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Desired humidity range… new pipes

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  • Desired humidity range… new pipes

    Looking for feedback opinions - I arrived home with a new set of pipes and I’d like to leave them assembled between my practice sessions (pull the chanter with a “tone protector cap”). It’s summer in Ontario and I’m 1.5 Km from Lake Ontario current humidity is 87% outside and 60% in the house.

    Would I be better to store the pipes in a case and work to a target humidity level (humidifier + HTP sensor push monitoring), or would it be acceptable to leave them on the dining room table (no pets/kids… their safe LOL)?

    The winter will present additional challenges - wonder what approach is best in an air conditioned home?

    Thanks for the help!

  • #2
    My climate would be similar to yours, all my life in Eastern Ontario, now slightly farther east in Montreal.
    Pipes are surprisingly resilient, I've played at plus 40 and minus 20 Celsius (briefly) with equally wild swings in humidity.
    It's sudden changes that will be hard on the instrument, more so than the extremes.
    Spring, Summer and Fall I do not concern myself with humidity levels. They're pretty constant and don't change rapidly.
    In the winter when things dry out I start using moisture control in hard cases for storage.
    Like you I use the same chanter cap for reed stability.
    I have a hygrometer in the room where I keep all my pipes, and those tiny cheap ebay ones inside the containers....just to monitor.
    So far 45 years of this, and nothing has split.
    I did recently add a poly set of Dunbars to take over the harsher gigs, more because I wanted them than needed them , but the justification felt worthy....


    • #3
      87% outside, 60% inside, you’re fine to do nothing except take the blow pipe and chanter out between sessions. Might even need to air the bag out if it has a zipper.
      My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC


      • #4
        We’re in the same micro climate. And I’m new to the game. I’ve followed Atherton’s advice to oil the ABWs every two weeks for the first six months, then 2 - 4 times a year. I’ve got them in a soft case with an Oasis case humidifier system which will normally keep the interior at optimal 45 - 55%. This humid summer by the lake has pushed the interior humidity to 68% or over. So, now I’m running a dehumidifier in the room to also lower the bag’s exterior environment with some success.

        Agreed, it’s the sudden changes in humidity and temperature which we should be most conscious/concerned about. I’ve recently picked up a poly set for rough and cold conditions, and is just such a relief in many ways. Much less fuss and maintenance involved.

        My understanding of a general being that the ABWs shouldn’t leave the case if it’s less than 5 Celcius. The combo of hot, moist breath inside the pipes with cold dry outside air will expand the interior of the bores with a contraction of the exterior bores to make for potential cracking. A cannister moisture control system serves to lessen the moisture of the interior, as well as prolong the playtime capacity generally.
        “Where’s my beer?”


        • #5
          Pipers in Scotland probably get a chuckle out of these threads. I've played there most summers for 20 years. It's never too cold, it's never too hot, and it's always raining, or so it seems...But the pipes seem to like it, they settle in nicely with little drama.


          • #6
            My ABW pipes have survived in my environment for about 25 years in my hands with no special treatment for humidity. Granted, I live in a temperate California beach town with winters down to 30F and summers up to 90F+, with most days between 50 and 85. I just have them in a pipe case in my house. Nothing special. I have a traditional hide bag (no zipper) so I pull the chanter (Piper's Pal cap) then cork the chanter stock and leave my blowpipe in. I've never had any problems. Mileage may vary at high altitudes (like Denver, CO) or harsh winters (like the eastern USA) with central heating/cooling.

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


            • #7
              Ca. 50% rh is considered ideal, but it doesn't need to be exactly 50%. Too dry is worse than too humid. There's quite a range where they're happy, so long as you avoid extreme swings. My routine is to keep them in a sealed case with a case humidifier and hygrometer (to keep them +/- 50%), swab them out after every session, pull the tenons out of the stocks so that about half the hemp is showing (to allow it to dry out), and oil them every so often. The blowpipe and chanter get fully removed and the chanter gets a humidity-controlled cap. Here in NC there's not much issue with extremely dry air except in the winter when we're using the wood stove. If I feel like the air in the house is getting too dry I put the instruments in a small room with a humidifier going.