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Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes + For all types of (non GH) Bagpiping discussions.

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Old 01-04-2019, 11:28 AM   #1
DapperDan
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Default Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

3-drone (w/ baritone), mouth blown, plastic.

I bought them some time ago when I was just getting into piping, and set them aside because I had a hard time playing them. Now that I know a thing or two, I got them out and looked them over and can see why they were hard to play. The drone reeds leak air - in fact the bass was made with the tongue glued on crooked so that doesn't fully cover the hole! The chanter reed is also difficult - it doesn't really fit in the reed seat. I'm not badmouthing Soutar, for all I know the vendor mismatched reeds or something, and anyway it's a few years ago so I'm not going to hound either the vendor or the maker about it.

I'd like to know if there are suitable replacement reeds? I contacted Ezeedrone, since they make reeds for many specific smallpipes, and they said they don't make any for Soutars, but to ask around. I'm figuring a set for another make would fit, but don't know what it is.
I'd also like a better chanter reed, if it comes down to sending the chanter to a reedmaker to make a cane reed for it, I'd consider that if everything else is sorted.

The bag (Bannatyne) also needs to be re-tied as it leaks around the stocks. It may need replaced however, I can see a rip in the material above the tie in, and don't know how far down it goes, or if that's a mandatory replacement anyway - I'm assuming I'd get an uncut smallpipe bag, cut it and tie it in. I noticed that the chanter stock is restricted - the end inside the bag has a plug or bushing (for lack of a better term) with a small hole in it to let air through, like a reed cap for a pipe chanter. Is it advisable to leave this as it is, or might it be better to remove it?

Any advice appreciated - I hate to have sink probably $200 into getting an instrument going that should have been fine from the get-go. Searching through previous threads, people say it's a good instrument that's fun and easy to blow, so I'm assuming the pipes and chanter are good and better reeds will bring it to life.

Last edited by DapperDan; 01-04-2019 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 01-05-2019, 12:11 PM   #2
bob864
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Default Re: Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

I have Soutar smallpipes. I suspect the reeds are made for the bores. When all three are going and in tune they sound nice.

I'm sure you could get replacement reeds from Soutar. Maybe they could even refurbish the set you have.

My chanter reed looks kind of messy and it fits kind of weird in the chanter, but it sounds good. The restrictor for mine seems to be integral to the stock. If you keep a Soutar reed in it then that's part of the design. If you send the chanter to some other maker, it might be best to send the whole set.
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:42 AM   #3
DapperDan
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Default Re: Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

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Originally Posted by bob864 View Post
I have Soutar smallpipes. I suspect the reeds are made for the bores. When all three are going and in tune they sound nice.

I'm sure you could get replacement reeds from Soutar. Maybe they could even refurbish the set you have.

My chanter reed looks kind of messy and it fits kind of weird in the chanter, but it sounds good. The restrictor for mine seems to be integral to the stock. If you keep a Soutar reed in it then that's part of the design. If you send the chanter to some other maker, it might be best to send the whole set.
Thanks Bob,

I made inquiries with some vendors as well, and they indicate that Soutar would probably just replace the reeds since at least one is definitely defective, even this long since the purchase. A set of Ezeedrone smallpipes reeds is also possible, with a softer tone, and an EzeePC smallpipe reed may work in the chanter. I think I'd like to go the EZ route and see how it makes out. A problem I had with these pipes is that they use a ton of air. This was even with the bridles set as effeciently as possible. I'm hoping that trying more mellow reeds along with an airtight bag will tame it a little. It's for indoor practice, it doesn't need to be that loud - I tried someone else's mouth-blown smallpipe, a Gibson I think, and it uses almost NO air. That's more what I wanted, again it's for working on tunes, not for building wind or playing at a session. I wondered if the restricted chanter stock is to make them harder to blow, to help build/maintain wind for the big pipe (I've heard certain smallpipes are intentionally made for that purpose). I guess I won't mess with it, but I hate anything restricting airflow.
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:56 PM   #4
TwitchyFingers
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Default Re: Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

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Thanks Bob,
A problem I had with these pipes is that they use a ton of air. This was even with the bridles set as efficiently as possible. I'm hoping that trying more mellow reeds along with an airtight bag will tame it a little.
Having the bag as airtight as possible is a big part of the battle. I've screwed up a few reeds over the years by messing with them when a less than airtight bag was the culprit.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:47 AM   #5
bob864
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Default Re: Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

Sounds like you have a leak. I can probably play a whole tune without adding air.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:59 AM   #6
DapperDan
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Default Re: Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

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Originally Posted by bob864 View Post
Sounds like you have a leak. I can probably play a whole tune without adding air.
It was indeed leaking. I tightly taped up the stocks as a temporary fix to get it airtight, so I could try the new reeds.
The Ezeedrone smallpipe reeds are an enormous improvement over the reeds it came with. Had them dialed in very quickly (as with their reeds for the big pipe, I ditch out the rubber seal and use waxed black hemp on the tenon). They lock in together right away and are steady. They were marked for EJ Jones smallpipes, and have inverted tongues.
I was going to give up on the original chanter reed, because it couldn't be sunk far enough to get a clear scale in A, and the blades are mounted crooked so that they scrape the inside of the stock if not inserted *perfectly*. And I mean that the part of the wrapping on the reed where it gets wider stopped it from going any further into the seat (also making it difficult to get hemped airtight, since the wide part of the reed, which isn't round, is partly in the reed seat). I trimmed the length of the tongues with a razor blade, and between that and sanding it down a bit and taping some notes, I got it to play an even scale at A=440. It's still a bit tempermental, I have a cane smallpipe chanter reed on the way that I'll try.
Now it's playable and sounds nice. Balance between drones and chanter is pleasant. I'll now try to re-tie the stocks, or get a new bag if necessary. I'm still a bit miffed that it took so much tinkering and replacing parts to get it going. Should have been ready to go off the shelf.
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Old 01-16-2019, 05:01 PM   #7
bob864
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Default Re: Replacement reeds for Soutar smallpipe

I might check out the EZ drone reeds. I've been happy with the Soutar reeds, but I'm always looking for something different.

Let me know if you find a chanter reed that works well. I've been pretty happy with mine, but it's starting to get old and I think I need a new one.
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