch we are forced to use. Shorter drones would take larger diameter reeds and should perform better.

Last edited by Tedley; 06-10-2018 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 06-10-2018, 05:14 PM   #2
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Fitting Cane Drone Reeds

I'd rather just go back to Bb, Ted.
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Old 06-10-2018, 11:30 PM   #3
Graineag
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Default Re: Fitting Cane Drone Reeds

It's certainly an interesting proposition.

Reminds me of how acclaimed trumpet and mouthpiece maker David Monette (a self-described "shitty rock trumpet player") discovered back in the 1980s that virtually all modern designs for Bb trumpet mouthpieces were more or less faithfully based on a type of trumpet mouthpiece manufactured in Vienna in the late 1800s--that was designed to be played on a trumpet pitched a half-tone lower. According to Monette, this is the reason why trumpet players need to use a valve key and devote so much time to learning how to lip notes up and down to achieve correct pitch. The intonation problems were literally built into the mouthpiece. When he redesigned the mouthpiece for the correct pitch, many players found that these issues were eliminated.

Of course, modern drone reeds (both cane and synthetic) can and usually do sound great in drones both old and new, but I do sometimes wonder about the sense of playing a chanter optimized to pitch somewhere between 475-485 with drones that were designed to be played with a chanter likely pitched somewhere between 450 and 460. I wonder if we've taken the traditional design about as far as it can go with the reeds we're trying to use. Perhaps a completely different drone design not based on any "classic" or "orthodox" measurements might produce a sound just as pleasing to the ear if not more so.
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:44 AM   #4
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Fitting Cane Drone Reeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rooklidge View Post
I'd rather just go back to Bb, Ted.
Why go back to Bb, one may ask.
If you're not in a pipe band that's playing up close to B;
or if you're not competing in circles where that's become the common pitch;
or if you regularly play with other musicians -brass, organ, etc.


Then why wouldn't you want to be playing a B flat chanter?


( or even one in concert A on occasion)


Count me in.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:54 AM   #5
Tedley
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Default Re: Fitting Cane Drone Reeds

I, a lot of others feel that we have raised the pitch too far. In the late 1960's some pipes were at B flat to play along with a brass band. Pitch creep was becoming noted and a band or piper who was sharpest stood out and won the competition. I suggested that a cap be placed on frequency at B flat to some judges. Points would be deducted if over the limit. It fell on deaf ears and we have been creeping upward ever since.
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:02 AM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: Fitting Cane Drone Reeds

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Originally Posted by Tedley View Post

.......It fell on deaf ears and we have been creeping upward ever since.
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:56 AM   #7
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Fitting cane drone reeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedley View Post
As we are around B in pitch today, I was wondering if the lengths of the drones should be made shorter so there is not the mismatch of reed to bore that is now needed? Virtually all pipes from other cultures use reeds which the reed bore is only slightly smaller than the pipe they play in. I think reeds that are closer in size would act better and sound better than the present mismatch we are forced to use. Shorter drones would take larger diameter reeds and should perform better.
I don't think there's really any standard length or bore dimension. Makers do what appeals to them, and what their customers respond to. Would a shorter drone with a wider bore really be better tonally? Even with synthetic reeds, some makes require more wrapping than others, but I haven't heard any correlation between how much hemp is on the reed tenon and sound quality or stability.
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:33 PM   #8
Laap
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Default Re: Fitting cane drone reeds

Dan, just go back and read the "unicorn fluff" posts, you will find more than you need.
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:07 AM   #9
Tedley
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Default Re: Fitting cane drone reeds

Drone bores and lengths are not arbitrary as the laws of physics apply to them. Makers have been keeping to lengths which were worked out for B flat while the pitch has crept up to around B. This means that synthetic reed makers design reeds to play at modern pitch and have larger reeds for lower pitches. Reed, bore and length combine to give a given pitch and volume. To change pitch, one or a combination of these must be changed to play that pitch. By keeping the drone dimensions for B flat, makers have opted to adjust only the reed size to play near B. As I pointed out, cane reeds must be made smaller to play at modern pitch. I suggest that pipes made to play near B might benefit from a reduction in length in order to have reeds that are larger and closer to the drone bore. While they do work, cane reeds are near the limit of how high the pitch can go and still work. I don't see this as ideal. However, were drones to be made shorter, it would require the synthetics to be redesigned to play in them.

Last edited by Tedley; 06-12-2018 at 11:10 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-15-2018, 10:28 AM   #10
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Fitting cane drone reeds

Or we could quit the ridiculous pitch chase. Just sayin'.
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