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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:02 am 
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I think I saw that saying posted in Las Vegas (Lost Wages).


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 5:05 pm 
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brianc wrote:

OK, fair play then... clearly, my $1200 figure was well off (and I'm thinking that the figure was related to a full set, as there would be drones and regs to deal with as well).

I see a Pakistani practice set for sale on Ebay right now for $412.50... (buy it now price) ... this is considerably more than you paid (was yours a resale, by chance)?

Frankly, I think the knock on them is deserved (just my opinion), largely due to the fact that many people that buy them don't know about places like this forum, or aren't near a piper or maker who can help guide their decision with experience. That said, there must be a market for them (however small) - otherwise, they wouldn't be making them.

So - you have a Pakistani-made set, it's been reworked, and by your estimationyou're 2 years ahead of the game, and that's certainly a good thing.

How much time did the rework take (just out of curiousity)?

I think the bigger knock on Pakistani pipes is that the majority of folks that buy them don't know that they can be reworked.


No it was not a resale, but it was a few years ago, and there wasn't the "Buy it now only" thing going on at the time. I thought I mentioned already that it took just around a month to have the work done. Actually, it was a bit longer, but that was due to the maker being on tour at the time I sent it out.

I agree absolutely that they'd be pretty useless without the knowledge (and the plan) to have them reworked. But at least nobody worries about offending another maker by doing the work on them. That can't be said of some "real" makers' poorer products.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 3:24 pm 
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Doug Dexter wrote:
Once I got bottom D and back D working, I started enlarging the holes from the bottom up by 1/64” at a time until the notes came close to true.


Wouldn't it be better to tune the holes from the top down as bore effects are, as far as I am aware, transmitted down the bore.

If you tune from bottom up, the hole you are working on may affect the tuning of a hole you had previously tuned.

This is probably one for the pipe makers amoungst us to confirm.

David


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:03 pm 
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David Lim wrote:
Doug Dexter wrote:
Once I got bottom D and back D working, I started enlarging the holes from the bottom up by 1/64” at a time until the notes came close to true.


Wouldn't it be better to tune the holes from the top down as bore effects are, as far as I am aware, transmitted down the bore.

If you tune from bottom up, the hole you are working on may affect the tuning of a hole you had previously tuned.

This is probably one for the pipe makers amoungst us to confirm.

David


Hi David:

You've got a good point there, and what you say certainly seems to be true. But in reality neither method really works; because the pipes are often played quite "closed", with only one or two toneholes open at a time, and the bottom on the knee, the holes _below_ the open tonehole can also have an effect. I think the best method of tuning toneholes is iterative, and at each step you make a much smaller adjustment that you expect is necessary. After a few cycles, with luck, you may converge on a usable result. The fact that tonehole size effects and reflected-wave effects can vary a lot between octaves is an added challenge.

regards,

Bill


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 6:00 pm 
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billh wrote:
......the bottom on the knee, the holes _below_ the open tonehole can also have an effect.....

....But in reality neither method really works....


Hi Bill,

Having no practical experience leave me at a disadvantage but are you saying that in the real world the effect of closed tonehole chimneys on a note would be equal from above and below? Can this vary from note to note?

Your iterative method seems excellent, especially in a system where variables are many and difficult to predict. I can also see that if you took off small amounts it would work either way. But I cannot help thinking it would be more efficient to use it from top to bottom. (I am happy to be convinced otherwise).

David


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:21 am 
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David Lim wrote:
billh wrote:
......the bottom on the knee, the holes _below_ the open tonehole can also have an effect.....

....But in reality neither method really works....


Hi Bill,

Having no practical experience leave me at a disadvantage but are you saying that in the real world the effect of closed tonehole chimneys on a note would be equal from above and below? Can this vary from note to note?

I wouldn't say _equal_, but it does vary from note to note. I think that rather than adopting a top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top approach, you would find it better to adjust the "most critical" toneholes first and proceed to the others, in each iteration. Unfortunately I don't feel that I can say with confidence which toneholes are "most critical", my experience suggests that this can vary for each chanter/bore design. I would not finalize the back D/bottom D relationship either, before starting to work on the other toneholes, since changes in the back d can affect the A note, and presumably vice-versa.

So personally I would characterize the Ds and the As as "critical" and pay close attention to them at each iteration, before proceeding to B (which of course affects A), Fsharp, G (Fsharp affects G rather strongly), and E, in that order... at least in concert pitch. I guess that's "sort of" top-down, but I repeat several times. (I try a few different reeds as a reality check during the process, too.)

Bear in mind that the reed will have a profound impact on this tuning, so ideally you need a reed that you have the utmost confidence in before tuning a chanter, otherwise you run the risk of tuning to a less-than-ideal reed. The interplay between reed and bore is the classic chicken/egg problem for chanter design and tuning - at least, this is how it seems to me. Bear in mind that I don't have the long experience of many of the pipemakers on this forum...
Quote:
Your iterative method seems excellent, especially in a system where variables are many and difficult to predict. I can also see that if you took off small amounts it would work either way. But I cannot help thinking it would be more efficient to use it from top to bottom. (I am happy to be convinced otherwise).

David


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:26 pm 
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Baglady wrote:
A lot of work is done in Pakistan on pipes sold by Scottish and other manufacturers. Parts are sent from these shops to be finish and stamped and sold as non-Pakistan manufactured. What happens is the Pakistanis take the specs sent to them and knock off their own copies. Essential details are kept from them such as chanter hole placement etc. so they don't get it quite right. Inferior leather and wood is also a problem.


This crap comes up repeatedly. Name one manufacturer that does it. One.

There aren't any. Why? The work that you are suggesting is outsourced is the easiest and quickest part of the manufacturing process, so there's no point in outsourcing it.

Of course, there are one or two manufacturers whose output would make you think they had it all done in Pakistan, but that's another story.

Cheers,
Calum


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:58 pm 
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Hi all,

I'm more-or-less in the boat as described here. A few months ago I had correspondence with Mr CJ Dixon about uilleann pipes and specified out a nice cocobolo set for about $1100 after all options. Much to my surprise, my fiancee presented me with a chanter as a combined Christmas/ birthday present. Knowing less that what I know about the pipes (not that I know much at all) she did not know that bellows & bag would be necessary. This was corrected by upgrading to the starter set and is now a Christmas/birthday/wedding gift. And of course these are the afformentioned pakistani pipes, confirmed with an instruction sheet referring to their site, http://www.mid-east.com/info/uilleann.html.

This has left me in an awkward position. I don't want to seem unappreciative for the gift. Also, with the wedding our finances will be strapped for awhile. I also do not want to be unappreciative to the knowlegable assistance that Mr Dixon provided.

Can I not at least get the basics down with this set? I tried them out for the first time and they do change notes, albeit with me playing them it sounded like a cross between a sick goose and a party favor.

Can the set be slowly upgraded to a "real" set piece by piece? Eg, after 6 months to a year change to Mr Dixon's chanter? Would the chanter be the first to upgrade or one of the other pieces. Are parts more-or-less interchangeable? Are reeds common sizes so I could order a "real" reed vs the $3-$6 plastic replacement?

Thanks!

-- Glenn


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:40 pm 
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you will not just be able to order a 'real' reed...they're about as far from standardized as...well...let's just say reeealy consistent makers can usually reed one of their own chanters with fairly standard technique, but even then they will need some individual tweaking.

to get a 'real' reed for a pakistani chanter you would need to make it yourself, or find a willing maker and ship him the chanter.

secondly, you can upgrade it like you said. That's what I did. I started with a pakistani practice set (although a different model) as a gift and later added a nice chanter from bruce childress. Although, with the model you seem to have (I have a rebuilt version of that model that I purchased years later) I've needed to seal the bag and bellows, but the short version of all that is there's no reason why, having a working bag and bellows (assuming they're working), a better chanter can't be paired with it.

I'd be appreciative, and don't criticize much. She didn't know, and understanding that there will be some issues with tuning and reed response, there's no reason why you can't get the mechanics and fingering down with what you have.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:29 pm 
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Antaine,

Thanks for your reply. I'm sure more questions will come. Now to stretch my fingers so I can reach all of the holes...

-- Glenn


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:35 am 
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Pipemaker Tim Britton here, clocking in a little late.

Some of you may be aware that I have made a habit of refurbishing Pakistani made UPs for many years and have worked with one of the two companies who make them, to improve their product for the sake of the unsuspecting customer. I have sold numerous sets like this after altering them to my specs, as well as altering existing sets for customers who bought them elsewhere only to find them unplayable until “fixed” by me. My many customers for these instruments have thanked me profusely for my willingness to offer workable pipes at a price that allowed them to get them at all, or for helping the hapless victims of unscrupulous businessmen.

After much effort I have concluded that the Pakistani craftsmen are not willing and/or able to pay enough attention to detail to make it a satisfying venture on my part. This has as much to do with my own feeling of not liking to invest my energy on such compromised results as it has to do with any objective assessment of them.

Having said that, I feel I have turned many of both models into good sounding instruments. My complaint (after I get done with them) is more with the logistics than acoustics. The key work remains sloppy as well as a plethora of logistical design issues all of which come to bear on the piping experience.

I do not agree with the author of the Pipers' Review article on most counts. It is clear that he is not knowledgeable or capable as a pipemaker, although as such, he is appropriately similar to the bulk of the readership. I would not recommend anyone in his position blindly playing pipemaker. His position is, of course, understandable and I respect the intent of his valiant efforts. I simply don't recommend it. His conclusion, stated so unequivocally, that the pipes were a product of confusing plans for flat sets is, IMO, a product of his own lack of understanding. As I have stated in my reedmaking book, most pipers and even pipemakers don't understand that drones can be made to play absolutely steady. The techniques that make a drone reed play steadily mostly make it play sharper as well. Many drones are made such that it is difficult or impossible to make them play in pitch and unwaveringly throughout normal pressure dynamics. Unless there are more than the two companies making UPs in Pakistan that I'm aware of, I think it likely that he and the pipemaker he consulted don't fully understand this point.

His conclusion that the chanter throat length was 3/16” too long, again is, misguided. I purposely make my chanters a little longer on the top to accommodate what I feel is a better logistical relationship with my reeds which tend to fit other chanters perfectly with the addition of a small telescopic tubing extension, conveniently acting as a tuning slide as well as maintaining acoustical integrity throughout varying tuning positions. There is so much variability in pipe and reed design that a "discrepancy of this magnitude is par for the course.

It is quite possible that the holes were not place accurately, but if the pipes he altered were ones from Mid-East Manufacturing, the company I worked with, the horizontal hole offset may have been intentional as per my instructions which place the holes more ergonomically than simply straight down the front and back of the chanter, which, in my experience, is not quite how the hands naturally want to sit on the chanter.

Hole placement and size is best done from well-evolved plans rather than trial and error. Lastly, although 400 grit is fairly fine, I don't recommend sanding bores. Chanter boring can only accurately be done with an appropriate reamer.

For my own part, although I will continue supporting owners of my work wherever it is applied, I am no longer selling refurbished Pakistani UPs nor will I refurbish existing instruments. My own value judgment is that the companies that have them made and those that sell them, although possibly well intentioned, are not in a position to be responsible to their customers in a way that this instrument demands.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:28 am 
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Thanks Tim.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:17 am 
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After further consideration, although I will not be selling Pakistani pipes anymore, I am willing to work on existing chanters and drones for people already possessing them. I am not interested in working on regulators as they are too much of a rat's nest of bad design and workmanship. There are less issues with the chanter and drones. I do not wish to ecourage more sales of these instruments with the intention of having them worked on by the likes of me but only to cater to those who have purchased them already and are stuck with less than workable pipes. The uillean pipes and the music they play are worthy of the considerable investment necessary to do them justice, the least of which is monetary.

Tim Britton

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 2:05 pm 
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Some years ago, we had a fledgeling wannabe piper in our pipers' club who, despite unanimous advice to the contrary, went and bought a set of Pakistani supposedly-Uilleann Pipes from Hobgoblin. To put it technically, they were ... crap. They didn't play in tune, they were unstable ('what do ya mean: "there's supposed to be a 2nd octave thingy??"), the 'blackwood' was actually white wood with black paint flaking off, the 'brass' trim was 'gold'-painted aluminium, the bag was PVC, the reeds ... well, even _I_ can make better reeds than that!

If you want to buy pipes, mix with pipers and ask their advice. They'll usually be franker than any public forum can be (no need to worry about laws of slander or libel in a private conversation!). And if you find a piper you like to listen to, and on whose pipes YOU sound better than usual, well, just go to his/her pipe-maker and put your money there. Buy the best you can afford; and if all your budget'll stretch to is a choice between a good (expensive) practice set and a dubious (inexpensive) half set, then go for quality every time.

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Darna bhean a' phìobair — a' phìob fhèin.
The piper's second wife — the pipes themselves.
(Gaelic proverb, originally about the harp).


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:27 pm 
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Yikes! Sounds like a third company with far less integrity is in evidence. Just to keep the record straight, the two companies I'm familiar with are not nearly as bad as all that, but none the less not up to standards we would do well to adhere to. I've seen much worse from "Western" makers than these two places put out. It's just that there are so many logistical and acoustical complications involved in effectively designing and making Uillean pipes that no one should attempt it, proffessionally at least, without profound knowledge of the instrument and its music. Just wanted to make sure no babies were thrown out with the bath water...

Tim Britton

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