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Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

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  • Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

    I've just picked up a set of these in my search for a practice set and I have to say, so far I'm not very happy.

    I cannot keep the chanter going at all, play a couple of notes and it just stops. It doesn't seem matter how lightly I apply pressure, apply no pressure, blow, not blow, etc etc etc, it does not make a shred of difference.

    Using just the chanter and blowpipe together as a normal practice chanter it is not even remotely in tune either. (I'm using it against a Saul tuner)

    Are there any tricks to these?
    Who Dares Bins

  • #2
    Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

    I haven't used them myself, but I'm curious: when you blow through the chanter, as a chanter, even though it's out of tune- is the sound consistent? I'm just wondering if the issue might be a collapsing reed, and maybe a replacement would be a quick and easy fix?


    • #3
      Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

      Yes the sound is consistent doing that, and where I said Saul tuner, read Korg.. Teach me to be looking at a different tuner on the desk whilst typing. I might try with the Saul now.
      Who Dares Bins


      • #4
        Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes


        One observation is that standard practice chanter reeds are quite light when you try and use them in a bag. But the tuning should be right regardless. Does the drone work?

        I'd give them a shout and ask what's going on.
        -- Formerly known as CalumII


        • #5
          Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

          The two drones work fine, and use the exact same type of practice chanter reeds, the base of the stock however does have a blanking plate with a tiny hole in it, there's not anything like that on the chanter stock.

          I get that they wouldn't need much pressure but they seem way too sensitive. Beginning to regret buying them to be honest.
          Who Dares Bins


          • #6
            Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

            Why not get in touch with Alastair at RG Hardie? I'm sure he'd be more than willing to help.


            • #7
              Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

              Indeed, and he has offered some advice, although it hasn't made any difference yet. Just thought I would see if anyone else here has any ideas/experience.
              Who Dares Bins


              • #8
                Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

                My 2 ...

                Firstly, I take note of the name ... "practice pipes." If they're aptly named, then personally, my expectations for everything being well-in-tune would be somewhat low .. without effort, anyways.

                These are, practically if not effectively, mouth-blown smallpipes (MBSP). Before getting my hands on a good-quality set of bellows smallpipes, I had an incarnation or two of these sorts of MBSP. Some people like them, but I definitely had my fair share of problems with them. Tuning was one of them.

                I don't own these, and I've only heard them on videos ... where they do sound pretty decent. My guess is, you're having some reed issues. If tinkering following getting advice from the maker/supplier doesn't bear fruit, I'd suggest asking them to either a) send you out a new reed or two ... b) send back to them for readjustments on their end.

                With some of the MBSP I'd used in my youth, again, tuning seemed to be an issue ... in particular, getting certain notes precisely tuned. At the time, I expected them to be precise and consistent from the get-go ... and honestly, I think I was very foolish in that. Just as my highland pipe chanter (and smallpipe chanters) need tape to adjust notes (and carving, from time-to-time) ... so should I have expected needing to do the same with my MBSP. Tape, though, was problematic ... the holes were counter-sunk to make them feel larger .. and this made it so that tape was difficult to adhere to the hole. Consequently, I got into the habit of using either Elmers glue or bees wax in the holes to flatten them, and some holes I eventually drilled to be larger.

                Before I started doing the above, I shied away from performing with MBSP. And before long, I had my bellows-driven smallpipes, and the MBSP were sold off to others, since they were never used by me again.

                So overall, there are just way, way too many variances in these instruments to expect things to be out-of-the-box and ready-to-go. Still though, it sounds like you're having more trouble than that, so don't let up on getting support from the maker/supplier.

                And when it comes to sensitivity, you really might be surprised. When I first got on MBSP, it was after playing highland for 2-3 years. They seemed simply impossible not to overblow/choke .. they were incredibly sensitive. I had a devil-of-a-time getting over that, but I did. In time, I stopped overblowing them, but it really took a while, and I got pretty frustrated. One would think that the same force/pressure you expel on the practice chanter would match that of the MBSP ... it's not. Having the bag there greatly reduces the force one needs to exert (in theory, if not in practice).

                Honestly, this all was a good thing for me ... those MBSP served as one of my earliest, notable lessons in controlling my blowing, and today, I'm a pretty versatile player in terms of getting various pipes to sound steady and have good tone. I don't know what your background is, but if it's only highland pipes, then chances are you've got some figuring out ahead of you.

                Last note, you mentioned "base of the stock however does have a blanking plate with a tiny hole in it" ... that sounds to me that the common stock has what I would call a "back plate." This is very intelligent design, which serves to make the drones LESS sensitive to air pressure. It restricts the airflow, and thus reduces the effect of changing air pressure on the reeds.

                Good luck.

                All the best,
                Last edited by Pppiper; 01-29-2019, 05:19 AM.


                • #9
                  Re: Twist-Trap Practice Pipes

                  I have helped set up about 5 sets now. The first thing I do is go through all three reeds (they're the same, for those that don't know) and find the one that is the loudest of the three and assign it to the chanter (unless it is tuning super wonky). The next loudest is the bass, and the quietest goes to the tenor.

                  Tuning the chanter can take a few minutes. I typically have to dremel a bit out of C, D, and high G to bring into tune, and F often needs a tiny touch of tape.

                  That said, I've been able to get every set going and going well within 30-45 minutes.

                  But they are quite quiet, which is nice. They take extremely little pressure. I find this useful for beginners to dial in the sensitivity of their blowing arm.

                  I recommend these to all new students, but I typically have them sent to me and I set them up in advance.
                  Last edited by Matt Willis Bagpiper; 01-29-2019, 05:45 PM.
                  Matt Willis Bagpiper
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