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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Great Highland Bagpipe > Technique & Instrument
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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 09-07-2014, 07:05 PM   #1
Rick McDuffie
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Join Date: Oct 2012
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Default Introduction and a PC question

Hey folks. I've been a member for a couple of years, but have never posted- primarily because I wasn't playing at all.

Here's my story. I made a serious stab at learning the pipes about 25 years ago, got some good private lessons and attended the North American School of Piping with PM Sandy Jones one Summer. However, we had little children at the time, including a baby who would cry when I played the GHBs (I had a nice old set of blackwood pipes, Scotland made, I think they were Hardies). I took a new job, moved, lost access to my teacher, had no time, didn't play for six months, then we needed a new washing machine or something and I sold the pipes. We're empty nesters now, nearing retirement, and I've picked up the practice chanter again and am starting over! (I also play piano, guitar, bass, euphonium and was a college music major, so I'm not a beginning musician, just beginning again at pipes.)

Here's my question: My PC is a Dunbar Eller from the late 80s. I remembered it sounding awfully out of tune, and now that I've started playing it again it's as bad as I remembered. I can also remember that I didn't have those intonation problems on my GHBs 25 years ago... they sounded wonderful. So, are these Dunbar Eller chanters just bad? Can anything be done for them? I'm using a new plastic Abbott PC reed. Any wisdom and/or guidance is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:09 PM   #2
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Introduction and a PC question

Not too many practice chanters sound that good, in my opinion. Only thing I would do is switch to a Walsh or similar reed as Abbott's are pretty stout. The point of a pc is to learn fingering, that's it. <-literal period As such, I balance mine by getting the low A and high A an octave apart and then never give it another thought.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:42 PM   #3
Rick McDuffie
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

Thanks, Patrick. It's hard to not give it a thought when it makes my skin crawl : ) I agree with you that the Abbott is stiff, but I think it's also preparing me for the resistance from the bag later on. It would be even easier to blow a weaker reed out of tune, wouldn't it?
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:53 PM   #4
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Introduction and a PC question

It would be easier to blow an easier reed so you can worry about what your fingers are doing instead of what your lips are doing. Our heavily embellished fingering style is troublesome enough.

Sure, a stout reed might help prepare your lips for the big pipes. Okay, buy some pipes, plug the chanter and blow just the drones. That would be more beneficial lip wise.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:55 PM   #5
Rick McDuffie
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

No problems blowing- I'm a low brass player : ) Thanks for your help!

Last edited by Rick McDuffie; 09-07-2014 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:34 PM   #6
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick McDuffie View Post
No problems blowing- I'm a low brass player : ) Thanks for your help!
Completely different muscles. I'm a trumpet player and I always have trouble whenever I have to switch back and forth between the two.

Yes, I realize the trumpet and euphonium don't utilize the exact same muscle group, but they function in the same manner.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:48 PM   #7
PipePlayr
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

Hey Rick,

Since you're in the Cape Fear area of NC, how close are you to Wilmington? I live right across the river in Leland during the week and would be glad to help out any way I can. If you're looking for instruction, I can recommend P/M Andy Simpson. He's a former 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards piper and is the Pipe-Major of Port City Pipes and Drums.

Let me know if you're interested.

Vic
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:53 PM   #8
Leong
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
....Only thing I would do is switch to a Walsh or similar reed as Abbott's are pretty stout..
I echo this advice. I switched reeds among a bunch of PCs and noticed that some reeds sound good in some of the PCs but can howl in others. I have 3 Walsh reeds and they seem to be quite happy in almost all the PCs. PC reeds are relatively cheap so you can experiment rather than replace your PC right off.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:05 AM   #9
geoffri
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

Try putting an elastic band around your chanter reed blades (not too tight), adjusting until the reed can be blown without much effort, this will reduce the volume and sweeten the tone a little, I use this method all the time and it works for me

Cheers
Geoff
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Old 09-08-2014, 06:08 AM   #10
Winch
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Default Re: Introduction and a PC question

I tried many different PC reeds and keep coming back to Gibson. So do my piping buddies.
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