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Study comparing chanter woods
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Author:  Tunborough [ Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Study comparing chanter woods

Mathieu Paquier, Etienne Hendrickx, Raphaƫl Jeannin. "Effect of wood on the sound of oboe as simulated by the chanter of a 16-inch French bagpipe." Applied Acoustics, Elsevier, 2016, 103 (Part A), pp.47-53. <>. <10.1016/j.apacoust.2015.10.008>. <hal-01249944>. Full text available at

This study compared 10 French bagpipe chanters, two each of five different wood species, each recorded with a cane reed and a synthetic reed. The listeners included both trained pipers and musicians who were not pipers. The listeners did notice a difference between the sound of the two reeds. While they did notice differences in the sound of different chanters, the differences did not seem to depend on what wood the chanter was made from. For example, they did a better job of distinguishing one of the African ebony chanters from the other, than they did distinguishing the first ebony chanter from either chanter made from boxwood or service tree.

"The influence of wood on the sound of chanters from french 16" bagpipes is therefore limited, and appears to be less important than micro-differences in manufacturing."

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Sun Oct 16, 2016 5:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Study comparing chanter woods

This has long been going on in the flute world. This is a particularly good article on the topic ... loeten.pdf

Since studies of what different materials sound like to an outside listener consistently show that the differences are negligible, but players firmly maintain that the material makes a difference, I have to conclude that the differences are of the sort which can be perceived by the player but not by a 3rd party.

I personally experienced this when I got a chance to try around a dozen different wood headjoints on the same silver Boehm flute body. There were around 3 headjoints of each of (as I recall) around four different woods such as ebony, Brazilian rosewood, boxwood, etc. Each wood had clearly different playing characteristics especially in the response/flexibility aspect. This of course cannot be perceived by a 3rd party.

Author:  Tunborough [ Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Study comparing chanter woods

That would be the next step, wouldn't it? ... Let all those pipers try out the different chanters and see what they thought. It is harder to do blind comparisons of this sort, but it has been attempted.

The researchers also didn't ask the pipemaker their thoughts on making identical chanters from dissimilar woods. The researchers do speculate that, "some wood species (boxwood for example) may have a more constant structure, and/or may provide a more constant manufacture than other wood species." Some of what you observed with the flute head joints may relate to what different woods make possible in construction: thinner walls, sharper angles, smoother finishes...

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