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Old 10-03-2020, 11:52 AM   #1
David Murry
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Default BorderPipe Questions

OK, context:

Current SSP setup is Ray Hughes drones with Pinchbeck chanter, kelleher bellows.

I am considering purchasing a set of border pipes and playing with a SSP chanter. I’ve listened to Patrick McLaurin play on YouTube and I love the extra drone fullness and doesn’t seem like the chanter gets lost. First question- anyone else try this?

Second- what makes BorderPipes finicky or high maintenance as I’ve been reading on older threads? Is it the drone reeds, the chanters?

Final question- how stable are borderpipe drones? Not the chanter, just the drones?

Thanks in advance, guys.

David NY
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Old 10-03-2020, 02:18 PM   #2
CalumII
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

Generally drones are drones and behave much the same whether smallpipe, Borderpipe, NSP or Uilleann. Stability in Border pipes is really down to the reed and the chanter. One can make very stable Borderpipes, but you lose some of the quality that makes them Border pipes as opposed to small GHB chanters. But it's much easier to get a good reed and a good chanter now.



Bear in mind different makers have different tone and volume profiles overall, both on drone and chanter fronts, so depending on where you source things from jkust be aware you might not get the results you expect.
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Old 10-03-2020, 05:33 PM   #3
David Murry
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

Holy smokes, Calum... I had not even considered that.

Thanks. I had a feeling regarding the drones as well, in terms of stability and these days I *think* many are using ezeedrone or is this sacrilege and being a GHB I dont realize that? lol

Much, much smaller sub community on the bellows, so I appreciate the feedback all the more. I am pretty stable with my pressures and dont regret getting a Uilleann bellows for that extra volume.... although for the first time I wonder if its more bulky than it needs to be as I am improving my playing. Hmmmmm

D
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Old 10-03-2020, 06:44 PM   #4
Lochie
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

Best thing I ever did was buy a set of Kelleher bellows. I immediately converted all my smallpipes and Uilleann over to them. I wouldn't think twice about using them on my border pipes. No such thing as having too much air, just pump less as required...and relax.
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Old 10-03-2020, 06:53 PM   #5
John Dally
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

These are dangerous waters to swim in, but I will take the plunge. Just remember everyone has their opinions (and alliances).
What you are asking for is so much a matter of personal taste you really have to find your own way, but you are best to stick with one maker for chanters, drones and bellows, at least to start. Each maker has their own vision for how the components work together. It is much more varied than Highland pipes where plug and play is the norm.
Do you know what sort of sound you are after? If you like Will Woodson's sound, follow his example. If you like Fred Morrison's sound, the way forward is clear and easy. Have you listened to Iain Geltson, Paul Martin, Finlay MacDonald, David Faulkner, Jon Swayne? Do you want a wee Highland pipe, or something different? Why haven't Ailean Domhnalluch and other notable pipers not taken to the BP?
If you are just looking for Consumer Reports information you will get lots of opinions, but you first have to decide what you are looking for.
Also, you can't depend on YouTube for quality of sound.
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Old 10-04-2020, 01:09 AM   #6
Army.Bagpiper
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

Hello! I am sort of considering taking up the SSPs, so have been some what reviewing the posts in the Small pipes forum.

I read your comment about Fred Morrison's sound, and about the sound "...being clear and forward..." What did you mean by that comment?

Have no fear, I am looking to learn, not criticize! I am a grade 3 Highland piper, and I still get a bit frustrated when people ask, "What sound are you looking for"...etc, etc, etc.

If I am learning, how am I supposed to know all these things... so I ask all the questions I can, to learn. People's opinions are important, and I know it is an opinion, so I do not get wrapped around the axle, I can determine whether I want to take someone's advice or not - but it is good to hear people's opinions, thoughts and feedback. This is especially true since this "hobby" is not cheap!

So please, at least as far as I am concerned, feel free to be open and honest.
I am looking to learn, nothing more.

As someone said, the small pipes seem to vary much more than the Highland pipes...that almost is enough for me to think that I have enough on my hands with the Highland pipes. Still... they seem to be very fun and they seem somewhat more versatile, in the sense of more places to play, then the Highland pipe, due to the volume.

Thanks!

Last edited by Army.Bagpiper; 10-04-2020 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 10-04-2020, 03:36 AM   #7
David Murry
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

Well said, Army.

John, solid counsel and I receive all that wisdom.

I do know the sound Iím after- 100%. Heavy drone backdrop, drones phased locked (prefer contrabass in perfect world but I cannot spend 5K or wait 3 years) and a warm chanter with good projection without that nasal sound I personally detest on the border chanter.

Play on my porch where my neighbors about 100 yards away wonít mind the warm sound being projected.

Re: bellows- awesome to hear as I love my kelleher rig.

David NY
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Old 10-04-2020, 12:01 PM   #8
John Dally
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

I just meant that if you like Fred Morrison's sound then the way forward is clear, because his pipes are readily available. He has made many customers very happy. I would put his pipes at the loud end of the spectrum, and Nate's at the quiet end, but they both might disagree with my assessment, and anything I write here is just my opinion, not to be taken as a judgement against either person. I settled on Ray Sloan's pipes over twenty years ago, and still experiment with other makers, but Ray's pipes suit me the best. YMMV It just means for me, I like playing his pipes.
I know what you mean about the nasal sound of some BP. I feel the same way about some makes SSP. Some people love it, however, and more power to them.
Here is my set up, if you can gain anything useful from it. It's not the only way to go. Both my BP and SSP in A have two tenors and a bass. I don't like the alto drone because they are hardly worth the trouble, and on the SSP the baritone drone only works with some tunes. I like the two tenors ever so slightly out of tune with each other (heresy, I know) because it adds to the harmonics. If I want a really big drone sound for the A SSP I plug the chanter into my BP drones. I play the C SSP chanter in my NSP drones (multiple tuning options there). I plug my D SSP chanter into my NSP drones too.
If you really want a countra bass, then I'd go for it. Get your name on the list now because by the time you get it you will be happy you did, and you will have saved up the money. The only maker I know who makes a contra bass SSP and BP is Nate. If there are others, let me know.
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Old 10-07-2020, 10:38 AM   #9
Matt Buckley
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Default Re: BorderPipe Questions

Chanter reed set-up can dramatically change the sound. Before you reach any conclusion regarding any particular maker's sound, you need to ascertain the current adjustment of the chanter reed you are hearing. Closing, or opening, the reed can make a huge difference in volume and tone. I have two chanters by different makers, and I can manipulate the sound significantly with both.

Also, the makers improve their products and change their designs. Beware of anyone opining about this and that maker's sound unless you know when the pipes were made.

A word as well about drones. I've heard SSP drones that have a more powerful, robust sound than certain BP drones. To my ear, you cannot necessarily assume that any BP drones you will purchase will automatically be deeper/louder.

I agree that online sound tests are not helpful. You really need to hear the various makers' pipes in person, if at all possible. The Pipers Gathering, hopefully taking place in person this coming summer, would be a great opportunity. In the meantime, if you're really serious about all of this, take the time to drive to makers in the Northeast, e.g. Nate Banton. Play and listen.
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