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Old 06-17-2018, 09:06 AM   #21
RichmondPiper
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

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Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post
..... but what a nightmare. EVERY reed became rather unstable .. lots of squeaks and squaks, and also loud burbles on many notes, especially low G, and often on E and C. In general, if I was really, really careful with pressure, I might avoid the burbling, but it felt like trying to under-blow a practice chanter.

Almost no chanter/reed combo would produce c-natural and/or fnatural ... I either needed to switch those tunes into major, or tape down the holes and try to remember to play normal fingering (because if you play the cross-fingered on a heavily taped down note, the chanter will nearly cut out)...

... And whenever I got a reed to work passably, it would be misbehaving a couple hours later for the next show. So I was tinkering and futzing around....
Much to the chagrin of visiting pipers, this was standard stuff in Johannesburg where I learned my piping and led a band One learned to live with it but there always was a lot of footling around due the the combination of altitude (6,000 feet) and lack of humidity. For us, traveling to compete at sea level was always a boon. Not only our pipes, but our cars also went better there.

In really dry weather we would run small amounts of water into the bags to help. And then off course every now and again there would be an overcast day or even a rainy one and that played havoc with our pipes which were set up for dry conditions.

There is no simple solution for this particularly if it's not an everyday thing but only an issue when you visit. The advent of synthetic done reeds has helped enormously and also synthetic bags without much moisture control (maybe remove yours during the visit). For the duration of a short visit, the best advice is to probably set the chanter a bit flatter than usual and ensure that there is a bit of moisture in the bag.
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Old 06-17-2018, 02:50 PM   #22
Pppiper
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

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Originally Posted by RichmondPiper View Post
Much to the chagrin of visiting pipers, this was standard stuff in Johannesburg where I learned my piping and led a band One learned to live with it but there always was a lot of footling around due the the combination of altitude (6,000 feet) and lack of humidity. For us, traveling to compete at sea level was always a boon. Not only our pipes, but our cars also went better there.



In really dry weather we would run small amounts of water into the bags to help. And then off course every now and again there would be an overcast day or even a rainy one and that played havoc with our pipes which were set up for dry conditions.



There is no simple solution for this particularly if it's not an everyday thing but only an issue when you visit. The advent of synthetic done reeds has helped enormously and also synthetic bags without much moisture control (maybe remove yours during the visit). For the duration of a short visit, the best advice is to probably set the chanter a bit flatter than usual and ensure that there is a bit of moisture in the bag.


This is great. Thank you!
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:54 PM   #23
DamhCabrachPiping
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

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So I had a gig this past weekend in South Lake Tahoe. I had two chanters with me (I try to always have a backup with me, with a 2nd reed ready to go), and more than a dozen other new reeds (most of these were Shepherd, but I also happened to have a Husk or two, and a Melvin or two).

I live right next to the water near Boston, Mass ... and as far as I'm aware, the elevation up in South Lake Tahoe was more than 6,000 ft. I believe that's the highest elevation I've ever been. I've heard tales of bagpipes having issues at various elevations, but I kind of figured that if I had a couple of chanters and bunch of reeds, I should be able to get by without issue.

Well, I was kind of correct, in that I got through the weekend in relatively decent form, but what a nightmare. EVERY reed became rather unstable .. lots of squeaks and squaks, and also loud burbles on many notes, especially low G, and often on E and C. In general, if I was really, really careful with pressure, I might avoid the burbling, but it felt like trying to under-blow a practice chanter.

Almost no chanter/reed combo would produce c-natural and/or fnatural ... I either needed to switch those tunes into major, or tape down the holes and try to remember to play normal fingering (because if you play the cross-fingered on a heavily taped down note, the chanter will nearly cut out)...

... And whenever I got a reed to work passably, it would be misbehaving a couple hours later for the next show. So I was tinkering and futzing around the whole weekend.

Also worth noting that the air was considerably drier than on the Boston coast.

So any thoughts/tips from the collective out there? 20 years of playing, and I've NEVER encountered such trouble.

Was it the elevation? The humidity plus elevation? Gremlins? And besides the cause, what to do about it in the future?

Appreciate any feedback.

Cheers,
~Nate


Gremlins.


Itís always the gremlins.


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Old 07-18-2018, 07:58 AM   #24
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

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I've noticed that my smallpipes play different at higher elevation, and they are entirely plastic, so in addition to whatever moisture issues there are, there seems to be something due to the elevation itself (lower air pressure I assume).

Worth noting. I had the same experience with Lowland pipes (also plastic reeds). They played just fine at a few feet above sea level ( same general Boston Seacoast area as Pppiper), but were misbehaved terribly at the summit of Mt Killington- around 4,000' and not much better at the Snowshed lodge, around 2,000' if I remember correctly.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:11 AM   #25
Pppiper
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

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Worth noting. I had the same experience with Lowland pipes (also plastic reeds). They played just fine at a few feet above sea level ( same general Boston Seacoast area as Pppiper), but were misbehaved terribly at the summit of Mt Killington- around 4,000' and not much better at the Snowshed lodge, around 2,000' if I remember correctly.
All very interesting. It occurs to me that air pressure does a lot with these things, and so I don't think it's a coincidence that I had such terrible trouble with fingering C-natural and F-naturals when I was up there. I'm thinking, regardless of moisture, that probably wasn't going to happen.

Thanks all,
~Nate
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Old 08-09-2018, 09:02 PM   #26
BaggyMcPipes
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

This has been a really great feed to read through. Thank you all!

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Old 08-10-2018, 06:34 AM   #27
Texas Gael
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Default Re: Chanter reed issues, going from low to high elevation

Interesting thread. Back in 1987 the Grade IV band I played with traveled to Estes Park, CO, ele. 7522 feet, from Austin, TX, ele. 560 feet, to compete in the Games held there. Playing ABW Kintail chanters with Higgins reeds we got second in both MSR and Medley. We won the piping quartet competition and I still have the award plaque that each piper got for that. The weather was cold when we arrived, but cleared up the next day and was quite warm during the competitions. Two pipers in other bands passed out from the heat during the Opening Ceremony.

Cheers -

Wes
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