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

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Old 04-30-2015, 06:16 AM   #1
piper_hm
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Default Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

I'm a bit unclear as to which direction I should move the holes on my hide bag if I want to reduce the cramping on my forearm. Bag is a good size for me, a Begg standard sheepskin.

If I move the holes forward, it will be at the narrower to reach to the chanter, but is there a risk of the drones sitting at too much of an angle on my shoulder?
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Old 04-30-2015, 06:58 AM   #2
SquintingPatrick
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

I would hesitate to alter the configuration of the bagpipes. If you move the drones forward significantly enough to make a difference, there wouldn't be as much material around the stocks. Everything would be very crunched. The drones might not spread out right, And it would affect other aspects of your posture.

If the forearm is cramping because the reach to the chanter is too far, then I think what you need is a smaller bag, or a smaller one that is extended.

Sounds like it is something that you need to look at with someone who's right there watching you play.

For the original question, the drones will only be resting at too shallow of an angle if the chanter is still too far away.
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Old 04-30-2015, 07:10 AM   #3
tbrown747
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

I find that my habit is to put the bag under my arm in a way that the drone angle is whatever I'm used to. This means if the stocks were moved forward towards the chanter, the entire bag moves backwards a bit while playing and the drone angle stays the same. This does two things:
- bag is smaller circumference at the point my arm goes around (what you're getting at I think)
- chanter moves closer

The second one can be a problem and can cause wrist cramping and general high hand problems. On bags where the drones are too far forward I eventually take the approach of moving the squeeze point way back on the bag, dramatically increasing the angle of the drones with the shoulder and increasing the chanter angle w.r.t. the bag in order to get enough room for my left hand.

But if you think about it, none of this makes any sense and is the result of habit, not best practice. Think about a bag without drones. Think about what geometry provides the best angle for both the high hand and the contact point of the elbow on the bag. Then place the stocks so the drones make the angle you want them to make. I believe Andrew's page even mentions tying in the blowstick and chanter stocks first and running a test without drones. Maybe you want to try this first.

If the drones are far forward it gives you a lot of options on how you hold the bag, potentially at the expense of extreme drone angle. If the drones are too far back, they place a limit on how far forward you can hold the bag, since the drones can't really be vertical or on a reverse angle.

The other major factor that determines what your options are is blowstick length. The blowstick length constitutes a relatively fixed distance between your mouth and a fixed point on the bag. Assuming you want the bag tucked up under your arm, it will determine how far forward or back you tend to hold the bag. Any deviation from this configuration requires you to stick the blowstick in your mouth farther or change your head position. No examination of bag posture is complete without evaluating blowstick length and also the position of the blowstick stock.

Finally, if you do decide to change the stock positions, I would recommend trying small changes over time. Especially with a sheepskin bag at stake. My completely unsubstantiated opinion is that you want the blowstick and drone stocks with plenty of "meat" under them for nice smooth airflow. Maybe it doesn't matter, but one time I tied my blowstick really far forward where the bag was starting to narrow for the chanter and I swear it had an adverse impact on the chanter sound. Maybe even buy a cheapo cowhide bag to try stock positions out on first. Begg sells a cowhide that are (pretty much) the same dimensions as their sheepskin.

Last edited by tbrown747; 04-30-2015 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 04-30-2015, 08:47 AM   #4
Rooklidge
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

Quote:
Originally Posted by piper_hm View Post
If I move the holes forward, it will be at the narrower to reach to the chanter, but is there a risk of the drones sitting at too much of an angle on my shoulder?
You are assuming you will have the same elbow placement on the bag. I believe the specialty bags made for McCallum and Livingstone have very slight forward hole placement, so a little change means a lot. Maybe a half inch forward maximum would allow you to try the effect without wasting a bag if it doesn't help.
I normally play large bags but can play a medium comfortably if it has an extended rear bag because I adjust the front of the bag up and forward, which lowers the drone tops over my shoulder and takes stress off my wrist (swan neck helps on this). The extended rear allows me to not feel like the bag is about to drop out. The lowered drone tops look unfashionable, but seeing old regimental photos of low drones with splayed out cords gives me some comfort.
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Old 04-30-2015, 09:57 PM   #5
SquintingPatrick
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

The thing is, you can't really move the drones incrementally without spending a lot of money. Once you've cut the holes, that's a new bag. You'll be committed to it.

And there is a lot of room for adjustment in the set up, as is, without moving the drones from the standard positions. A child with short arms can reach the chanter comfortably by having the drones close to vertical, the chanter pulled closer to the bag, and a blow stick of the right length.

I still think it wouldn't hurt to have someone close by take a look at what the issue might be before spending the money on a new hide bag.

And then you don't have to have the bag cover specially made.
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:38 AM   #6
ironron
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

A wrong length blow stock, can make an uncomfortable playing position..experiment with different lengths if possible.
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:46 PM   #7
Nathaniel
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

Do you know what is causing the cramping?
Is it too much bag pushing on your forearm? or reaching your fingers back to reach the chanter? posture?
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Old 05-09-2015, 03:04 PM   #8
mmacleod75
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

I had my new Bennett hide bag holes cut in the exact same position as the Canmore I replaced. The Bennett is a lot more comfortable, which I'm sure is from the material difference, but my drones are more vertical, and my posture is much better. So for me, the hole placement wasn't as critical as the type of bag, and perhaps the tying in method.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:32 AM   #9
NickTaitz
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Default Re: Position of holes for drone stocks (hide/skin bag)

based on your cramping problem, you should try the bannatyne willie maccallum bag. it's really great and comfortable too
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