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 Post subject: Symptoms of Dying Reed?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:19 am 
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Hello, Uillean pipers. I've been playing a chanter reed made by Kirk Lynch for about 6 months now and I notice that, even under favorable environmental conditions (humidity around 44%, temp around 72), it's starting to shut down more and more on some notes. I'll be playing happily along and suddenly it will refuse to sound on a note (or two), regardless of bag pressure, high or low. I have to stop playing altogether and then try again - and as often as not even that won't get the reed vibrating again. This is something I saw a bit of in the winter when it was very dry, but now it's occurring in the summer when the humidity is much higher.

I know there's no answer to the question "How long does a reed typically last?" (like "how long is a piece of string?" someone on this forum said). However, are there particular symptoms a failing reed manifests? Is this one such symptom? Could I fix this growing problem by adjusting the bridle some way, up or down? Or is it just my technique that's causing this?

I appreciate any insight from the more experienced pipers here.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:19 am 
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Sounds like your reed is closing up. Open it a bit by adjusting the bridle.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:45 am 
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Reeds need to be examined and adjusted from time to time. Usually this involves checking for leaks/cracks, ensuring the binding is still airtight, that the lips are not too open or closed, etc. When you acquired your pipes, did anyone show you how to examine and adjust the reed?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:08 pm 
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PJ wrote:
When you acquired your pipes, did anyone show you how to examine and adjust the reed?


My teacher showed me a bit, but the first time I tried to adjust the bridle I made a hash of it and nearly rendered the reed on one of his practice sets unplayable altogether. That made me somewhat gun-shy of messing about with the reed. But I suppose I can't keep that attitude forever . . . .

As I recall, moving the bridle up moved the reed lips apart more. If the reed is shutting down, does that mean the lips are too close together? If so, then I imagine a miniscule move upward with the bridle should correct it, yes? And if it gets worse, move the bridle down.

How does that sound?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:26 pm 
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CorneliusG wrote:
As I recall, moving the bridle up moved the reed lips apart more. If the reed is shutting down, does that mean the lips are too close together? If so, then I imagine a miniscule move upward with the bridle should correct it, yes? And if it gets worse, move the bridle down.

How does that sound?

More or less. Moving the bridle up opens the reed, and moving it down closes the reed. It can take less than a mm to make a noticeable change. A reed that is too open often takes too much pressure, and one of the main problems I've encountered with a reed that's too closed is an autocran on the low D. But there are plenty of other indicators of a reed that's too closed or open.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:46 pm 
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It should be mentioned that not all reeds are designed to be adjusted by moving the bridle up and down. Many (most?) are, but definitely not all(!) It may be that the bridle must be squeezed to adjust it.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:23 am 
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Kirk Lynch has told me to move the bridle up just a tiny bit to open the lips. I did and that appears to have worked. (He actually said a lot more, but that's the gist of it.)

(He also suggested trimming material off the reed lips, but I'd prefer not to go there. I currently lack a back up reed - need to get one.)


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