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Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes + For all types of (non GH) Bagpiping discussions.

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Old 02-17-2019, 07:21 PM   #11
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Well, I'll have to throw my vote in for the thumb hole. The action on my keyed chanter is worn out (I bought this set 'used', though I'm not sure how much). The spring just doesn't return the key pad back onto the hole very quickly and so if the next note is below C natural, it's pretty wonky until the pad fully closes, or even if it's a higher note it sometimes ended up squealing. This is on a set of Garvie smallpipes. So, I need to replace the spring which appears to be just a stick of metal, the simplest part of the whole mechanism for just this one hole.

However, the fact that this is a problem is a bit irritating. I have learned over the past year how to use the thumb hole and it really hasn't been all that hard. There's no maintenance and it works every time, the limitation only being the player. Additionally, there's no key work mechanisms to fit your fingers around. Probably cheaper to just drill a hole too.
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Old 02-17-2019, 08:11 PM   #12
Pppiper
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
Well, I'll have to throw my vote in for the thumb hole. The action on my keyed chanter is worn out ... Additionally, there's no key work mechanisms to fit your fingers around. Probably cheaper to just drill a hole too.
Definitely cheaper and easy to have done (thumb hole). My smallpipes were a lucky find from a fellow in Alaska who was selling almost precisely what I was going to order from Nate Banton ... an A/D Banton set. Only big thing different was that I was originally wanting blackwood, and the set I got was a one-off made out of black poisonwood (which curiously, is brown). I'm thrilled I ended up with that set. There are some pics of my set on his instagram, I'll link a photo at the end.

Anyway, the only significant factor that remained for me upon getting the poisonwood set was the fact that neither the A or D chanters had the holes in for the minor 3rd. Fortunately, they're located in Portland, Maine, which is only about 2.5 hours drive away. So I arranged a time to visit the shop, and Nate kindly put in the thumb holes while I waited. Can't have been more than about 15 minutes.

Nice to have the "magic men" so close by.

Cheers,
~Nate

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Old 02-18-2019, 06:45 AM   #13
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
Well, I'll have to throw my vote in for the thumb hole. The action on my keyed chanter is worn out (I bought this set 'used', though I'm not sure how much). The spring just doesn't return the key pad back onto the hole very quickly and so if the next note is below C natural, it's pretty wonky until the pad fully closes, or even if it's a higher note it sometimes ended up squealing. This is on a set of Garvie smallpipes. So, I need to replace the spring which appears to be just a stick of metal, the simplest part of the whole mechanism for just this one hole.

SNIP
Patrick, FWIW, that spring might just be a standard woodwind leaf spring, available from several sources including Ferree's Tools. I'd ask Nigel Richards first, of course. I used to have some in my toolkit from when I was a school band director and had to repair clarinets and flutes.
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:01 AM   #14
CalumII
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Yes - resetting a leaf spring is a fairly standard woodwind repair and any maker of keyed things should be able to do it fairly easily.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:30 AM   #15
Kevin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Hi Barry,

I am just catching up on this thread and have to add my vote to the thumb hole alternative. I have been playing a Nate Banton (A-, C-, D-SSP) for about the last ten years. I have the minor third hole, tuned to just intonation relative to the key note of A, on all three chanters and I love it. The holes are a tiny bit further south than where my thumb used to rest but I quickly got used to this and don't notice the thumb placing at all anymore. I think that Nate did make the holes slightly angled to improve the ergonomics. As others have noted, the oddest thing to get used to is those all (or most) fingers off the changer moments while transitioning from C-nat to a high hand note. I have often thought that a thumb rest (like on a Low whistle) just above the C-nat hole might help with this.

The hole alternative is so simple, and easy to adjust to, that I would never consider a key for that note (other notes maybe..). The thumb hole is easy to use and I find myself getting irritated whenever I play a PC or other SSP chanter without one. I know another piper, who went so far as to have a C-nat thumb hole added to his Border Pipe chanter even though he could cross finger C-nat on that chanter.

In addition to the odd accidental in D-major tunes, having access to C-nat opens up a world of other tunes in A-min, A-dorian, C-maj, G-maj, E-min etc.

I think there isn't much to lose, going with a thumb hole. If you don't like it, you can simply tape over it and still have a perfectly functional and re-salable chanter.

Good luck with whatever you end up going with.
Kevin
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Old 02-18-2019, 02:27 PM   #16
razzmaster
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

I'll echo what many others have already said- thumb hole all the way!

Michael
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:08 PM   #17
Barry Shears
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Thanks so much for all the helpful comments. Now I only have to make a decision.. Confession : I do suffer from a paradox of choice. Be that as it is what a great discussion group for all things bagpipe.
Moran Taing
Barry
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:16 PM   #18
Ian Lawther
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

If you are working with a maker who is prepared to build to your instructions I may have a catch all solution. A piper I knew in Maryland had small hands and Colin Ross made her an A chanter with a low G key because she could not stretch to a normal G hole. The key block was lower than the hole on the chanter and pad part way along the key. It was sprung to stay open unless she put her pinky down on the end of the key, thus closing the hole she could not reach.
As similar system could be employed on a C natural key, with it hinged/ sprung in a block below the hole and the key allowing the thumb to close (for most of the time hold close) the key without having to stretch to reach the hole itself.
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:06 AM   #19
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

I think it would be better to just tape over the hole when not in use when you donít want to worry about it. Itís not that low.
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Old 02-19-2019, 02:28 PM   #20
Kevin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

This thread reminds me of the following quote:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler " - Albert Einstein

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