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  • Remove Drones after playing

    Is it best to remove your drones after playing ? I always remove chanter reed to prevent moisture when not using pipes and was wondering if removing drone reeds makes a difference .

  • #2
    I also take my chanter out, but don't bother with the drones/drone reeds. A former bandmate would take out his drone reeds and swab out his drone bores after every practice since that's what the maker of his new pipes recommended.

    That said, I remember a good piper I'm aquatinted with, a student of a gold medalist, neglected his pipes so much that he couldn't remove any of his drones from their stocks . . . and this is a temperate Northern California climate! There's a balance between unnecessary work and neglect.

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

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    • #3
      Hi Harry!
      This depends a little bit on context, but in a generic sense I don't remove drones or their reeds after playing sessions. I do on days like St Patrick's Day, when I'm done for the night, because playing all day takes a toll on the bag. Removing the drones give the bag more places to dump off moisture through air-drying.

      I would caution you, however, that you probably shouldn't "de-chanter" the chanter reed each and every time you play. That's what reed protectors are for, and setting a chanter reed every time you play adds up timewise.

      You can use a soft brush to clear out your drone bottom joints without removing from the bag. I do this occasionally, when I think about it really (or when I'm building up my playing time for contest prep). Outside the drone, line up the brush bottom to the bottom mount and then pinch the brush where the top of the tuning pin ends up. This way, you can insert the brush in the drone bottom and pick up 95% or more of the moisture without bumping into the drone reed in its seat.

      If you have a synthetic bag that gets pretty wet, I'd be more inclined to unzip the bag to let it dry than I would to remove the drones. Except for the heavy playing days I mentioned above, that is.

      Jack
      Serving Jello with a ladle since... forever

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      • #4
        I'm pretty much with jackhawk on this. I, of course, remove and reed protect the chanter and reed. I leave my drones intact, except for times like St. Pat's or others where they are really wet. I've had member in the band who take things totally apart after every time on pipes, and it seems that they have incessant problems. I've had much less issues leaving things assembled, and I generally get playing in, at least a little bit, daily.

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        • #5
          Yes, dismantling drones that aren't unusually wet is just asking for steadiness problems.
          http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
          -- Formerly known as CalumII

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          • #6
            I'm maybe a bit more anal than some -- chanter comes out and a reed cap goes on. Each piece of the drones gets one or two quick swabs with a cotton bore brush (like a flute swab) but I don't take the reeds out. I've got two swabs: a bigger one for the tops, bass mid, & stocks, and a smaller for all first sections. The stocks get a quick swab (quick tip - you can butt the two inner ends of two drone stocks together and run the swab through both at the same time). Then the drone tenons get put back into the stocks half way so that there's hemp showing. I feel like this lets any remaining moisture wick up & out.

            This whole routine doesn't take more than 2-3 minutes.

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            • #7
              Yes, I remove the drone reeds and disassemble the drones after each daily session. They are stored in a humidity controlled and monitored, sealed Pelican case. Stocks, blowstick, and depending on the length of the playing session, other parts are swabbed. I've done this for a couple of decades. Chanter is removed and capped with a Kinnaird cap. Its fast and easy.

              Advantages are that you don't have the rotting hemp and funky smell that most pipers have (and never admit to), you control the humidity and wood cracking potential, stress is removed from hemped joints (this is why I started doing it), you don't have maintenance/performance surprise failures since you handle every part every day. Hemped joints last years longer, too.

              Disadvantages are none. It's fast and easy.
              Attached Files
              "What we play is life." - Louis Armstrong

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              • #8
                Like many other pipers I remove and cap my chanter after each playing session but leave the drones in their stocks.

                Let sleeping dogs lie, they say. I find that the drone reeds are happier, more stable and great strike-ins, if left alone. Even though they're synthetic they don't seem to like getting dried out.

                Obviously opinions vary! 40 years ago I had a band-mate who left his drones in the stocks BUT the night before a contest he would completely disassemble his pipes and leave them lying out overnight.

                And years ago I did a duet gig with a quite good piper who every few minutes would stop playing, disassemble his pipes, remove the reeds, and swab everything out. I ended up playing half that gig solo.

                As others have mentioned there are exceptions to leaving the drones in the stocks. I did a long parade in the rain and must have poured a quart of water out of the bag afterwards. I left the pipes disassembled until they got back to normal.
                pancelticpiper
                Holy smoking keyboard!
                Last edited by pancelticpiper; 01-15-2022, 05:02 AM.
                proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by pancelticpiper View Post
                  And years ago I did a duet gig with a quite good piper who every few minutes would stop playing, disassemble his pipes, remove the reeds, and swab everything out. I ended up playing half that gig solo.
                  Egads! I admire your level of tolerance, pancelticpiper!!

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                  • #10
                    I take my drone tops off and disassemble my bass mid- and top-sections and put them all in a flannel drone tops holder. Drone bottoms stay in their stocks. If it was a particularly long or cool playing session, I’ll swab out all the stocks and drone sections, but the bottoms go back in the stocks.
                    You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post

                      Egads! I admire your level of tolerance, pancelticpiper!!
                      We had to get through the gig however it took.

                      I did that same annual duet gig for many years with another piper, but one year he wasn't available.

                      The client apparently noticed the shenanigans and I never got called for that gig again.

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

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pancelticpiper View Post

                        We had to get through the gig however it took.

                        I did that same annual duet gig for many years with another piper, but one year he wasn't available.

                        The client apparently noticed the shenanigans and I never got called for that gig again.
                        That’s really frustrating that someone else cost you an annual gig.
                        You don't have fun by winning. You win by having fun.

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                        • #13
                          For over 20 years I've completely disassembled, including drone reeds. I've always been a bit ocd about maintenance. I really don't understand why some are saying this is asking for steadiness issues. The only reason I could see for that is if the reeds aren't stored safely or if the reeds are seated differently each time. With properly waxed hemp the reeds are seated at the exact same depth easily each time. I occasionally add some additional wax as needed so they are always 100% firmly seated. The reeds themselves aren't changed. I've never once had a loose reed fall out. No need for hemp tails. Also, I'm always aware of the joint tightness so that's never an issue. So if anything, it completely eliminates this potential issue of loose reeds or loose joints. The reeds are safely stored so that they aren't moved or bumped in the case. The hemp lasts for many years, touching up as needed.
                          I completely understand the reasoning for not doing this. It is a little more time consuming, but only about an extra minute or two. For me, the pros outweigh the cons, but to each their own!
                          John

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                          • #14
                            Over the years I have gone to both extremes. The pipes have been completely assembled and the pipes have been completely pulled apart and drone reeds stored on their own. Piping experience, proficiency with setting up bagpipes, compactness, frequency of play, storage container, and set up of the pipe make a big difference to needs and success of each set up.

                            To answer the original question. I have noticed differences. How big of a difference is really something that has quite a few other contributing factors. Do you play long enough to get the drones moist with your current setup, do you play with a moisture control system such as a tube or canister, do you have humidity control in the box you store the pipes on. Are the drone reeds cane, glass filled nylon or something else?

                            Either method has advantages. But I have found the more constant you can keep the wood and cane reed humidity the better success you have. Additionally, good maintenance routines are a huge part of success with the instrument and taking it down so far forces some of the maintenance activities to become daily activities.
                            Lancelot
                            Forum Member - Shy or Quiet
                            Last edited by Lancelot; 01-18-2022, 02:40 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pancelticpiper

                              Let sleeping dogs lie, they say.
                              I find that the drone reeds are happier, more stable and great strike-ins, if left alone.
                              Even though they're synthetic they don't seem to like getting dried out.

                              Greetings to All,

                              In the Way Back--when Steam Was King!!--and in my first--
                              Old Band--there were no--synthetic reeds. All cane...

                              And the custom was--with the Old Fellows in the band--to let
                              (in pancelticpiper's words) those "sleeping dogs"--the drones
                              and reeds--lie--and quite happily--un-disturbed... :-)

                              And since then--I have simply--followed suit--and whether with
                              synthie or cane--I have yet to find--any difficulty--in doing so.

                              Trusting that All--may find their best--"Avenue of Approach." :-)

                              Regards to All,

                              Pip01




                              My friends all know,
                              With what a brave carouse...

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