Wet Players

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Polara Pat
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Wet Players

Post by Polara Pat »

I have a friend who is really struggling with clogging issues and is admittedly a wet player. I'm not sure how to advise someone one this issue? Play drier? haha Any suggestions I could send his way? His Killarney is the worst, which makes sense since it has such a slight airway.
I have a hard blowing non tunable low Overton by Goldie that I struggle with clogging (and blowing it like a trumpet) and Bridgette's advice is to learn to blow harder without crossing octaves to make it self clear. Not sure if this advice works on the much smaller sopranos.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Sedi »

I had the same problem until I actually did blow harder on my Killarney :D . It can take some push without the notes breaking or screeching. Quite the opposite -- it will sing very nicely when blown with a bit more force and the 2nd octave tuning will be better. And the clogging will stop. At least it worked for me.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Katharine »

All I can think of to suggest are the dishwashing-soap or waxed-dental-floss tricks... they have worked okay for me.
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Polara Pat
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Polara Pat »

Katharine wrote:All I can think of to suggest are the dishwashing-soap or waxed-dental-floss tricks... they have worked okay for me.
You may need to elaborate.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by pancelticpiper »

Katharine wrote:All I can think of to suggest are the dishwashing-soap or waxed-dental-floss tricks... they have worked okay for me.
Me too.

Actually I did the toothpaste-in-the-windway thing, then washed it out with soapy water.

With my Goldie Low D it was very effective and lasted for months.

Specifically what I did (following the directions somebody posted here on C&F) was to cut a little rectangle of thin cardboard that fit perfectly up the windway, smeared some toothpaste on the cardboard and moved it up & down in the windway a few times.

Then removed the cardboard and washed out the toothpaste residue with soapy water.
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Polara Pat
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Polara Pat »

pancelticpiper wrote:
Katharine wrote:All I can think of to suggest are the dishwashing-soap or waxed-dental-floss tricks... they have worked okay for me.
Me too.

Actually I did the toothpaste-in-the-windway thing, then washed it out with soapy water.

With my Goldie Low D it was very effective and lasted for months.

Specifically what I did (following the directions somebody posted here on C&F) was to cut a little rectangle of thin cardboard that fit perfectly up the windway, smeared some toothpaste on the cardboard and moved it up & down in the windway a few times.

Then removed the cardboard and washed out the toothpaste residue with soapy water.
What is this witchcraft and how did I miss that thread? I'm assuming that theory is that the toothpaste is a really mild abrasive and makes the windway glassy smooth? I'll give this a go on my Overton right now.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by TxWhistler »

Polara Pat wrote:
pancelticpiper wrote:
Katharine wrote:All I can think of to suggest are the dishwashing-soap or waxed-dental-floss tricks... they have worked okay for me.
Me too.

Actually I did the toothpaste-in-the-windway thing, then washed it out with soapy water.

With my Goldie Low D it was very effective and lasted for months.

Specifically what I did (following the directions somebody posted here on C&F) was to cut a little rectangle of thin cardboard that fit perfectly up the windway, smeared some toothpaste on the cardboard and moved it up & down in the windway a few times.

Then removed the cardboard and washed out the toothpaste residue with soapy water.
What is this witchcraft and how did I miss that thread? I'm assuming that theory is that the toothpaste is a really mild abrasive and makes the windway glassy smooth? I'll give this a go on my Overton right now.
Actually, I believe it works on the principle that there are substances in both the toothpaste and dish washing soap that affect the surface tension of water and thus makes it harder for the water (your saliva) to bead up. The water flows on down into the whistle body without beading and the wind flow is less disturbed than if the water were to form into droplets (beading).
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Re: Wet Players

Post by pancelticpiper »

Yes, it somehow prevents the water from beading up.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Mr.Gumby »

The toothpaste beasically put a surfactant in the mouthpiece, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). A product like Duponol, that used to be mentioned here a bit, does the same as does wetting agent that you add to the final rinse of newly developed films, to run off the water evenly andavoid staining. It all works against clogging in whistles.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by stiofan »

This thread addresses clogging and how-to tips on preventing it. Colin chimes in toward the end of the discussion (page 4).
https://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewt ... =1&t=92520
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Flexismart »

Here's how I permanently solved my whistle clogging problems:

I sold all the whistles that had clogging issues,
and bought different whistles.

(It was the same solution I used for whistles that squeaked and squawked.)
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pancelticpiper
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Re: Wet Players

Post by pancelticpiper »

When this topic comes up there are usually people who say that whistles that are "played properly" won't clog, however it's never explained what "playing a whistle properly" means.

My response a couple times has been to post a YouTube video of a certain famous whistle player onstage, where he is constantly clearing out the windway. Perhaps somebody needs to show him how to play properly?

The other thing that's usually trotted out is that a whistle won't clog if it's "warmed up".

I live in Sunny Southern California and there have been times when I've left an all-alloy whistle in the car and it's nearly too hot to hold or put to my lips- yet it clogs within seconds. Just how "warmed up" does a whistle need to be to prevent clogging?

The other thing people will say is that there's no such thing as a "wet blower". In the Highland pipe world most players are aware of whether they're a "dry blower" or "wet blower" or in the middle. This difference in the amount of moisture different pipers put into their bags means that the various bagpipes in a band will respond differently to different amounts of playing, not playing, and ambient humidity. Obviously for all the pipes in a band to stay in tune all the reeds need to receive a similar amount of moisture, thus the fact that dry blowers and wet blowers will often choose different types of bags, and the "moisture control systems" that wet blowers often use.

I think perhaps the whistle players who "play properly" are dry blowers, thus they don't have much in the way of clogging problems. Since they don't believe that wet and dry blowing exists they attribute their lack of clogging problems to experience, skill, warming up, etc. (These are mere guesses on my part.)

Anyhow I'm a wet blower, and I couldn't play whistles from the Overton tree until I started doing the toothpaste & dishwater trick.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by Sedi »

pancelticpiper wrote:When this topic comes up there are usually people who say that whistles that are "played properly" won't clog, however it's never explained what "playing a whistle properly" means.
Not saying this is true for all whistles but it was for me with the Killarney which can take quite some air.
My response a couple times has been to post a YouTube video of a certain famous whistle player onstage, where he is constantly clearing out the windway. Perhaps somebody needs to show him how to play properly?
You certainly mean Brian Finnegan who constantly sucks the mositure out of the whistle while playing. Probably because he plays hard-blowing Goldies.
Just how "warmed up" does a whistle need to be to prevent clogging?
Maybe around 100 degrees Celsius so that water that hits it will evaporate? "Too hot to hold" will start at around 41 or 41 degrees Celsius. A friend of mine did a thesis about that on university. He tested it with metal electrodes on the skin of the subjects. Pretty much everybody (men and women alike) said that it starts to hurt once it reaches about 41 to 42 degrees Celsius.
I see it when playing the flute (mine have aluminium mouthpieces) -- water will condense on top of the flute and drip out at the end -- no matter how warmed up it is. I think it is also not only temperature but the material that might influence it.
The other thing people will say is that there's no such thing as a "wet blower".
I think there are many factors involved, like how much one had to drink that day or if one has eaten before playing, etc. Other factors might indeed be genetic, I'd imagine.
I think perhaps the whistle players who "play properly" are dry blowers, thus they don't have much in the way of clogging problems. Since they don't believe that wet and dry blowing exists they attribute their lack of clogging problems to experience, skill, warming up, etc. (These are mere guesses on my part.)
I don't think that everybody who happens to be a dry blower believes that there cannot be different types of players.

From my experience in making these things -- there are many, many factors not yet mentioned:
-- airway shape -- curved airway does clog a little less but can clog, too.
-- the end of the airway is particularly important -- depending on the shape the water can build up directly at the end of the airway which will destroy the sound.
-- material -- a wooden block can soak up moisture (that's why they say not to oil the block) but might swell in the process if the wood is too soft -- but there are also a lot of differences betwen other materials like delrin, different types of metal, etc
-- one of my favourite whistles that I made myself does clog and it never goes away completely but it still plays lovely -- the airway is very much shaped like that of the typical Overton/Goldie/Thunderbird style -- broad, flat and the airway is not very high. It will get better when warmed up but not go away completely. I never bothered with the toothpaste thing, since it just doesn't matter when only playing for myself. It's completely different of course when playing in sessions/on stage/in a studio, etc.
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Re: Wet Players

Post by busterbill »

Pancelticpiper, thanks for the insight on the various types of blowers in a pipe band.

When this post first popped up I watched everyone comment on how to adapt the whistle. But no one commented on techniques that might help a wet blower blow drier.

I tried writing up some ideas, but ended up with more questions than answers.

I have only run into wet blowers who were beginners. I'm talking about blowers wet enough that they drip on the floor or their pant leg. In those cases it can be explained to them as: Don't worry. Right now you are concentrating so hard your flight or flight adrenaline is kicking in and you are making extra saliva so you can run away from that tiger. You're not actually spitting into your whistle, but extra mouth moisture will add to condensation as you blow. This will end.

Kids are particularly embarrassed by this lack of control. Nobody likes get caught drooling.

In those cases I've encouraged people to suck and swallow with their mouth closed, or take a sip of water and swallow, then take a deep breath throught their mouth before they play. This will dry out the mouth. And making sure they breathe through their mouth, no shortcuts through their nose. Continuing to take in air through my mouth as I play seems to keep things pretty dry.


I also notice I drop my jaw a bit when I whistle. This is make my mouth a completely different internal shape than it is when I play flute. I don't know if that shape is making the difference. Is the saliva pooling to be swallowed later? Does it dry out as I inhale?


I know there are some people who just make more saliva than others and drying out on the inhale may not work at all. In that case finding a whistle that works with you is probably the best option. I would think some folks who teach more regularly would have some ideas if we can adapt our technique.

Can the angle of our head in relationship to the whistle be a factor? Head angle in relationship to neck? Jaw position? Cheeks relaxed? Cheeks tensed? Is the tongue dropped or riding high in the mouth cavity? Like I said, I ended up with more questions than answers.
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pancelticpiper
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Re: Wet Players

Post by pancelticpiper »

busterbill wrote:
I have only run into wet blowers who were beginners. I'm talking about blowers wet enough that they drip on the floor...
Interestingly, the wettest Irish flute blower I've ever seen was Ray Tubridy (RIP) cousin of Michael Tubridy of Chieftains fame. Back in the 1980s when I was in my 20s he must have been in his 50s, and had been playing since age 8.

It was quite amazing how, soon after he started playing, water would begin flowing out the end of his flute.

In the Highland pipe world I can't remember a teacher or experienced player commenting about a connection between wet blowing and inexperience. How much moisture you put into the bag is reckoned as an inherent attribute of a piper.

There's one very good piper, he plays in a Grade One band and plays Open solos, who is probably the wettest-blowing piper I've seen. In spite of him using the best kind of bag for keeping dry, not only do his reeds get soaking wet but water appears inside his drones after a few minutes. I did a gig with him and between every tune he would take his pipes all apart and swab everything out.

I watched him play in a certain solo competition, there were two judges' tables and each piper would go to table #1 and play for that judge, stop, then immediately turn to table #2, strike up, and play for the other judge. But not this wet-blowing piper! He played his tune for the first judge, then kneeled on the floor, disassembled his pipes, swabbed them all out, reassembled them, and finally struck up for the second judge. (I wonder what was going through the second judge's mind.)
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