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Old 06-14-2017, 12:53 PM   #1
Greg the Piper
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Default Practice chanter tuning

Dear Friends,
While on vacation in Edinburgh, way back in 1978, I bought a blackwood practice chanter at MacPherson's shop. This was long before I got my pipes. It came with a plastic reed, and I bought the Green Book tutor as well. I was surprised at how far I could vary the pitch of each note, especially high A, by blowing harder or softer. It was terribly out of tune.
Fast forward to today: I practice that chanter all the time but have learned a lot since then. I'm flying solo (no band, no teacher) and have nothing else to compare this chanter to. Are practice chanters normally out of tune, with wide variations in pitch depending on the force of the blowing, or do I have a dud?
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Chanter question

You can certainly change the pitch of any practice chanter with pressure, and most babe practices, in my experience, are a big mix of tuning. You can bring chanters, even if different make, material, etc, into tube with either by adjusting reeds, taping holes, etc. just as you would on pipe chanters.

I don't think it's a dud- trying different reeds, etc will probably give you different results.

Have a good one!
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:14 PM   #3
Paul M Burke
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Default Re: Chanter question


Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain.
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Old 06-17-2017, 01:00 AM   #4
Chris C.
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Default Re: Chanter question

I have three practice chanters, and they vary in pitch. Two of the PCs are 80's vintage, the third is 1998-2001 or so (can't remember the year I bought it).

My PC's will go sharp if I blow harder, but that may be the reeds I use. They stay at pitch so long as I'm not slamming air into them.

Not sure how accurate modern day PC's are as to pitch, but the most important use for them is practicing and learning tunes at home, so the specific pitch it wants to play at shouldn't be that huge a deal.
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Old 06-17-2017, 01:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: Chanter question

Most modern short chanters will come out dead on A=440 with the right reed.
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Old 06-17-2017, 10:52 AM   #6
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Default Re: Chanter question

Ah, Greg,

If memory serves... time was... when nearly all practice
chanters... sounded rather like... very un-happy ducks!! :)

And we all simply bore it... to learn the fingering...

Time... and expectations change... and perhaps for the better...

Best of Good Fortune with it!!


My friends all know,
With what a brave carouse...
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Old 06-17-2017, 12:15 PM   #7
Greg the Piper
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Default Re: Chanter question

Thank you, Baggy, Paul, Chris, Calum, and Pip, for your replies. I think I'll get some new PC reeds, rather than retire this old ABW practice chanter.
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: Chanter question

I have 4 PCs.
A walsh long, a dunfion (I think) short
a McCallum ABW short and a Hardie (I believe) ABW short.
The McCallum is the sweetest sounding. The Dunfion is the harshest. Its reserved for my traveling chanter, as it resides in my daypack. The Walsh I enjoy playing because it was my first, and I rarely touch the Hardie one. Not sure why, I just dont play it much
Scottish Proverb; 12 highlanders and a piper make a rebellion
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Old 06-25-2017, 04:18 AM   #9
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Default Re: Chanter question

On this same line, are there any electronic tuners that work for the practice chanter?

It would be a nice guide (similar to the bagpipe chanter) to know how far off you are in either direction....sometimes I can hear that I am off but not pinpoint the exact note
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: Chanter question

I use an app called Cleartune on my iPhone. It can be programmed to tune to the pipe scale, and it works with practice chanters and smallpipes as well as full size pipes.

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Occasionally known as Bob Low
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