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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 4:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2001 6:00 pm
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Location: Tulsa, OK
I thought I would post this particular question to my friends and family at C&F, rather than the yahoo board.

I'm a beginner u.piper and I just recently got a 1/2 set made by a reputable US maker.

My biggest surprise in learning to play is how <i>hard</i> I have to squeeze the bag to get even the slightest squeek to come out. I'm talking <u>really</u> hard. When I listen to CDs the really good players sound like they're barely even pressing on their bags- the notes seem to effortlessly come forth.

I have been playing music long enough to know that the experts always make it sound easy and effortless.

So, what are people's experiences who have played on many different sets made by different manufacturers? Do they all basically have the same air pressure requirements? I'm assuming that my reed is fairly decent quality as it came from the manufacturer.

When I play up into the second octave, it really really gets tough. After playing for a few minutes I am exhausted. Any advise?

Quitting over a little physical exertion isn't an option. I like uilleann pipes too much for that.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: John-N on 2001-09-24 18:58 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 5:05 pm 
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Location: Kickin' it Braveheart style...
Sounds like something is really wrong with the plumbing from the bag to the chanter, assuming that the reed is OK. If you disconnect the chanter from the bag, is there considerable resistance to air flow? If you remove the reed from the chanter and suck (don't blow!!!) on the staple end, can you easily get a tone?

Michael Eskin


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 4:37 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2001 6:00 pm
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Location: Surlyville
John,
Don't despair, reed problems are a part of Uilleann pipes by their very nature. You're asking this instrument to make some of the most awesome sounds known to mankind, so you have to coax them a bit to get something in return. If it were easy, everyone would play one.
Assuming you have nothing faulty with your setup you should expect reeds to be on the firm side... I would expect the drones to play with medium pressure and it's the chanter you're having trouble with.
Pipes are different than standarized woodwinds, like a saxophone, where you can easily buy reeds in varying grades of firmness. A beginner would use a 1 - 1 1/2 where a pro might select a 4 - 5 and couldn't play the same style on a softer reed. Changing between grades is simple and not expensive.
Sax reeds last months, Uilleann pipe reeds last years depending on the player and conditions.
You can scrape and sand a reed to play softer but you may go through a few reeds until you learn where and when to stop scraping. Once you've removed the cane you can't undo the process and may render a reed worthless if it cracks or becomes too thin to play under pressure.
As a beginner you might want to buy a book on reeds. Pipers Despair by Quinn or Uilleann Pipe Reedmaker's Guidance Manual by Hegarty can give you valuable insight on reed tweaking.
I have 2 spare reeds that are so firm I have to 'stand on the bag' just to get them to play. Of the players I've met, I haven't been able to comfortably play their sets, I feel they require too much pressure for my taste, but the reeds play better this way. Try to find someone in your area that can play your pipes and give you assistance. You might also call the pipemaker for some advice. Just don't get frustrated as you have plenty of resources and people willing to help !

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Tony on 2001-09-25 08:10 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 7:16 am 
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Location: Behind the Zion Curtain
So Tony,

What is the advantage of a harder reed? Is it then more responsive? Louder? More "traditional" in tone? And do they get softer as they're played in?

Bri~


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 9:00 am 
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Location: Surlyville
Yes,
to all of the above. Stronger bottom D, much louder, brighter tone and less likely to have tuning and weather related problems.
Just like new shoes, they get more comfortable when 'played in' as each reed has it's own personality and tunes and reacts slightly different than the next one.
As I may have indicated before, my personal preference is a softer reed. I've been in two car accidents in the last 5 years and can't develop as much arm pressure (without pain) as I would like, so I compensate by shaving the reeds, this makes the reed overly sensitive to changes in bag pressure. I can accept this and have a great deal of fun playing pipes.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 10:14 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 6:00 pm
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Location: SV/Strayaway
hey john,i can't really say with out looking but it sounds like the reed lips are too far open,if you have a sliding bridal try sliding it down(away from the lips)and look carfully at the space between the lips to see if they have become closer together which should mean less bag pressure.my presure is such that i have to remember to back off a little on low D or she might squeal.call the maker,make sure the lips are still curved,they can go flat-straight,especially coming from over seas,be carefull removing the wind cap as this is one of the easiest ways to damage a reed.you'llget it straightened out,cheers,tansy


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2001 12:44 am 
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Location: Germany
Apart from reed problems, you should check the airflow from bellows to chanter first. Are the valves on bellows and bag closing firmly to prevent backflow of air? Are bag and bellows themselves airtight (use a cork and press!!!!). Sometimes the bag seasoning comes off and gets into the blowpipe. When playing without a popping strap, often air leaks from the bottom of the chanter and causes the chanter to sqeak . There are many things that can give you a hard time keeping up the pressure. You should check them first before ever thinking of touching the reed.


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