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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2002 11:20 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 49
Location: Sacramento, California
Pressure and practice sets

I was at the San Francisco Pipers Club meeting yesterday and with two people with about one years experience and one yet to strap on pipes, this topic came up. I voiced the same opinion I posted here earlier, and the other more advanced..none of us would consider ourselves 'master pipers'..players had similar opinions. We passed around the practice chanters that the beginners were compaining about.

They couldn't get certain notes in tune.... in general we could

Many if not all the squeaks and squawks and other problems they had disapeared.

Each chanter is dfferent, each reed is different, and each chanter/reed combo is different.

The upshot of it was that i came away with a reminder of just how difficult this instrument is to deal with, and the hurdles that have to be overcome will vary in difficulty by the individual and his instrument.

If you are having problems with tuning, and remember equal tuning as found on in pop music and on the piano is out of tune on the pipes, then any number of things could be the problem. Do not rely on an electronic tuner to tell you that any given note is in tune.

Poor posture, not allowing you control of the bag.

not enough strength & cordination between bag & bellows

not covering the holes properly, including the seal at the bottom of the chanter

leakey bag, bellows or any joint anywhere

poorly made reed/chanter or both.

I thought i had all sorts of troubles with my concert pitch half set and nearly quit piping twice out of sheer frustration. It wasn't really until I bought a brand new full set of pipes that I really had an idea of what a set of pipes is supposed to play like. In very short order, many of my problems went away, and sudden;y, as if by magic, the problems with the concert pitch set went away, never to be seen again.

Unfortunatley, the only thing I can pass on to you about the difference is what i all ready have mentioned.. play with higher pressure than you think necessary. if notes are out of tune and you are sure it is not you, send the chanter back to the maker and have him work on it.

The idea of 7 years to learn, 7 years to practice and 7 years to master, has merit. At about 7 years experience, I can now get down to actually trying to play (practice) these things, rather than struggling to just gt reliable, reasonably in tune notes.

mike


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2002 5:43 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 774
Location: Midwest
you're depressing me.

:smile:

Jeff


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2002 7:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Washington
Hey Mike,
Do you know when the next San Fran. piper's club meeting is? I really want to go to one, but don't know when the meetings are.

Thanks!
Caryn


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2002 1:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 256
Location: Bakersfield, CA USA
Hello everyone, this is my first message on the board. I have, however, been reading the board now for a couple of weeks.
TONY, I need your advice. I believe I saw you say that you own a Neil O'Grady practice set. I just recieved my practice set by O'Grady, via Song of the Sea, last Friday (1/4/02). It was the last one they had. I had been researching the Uilleann pipes, makers and info about them for the last year. I talked to Neil personally a few times by phone before I decided to buy the set. I am pleased with the new pipes, they look and sound great. I have played Low & High whistle and guitar for a few yers now so I familiar with sound and pitch. However, like every newcomer to the pipes, I'm trying to tune the effectively. I looked at the Seth Gallagher site that you mentioned but have not had a lot of success from it. I do not seem to be able adjust the bridle at all...up, down, or squeezing. Also, you mentioned that O'grady's pipes play well in cold conditions, I live in Bakersfield,California where it is ussually warm and sometimes very hot. Any advice or knowledge you could give me about his sets from experience would be awesome!! Thanks so!
GOD bless
Joseph


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2002 3:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 5146
Location: Surlyville
Joseph... WELCOME ABOARD !!
I did say O'Grady's reeds play well in cold climates, but they are equally suited in warm humid climates (I live in Miami) with minor adjustment.
Neil sands his reeds on a drum that's about 2" in diameter. Many other reedmakers use smaller sizes, as far down as 1-3/4" knowing this, when you pull the bridal up too far, the ends of the reed may lift (instead of just raising the opening of the 'eye') and it becomes unplayable. This shouldn't hurt the reed, but it won't make pleasant sounds.
Neil suggests you run a THIN bead of white glue up the edges of the reed to seal it from opening. I applied glue with a toothpick and smeared it clean with my finger... this way glue only touched the edges and didn't penetrate between the reed slips. The bridal must be down (away from the reed end) when doing this.
Another way that won't permanently affect the reed is to cut some tape approximately 1/2" long x 1/4" wide and place it over the ends of the reed. This way, when you move the bridal up, the reed edges are sealed, yet you can remove the tape should you not like the results.
Neil makes a bridal that is very stiff and tightly wrapped. You may only get 1mm total adjustment. I have reeds from other makers that easily travel 4-5mm. Often the thickness of a pencil line determines between horrible and perfection performance.
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My O'Grady chanter is the most stable chanter I have... the tradeoff is the others are louder, more lively sounding but more tempermental especially with humidity and temperature changes.
Modifications to the O'Grady set ?? I took some 600 wet & dry sandpaper and smoothed the finger holes a tiny bit... this improved the seal and help reduce squeaks. Also the leather tube from the bellows to the bag tends to close if you bend it. I placed a smaller diameter vinyl tube inside the leather to keep it from crushing.
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Keep us posted on your progress as the reed will change slightly as it breaks in. Don't expect 'piano tuning' for each note as pipes are best described as 'just so tuning' and harmonize better with drones this way.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2002 6:29 pm 
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Location: Bakersfield, CA USA
Tony,
Thank you so much for your quick response and great information! Knowing that you are not alone, and that someone out there has faced what you face, and has answers; is half the battle when fighting discouragement. I will consider everything you said. It is great help. What you mentioned about O'Grady's bridals being stiff and tightly wrapped makes A LOT of sense. I understand now, THANK YOU!
You also mentioned that other reeds can be louder or more lively. I think the volume is just fine, if not a little loud. In this day and age of microphones and pick-ups, it's not a problem. Anyway, I will keep working at it with renewed vigor and understanding. Thanks again for quick response.
GOD bless
Joseph


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2002 9:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2001 6:00 pm
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Location: Surlyville
The O'Grady chanter can be adjusted to play quieter than other chanters... Whisper quiet if you want to scrape the reed, but let's hold that thought for a later date.
If the reed is in tune you can press at the bridal a tiny amount... more like miniscule (did I spell that correctly?) amounts. Sometimes, if you make big changes and it plays well today, it may not play at all tomorrow. This is probably because the reed is 'de-stressing'
Often reeds are stressed into shape by the binding and bridal. When you relax the pressure, the reed will continue to try to return to the shape it was before it was stressed. If you know this is happening to the reed, then you won't be so likely to get frustrated because it worked one day and not the next.
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You can easily kill a reed if you over squeeze the bridal. If you slip, it may snap longways. Be careful !!
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Keep the changes in humidity/temperature as minimal as practical and you will notice more time playing and less time spent reed tweaking.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Tony on 2002-01-10 06:12 ]</font>


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