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Robertsons compared

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  • Robertsons compared

    I wonder how much of tone and reputations of various makes is purely psychological? For example Robertson pipes are said to be "bold and Hendersonlike"

    Well, I currently have 2 different sets of Robertson pipes in my possession. When I have some time, I intend to make this a Patrick McLaurin style post with blind audio recordings and see what people think.

    In the meantime I've measured the bores and discovered a surprising (to me) degree of difference.
    ID Pre 1930 ebony Post 1950 blackwood
    Bass Stock .762 .799 <1.04 (tapered)
    Bottom bore .340 .351
    Mid Chamber .700 .701
    Mid Bore .436 .407
    Top Chamber .699 .700
    Top Bore .555 .544
    Bass Bush .585 .571
    Tenor Stock .763 .798
    Bottom bore .313 .323
    Chamber .660 .668
    Top bore .549 .532
    Bush .568 .575
    The later pipe has a Bass with a larger bottom bore but smaller mid and top bores than the older pipe. Likewise with the Tenor, larger bottom smaller top. There is notable difference in the bushings as well.
    Last edited by BGP; 09-01-2021, 01:27 PM.

  • #2
    I like the table, interesting comparison.

    I agree that it's more psychological. I feel the same way about plastic versus wood, I haven't noted anyone successfully choosing one or the other in blind listening.

    These days there are so many different types of drone reeds on the market that you can make your pipes almost however you'd like.
    Happy Piping


    • #3
      ...I’m akin to thinking the .001 stock bore differential in either time frame is likely due to wood shift...or having run in a tapered reamer slightly more ...or less.
      Regarding bass and tenor bush sizes....’twas my understanding over my decades from various makers that the bass would normally be some slight nano larger to ‘overcome’ (state a presences) against the otherwise overpowering volume of TWO tenors. Surprised to see it made smaller in the post ‘50 set.


      • #4
        I did bore measurements of a 1920'ties set of Robertsons. I could not determine the wood, but is was not ebony or african blackwood. Was more like cocuswood in the color.

        Bass stock .784

        Bottom bore .343

        Mid chamber .709

        Mid bore .421

        Top chamber .709

        Top bore did not measure

        Bass bush .591

        Tenor stock .786

        Bottom bore .315

        Chamber .669

        Top bore did not measure

        Bush .563

        Pretty close to the measurements above.

        Bass mid chamber to bass bottom ratio = 2.07
        Bass top chamber to bass bottom ratio = 2.07
        Tenor chamber to tenor bottom ratio = 2.13

        Length of bass drone to length of tenor drone = 2.00


        • #5
          Originally posted by el gaitero View Post
          the .001 stock bore differential in either time frame is likely due to wood shift...
          That, but also one should be aware of what the realistic limits of holding tolerances in wood are. If you drill six holes in six bits of wood with the same drillbit, you will get six different sized holes when measured to an accuracy of a thousandth of an inch. A reamer will improve that slightly but only until the next day.

          -- Formerly known as CalumII


          • #6
            I think we can safely, mostly ignore, the last decimal place due to wood movement, hand work, tooling, and the importance of significant numbers in measurement. I assume fractional tooling/rod stock was used, which means the Bass bottom was probably bored with an 11/32" bit.

            Soren, in my opinion with the exception of the Base mid our numbers agree. The tuning chambers are going to be static the difference between early and older can be seen in the ratio of through bores. For example the Tenors 1920s ratio is 1.75 vs 1950s 1.64. Does this really make a perceivable difference? I don't know.


            • #7
              Hi, just scanning the measurements in the original post - do the newer drones tune at a slightly higher pitch (all things equal)? will


              • #8
                Will, it seems so but very slightly.


                • #9
                  Here are 3 recordings of Bass drones with the same Kinnaird original reed, same settings on a Zoom recorder and me standing in the same location. Two of them are the Robertson drones and one is a David Glen (who’s pipes are said to be “more subdued”). To me they all sound slightly different and all sound good, I don’t think I could guess which is which. I'm interested in hearing what others think.



                  Last edited by BGP; 09-03-2021, 06:19 AM.


                  • #10
                    A and B = Robertson? Off my phone they sounded the same
                    C = Glen? Sounded darker

                    Of course I don’t really equate Glen with “darker”, whatever the hell I mean by that I dunno, but…yeah.
                    My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC


                    • #11
                      Since no one else has chimed in. You are correct Patrick!

                      A is the 1950s Robertson
                      B is 1920s Robertson
                      C is DGlen

                      to my ear the 1950’s recording sounds (very) slightly brighter that the 1920s, and the both are brighter than the Glens.