Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

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Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by moonlitnarwhal »

Hello,

I understand if this question seems laughable, but I've been wondering if a type of bagpipe could be designed to play with metal reeds, similar to accordion style reeds?

We don't necessarily need to debate the potential design challenges, but I'm curious if the basic concept could even work - could a highly-modified chanter and drone be designed to use metal-tongued reeds?? I play a bit of diatonic accordion and love the tone of metal reeds, and I've always fantasized about learning the pipes... additionally I've been really enjoying playing an Indian Shruti box (which is a metal reeded instrument designed to produced a sustained drone), so I think the inspiration arose in the midst of all this... Any thoughts out there? If it was possible, metal reeds could even be more stable in range of conditions (altitude, moisture, temperature, etc.) compared with natural cane reeds, although I know that the sound produced would be vastly different from most bagpipes, it could produce a phenomenally unique tone....

All ideas or comments welcome!
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by fatmac »

I think you've basically answered your own question, other instruments use metal reeds, so there is no reason as to why they wouldn't work, with a bit of adjustment, but as you say, will give a different sound. At the moment, I believe, there are some musicians who use plastic reeds instead of cane, so anything is possible. :)
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by oleorezinator »

There are plenty of single reed bagpipes.
Some uilleann pipe regulator reed are metal.
Boston piper and pipe maker Patsy Brown
worked at the Gillette razor factory and used
the same razor blanks for some chanter reeds.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MichaelLoos »

You can make single as well as double reeds from metal, BUT you can not operate a bagpipe instrument with free reeds like harmonica, accordion etc - these need a bit more air but far less pressure to sound than the other types of reeds.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by pancelticpiper »

I had Colin Ross NSP and it had reeds with sheet metal tongues in the drones.

I can't remember now what the bodies of the reeds were, if they were metal or wood.

There's a whole thing about making uilleann regulator reeds out of beverage cans, if you get the right can it already has the correct curve built in. There's probably threads in the uilleann section about it. If I recall, an issue was that the correct steel beverage cans were only available in Germany.

I had a number of Bulgarian chanters that had chanter reeds (single reeds, like drone reeds) with a wooden body and thin clear sheet plastic tongues. The nice thing about that is the maker can create exactly the right reed design to get good tuning and voicing from the chanter, rather than the player having to try to re-create the original design every time he needs a reed. All the player has to do is craft a tiny sliver of plastic. Whether sheet metal could be substituted for the plastic, I don't know.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by pipemaker »

I had good results with phosphor bronze on drone reeds. Tried this material for the paralel shaped reeds on Zampogna. Only perfect sheetmaterial without wrinkles and other deformations will do.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MadmanWithaWhistle »

I believe the Chinese drone instrument “hulusi” has a metal reed, but uses a wide bore like a whistle.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MadmanWithaWhistle »

Just got an interesting bit of info from my friend Zexuan - apparently mylar (that metalized plastic stuff) can also be used to make very good synthetic reeds. It's metal in part, I guess!
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by Peter Duggan »

There's no metal in Mylar.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MichaelLoos »

Mylar is often used by Italian zampogna reed makers - they all seem to get it from friends working at the Fiat factory, AFAIK it is used in car technology as an electric insulator.
Definitely no metal...
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by Glenarley »

Yes
We made one from brass shim and while it was almost in tune on an old Warmac it was so icey it would cut you in half. Some complain that the plastic GHB reeds we make are too bright on the high A and that is with a softer plastic than Mylar.
We got the idea of brass shim from a Chinese horn we saw in our travels that used a brass double reed.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MadmanWithaWhistle »

Peter Duggan wrote:There's no metal in Mylar.
I thought it involved sputter coating, like how organic samples are metalized prior to examining with an electron microscope.
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MadmanWithaWhistle »

Glenarley wrote:Yes
We made one from brass shim and while it was almost in tune on an old Warmac it was so icey it would cut you in half. Some complain that the plastic GHB reeds we make are too bright on the high A and that is with a softer plastic than Mylar.
We got the idea of brass shim from a Chinese horn we saw in our travels that used a brass double reed.

I would LOVE to hear more about that - any pictures?
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by Glenarley »

Good day MadmanWithaWhistle

Did you want to see a pic of the horn thing or the reed?

Cheers

G
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Re: Could a Bagpipe Have Metal Reeds??

Post by MadmanWithaWhistle »

Glenarley wrote:Good day MadmanWithaWhistle

Did you want to see a pic of the horn thing or the reed?

Cheers

G
Yes to both!
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