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

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Old 02-14-2020, 01:02 PM   #1
William McKenzie
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Default Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

I have a Murray Henderson Harmonic Deluxe bass reed in my collection, it is one of my favorites. In my MacDougalls it is ethereal. Though a combination of recent growing events such as wanting to downsize, working to compete again, and an old love for the early Lawrie character (such as Roddy MacLeod's), my piping goals have changed.

I did some research and pulled the trigger a new set of full imitation ivory McCallums that I think encapsulate this. Naturally some reeds go well and others don't, but the Henderson Deluxe reed is a head scratcher and I'm hoping for a simple fix or explanation.

It will be playing fine then jump up or down in pitch at a certain point on the pin where my chanter wants to settle. In example, starting from cold and dark yesterday. Get up and tuned then play for a few minutes to warm up, sharpen the bass with a slight twist and audibly hear a step to a higher frequency pretty out of tune. Go back up slightly and hear the same step again, then a much lower frequency. I verified this with my Peterson Strobo HD tuner.

Verified hemping is good, can repeat this by mouth blowing as it turns out. This is a new one for me. Ideas?
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:27 PM   #2
David D.
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

I have a 10 year old set of acetyl McCallums so keep in mind that my bores might be a bit different from yours.

I had a problem with an unstable bass drone but I found that setting the upper joint below the hemp line instead of just above it helped quite a bit. Also, make sure that the bridle is straight.
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:36 PM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

Have you tried a warm water wash up yet. Possible the bridle is overdue for a change?
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Old 02-14-2020, 02:31 PM   #4
piperswan
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

I'd echo whats been said about positions on the pin. First make sure the reed is set for the air consumption that works for your setup (adjusting more or less air may solve the issue), and then maybe look at changing the screw or the depth at which the reed is seated to get a different position on the pin to tune.
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Old 02-14-2020, 04:53 PM   #5
DapperDan
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

Hi William,
It's not just you - I have a set of Henderson harmonic deluxe reeds, and had this same problem arise with the bass reed. I set them aside for the moment, but I'm curious to see what explanations come up. I had it as low as I could on the pin (the tuning screw was backed out all the way), about 2 fingers up on the bottom joint.

Last edited by DapperDan; 02-14-2020 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 02-14-2020, 04:59 PM   #6
DapperDan
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

My message posted twice somehow , oops Mods feel free to delete
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:39 PM   #7
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

Lowering the bass top below the hemp line did make a difference, the reed was stable and playable after doing this. However its tone I think was sacrificed, sounded solid but one dimensional and not very layered or interesting.

There is some pressure component here going on with this bass reed whereby the pulses going up into the top section somehow collide at a specific tuning height and reflect back down the sections causing the reed to vibrate at a different speed. Very odd.

I took the advice and overhauled the reed, fully disassembling it and cleaning all the pieces with some dish soap. Not sure if this will make a difference as well but it did mean I needed to re-calibrate it with my manometer so I know for sure now that it is clean and dialed in. Though I'm going to play other bass reeds being that it either doesn't function or functions only when the bass top is lowered and it sounds so-so.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:19 AM   #8
el gaitero
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Default Re: Bass reed settles, then jumps pitch randomly (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by William McKenzie View Post

Lowering the bass top below the hemp line did make a difference, the reed was stable and playable after doing this.

There is some pressure component here going on with this bass reed..

I took the advice and overhauled the reed, fully disassembling it and cleaning all the pieces with some dish soap. Not sure if this will make a difference as well but it did mean I needed to re-calibrate it with my manometer so I know for sure now that it is clean and dialed in. Though I'm going to play other bass reeds being that it either doesn't function or functions only when the bass top is lowered and it sounds so-so.
Similar....A friend came by with a great set of ‘57 S /I Hardie’s he inherited...his uncle who had played them was a winning top grade piper for decades.
In the tenors I tried many make reeds, EZ,Canning,MG,Selbie,X-Treme,2-3 others....all would only tune and play well if I lowered the tenor top to about 1/4” below the hempline...no matter what pitch screw setting or seated depth.
The only reeds that tuned high and played very well were several very old cane reeds found in the case...about a very slim #2 pencil diameter.
FWIW...thinking a new tight bridle might be a cure. Very Tight being the operative guide. If trying O rings ..start at about half the diameter of the reed body...unless you can reach out and get new OEM bridles.
As a test you might first tie on a good tight black waxed hemp bridle to hear the effect.
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