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Baritone Regulator tuning issue
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Author:  Hamish [ Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Baritone Regulator tuning issue

Hi everyone,
I have recently upgraded my concert pitch pipes to a 3/4 set. I'm enjoying the new sound of the added regulators but am having a few tuning issues with the baritone regulator. I started by getting the reeds playing at a pressure to match my drones and chanter. I then began fine tuning by getting the A note pretty much correct. For this note to be in tune the G, F# and D notes all need to be considerably flattened to come in tune with the respective notes on the chanter. I added a tuning wire to the pin so it would extend just south of the A hole and went ahead and flattened notes using graduated bits of blu tak. I can tune all the notes fine this way but it seems that there is too much now inside the bore and the D note varies up and down in pitch with very little change in pressure. I confirmed that this was the problem by taking out the end (with tuning pin) and covering the end with insulation tape. The regulator obviously played out of tune but was completely steady under pressure. The only solution I have come up with is to flatten all notes overall by pulling out the reed. This leaves the A note very flat but the others requiring very little blu tak (virtually none) on the tuning pin to get the G, F# and D in tune. Due to less blu tak in the bore the regulator plays very steady. I tried lengthening/shortening the bore but this didn't really help at all.

I'm new to using them and have found so far that I don't seem to be using the first row (C,A) really at all. I'm sure as I get more experienced I will be needing the A note on the baritone regulator to be in tune.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated,
Thank you,


Author:  flutefry [ Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Baritone Regulator tuning issue


There are many more knowledgeable people than I, but here are some things I learned the hard way.

-I understand that you have balanced the reeds and that is great. Nevertheless, you may find that with the stress of adding regulators to what is already a complicated business, that you are applying too much pressure, and making your job of flattening notes more difficult. So try tuning regs with drones and/or chanter going to make it less likely that you are pressing too hard.
-Start with the A, and go down one at a time. Changing one note affects the other notes, by changing nodal patters and bore profile. Thus the aim is to flatten the G a bit less than you would like, because you will find flattening the F# will bring the G down some more. Ditto for flattening the D, it will bring down the F# and G , and even the A sometimes.
-Use the thinnest rushes you can get away with. The D string of a guitar is about right and easy to get.
-Use the shortest rush you can (I wouldn't have it go up to hear the A hole.....)
-The tuning pin by itself can do a lot to bring the bottom three notes in tune, so discover how much you can do by changing its position.
-Try changing the shape of the blue tac blobs. Longer and thinner like a hot-dog/sausage blocks less bore compared to the same amount of blue-tac in a ball.
-Try changing the position of the blue tack. You can often get equivalent flattening with less blue tac if you find just the right position a relative to the hole
-In real life you likely will have to futz with position and shape of the blue tac, and with the tuning pin all at once, but aim for the least amount and cross-sectional area of blue tac, and get as much as possible done with the pin.
-The only time I have used the reed position to tune lower notes was when they could be brought into tune with the reed, but the A was sharp, so I could flatten the A with blue tac. This turned out well, because there was now only one blob of blue tack in the reg instead of three.

Happy to chat off line if you wish but I hope seasoned veterans here jump in.


Author:  Hamish [ Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Baritone Regulator tuning issue

Thank you Hugh for your help. The rush I'm using is thin copper wire. About the thickness of a D perhaps A guitar string. I guess I'm just a little frustrated due to very quickly getting the tenor reg tuned. Regarding pressure, I have been told that my pipes are easy enough to play, very efficient and requiring minimal air. I will certainly try experimenting again soon. Is it worth trying a different reed or is it more than likely the same symptoms will occur??

Author:  flutefry [ Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Baritone Regulator tuning issue


A balanced set is a precious thing, so I would be careful about the reed until it was obvious that there were no other solutions. Having said that, micro-adjustments of the bridle open the lips and make the reed harder, or to close the lips and make it softer, also change the pitch to a useful degree without affecting the balance unduly. Such changes could allow less blue tac.

Your rush sounds fine. One trick is to fold over a finer gauge wire and twist it to make a stiffer, but small diameter rush.

In my limite experience, your starting point is pretty good because all notes are in the same direction at a given reed position. So I remain optimistic that your diagnosis is right-namely you need to keep as much junk out of the bore as possible. I find I spend a lot of time with the tuning pin, which is very hand for solving large tuning deviations for at least one note without changing bore diameter, which gives a fighting chance of solving the other problems and still having a stable bottom note.

My heart sinks when some notes are way sharp, and others are way flat, or when the bottom note starts out unstable before anything else is touched. At that point I am thinking "it's the reed".

If this isn't heresy, Seth Gallagher used to make phosphor-bronze reeds, and now Tim Benson will make these as well ($25 US per reed, plus postage (~$10 USD). I love their stability, and that once the regs are in tune, they stay in tune. So if you are thinking of trying a reed, this is a very cost-effective and reliable way to go. Tim was great to deal with as well.


Author:  Hamish [ Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Baritone Regulator tuning issue

Thanks again Hugh for your time and comments.

I hear people often giving out about how difficult it is to keep regulators in tune. So I guess it would be no harm to try those phospher bronze reeds for the craic. I do have a spare cane reed that the pipe maker sent with the regulators that I could also try. I just find although I do enjoy adjusting and getting the various parts of the pipes playing well and in tune it takes away from learning/practicing the tunes. Sometimes I feel more like a mechanic than a piper...

Thanks again for all your advice.


Author:  an seanduine [ Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Baritone Regulator tuning issue

Quote: "Sometimes I feel more like a mechanic than a piper..."
I thought that was the other meaning for 'piobaire'. :D


Author:  John Driscoll [ Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Baritone Regulator tuning issue

Hamish - I'm curious to see what ever came of your baritone reg. Did you try a different reed from Tim Benson? Also, did you find anything new about your reg that helped with the tuning?

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