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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:24 am 
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Hi Highlanders.....
Anyone have any personal feedback on Duncan MaRae pipes from McCallum? I play Kintails and Naill- both with very different drone characteristics and have become curiouser & curiouser about these pipes. Looking for some insights from a human piper, as opposed a listening to a member of the Justice League like Liddell (which I could do all day....s)
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Seamus


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:15 am 
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A fellow in our Pipe Band plays a set.

They're lovely looking. The shapes of the mounts are much more traditional and elegant than the modern boxy McCallum style.

The CNC engraving on the alloy ferrules is the nicest I've seen on pipes. So much CNC engraving looks like graphic design clip-art. On the MacRae pipes the CNC engraving looks more traditional.

The drones have a big rich tone.

One thing to be aware of is that McCallum copied the bore specs on Liddell's original MacRaes including the fact that the two tenors had different specs.

I've owned several 100+ year old pipes and this feature was common. AFAIK McCallum is the first modern maker to do it.

Back in the day of cane drone reeds it wasn't an issue. Cane is infinitely variable and you would go through dozens of reeds finding the exact perfect reed for each of your three drones. Having the two tenors vary wouldn't matter one bit; they're never exactly the same anyhow.

But today we purchase synthetic drone reed sets and the two tenor reeds are the same, meaning that while they might work fine in one tenor they might not be ideal for the other tenor.

This is what's happened to the guy in our band. One of his tenors is fine, the other is wonky. It's finicky about striking in.

I told him it would be a matter of thinking of his tenors as individual instruments, and that he will probably end up with two different makes of tenor drone reeds.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:32 pm 
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Some good information, Rich. Thank you


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:44 pm 
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Talked to the piper yesterday, he said he has the issue sorted.

He's using the same brand of synthetic reed in both tenors, the two are adjusted differently to suit each.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:41 pm 
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Ah....just what we pipers need- more reeds to tweak (s)


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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 4:14 pm 
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Hello pancelticpiper, i find the fact the 2 tenors are different intriguing, would you say it's down to manufacture tolerances or deliberate ? is it obvious to the ear and is it bore or cavity/length changes ? cheers in advance..


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 5:29 pm 
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Eagach wrote:
Hello pancelticpiper, i find the fact the 2 tenors are different intriguing, would you say it's down to manufacture tolerances or deliberate ? is it obvious to the ear and is it bore or cavity/length changes ? cheers in advance..



Deliberate.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:43 pm 
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Eagach wrote:
the fact the 2 tenors are different intriguing, would you say it's down to manufacture tolerances or deliberate?


With these new MacRae reproductions by McCallum it's deliberate, because the vintage pipes they copied were like that.

With vintage pipes we have no way of knowing why those long-dead makers did the things that they did, unless one of the makers wrote about it. I haven't seen anybody mention finding such writings.

Oh we can make all the guesses we want! But we can't know.

I first encountered the unmatched tenor thing when I bought an old set of Henderson pipes back in the 1970s.

The owner, a piper in the Royal Scots, had played them in WWI. After the war he moved to California, where he died in 1928. His widow had just died, hence the sale. The daughter told me that as far as she knew the pipes had been sitting in their box up in the rafters in the garage since 1928. They were selling them for $150.

Months later, when I measured all the bores, I found that one tenor was slightly smaller in EVERY spec. The bottom section bore, the tone chamber, the upper bore, the bush.

This occurs on many c1880-c1930 "classic" pipes, and the difference between the two tenors is so regular that it seems calculated and deliberate.

The result is that one tenor is slightly softer than the other.

The question is: does the soft tenor go in the middle, so that the volume of the two tenors is balanced from the perspective of the player?

Or does the soft tenor go on the outside, so that the volume of the two tenors is balanced from the perspective of the listener?

I've yet to hear anybody but me ask that question, and so far there have been no answers.

You might say "what difference could it make? The tenors are close together."

Well, we put them close together now. It was not always that way. Back when Peter Henderson and David Glen and Robert Lawrie were alive and making pipes the fashion was to have the drones further apart.

Like these guys. The outer tenor is pointing straight at the audience. Makes sense for that tenor to be more mellow, no? Not buzzing straight at the ears of the listeners?

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:13 am 
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Don't know how much it applies to the setup of these pipes, this reminds me of something I remember from when I took a course in orchestral arrangement. We were taught that having two of the same instrument play in unison would make the note louder (and a bit fuller), but having two different instruments (string, woodwind, brass, or a mix) play the same pitch would make the note more interesting due to the different harmonic content of each of the instruments (Beethoven used this a fair bit). Wouldn't changing the bore/length ratio of the two tenor drones introduce a small harmonic content? You already have the natural variations of the reeds (not so much with modern composite reeds). Think of the difference in character (not volume or pitch) of a concert D set bass drone and a C flat set bass.

Dave Boling

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:51 am 
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Yes that's the idea I've heard put forward as to the why of the mismatched tenors, to get different timbres.

I don't think so. Because maintaining the ratios or proportions of all the various bores in a drone as closely as possible tells us that the maker was trying to get the different-sized drone to sound as much as possible like the other, just at a lower volume.

If the purpose was two distinct timbres that could be achieved by using different ratios/proportions, giving different harmonics, but maintaining equal volume levels.

BTW as Highland pipers know you can get an amazing range of timbres from the bass drone according to where you place the two tuning pins.

Placing the top pin as high as possible, and the bottom pin and low as possible, gives a very bright tone full of high harmonics.

Placing the top pin lower, around midpoint, and bringing the bottom pin up to around midpoint gives a darker tone.

(Pipers nearly always want the brighter tone.)

In any case if Highland pipe makers did the tenors in three sections like the bass, in effect making the tenors half-sized bass drones, you could adjust the two tenors to have timbres as similar or different as you wished.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
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