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 Post subject: Bellows Size
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:03 pm
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Location: Howth Castle and Environs
Forgive me if this topic has already been covered (and if it has, please direct me to it as I could not locate it), but I am looking for advice on the ideal bellows size. For the past 7 or 8 years I have played a 3/4 sized bellows, but now that I am playing regulators more I find myself wanting to get more air into the bag. A former (well-accomplished) teacher advised me that bigger bellows were more of a hinderance because they got in the way when playing regulators and the thing to do was to learn to pump more with the bellows while playing. Any notions or advice on this topic?


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 Post subject: Re: Bellows Size
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:10 am 
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Location: centre France
A larger bellows can also be harder to press but there are other factors that make for efficiency:

Width to length ratio of the bellows boards; a wider board will be harder to press for any given length. The length is, of course, governed by the size of the player as an over long bellows will get in the way and bang up against the body of the pipes.

Angle of opening; More air can be provided by having a larger degree of opening angle but in the end how wide can one move one's arm for comfortable playing.

Efficient valve closure ; The flap valve works best when it closes immediately the player starts to press on the outer board. Some bellows designs have a fair amount of 'lost motion' due to the leather gusset needing to 'balloon' out before the air starts to be swept into the blowpipe. The fixture of the belt around the player's middle can add to this lost motion effect by allowing the bellows to pivot outwards at the front end when elbow pressure is applied .

Inlet and outlet holes: restrictions at the inlet valve can cause the player extra effort to open the bellows. If the outlet is too small then more muscle power is needed to pump the wind into the bag.

I use a medium sized bellows where the board area that sweeps the air is 240mm x 120mm with a 16mm diameter outlet and inlet. The front fixing of the body strap is as far forward as practicable , just behind the outlet pipe, this keeps the inner board firmly against one's body.

Efficient reeds: it all starts for many people with a practice set. Now any strength of reed is possible with just the chanter to play and often makers and learners will use an over strong reed in the practice set as it is easier to control and the new piper has some reasonable work to do with the bag and the bellows. So the heavy reed is gotten used to and the drones are added and balanced to that. Then the regulators are wanted and the player finds the air useage is too high because all the reeds are now too strong . It is like asking directions in rural Ireland and getting the "Oh, I would'nt start from here!" answer. So, think about your reeds, my own set, when all is well , can be played with just the pressure of my little finger on the bag, that is with ALL the reeds going. Currently my little finger is in for repair... :D


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 Post subject: Re: Bellows Size
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:23 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:03 pm
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Location: Howth Castle and Environs
As always, thanks for you kind insight and wisdom. I think I’m going to find a way to economize on air before I go for new bellows.


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 Post subject: Re: Bellows Size
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:49 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:12 am
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Location: centre France
Bagpipes are Wind instruments and therefore need to be as airtight as possible.

Air efficiency starts with an airtight bag, Take out the drone stock and find something to block up the chanter and drone stock cup outlets. Then fully inflate the bag with the blowpipe and place the inflated bag on a hard chair and sit on it. the bag should not go down at all.

If the bag is airtight then check every tube and binding for staunchness.

I have two concertinas, one is pretty airtight, the other, in comparison, is totally airtight. The difference in the way they play is astonishing. Yesterday whilst trying to establish why this is I timed how long I could play an A note before needing to change bellows direction. On one the A was playable for 20 seconds and the other for 30 seconds. OK it does not appear much of a difference but......

Glad to be of help.


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 Post subject: Re: Bellows Size
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 9:02 am 
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As it is with all pumping equipment ,its not the size that matters but how you use it. Its important when using a bellows that it is opened fully on each stroke as the ratio of air entering and leaving the bellows is greatest the further the bellows cheeks are apart. Air tight valves are also important and as good as it is to have an elephant sit on your bag to test it, valves should be tested at low pressure as a valve may be air tight at mega pressures but leak at normal playing pressure. May God have mercy on us all .

RORY

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