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Old 12-23-2019, 04:14 PM   #101
Harley G
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 71
Default Re: Who makes this reed?

Mr Husk
Thank you for your kind understanding, I showed my Dad and he did appreciate someone with a good understanding making comment. These days he can be a bit of a grumpy old intolerant but I am sure if you ever got together you would both have a lot to yap about.


My Uncle Murray is the real reed genius in this family as he has been making uilleann pipes and reeds for more than 25 years. He explained the principles and concepts of cane reeds to Dad who then worked out how to apply them to plastic. He was a tool & die maker with a background in plastics so he has the knowledge and skills to accurately make tools to produce a consistent product hence his reeds.


Dad has never been of the view that synthetic will completely replace cane as Glenarley reeds are more about filling a void. As you can read, many pipers have limited reed skills and because of our PnP expectations, have no real desire to put in the effort. Bring on the synthetic reeds for this mob.


Glenarley reeds worked well for me when I did not have the strength or stamina to blow a moderate cane. The elderly that had similar issues then became the target group and then there were the lazy humps that would not care or maintain their cane reeds. We have a school band that uses them because they now have no down time at the start of practice jerking about with belligerent reeds and pipers although, they do use their cane reeds for competition which do not get blown out so quickly now because they do not practice with them. We have any number of commercial pipers using our reeds because they do not have to tune up or worry about climatic conditions. These are examples of where the Glenarley reeds have the edge.


A cane reed is a certain sound, but a great cane reed gives you a warm lump deep down every time you play it. The problem is that very few pipers have the required piping skills to take advantage of one of these gem reeds when they come along and they do not come along all that often. It is the same with my clarinet and sax reeds, you know when you have a good one but your bum snaps shut every time you play with it hoping today is not the day it decides to die. Cane is after all, a living and breathing organism and as such, death is inevitable. On top of all this, you then need the reed craft to make your good reed suit what you need. This is not a five minute reed course.


The tone of Glenarley reeds is the result of a very good German engineered software program. We hear a great sounding cane reed and create an audio overtone signature and then use this signature to measure our reeds against it. Clearly there will be differences but we have identified the overtones that the ear likes and try to produce similar with the pressing of our reeds. Clearly we are getting closer as development progresses but a great piper with a great ear will still be able to distinguish the tonal differences between cane and synthetics. The majority of us with our painted on ears will still have no clue.


My Dad does not think Legere will ever really get it because they cannot account for all the different chanters, blowing strengths and pitches in the GHB world. They also use a plastic that Dad believes is not compatible with the job at hand. With their current poly reeds they have the advantage of reed control because of embouchure, no such luck with GHB.


The other big issue Dad struggles with is piper reed expectation. In your case, if every piper gave you his/her chanter with their preferred blowing strength and pitch, we are sure you would be able to provide them a reed to suit. Unfortunately, you have to make a reed as well as you can to parameters you believe are appropriate without really knowing all the facts. A piper buys your reed and then attempts to setup the reed in their chanter and if they cannot, they say the reed is crap, not the piper devoid of reed skills and understanding. You can only do what you can but is seems that you are also expected to do the impossible, and quickly too if you don’t mind.


If your reed costs $25 and a piper asks you for a reed for a particular pressure, you will have to go through your reeds to find a reed that is at the requested pressure. The piper then also requests a certain reed pitch to suit a particular chanter fundamental pitch so you then need to go through the reeds you pressure selected to find a reed that is also at the correct pitch. The piper then tells you the actual pitch the piper wants to play the chanter at. More filtering through reeds and/or reed manipulation. Now if you are good, and you are probably very good, you could easily spend 20 min finding this reed amongst your stock yet, you are expected to do this as part of your friendly service. Try asking your accountant or lawyer for freebies. It seems to us that few appreciate the knowledge and skills of the reedmaker, if they did, they would be happy to pay more for a reed that is selected/created to customer requirements.


We will never be churning out reeds like a sausage factory as we make reeds to custom spec and we will expect to be paid to provide the service. Common chanter reeds, (batches) will obviously be discounted but a fair price for a fair days work is not unreasonable. The fact that these reeds last for years is also a consideration. At the moment this is looking like 2.5 times the cost of a budget cane. You will not have to bother buying gimmicky devices as the reeds are not applicable to the alleged claims made by these devices.


Mr Husk, I know you are in business so you need to be sensitive regarding some of the points I have expressed but be assured, there are those that admire your work along with your skills and knowledge.


I am going to post a few more videos with different chanters at different pitches. They will be posted in the next couple of days.


Harley G
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Old 12-25-2019, 04:29 PM   #102
Harley G
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Default Re: Who makes this reed?

When Bellows Blown started this thread he did so after hearing me play a Glenarley reed at a competition and was impressed that I got such a clean, bright high A. He asked me and Dad about the sound and was shown the reed but he did not believe we made the reed. When I was away from my pipes feeding my face he removed my chanter from the stock and took the picture he then posted. What he should have posted was “who really makes this reed”. He has since spoken with Dad and all is good between us about him touching my pipes but the high A was the outstanding feature.


On a cane reed you tend to get a scurley, thin, raspy high A. We have heard it affectionately called a disappearing A, a whispering A, a piper’s A to name a few but we feel these are just euphemisms for a shonky reed.
Glenarley reeds do not have this issue but many cane reeds do.



If the tonic is 484 then the high A is expected to open and close 968 times a second. The smallest hole on the chanter at the smallest part of the bore where you have the least amount of control is placing the highest demand on your reed, this can’t be good. To do this you need to have a well designed chanter and a very good cane reed or put up with the raspy thin sounding high A.


With a good reed on my Sax and clarinet I can pull 3 octaves all the way up the scale. I might have to open 2 boxes of reeds to find 1 or 2 of these good reeds. I will have plenty of also rans that will get most jobs done only the odd pearler. While I have embouchure to control my orchestral reeds I have no help with my GHB reeds so the type of reed and the cane become important with cane.



On single blade reeds you can put them to the light and see the strong fibre structure so you want these fibres to be uniform across the reed and travel all the way to the lips. While difficult to see on an assembled GHB double reed, you want the same feature.


If the reed closes (968/sec) in a uniform manner across the full width of the reed lips you get a clean open and close sound wave. Cane that is too soft will not do this even with the good fibre features and cane that is too hard is difficult to play maintaining consistent pressure/pitch.


The current trend is to play with these very high pitches, my uncle refers to as nails down the blackboard, that place high demand on reeds. The aggressive ridge cut reed is one way of addressing this situation without having to have muscles in your crap to blow the thing. Megarity and Chesney are examples of these reeds although the ridge cut reed design has been about since the pyramids. Having a short thin blade section means less demand on the reed material selection but it does come at a cost with control and mid note pitch.



The early reeds did not suffer this broken high A so much because the chanter pitch was low so the demand on the reed was proportionally lower.


We can now see how this reed/pitch thing is having an effect on the way pipers play and sound. I will use the 2011 Silver Cap Piping Competition as my example because all the big guns were there and they played a slow piece that helps to hear the points I will make. We have the benefit of well engineered software and recording equipment to allow us to easily make our assertions.


To be absolutely clear before the knee jerkers start sharpening their knives, we are not being critical of these pipers or their skills! These pipers are the best there is, the elite, and they have our utmost respect and admiration. Do not give us any crap or put non existent words in our mouths! We are just pointing out our observations to those that are interested. Change channel now if you are someone with an axe to grind. We are happy to answer any non abusive questions and discuss our findings. Thank you in advance.


Listen to how many of these pipers play with a flat high A. We use an averaging software that can slow the sound down without altering the pitch so we can see that even the winner was about 12 cents flat to the tonic. Go through all the guns and you will see this is a common phenomena. These are the best in the world with impeccable tuning skills and they must be able to hear it against their drones. We can when we play it against a generated drone tone. We do not have an answers but can demonstrate the consistency of this tone issue across many pipers.



To put it into perspective using averaging, the best result of consistent chanter note balance in our analysis was produced by Gordon Walker. Apart from the high A he played all other notes with an average deviation of about 3 cents, the man is a robot. A few of the others were about the same where some varied up to 10 odd cents. We are not being critical of the players here, just pointing out some data. We are in awe of how steady these pipers are and how great they sound.


Here is where it gets a little interesting, when we do the same testing on a piper that does not play at such a high pitch, (mid 480’s) we get a different result. We used Fred Morrison youtube videos to make our point. Fred plays at mid to low 470’s and his high A is in tune with his tonic, not the 10 to 15 cents sharp like the mob playing up pitch. We also noticed that when we analysed various early low pitched pipers we found the same thing.



Another interesting thing was that many times our mic did not register the fundamental high A on the pitchy pipers and, when we looked at the patterns we found that with the raspy thin high A’s the second and third overtones were at the same or greater strength as the fundamental and that this situation reduced as the chanter pitch got lower.


We do not have definitive answers but is seems to us that as the pitch gets higher, the pipers are tuning to the next harmonic on the high A in much the same way the high G is done on some of the newer chanters. When the pitch is lower like with Fred Morrison, the fundamental is stronger than the 5th and 7th so it is easier to lock to it. Once again, don’t really know why, just kicking the ball about.


It is interesting that on our Glenarley reeds that are pitchy, we do not get that raspy thin sound but we do get comments like, High A too sharp, high A too bright, high A too brash, high A too shrill etc yet, when we produce a tuner and prove the high A is on tonic, we just get that “eye glazing over” look and the assertion that our tuners are wrong.


We do not like the sound of a single piper playing mid 480’s and above. To us it has a thin, icey, edgy ring to it that is vexatious to our ears. This is not the case once you get the pitch into the mid 470’s and below. Some will like that edgy ring and this is what personal preference is all about.



There is no right or wrong, just preference.


Harley G
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Old 12-26-2019, 05:04 AM   #103
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Who makes this reed?

After discussion among the mods, it's been decided to close this thread as it is now clearly promoting a product, therefore should not be in the Beer Tent.

It's also confusing to the mods as several posters from Australia seem to be using the exact same internal domestic IP for multiple profiles, suggesting one person with several profiles. We will investigate this further when we have time.

As with forum rules, can all future posts concerning Glenarly reeds please be posted in the Industry News section.
Thank you.
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