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Simply accepting wet blowing?

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  • Simply accepting wet blowing?

    (Important to note: playing a Canmore hybrid bag)

    I've tried the tube traps with varying degrees of success. Keeps the chanter reed dry, but directs lots of moisture toward the drones. Played for about a year with the Trap-Dri, but I started to get frustrated with how it kinks around and twists at the second joint. Just wasn't enjoyable to play the pipes with the thing installed.

    So as an experiment, I took it out, and put in a moose valve at the blow stock, which seems to collect more water than the tube did. The drones have a little more moisture (totally soaked as opposed to kind of wet) but remain pretty stable over about an hour of playing. My chanter, however, is getting absolutely DRENCHED. Water is pouring down the inside of the chanter as I play. To be honest, I don't really mind the fact that tons of moisture is going in that direction, however the tone of the reed is starting to suffer, and by the end of a session the D and F are starting to climb just a little. I would imagine I'll start killing reeds fairly quickly this way, too.

    Am I an idiot to continue playing this way? If not, are there any especially resilient chanter reeds out there that can take this kind of punishment? I do not play heavy reeds, but don't know my manometer number. Currently playing an Abedour medium that I squeezed down a touch in my ~2003 MacLellan poly, and will most likely switch to a ridge cut reed. But which one?

    www.nybagpipes.com

  • #2
    You've touched on a topic that will generate tons of various responses, advice, and on and on. Back, as we say, "in the day", with cow (called elk hide) or sheepskin--none with zippers--moisture control was, if discussed, a rare discussion. Today it's different. To the point, and feeling I'm a "wet" blower, I've been playing Gannaway bags, and have dismissed any attempt at installing so-called moisture controlled devices. And it's worked quite well for me, other than in a two plus hour parade. But I'm good with it. However, mileage varies with each individual. It's worked for me; and bandmates who use sheepskin have also not had as many issues, and thus dismiss moisture control headaches. All that said, I realize that many may get on here and counter my experiences with their own and, thus, their advice. All I respect.

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    • #3
      Wet blowing is nonsense. Everyone expels air at 100% relative humidity.

      Of course your climate will dictate how quickly you can dissipate that humidity. And MCS will do what they can to drop the relative humidity of the air prior to being released in the bag.

      But dry blowers or wet blowers, NO. Crappy, non-moisture wicking or absorbing bag, yes.

      Oh, I don’t have much problem with moisture in my canmore hybrid. Yes, the reeds take on some moisture. They should. Drenched, well, no, but you probably don’t live in dry West Texas.
      Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 09-03-2021, 02:56 PM.
      My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

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      • #4
        Was a pretty dry day up here in CT. Got my chanter reed wetter than I ever have. It should be noted that, at the risk of TMI, I seem to salivate much more than the average human. It's not just what comes out of your lungs that affects a woodwind instrument.

        The inside of the Canmore bag actually stays quite dry in the midst of this. A little damp near the blowpipe, but overall the Canmore seems to do quite a good job of dealing. Sheepskin would do far better, but even though I'm able to practice about every other day now plus 1-2 gigs per week, I can't necessarily guarantee that frequency of playing all the time.
        www.nybagpipes.com

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        • #5
          No, you shouldn't just accept this. You'll go through reeds and bags at an appalling rate if you do, and you're likely to struggle to get a consistent/reliable sound. Yes, we all expel fully-saturated air, but the FLOW RATE does differ between players, as does the playing pressure (for lots of reasons, which I won't address here).

          There are two potential directions for you to explore: canister systems (e.g. Ross, Bannatyne, etc) and hide bags (sheepskin, Gannaway, etc). Both will give you much better moisture control than your current setup. If you're otherwise happy with the Canmore bag, I'd suggest looking into equipping it with a Ross canister system. You're not alone: I can't play your setup (synthetic bag with just a tube trap), either. However, with a Gannaway bag and a tube, I've played all over the US and Canada, and in Scotland, without significant moisture problems.

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          • #6
            You ought to try throwing a chanter MCS in there (Like the one made by Balance Tone). Because if moisture comes in through the blowpipe stock (humidity & possibly saliva) at least you'll have a seal around your chanter stock, and only the humidity from your breath will make it through to the chanter reed, after it filters through the silica gels that are in the cartridge. I use one in my smallpipes and it has kept the cane reed safe for a few years now. If you use one of those I'd wager you'd stop drenching your chanter reed. Or at least cut down a great deal of what is getting there.
            Last edited by salmunmousavi; 09-03-2021, 07:55 PM.

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            • #7
              The old-school cure for wet blowers was to take up whisky and cigarettes, and I certainly don't know any wet blowers that have both vices. Whatever the driver, there are certainly differences between individuals.

              Generally, my advice would be that moisture to the chanter reed does not matter - sheepskin players can and do literally run a reed under a tap to get it to a stable condition - but you do want to try and keep the drones dry to maintain an equilibrium.

              My first instinct is to suggest revisiting the trap-dri. A well fitted tube shouldn't have the issues described, and it sucks out a huge amount of water. You could perhaps experiment with an endcap over the end of the tube to redirect air downwards rather than towards the drone, but I am not sure if that really will have an effect. If the drones are still getting damp, then a canister of some kind would be the next step.
              http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
              -- Formerly known as CalumII

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              • #8
                Originally posted by iunderwood View Post
                Sheepskin would do far better, but even though I'm able to practice about every other day now plus 1-2 gigs per week, I can't necessarily guarantee that frequency of playing all the time.
                My practice times are far more infrequent than I would like, but my sheepskin holds air just fine, even if it’s a month between playing. My bag is 5 years old, hasn’t been seasoned since March 2020, and plays just fine.
                You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Fogelman View Post
                  My practice times are far more infrequent than I would like, but my sheepskin holds air just fine, even if it’s a month between playing. My bag is 5 years old, hasn’t been seasoned since March 2020, and plays just fine.
                  It's interesting that, decades ago, a frequent statement by many was that sheepskin bags were porous unless played frequently (e.g., every day). Our P/M has a sheepskin bag and swears by it for a number of reasons. He, too, is a very busy guy and does not get on them very often, yet has the same experience you cite, Jim. I like my Gannaway; but I am considering switching to sheepskin (mostly for the other reasons our P/M and other cite).

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                  • #10
                    I remember reading somewhere that the actual sheep used for the skins have changed as well as the tanning process.

                    I wonder if these changes have led to the sheepskin bags being more resilient than the sheepskin bags of yesteryear?
                    You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                    • #11
                      I think it's a new breed called Blue-Faced Airtight Leicester.

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                      • #12
                        If I can get some good longevity out of a sheepskin bag, I'd love to try it. But Henderson's, where I buy all my gear, tends to list them as having 1-2 years of life in them. I do kind of need to get more out of a $400 bag than a year or two.

                        Put the trap-dri back in for a gig this morning, pipes performed well, although this chanter reed is pretty shot from the beating I gave it over the last couple weeks.

                        I actually did cork off the end of the tube and cut a couple holes in it to emulate a Gibson trap. The tube that's in there is the one with the bottle, but I took the bottle off because it was keeping all the moisture in the bag and making life miserable.
                        www.nybagpipes.com

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                        • #13
                          One thing that, I think, has helped the lifespan of my bag is not letting it it dry out too quickly between play sessions.

                          When I’m done playing, I take the split stock apart and cork off the split stock opening and the chanter stock, take the tenor tops off and the bass mid and top off, and put the bag and drone bottoms (still in the stocks) in a large garbage bag.
                          You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                          • #14
                            I recently switched from a Gannaway bag to the Bannatyne Willie Mac bag and was using a Ross MCS in the Bannatyne. I found a different MCS - Moisture Genie made in Canada. I have found it more user friendly than the Ross having only one hose from the blowpipe stock running into the canister of desiccant with no other hoses or connections to drones or chanter. There is a small tube called the "snorkel" off of the elbow into the blowpipe stock to supply moist air to the chanter reed. I play Shepherd S2s and Dunbar P1s, both with Willie Mac bags. The Moisture Genie has served both well.
                            piperdoc - (As long as the moon shall rise; As long as the rivers flow; As long as the sun will shine; As long as the grass shall grow, - Peter LaFarge)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by iunderwood View Post
                              (Important to note: playing a Canmore hybrid bag)



                              So as an experiment, I took it out, and put in a moose valve at the blow stock, which seems to collect more water than the tube did.


                              The amount of moisture a moose valve collects as a ‘trap’ is almost negligible...the height of the unit above the expanded collar is only ~1/2”...and the void around the moose body and stock sidewall is ~1/8”...so overall there’s barely any room for any meaningful amount of liquid to collect...and much of whatever might... will easily slop over the crest and be blown into the bag. Hence a very wet chanter reed.
                              a properly installed vinyl tube trap will puddle moisture along its bottom curve ...to be poured off a regular intervals. A properly installed Trap Dri. ( placement in the tube ...holes on the up side) will greatly enhance the tube trap condensation volume ( Canmore Hybrid) ...at least,this has been my experience for the past 8-9 years with this set up. I’d think any other result must mean something is wrongly set up.

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