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  • higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

    Anyone make the switch from a poly chanter to a $300.00 + blackwood chanter? Considering some options and wondered how the experience was. I've been playing a poly for 20 years and figured a step up might be a real treat. Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

    I think it's about personal preference. My opinion is that the higher end ABW practice chanters don't sound all that much better than a poly chanter. Blackwood may sound a bit better, but I can't justify the cost for a practice chanter.

    Also, in terms of aesthetics, I don't see the point in putting silver or other expensive materials on a practice chanter unless you're fishing for compliments around the band table. No one's ever gonna see you perform on a practice chanter and you'll spend the majority of the time practicing it alone at home, so why bother?

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    • #3
      Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

      I have a $450 PC from one of the best known makers that I tried really hard to like that I tried 4 or 5 different reeds in that I just don't like the sound of that sits in a drawer in favor of a lowly McCallum poly PC
      Last edited by John Bolt; 10-29-2013, 10:18 AM.
      John Bolt

      Single malt scotch more than just a breakfast drink

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      • #4
        Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

        I won a silver engraved blackwood Naill practice chanter through a raffle. It's really nice. But, as with these things, you have to have the right reed for it to sound nice.

        I'm using an old Walsh, though the easy strength Boyd sounds pretty good too. Better than in my poly Walsh, McCallum, and Booth (though the Booth is really nice sounding too).

        I used to play another old blackwood Naill that was really nice.

        I think it's probably 75% reed, 25% wood, if that.
        My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC

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        • #5
          Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

          Hello,
          Lindsey bagpipes make some pretty nice exotic work of art type chanters. They are around $100-$200. If I were going to buy a new chanter I'd probably go that route. (He even made on in all elk antler... pretty cool) Ralph Drew

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          • #6
            Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

            Originally posted by Jethro View Post
            Anyone make the switch from a poly chanter to a $300.00 + blackwood chanter? Considering some options and wondered how the experience was. I've been playing a poly for 20 years and figured a step up might be a real treat. Thanks!
            A cane reed would probably make more difference

            I have a blackwood PC. It feels a little different. If you really like the way wood feels that much more than go for it. To me there's not that much difference. But I don't really practice on PC anyway.

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            • #7
              Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

              Originally posted by ralph View Post
              Hello,
              Lindsey bagpipes make some pretty nice exotic work of art type chanters. They are around $100-$200. If I were going to buy a new chanter I'd probably go that route. (He even made on in all elk antler... pretty cool) Ralph Drew
              The elk chanter is still available btw....

              https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...6569063&type=1

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              • #8
                Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                Originally posted by bob864 View Post
                A cane reed would probably make more difference

                I have a blackwood PC. It feels a little different. If you really like the way wood feels that much more than go for it. To me there's not that much difference. But I don't really practice on PC anyway.
                second the cane reed.

                I've got an 80s long scale Naill ABW chanter that I bought new when I was a teen. It never sounded as good as my crappy, scavenged from the bottom of the band barrel sheesham wood with the broken sole PC (that I promptly threw away the instant my shiny new Naill showed up).

                It wasn't until much later that I realized the sound really was coming from the (also scavenged from the bottom of the PM's sock drawer) cane reed I had in it. Now I play a rainbow reed and couldn't be happier. They are expensive, yes, but worth it.

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                • #9
                  Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                  I started out with ABW practice chanter. After playing it for some time, I decided to try out a plastic to have as a spare. The feeling is completely different. The plastic one felt dead, with annoyingly sharp holes. My wooden chanter is more vibrant, and the feeling of wood is fantastic.
                  I just dropped the idea of having a spare plastic chanter.

                  All these fancy ornaments does not give a better sound, but it's more fun to play an instrument that is really precious to you, other than one that just does the work.
                  Never sacrifice clarity for speed

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                  • #10
                    Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                    I've been there and done that, but I honestly can't say why beyond I had the cash and wanted to do it?

                    It doesn't sound better than my poly PCs and while it does feel slightly different after 5 years of playing on it, its not enough to effect my playing if I grab one of the polys. It does look nice and it was what I wanted so I'm happy that I have it, but I wouldn't say it was worth the extra cost or that I like playing it more than any of my other PCs.

                    The one thing that I did decide was a necessity was a lined top. Due to the dry conditions here in Montana, all of the band's old blackwood PC tops have split and I didn't want that to happen to mine. I went with a Naill which had the option of a blackwood on the outside, plastic on the inside top, and I've been very happy with it and no cracking!

                    But after 20 years, why not try one, its not going to hurt!

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                    • #11
                      Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                      I started with a loaner plastic PC, not sure of the brand. I quickly bought a Gibson with a Gibson reed and I'm GTG. It feels and sounds much better than plastic to me.

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                      • #12
                        Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                        Originally posted by Jethro View Post
                        Anyone make the switch from a poly chanter to a $300.00 + blackwood chanter? Considering some options and wondered how the experience was. I've been playing a poly for 20 years and figured a step up might be a real treat. Thanks!
                        you could spend way far less ( half or better) on ebay cautiously buying a vintage Lawrie, Hardie, Glen ,Henderson, Sinclair, etc... I've amassed about 15.. some ivoried, some 'plain'; I play them all. The old Lawries [not with screaming white plastic mounts] especially sound quite good,are very nicely made;.. over time I've gathered 7-8 "matched" Lawrie's with a unique bowl style from the 40's/50's.... and 1 pre-1900 with ivory sole and beaded cupped nickel ferrule.
                        Also a early 1900's ivoried Glen... but it was well <$150 for any of them.
                        Keep an eye out ...and bid wisely.
                        If doing so... be careful to first ask the right questions of the seller...i.e. no splits, chips, cracks, warping, original top, etc,etc.

                        I use Walsh reeds exclusively...the chanters all sound great. Once in a while I 'award' one to an excellent /moving up student.

                        As someone else posted.... you'll only might 'impress' people around the band table.

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                        • #13
                          Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                          Originally posted by Winch View Post
                          I started with a loaner plastic PC, not sure of the brand. I quickly bought a Gibson with a Gibson reed and I'm GTG. It feels and sounds much better than plastic to me.
                          I can't really tell the difference in sound between my Gibson and my Naill PC, but a Gibson reed makes a huge difference.

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                          • #14
                            Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                            I bought like 7 different reeds and the Gibson is best by far for me.

                            Clarification....I have the cocobolo Gibson, not ABW. It runs about $150.

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                            • #15
                              Re: higher quality / more expensive practice chanters

                              I had a Lawrie PC in ABW that I bought as a new student in '68 (I think I paid less than ten dollars for it). It had a great mellow tone. Roddy MacLeod has one just like it, in fact. Regretfully, mine disappeared during St. Patrick's week a few years back. I had it in my pipe case (which I had always done) and somewhere along all of the gigs I either took it out and forgot it or someone lifted it (most likely the former). I backtracked everywhere I had been to no avail, and I miss it terribly. It was an old friend. I've purchased a couple of polys since and they're OK but don't have the sentimental value.

                              SCK
                              Old Soldiers never die, we just smell that way.

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