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Band vs solo bagpipes

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  • Band vs solo bagpipes

    Do pipers who compete with a band as well as solo, use the same set of pipes? I was thinking that if I had a really nice heritage or antique set of pipes, I wouldn't want to use them in a band setting. Is this a thing or am I just overthinking it?

  • #2
    I've never been in a pipe band (only high school orchestra and garage band) yet I've often read in this forum about the appearent danger which pipe bands pose to the poor instruments.

    Is there a lot of accidental drone whackin' going on during marching practices? Old grudges settled with head-bonkin' battlin' sticks?
    “Where’s my beer?”

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    • #3
      When I was in a band and competing, I just used the same set. Granted, they weren't a $5,000+ set that I was leaving in the band tent. I never played in freezing temperatures—pouring rain, once, yes—but if I had been playing in adverse conditions with a band on a regular basis, I'd likely have invested in a "beater" set. The set that I played in the band was been my unexciting but very sentimental set that I inherited from my grandfather.

      Andrew
      Andrew T. Lenz, Jr. BDF Moderator
      BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers

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      • #4
        I've done both in the same day. I used the same set of pipes for solo and band competition. But I had a separate chanter for my solos. It was pretty much done by noon from the amount of playing, at which point I'd switch to the fresh band chanter for the afternoon.
        I did have to pay strict attention to moisture control on the bagpipe, but with current drone reeds, bags and MCS available, that's not hard to sort out...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Billy Boy View Post
          Is there a lot of accidental drone whackin' going on during marching practices? Old grudges settled with head-bonkin' battlin' sticks?
          They do get picked up and put down more often, get left in a heap, endure wind, rain and shine, in a way that solo instruments don't.

          At a certain level life becomes easier if you keep an entire separate solo bagpipe and a band instrument. Beyond a certain level, it's more or less compulsory.
          http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
          -- Formerly known as CalumII

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          • #6
            "At a certain level life becomes easier if you keep an entire separate solo bagpipe and a band instrument. Beyond a certain level, it's more or less compulsory"

            Hear, hear!
            “Where’s my beer?”

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Billy Boy View Post
              Is there a lot of accidental drone whackin' going on during marching practices? Old grudges settled with head-bonkin' battlin' sticks?
              No there isn't "drone whackin'" or other; though, as pointed out above, there is a lot more exposure to other conditions. I belong to, and compete in, a band; and I take good care of my pipes. As also pointed out, when I've competed solo, I've used a separate chanter for a couple reasons. Usually, solos are in the morning with band competition in the afternoon. I don't wish to screw up the band chanter by using it in solos. I also have a different, ABW chanter for solo, with the band ones being plastic. But that's less important than the concern in compromising a chanter reed.

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              • #8
                I know of some pipers who use one set of pipes, but two sets of reeds.
                You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Fogelman View Post
                  I know of some pipers who use one set of pipes, but two sets of reeds.
                  Yikes! What a pain that would be, especially with changing out drone reeds. Of course, that's less expensive that buying another set of pipes. Still, dang!........

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                  • #10
                    I have a ebony set for solo and an acetal for band. I'm in Las Vegas and the weather is your pipes enemy. I use one chanter and have the same chanter stock and bag on both sets. They feel exactly the same, so I just swap the chanter to the pipes I need for the day. Works well for me.

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                    • #11
                      There’s a thread on the tennis forum asking if people use the same racquet for singles as they do doubles.

                      I’ve got 8+ bagpipes. Why not use different ones for band and solo?!

                      Of course I use the same racquet for singles and doubles and I’ve got way more racquets than bagpipes…
                      My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post

                        Yikes! What a pain that would be, especially with changing out drone reeds. Of course, that's less expensive that buying another set of pipes. Still, dang!........
                        Not really. You have your band reeds calibrated to your band chanter and your solo reeds calibrated to your solo chanter. Just a quick swap and you’re good to go.
                        You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Billy Boy View Post
                          I've never been in a pipe band (only high school orchestra and garage band) yet I've often read in this forum about the appearent danger which pipe bands pose to the poor instruments.

                          Is there a lot of accidental drone whackin' going on during marching practices? Old grudges settled with head-bonkin' battlin' sticks?
                          There can be a lot of drone whackin' in massed bands where no one seems to know how to counter-march and the ranks close up. I routinely stop playing and just reel my drones in when that happens rather than bash them into the drones of the guy coming at me on my left. And then there are times like Stone Mountain a few years ago where the entire massed band stood on the field for an hour in the pouring rain while the dignitaries talked their talk. Or St. Patrick's Day where you spend hours playing in damp 45F weather and your pipes are sodden by the end of the evening. If someone had a classic set of silver & ivory Hendersons, who'd want to put them through that?

                          For those situations it's better to have a "beater set*". But you /could/ play your nice set in the circle and solos and the beater set in massed bands and parades.

                          But as Calum alludes, as you advance, you might prefer a different sound for solos than what your band set is optimized for. Tone is personal but in the circle you go for what the PM wants.

                          (*Or high-quality synthetic)
                          Raibeart
                          Forum Regular
                          Last edited by Raibeart; 08-22-2021, 09:33 AM. Reason: edited for clarity

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Raibeart View Post

                            There can be a lot of drone whackin' in massed bands where no one seems to know how to counter-march and the ranks close up. I routinely stop playing and just reel my drones in when that happens rather than bash them into the drones of the guy coming at me on my left. And then there are times like Stone Mountain a few years ago where the entire massed band stood on the field for an hour in the pouring rain while the dignitaries talked their talk. Or St. Patrick's Day where you spend hours playing in damp 45F weather and your pipes are sodden by the end of the evening. If someone had a classic set of silver & ivory Hendersons, who'd want to put them through that?
                            I agree about "smashed bands"; and I do the same with my pipes when one gets too compressed. However, I think the poster was talking about a typical band setting, in which we each take care of our instruments. Yes, we do also put them through a lot in parades, St. Patrick's, etc. Yet I've also done a lot of solo sessions in snow, driving rain, ridiculous heat/sun, etc.

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                            • #15
                              Greetings to All,

                              Hmmm..... My main--and closest to my heart--first--Old Pipes--from
                              the "kick-around sets" in my old first band--and later discovered to
                              be--1916 Lawries!!--and then more fully discovering their history--
                              and their having been played "in the field"--in WW I--WW II--and
                              then in Korea--and with their having successfully lived through all
                              of that--I do not much worry--about playing them--On Parade--or
                              even in the most packed and rowdy--Saint Patrick's Day pubs. :-)
                              (One of Lawrie's "contract sets" for the MoD.)

                              Though graceful of line--and magnificently beautiful of sound--
                              still and all--I consider them to be--in the words of the Old Saw--
                              "Tough as whitleather!!"--and so--I and they--and As of Old--but
                              take our chances--relying upon--both The Seen--and The Unseen.

                              And as for the civilized settings of--The Boards--or recitals--as my
                              Sainted Grandmama was wont to say-- "A piece of cake!!" :-)

                              Regards to All,

                              Pip01

                              My friends all know,
                              With what a brave carouse...

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