Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Some Bb chanter musings

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Some Bb chanter musings

    A little over 10 years ago I gave Bb a shot after listening to the RSDG. Bb was kind of the wild west at that point plus I didn't know what I was doing. Fast forward a decade and I don't know what I'm doing.

    I've made peace with the climbing pitch to some extent but don't prefer 480Hz+. I figure I will give 466Hz another try because a) the piping world has really caught onto Bb since I last looked into it and b) I'm thinking about competing again. I would rather compete and lose with a tone I enjoy than compete with a tone I'm only "alright" with and still lose.

    I recently purchased a set of extenders and a Shepherd Orchestral chanter (neither of which look changed at all since I last owned them years ago). Here are some thoughts.

    The questionable:
    • The Shepherd works ok with several reeds but at 472-475Hz. None broke 470Hz except for a Chesney and a barely seated Shepherd regular. I plugged a G1 and it sounded great but at 479Hz (wtf). All require tape a on every note except HA, which leads to the next point-
    • The HA on this chanter is very flat. Or the rest of the chanter is very sharp. A regular Shepherd reed is decent across the scale, but every note requires a bit-to-half-hole covered tape. I don't mind tape, I do mind having to cover holes halfway. Perhaps this is the lesser of evils vs. moving all of these holes down making the finger spread not good.
    • The typical hard black plastic reed extenders are questionable. I ended up using my drone taps to add internal threads, this helped. I then had to re-hemp my drone reeds which was a guessing game to ensure they weren't in at an angle, not hitting the ends of the extenders internally, or only partially holding onto the threads in one spot and not the whole extender (the extender internal reed seats are large).
    • I had to open the bridles on all of my drone reeds. Until I did they would exhibit an internal pressure change at certain spots of the drone tops and "shift" frequency.
    The good:
    • The Shepherd's flat HA was fixed with Chesney reeds. I love chesney reeds. Fixing this leads to the next point-
    • I'm playing around 468Hz, which is fine with me.
    • The finger spacing is great to me. Not noticeably different than my MK3.
    • Family and neighbors seem to enjoy the lower pitch. A person walking their dog yelled out that it was sounding good, when does this ever happen? (answer is never)
    Keep in mind that all of this has been during our summer heat where I am at. It was ~84F/29C inside.
    Happy Piping

  • #2
    At the end of my practice sessions I typically play an (arrhythmic) My Home slow air and one of the first tunes I ever learned that I can mindlessly play and hold notes. I suppose it's a way to hear where my pipes are at on the day and mentally compare. I'll put my most recent recording here if anyone is interested, though my bag arm was getting tired so notes are shaky.

    http://www.scottishoctopus.com/wp-co...y_Goatskin.mp3
    Last edited by William McKenzie; 08-19-2021, 01:29 PM.
    Happy Piping

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm hoping to embark soon on doing some Bb experiments. Someone gave me a McCallum Bb chanter, and I bought a set of used Bb drone reeds from a member here. I currently have three sets of GHBs, so I can set one up as a Bb set. Now, if I just wasn't working 50-60 hours a week, I'd have enough time to do it...

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

      Comment


      • #4
        When I started in Pipe Bands in the 1970s we played wooden Hardie chanters that played in Bb. It was the norm.

        When Pipe Band pitch started climbing playing in Bb, required for church Pipe Organ gigs, was never an issue because pipers all had old Hardie chanters in addition to their new chanters. Many pipers still do.

        It so happened that when synthetic drone reeds appeared the Pipe Band pitch had risen enough that these reeds were designed to play in the 470s.

        Eventually the drone reed design, in keeping up with chanter pitches into the 480s, was such that it was difficult or impossible to get the tenors to play in 466.

        All this is to show that the issue of "getting drones to play low enough" isn't an issue with the instrument but purely the issue of modern reeds designed to over-drive drones designed to play at or below 466 up to 480. (Most of our modern drones are based on classic drones from around the 1890s through 1930s which chanter pitch was below 466.)

        I've always had to be able to play in 466 due to church Pipe Organ gigs. 466 isn't a novelty or a shiny new toy to me (or, I'm sure, to any piper of my generation).

        Due to the changes in chanter reed design (necessitated by the change in chanter design) old Hardies are difficult to reed using ordinary modern chanter reeds. Thus when McCallum introduced a Bb chanter I bought one. It's greatest feature, to me, is that it plays bang-on in 466 using ordinary modern reeds. I can switch the same reed between my 466 McCallum and one of my 480+ McCallums and get a perfect scale and performance either way.

        For decades I used the same set of pipes for Band use and Pipe Organ use. I kept the outside tenor set up for Pipe Band pitch (whatever that was at the time) and the middle tenor set up for 466. I switched an internal foam earplug between the tenors according.

        However several years ago I acquired a fantastic-sounding set of WWII Starck drones that pretty much defied playing at modern Band pitch, but which purred at 466. I decided to finally maintain a fulltime Bb set, and it's become more and more apparent that it's the best way to go.

        I don't use drone extenders or special drone reeds in the 466 Starcks, they play bang-on at 466 using ordinary EzeeDrone reeds (not the special long ones).

        I've found that the tone of the 466 set is universally preferred wherever I play, and it's become my go-to gig set. It's simply a nicer sound.



        proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by William McKenzie;n1373547[*
          The Shepherd works ok with several reeds but at 472-475Hz. None broke 470Hz except for a Chesney and a barely seated Shepherd regular. I plugged a G1 and it sounded great but at 479Hz (wtf). All require tape a on every note except HA, which leads to the next point-
          [
          have you tried Shepherd Bb reeds....they are stamped Bb below the usual RTS stamp. These worked for me to achieve 466 in my Shepherd Bb chanter.

          Comment


          • #6
            Not sure what happened with vBulletin and my static image urls in the second post, will upload them again. Side by side photos to compare chanters, lined up across D. These are from my phone and there is barrel distortion- some finger spreads look longer or shorter depending, so don't take these as reference they are just food for thought.

            MK3_Orchestral_600x800.jpg
            Figure 1. Shepherd MK3 left, Shepherd Orchestral right


            Kyo_MK3_600x800.png
            Figure 2. Colin Kyo left, Shepherd MK3 right


            Ceol-Bb_Kyo_MK3_Orchestral_600x800_closeup.jpg​​​​​​
            Figure 3. Bottom hand Left to right- McCallum Ceol Bb, Colin Kyo, Shepherd MK3, Shepherd Orchestral


            Ceol-Bb_Kyo_MK3_Orchestral_600x800.jpg​​​
            Figure 4. Left to right- McCallum Ceol Bb, Colin Kyo, Shepherd MK3, Shepherd Orchestral
            image widget
            Happy Piping

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by el gaitero View Post

              have you tried Shepherd Bb reeds....they are stamped Bb below the usual RTS stamp. These worked for me to achieve 466 in my Shepherd Bb chanter.
              I have previously, I don't think I have any on hand now. Chesney has come out with a Bb reed and I really want to try it but so far I don't see anyone who stocks it. G1 also has a Bb reed that could go great.
              Happy Piping

              Comment


              • #8
                Made another recording, different tenors this time. For reference, here is the first recording.

                Any preferences?
                Happy Piping

                Comment


                • #9
                  My preference is for the first recording. I found the bottom hand notes had clarity and depth of sound, and overall a brighter sound than the second recording. In both recordings the high A was very pleasant as was the D.
                  I'd be interested to hear what your whole set up is, and what you recorded with.
                  ​​​​​

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I like dem diffrunt tenors
                    My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by baxter View Post
                      My preference is for the first recording. I found the bottom hand notes had clarity and depth of sound, and overall a brighter sound than the second recording. In both recordings the high A was very pleasant as was the D.
                      I'd be interested to hear what your whole set up is, and what you recorded with.
                      My setup is very similar to yours actually. McCallum acetyl drones, Shepherd B flat chanter with regular Chesney reed, 25 inches of water strength. Bass reed is a Kinnaird Original with the long body, easy strength, and extender.

                      I'm very interested in the Hardie Infinity B flat chanter as well, haven't seen any used options yet though. Seems like only a few shops sell them new in the US and some of the ones that do don't have stock.

                      The first recording are White Mamba tenors, the second 'different tenors' recording are Balance Tone High Resonance. Both using extenders. The Balance Tones are very efficient and seem to have a more narrow and resonant tone. The White Mambas are giving me troubles with the extenders but their tone is fairly broad which I like too.
                      Happy Piping

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The chanter is the heart of the setup, and finding a good reed is critical. I play a G1 b-flat chanter, with a straight-cut Shepherd reed (NOT a b-flat reed, just a plain old shepherd from the reed bin). It needs a LITTLE tape on the low-A to get down to 466, and the other notes are taped reasonably. I don't need reed extenders, just ezeedrone long reeds, and I have no problem playing at 466. My setup will NOT get down to 440, however. I think having the right chanter and chanter reed is the key to making the whole thing work without a big hassle.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've had a few sessions on the Hardie infinity B flat I'm liking it. My fingers are still adjusting to the new hole sizes and positions. I was tossing up between a infinity B flat or Ceol B flat, having length compromised fingers I went with the infinity. From a photo of the two I could see the holes were smaller up to the E and length from reed seat to low A
                          a touch shorter.
                          I'm using an extender on the selbie bass , but not the selbie tenors, just hemped them up and lengthened the screw. The lowest I managed was 470 hz, it's been well over 30 Celcius and the reed is easy so I figure that is keeping me above 466, I'm hoping with some cooler weather and a touch of the reed mandrel it will bring me a bit lower.
                          My ears are liking the lower pitch, the involvement between chanter and drones is also fullfilling my hopes, also the D is making me happy , I was never quite settled with the D on the standard chanter.
                          I have a little tape on the D and C.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by baxter View Post
                            I've had a few sessions on the Hardie infinity B flat I'm liking it. My fingers are still adjusting to the new hole sizes and positions. I was tossing up between a infinity B flat or Ceol B flat, having length compromised fingers I went with the infinity. From a photo of the two I could see the holes were smaller up to the E and length from reed seat to low A
                            a touch shorter.
                            I'm using an extender on the selbie bass , but not the selbie tenors, just hemped them up and lengthened the screw. The lowest I managed was 470 hz, it's been well over 30 Celcius and the reed is easy so I figure that is keeping me above 466, I'm hoping with some cooler weather and a touch of the reed mandrel it will bring me a bit lower.
                            My ears are liking the lower pitch, the involvement between chanter and drones is also fullfilling my hopes, also the D is making me happy , I was never quite settled with the D on the standard chanter.
                            I have a little tape on the D and C.
                            Has the temperature dropped where you are yet? Interesting you didn't need extenders for the Selbie tenors to reach B flat.. also that the Infinity requires so little tape.

                            I'm thinking I might sell my Kyo chanter and purchase the Infinity B flat in its place but I'm still wondering how returning to competing in Bb will play out. I always have my MK3 Shepherd for 480Hz though I suppose.
                            Happy Piping

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've been fiddling with tenor bridles to get them stable(ish) while threaded into black plastic drone seat extenders (I haven't gotten any of my drone reeds down to Bb without extenders). Despite the seat extenders being threaded and very secure there is some kind of pressure node or harmonic interference introduced which causes the reeds to do odd things. For example, my Ezeedrone regular long + inverted long basses won't play stably no matter what I do with the bridles.

                              I have gotten the tenors mostly settled and my Kinnaird Original plays fine in its seat extender, but it doesn't seem worth it to me to play on a tuning cliff. I decided to bite the bullet by purchasing proper B flat.

                              The MG reed extenders have arrived first and wow do they make a difference . I had to reset the White Mamba bridles once more back to original spec but they now happily play at 466Hz with room to go higher or lower if need be (you can see from the tuning knob). There is a reason MG have produced either reed extenders and drone top extenders, not reed seat extenders. At some point I will give the Ezeedrone bass reeds another go with these reed extenders screwed on.


                              WM-tenor-with-MG-reed-extenders.jpg

                              I have also located and purchased a full set of Balance Tone High Resonance in B flat that are in the post. Regular B flat Balance Tones (white knobs) seem to be everywhere for sale, however, acquiring the HR version is only at a small handful of shops and even then have been backordered.

                              I don't know if much (or any) of this thread is useful/interesting but if it is let us know so I'm not writing to myself.
                              Happy Piping

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X