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

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Old 06-02-2016, 12:05 PM   #1
Gus1903
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Default Old Cane Bass

I'm currently rejuvenating an old cane bass reed I found in one of my boxes.
This reed probably hadn't been played for maybe 25 years until a couple
of weeks ago when I started trying to bring it back to life. It sounds really
good and seems to match my drone well.

There's only one problem. It does n't sound when I strike in, without a flick of the tongue. If I start playing immediately after flicking the tongue it strikes in
well, sounds good and will keep going all night..... or as long as I do! If I stop
for even couple of seconds and start up again nothing, ( with resultant retuning
and settling down period again).

Have any of you seen this before with cane. Do you think it's simply down to age and dryness of the reed and will possibly stop doing this as it gets a bit of playing time?

Any input appreciated.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:36 PM   #2
classicbagpipes
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

have you tried introducing some moisture to the reed first. It is gong to change and swell as you play it and it absorbs more and more moisture.
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Old 06-02-2016, 02:12 PM   #3
Kevin
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

You might want to try tightening the bridle (re-tying it, not moving it). The tongue should develop a bit of a curve when it absorbs enough moisture from your breath. If it doesnt, you could try storing it with a piece of business card under the end of the tongue and perhaps a dental elastic around the middle of the tongue to encourage a bit of a curve into it. The elastic and card should be removed while playing. Maybe it is just too old though. Do you recall how long you played it before it went into storage?

I hope this helps,
Kevin
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Old 06-03-2016, 05:20 AM   #4
Chris C.
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

Take a human hair (or two) and insert it underneath the tongue, pushing it down towards the bridle a bit. Keeps the tongue from closing off.

That will keep it going until it breaks in.

I used rubber bands for bridles, as I was a wet blower when I was using cane reeds. They had a bit more 'give' to them than the hemp bridles, which would tend to cut the reed off if it got wet. I'd get a bit more playing time in that way.

Of course, if you have a moisture control system, you may not have to worry about wetness.
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:00 AM   #5
Chris Apps
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

Check to make sure that there's no bits of cane at the underside of the end of the tongue.

If you see some take a small round file and cut it out undercutting the end so as not to produce a leak.

I sound like there's no need for a hair under the tongue. I've never used on in my life.

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Old 06-03-2016, 08:32 PM   #6
Tedley
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

I have resurrected a number of old cane reeds. Most do not seem to be any worse for age. I do not use a hair under the tongue. Make sure the bridle is snug and lift the tongue to about thirty degrees elevation and let it snap back into place. This is a bit more radical than flicking the tongue. This will open the tongue a bit and the pitch may drop some. As the reed settles in, the tongue will lay back down to just a bit more open than when you started. The pitch will also raise to about where it started. Old reeds may need to be played in for a while before they settle down and behave well.

Chris, you don't appear to have many hairs to spare, but I too do not find the hair fix to be not of much use. Retraining the elevation of the tongue is more productive. One has to develop a feel for how high to lift the tongue without breaking it off. It may take a few tries to achieve the desired result.

Last edited by Tedley; 06-03-2016 at 08:38 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 06-04-2016, 11:08 AM   #7
Scratcher
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

In the olden days when we used to play cane drone reeds, the solution to this problem was to straighten a paperclip into a J shape and push it into the reed so the hook of the J sat just forward of the bridle and held the tongue up a shade.
Cheers
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Old 06-05-2016, 08:57 AM   #8
Chris C.
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

When I used cane the PM taught me to flick the tongue / pull the tongue upwards, etc.. It worked, but sometimes it made the reed extremely loud and rough sounding. A couple times the tongue broke.

Then he suggested a human hair. That worked.

Back then a lot of pipers used a hair to keep cantankerous cane drone reeds going when cane was the only thing available. One of the pluses was that there was virtually no chance of breaking the tongue, or opening the tongue too far, which can wreck the reed. You could pull the hair out later on when the reed broke in, and it would stay playing.

Good luck whichever technique you use.

Now you understand why plastic drones are the way to go. :-)
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Old 06-06-2016, 03:02 PM   #9
Gus1903
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Default Re: Old Cane Bass

Many thanks for all your comments and suggestions. I'm going to persevere with it for a while as I think it's got potential to be a good sounding reed.
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