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Old 09-20-2014, 04:13 PM   #11
el gaitero
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

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Originally Posted by tbrown747 View Post


Ultimately, having perfectly calibrated drone reeds results in better sounding pipes more often at any level, and I think that's a worthy goal in its own right.
agreed...and after perfectly calibarting the reeds all is lost if not keeping constant steady pressure. Unless you are meaning set up each reed (maybe differently) to varying pressures ...and hope for the best when varying ones own playing pressure. I think thats how this thread started out.

IMHO a tandem worthy goal is steady pressure.... on well set up reeds.

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Old 09-20-2014, 04:35 PM   #12
el gaitero
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

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Originally Posted by tbrown747 View Post

Having drones that stay locked across different pressures is a Good Thing, and if you don't have drones with a natural ability to lock, you have to accomplish this purely with the reeds.
I think 'locked in' is on overused term used to describe 'in-tune' or 'tuned'.

Any set of well made drones ...no matter how well 'locked in' at a given moment..will drift out of tune with (continued) playing, varied pressure, a different piper, environment , type of reeds, piper experience,etc.

'Locked in' seems to be a mythical nirvana plane used by some players ( and a lot of the time by marketers describing their own product) to emphasize how ( patting themselves on the back) brilliant their pipes are...when indeed they are actually and gratefully performing 'only' to the best standard expected.
Anything less is just not in tune, out of tune or simply..not yet 'locked in';..for the next wee while anyway.

Anyway...that's what I believe: pipes are either 'in-tune'/'tuned' ... or not. How long they stay that way has a more to do with other than the pipe itself.
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Old 09-20-2014, 06:19 PM   #13
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

I would venture to say how well drones lock is a function of how susceptible to moisture your chanter reed is.
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Old 09-20-2014, 06:32 PM   #14
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

I'm no scientist, but my experience points to the drones rather than the reeds having at least as much impact on pressure sensitivity.

For example I recently switched the same set of Kinnairds back and forth between three sets of drones, without changing the bridles

-early cocus Glens
-old ebony Lawries
-2006 ABW McCallums

The McCallum tenors were amazingly resistant to blowing variation: I could purposely vary the blowing harder and soft much more than I would ever do while playing, and they didn't budge in pitch.

The Glen bass was also exceptionally stable.

When I combined the McCallum tenors and the Glen bass to create a Frankenpipe the result was as expected: blowing variations couldn't budge the pitch. (Chanter yes, drones no.)

All the Lawrie drones are that stable.

A woman I know used to have a set of old (Hugh) MacPherson pipes which had an incredibly unstable bass. No matter what reed, or how adjusted, the pitch would soar way up and down with the slightest pressure change (she was actually a pretty steady blower but you'd never know it when she was trying to play that set).
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Old 09-20-2014, 09:28 PM   #15
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

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Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
I'm no scientist, but my experience points to the drones rather than the reeds having at least as much impact on pressure sensitivity.
I think it's important to differentiate between individual drone pressure sensitivity and drone lockiness.

I think all drones lock, it's just a matter of how well. As I mentioned before, I have a set of Sinclairs that the tenors are like magnets. You get them even close and they pull together to the point where it's hard to get them to part for tuning to the chanter. If you keep them in "locking mode", the upper harmonics get more and more in tune and the blend gets quieter and more harmonic over the course of about 30-60 seconds.

I have another set from a different maker that don't lock nearly as well, but I can put a cane set in and they're remarkably more 'locky' than with the more harmonically anemic ezees. In this set, the ezees have to be really well paired pressure wise, and then they lock and pretty much stay that way over pressure variations.

I don't have any sets that the tenors lock to the bass, although I think this is just a characteristic of my particular drones. I have a friend with a Hardie set of recent vintage that the bass and outside tenor lock nicely together, but if you get the middle tenor in the mix it muddles the whole thing and the bass becomes much less steady pressure-wise. I suspect in this case the middle tenor reed is not calibrated properly and screws up the whole thing.

Likewise, I have noticed that having a poorly tuned chanter can wreak havoc on otherwise locking drones by introducing random frequencies. You can hear this in some pipers when they play an intentionally detuned HiA on dubiously locked drones. It seems to throw the whole chanter-drone tuning haywire for the duration of the note.

I don't think any of this has too much to do with the individual pressure sensitivity of the drone/reed combo, it's more like how well the sympathetic vibrations between the drones lead to them operating in lock-step. In other words, with a more locky set of drones you can get away with reeds that are less calibrated pressure-wise and still get a satisfactory result. If you have drones that don't lock well, you need to have your reeds well calibrated (or just blow with super-human steadiness).

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Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
A woman I know used to have a set of old (Hugh) MacPherson pipes which had an incredibly unstable bass. No matter what reed, or how adjusted, the pitch would soar way up and down with the slightest pressure change (she was actually a pretty steady blower but you'd never know it when she was trying to play that set).
Incidentally, this is one of the problems I am trying to solve, and this is great info. I have long suspected the bass drone on this particular set that behaves very similarly to what you've described. I guess after my locking diatribe above, I think lockiness and steadiness are two different concepts, but both have a lot to do with drone design. Thanks!

Last edited by tbrown747; 09-20-2014 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 09-20-2014, 09:30 PM   #16
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

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Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
I would venture to say how well drones lock is a function of how susceptible to moisture your chanter reed is.
In this case, Patrick, I'm speaking of how well drones stay locked to each other when you take the chanter out of the equation; cork it! (the chanter)

Last edited by tbrown747; 09-20-2014 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:03 AM   #17
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

For me, locking in is when all the reeds have warmed up, the pitch stops moving, and all three drones sound like one drone.
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:38 PM   #18
Michael Kazmierski Dunn
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

I have this same problem myself.
Literally, even with Canning reeds, Selbie reeds, etc, I usually set them to stop sounding at as closely same time as I can get them, but as I increase pressure, one of the two tenors changes pitch more than the other. I hear what you mean by the fact that setting drone reeds to shut off identically is a bit misleading.
Being a modern Peter Henderson (rep. 1924 bores) set, my pipes just will never lock unless I send the stocks into a maker to have them tapered and flared, which I'd ultimately do. Never mind if my parents are totally unmusical and tone-deaf: "Doesn't matter, they're YOUR pipes, do what you want with them." and I've even had this problem on my first set of Naill pipes but not to such an extent.
I can understand how a good solution is to pay attention to when they stop making that buzz or rattle or whatever non-playing-pressure tone they exhibit (depending on the brand), so perhaps I could try that first. The only thing I'm super afraid of is that: 1) What if the bridle positions are set very very different from one another in order for the two tenors to follow each other for pitch variation? And 2) If this must be the case, and the fact that the tuning screw position affects the tone somewhat (as the "acoustic tuning" can change), will other pipers be able to notice the huge tonal (harmonic) difference between the tenors and decide to readjust the bridles, ending their togetherness for following each other with pressure changes? I fear this might someday be the case.
Having said that, I just bought a new (never-tried) Kinnaird Edge drone reed set so if I can't get my Selbie tenors to behave I'll give the Edges a holler.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:13 PM   #19
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

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Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
I suspect the tongue material will come with quite a bit of variance. One suggestion might be to take all your rejected tongues off and match them up for dimensions and possibly elasticity if you can measure it.
This is my thought as well. Barring how difficult it would be to get data for elasticity I would just suggest everyone measure the length of their tenor tongues to ensure they are the same from the bridle. If so and still problems then to purchase new tongues or new reeds entirely.

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Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
I have this same problem myself.
Literally, even with Canning reeds, Selbie reeds, etc, I usually set them to stop sounding at as closely same time as I can get them, but as I increase pressure, one of the two tenors changes pitch more than the other. I hear what you mean by the fact that setting drone reeds to shut off identically is a bit misleading.
This tells me that either the bridles have different elasticity to them (how much they allow movements up and down) or the tongues have different elasticity. I would measure how much tongue length you currently have on each tenor and compare that to which tenor is making the difference good or bad. This will give you a starting point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
Being a modern Peter Henderson (rep. 1924 bores) set, my pipes just will never lock unless I send the stocks into a maker to have them tapered and flared, which I'd ultimately do.
These are reproductions? Tapered so the pressure would be increased at the reed?

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Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
I've even had this problem on my first set of Naill pipes but not to such an extent.
What's your blowing like? Not judging just asking since I've been working at mine lately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
1) What if the bridle positions are set very very different from one another in order for the two tenors to follow each other for pitch variation? And 2) If this must be the case, and the fact that the tuning screw position affects the tone somewhat (as the "acoustic tuning" can change), will other pipers be able to notice the huge tonal (harmonic) difference between the tenors and decide to readjust the bridles, ending their togetherness for following each other with pressure changes? I fear this might someday be the case.
Who would readjust them, an instructor? Again I keep thinking the tenor tongues are not the same length from the bridle as they should be relatively, and if that's the case then either one is bad or your blowing technique isn't there just yet and it's unsteady.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Kazmierski Dunn View Post
Having said that, I just bought a new (never-tried) Kinnaird Edge drone reed set so if I can't get my Selbie tenors to behave I'll give the Edges a holler.
I have Selbie, Ezee and now Redwood tenors in my MacDougall reporoductions. All sound good with slightly different overtones. I too have Edge reeds arriving tomorrow though so I'm excited as well to try them out!

Keep in mind in my experience with Henderson style pipes (MacLellans) the tenors are very prominent and bright. This may also have an effect on what you are hearing.
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Old 05-19-2019, 11:50 AM   #20
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Default Re: Drone Reeds and Pressure Sensitivity

I'm still working on my steadiness, but I find that my drones aren't the issue - they're steadier than I can blow. What I mean is, they stay at the same pitch with variations in pressure, even when I can hear a change in pitch in the chanter from unsteady blowing.

So... maybe certain reed/drone/bag combinations are more stable than others, and that's the issue? All I did was set them to shut off at the same pressure.
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