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Old 03-14-2019, 09:38 PM   #11
Green Piper
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Silly questions, but:

Are you allowing the reed to warm-up? Reed pitch changes as it warms-up.

Are you tuning with the drones going? Sometimes even with the drones corked, it can be easy to overblow the chanter.

Are you blowing so the high A is just beyond the “crow” and clear? If you’re overblowing high A, you may balance the A’s, but it’ll not be right.

High G can be notoriously finicky.

Charlie
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:39 PM   #12
CelticHiker
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
I can get the High A and Low A balanced at around 480Hz with about 20% tape on the Low A hole.

If you have to tape your low A, it sounds like you are still trying to hit a number (480 in this case) rather than getting your As balanced. Try to just get them in tune with each other with no tape on either, then see where it ends up as far as pitch.

So if you are going to use a tuner rather than your drone(s) and ears, warm the reed and chanter up for however long it takes to stabilize (usually 5-15 minutes, but every setup is a bit different so your time may vary), take the tape off of low A and see where it pitches as dead on on your tuner. Then start moving your reed to get the top A to hit the same number on your tuner. Switch back and forth between you low A and high A during this process to make sure that you aren’t changing your pressure and the low As pitch. Once you get the high A in tune with the low A (hopefully without any tape on either A), then they are balanced and you can start checking the other notes of the scale.
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:00 AM   #13
el gaitero
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

The MK 2 chanter design pitch range is 474-476hz. ( are you sure it’s not a Mk3...design pitch is/about 10hz higher iirc)

Using your tuner...set it on 449hz. Mouth blow to set the clear high A until you get a steady green light. This will = 475hz pitch. ( ....run the tuner up to 475 to confirm for yourself)
You’ll might probably have to tape the low A a bit so it also hits the same green light. ( my own experience using Shepherd standard reeds...I think the Gilmour reeds might be a tich flatter)
Two green lights = balanced;...then fine tune in between notes. Of course, all the usual provisos apply, ..ie the particular reed, chanter, piper, carved holes...

A recent post on BDF correctly brought up that one’s mouth blowing pressure is usually higher than when checking the reed in the pipes. Adjust accordingly so you’re tickety boo with two steady green lights when the chanter is in the pipes.

Control your blowing either way to not overblow the high A.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:35 AM   #14
Pppiper
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

I always hate asking this .. but seeing as you have gotten plenty of feedback (and good feedback) on how to address your issue, I feel obligated to ask ... do you have an instructor?

If so, great ... disregard. If not, do you think you can find one? This is a tough thing to be going at alone ... it's a very finicky business, with lots of particulars. So if you don't have someone to help you in a hands-on fashion, I hope you'll seek someone out.

Ok, back to the original question, I echo the comments on how, in most situations, I would advise against trying to tune to a specific number. Set the reed in the seat at whichever depth that has the two A's in line with each other (or, with high-A at little bit flat, especially starting out). The only time I ever try to shoot for a specific pitch is if/when I need to match another piper/musician ... and boy do I HATE when I have to do that—frankly, it's a pain-in-the-(you know).

Personally, I think you're sticking the reed down in the seat too far, and/or trying to chase a pitch that's too high for the chanter/reed combination you're working with (but I'm only guessing based on what I'm reading of your account). That would explain why the high-A is always so sharp compared to the low-A.

I've set 3 reeds in the past couple of weeks in 3 different chanters. One just last night for my stage set (gig this weekend), a new one last week in my competition set (last year's reed has finally started to show it's age ... may it rest in peace), and a new reed to test out a set of pipes I'm helping someone to sell.

And believe me, all 3 chanters were pitching differently when I was done. My competition chanter seemed to balance around 478-479, the gig-chanter balanced around 481, and the one for sale, around 482-483.

With all three chanters/reeds, I started out with the reed sitting rather high in the seat ... which should result in a flat high hand. Initially at least, shoot for no tape on high-A. For me, about 9 times out of 10, I never have tape on my high-A. For one, I don't like it because high-A swipes tend to move the tape, and/or my thumb gets sticky ... and, I hardly ever find that it's needed (I only wish I could say the same for high-G).

Test, and adjust ... test, and adjust.

Whatever you do to the reed will affect the notes closer to it more than the ones that are farther down. Thus, gradually and bit-by-bit, sinking the reed should bring things more into balance (balance = high-A nearly equal to low-A). If the high-A is too sharp, chances are the reed is in too far (and you also might be overblowing it). Move it back out some (might need to take the reed out, and add more hemp ... most chanters seem to taper in the reed seat, so I find the hemp compacts as it's moved in .. thus, moving out and the reed seems loose).

And if you have any tape on your low-A, that is likely (in this situation) going to make things worse. Taping down the low-A will make all the notes above it sharper in comparison. By the sounds of it, you've got the opposite issue (the notes higher up are too sharp). I do, sometimes, tape the low-A ... but only if/when I've got a flat note higher up on the chanter. Taping the low-A will help with getting the flat note to be better in comparison, but it will unfortunately result in many other notes requiring tape (because they are now sharper too, by comparison).

So THIS is what we mean when saying "the chanter/reed determines it's own pitch" ... the overall pitch is determined AFTER you find the point where high-A and low-A are balanced.

Best of luck, and let us know how you're getting on.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:49 AM   #15
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
I was under the impression that the reed seating in a Colin Kyo chanter would be longer than in my MacCallum MkII due to the fact that the Colin Kyo chanter is shorter.
I don't follow, a Kyo chanter is the same size as any other chanter. Finger spacing is shorter, no doubt. I'm not sure what this has to do with the depth of the reed seat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
I can get the High A and Low A balanced at around 480Hz with about 20% tape on the Low A hole.
I'm trying to figure out why one would tape the low A hole. Does the reed not physically go in far enough to sharpen the high A to be an octave above low A, and as such you're resorting to taping low A down to flatten it to the high A?

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
The F is as flat as a pancake at this setting - 443Hz. Is this bizarre or not?
I haven't heard that phrase in a long time. Willie Muirhead used to say that, "flat as a pancake" at just about every band practice.

It's not bizarre, depends on the situation. You haven't pushed the reed in far enough to balance high A with your low A, evidenced by having balanced high A with a taped low A. So, the reed being a little far out than the true balance point could result in other flat top hand notes.

Has the Gilmour reed been broken in? New reeds often have very flat F# and C# that come up to pitch after the reed has broken in. I am familiar with this "problem" with Gilmours in Colin Kyo chanters. I've been playing one for 7 years the reed is so robust after having been blown in, as opposed to whittled in.

Lastly, a reference of 443 Hz for your F# sounds to me like the chanter is sounding F (natural), not F# as it should. This could be confused by a bagpipe tuner app like Bagpipe Tuner by Blair that reports the bagpipe scale as A B C D E F G instead of what it really is A B C# D E F# G. If the reed is indeed playing F natural rather than F#, it could be a poor reed, it could be too far in, too far out. Who knows. Does your other reed sound F or F#?

I prefer a cheap chromatic Korg tuner. They tell you what they hear without any processing, unlike bagpipe specific tuners which try to interpret what they hear, sometimes incorrectly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
The rest of the notes were as follows when the As are balanced: High G - 488Hz; E - 480Hz; D - 469Hz; C - 472Hz; B - 480Hz; Low G - 482Hz.
It seems like you're using a bagpipe specific tuner/app. The sharp high G is not a surprise, it'll need tape. C# is flat, perhaps related to an unbroken in reed. D might come up if you push the reed in. I often find I have to tape E, so a flat C#, D, and F# and in in tune E are consistent with not having pushed the reed in far enough, in my experience.
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Old 03-18-2019, 01:24 PM   #16
jackhawkpiper97
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
Thanks Patrick. I am still being guzumped by this balancing and tuning process. I now have a Colin Kyo chanter with a ridge cut reed supplied by Murray Huggins. I was under the impression that the reed seating in a Colin Kyo chanter would be longer than in my MacCallum MkII due to the fact that the Colin Kyo chanter is shorter. I can get the High A and Low A balanced at around 480Hz with about 20% tape on the Low A hole. I tried both the ridge cut reed and my Gilmour reed and I found that the Gilmour had more brightness than the ridge cut reed. Anyway, I had to push the reed into the reed seat with 9.9mm of black binding hemp showing to balance the High A and Low A. The F is as flat as a pancake at this setting - 443Hz. Is this bizarre or not? The rest of the notes were as follows when the As are balanced: High G - 488Hz; E - 480Hz; D - 469Hz; C - 472Hz; B - 480Hz; Low G - 482Hz.



Sounds like your F is double-toning, which can happen sometimes. Nothing is wrong, per se, but you will need to manipulate the reed a little to fix the F.
Chris Apps, a forum (moderator?) contributor and reedmaker that is very good at it too, posted this video a few years back about it. Does this seem like what's happening?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-YgJXnb_ro


The other thing I would say is, as you get more serious about it, you will probably actually aim for the chanter to be sharp on notes rather than flat. Because, it's easier and more adjustable to tape a note just a little to flatten it than to carve it to sharpen the note.


See if this video helps and let us know how you do!
Jack
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Old Yesterday, 12:37 AM   #17
petercl
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Thank you all for your responses. I have gone back to my retired Gilmour reed while I am manipulating a couple of other reeds. I have Chris Apps' reed book and I did read about the 'Flat F' and how he cuts the tips off. Thanks for the video also Jack. I am yet to try it - but certainly will as part of my reed education. I don't have an instructor Nate. I usually try and articulate the problem and then ask the experts - you guys. Hopefully I can learn without making too many mistakes - but as my favourite boss once said to me - 'Cluff, if you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything'. Patrick, I did mean that the finger spacing on the Kyo chanter is shorter than the finger spacing on the MacCallum, sorry for my poor attempt at explanation. This would mean that the Low A hole is closer to the reed than the Low A hole on the MacCallum, therefore in relative terms, would not the reed sit higher in the Kyo chanter at the same pitch on both chanters? Thanks again guys.
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Old Yesterday, 06:00 AM   #18
Pppiper
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
I don't have an instructor Nate. I usually try and articulate the problem and then ask the experts - you guys.
Right on .. well do what you must. But do try to find someone if at all possible. Because also, let it be known, many/most of us are certainly not experts. I'm absolutely not. We can offer insights based on our own experiences, but be careful of when opinions/hyperbole are presented as stone-cold fact.

Brings to mind a funny clip from a favorite movie of mine, The Paper, regarding opinions (alert, there's a bit of strong language) ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otuPvQPQotk

And again, we can only work off of what's presented to us from your questions, and somewhat-blindly guess at what the issue might be. We can't look at your chanter, figure it out, and then explain ... which will always put us in a disadvantage in trying to help. If you inadvertently leave one, seemingly insignificant item out, well that one little thing could end up changing everything ... and neither you nor we will ever know that's the case.

The whole reason I come here though is to gain additional insight, to expand upon those I receive from my instructor. I appreciate a broad array of perspectives, and then I'm able to sit and decide which will best serve my needs.

All the best, and please ... let us know how it goes.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old Yesterday, 06:03 AM   #19
Pppiper
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
Patrick, I did mean that the finger spacing on the Kyo chanter is shorter than the finger spacing on the MacCallum, sorry for my poor attempt at explanation. This would mean that the Low A hole is closer to the reed than the Low A hole on the MacCallum, therefore in relative terms, would not the reed sit higher in the Kyo chanter at the same pitch on both chanters?
I'm sure Patrick will weigh in ... but while I'm here, to this I would say "maybe." There are a number of factors that will determine how any given chanter will pitch.
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Old Yesterday, 06:34 PM   #20
Huggins
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Default Re: Balancing chanter

Quote:
Originally Posted by petercl View Post
This would mean that the Low A hole is closer to the reed than the Low A hole on the MacCallum, therefore in relative terms, would not the reed sit higher in the Kyo chanter at the same pitch on both chanters? Thanks again guys.
Best to trust the maker and choose from the reed brands that were advised. The two types of chanters mentioned do not share the same internal design so the above theory does not apply. Gilmer reeds should be your local go to reed. Gilmour is a fantastic reed choice. Ask Gilmour to make you an easy reed. It will last you a long time.
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