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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2018 9:48 pm 
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You can see it in my byline below: I've been playing the same David Quinn D chanter for 40 years now (as I recall- I don't have documentation to hand).

I do have the exact date for the reed: I've been playing the same reed in that Quinn chanter since 1982. It says "O Dowd".

You do get an intimate knowledge of how a certain reed in a certain chanter behaves, in normal weather and in extreme weather.

I don't know why I've never got a better reed, though. It's always had a rather stiff High B, a strong solid Soft Bottom D, but a hard-to-get Hard Bottom D.

Anyhow I took the plunge in 1978 and bought a fully keyed chanter which I think cost $475. I've used every key on that thing at one gig or another, even the High D key.

If there's a moral to the story, it's that beginners might do well to spend top dollar on a chanter of the highest quality, and fully keyed.

(I wasn't a complete beginner at that time, having played for 2 or 3 years. But I thought it was time to get a top-notch chanter.)

Here's that reed and chanter 10 years ago, 2007. You can hear how smooth the tone is, how perfect the intonation is, for all that reed's faults

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onGGxt19ksg

And last year at the same concert. They have me come up to the stage every year to give a relief to all the hammering of the Highland pipes and drums...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HARFCTJVZ8I&t=9s

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 1:17 am 
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Sounds beautiful!. very nicely played as well.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 3:18 am 
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If you apply the same principal to chanters as Flann O'Brien does to bicycles it probably means you are as much your chanter as your chanter is you.

“The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles...when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.”
― Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 4:08 am 
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If you apply the same principal to chanters as Flann O'Brien does to bicycles it probably means you are as much your chanter as your chanter is you.


I seem to recall in the same tale that a lady of fertile age was in great danger of becoming pregnant having ridden a bicycle previously ridden by a man...

Perhaps chanters should likewise not be shared between the sexes..... :really:


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 6:56 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
You can see it in my byline below: I've been playing the same David Quinn D chanter for 40 years now (as I recall- I don't have documentation to hand).


:shock: Does this mean you've been playing your Starck's for 73 years? :thumbsup:

dave boling

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 8:44 pm 
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daveboling wrote:
Does this mean you've been playing your Starck's for 73 years? :thumbsup:



Ha!

Yes to me that Quinn chanter, bought new and played steadily all those years, is just inherently my chanter. I never stopped to think that it wouldn't be that to a stranger!

Not the Starcks, I just got those a few years ago.

But a couple years ago I got a c1970 Lawrie set that is precisely like my first Highland pipe, got new in 1975. It could even be my first set, who can say? But in the late 1970s I got a c1910 set of Hendersons (for $150) and I promptly traded my Lawries for a Scots Guards dirk.

These c1970 Lawries fell into my lap, in as-new condition, for $200 recently. And they sound fantastic. It feels as if I still have my first pipes!

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 6:56 pm 
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My chanter reed is going on 5 years now, here's to 5 more! :D

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:52 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
I do have the exact date for the reed: I've been playing the same reed in that Quinn chanter since 1982. It says "O Dowd".


I'm basically new to the uilleann pipes, I'm borrowing a practice-set and I've gotten to sit down with it two or three times... but in reading forums and reading about events, I had the impression that Uilleann Pipers needed to be able to make and work on their own reeds. Yet you've had the same reed in your chanter for all these years. :-?

Does a piper not need reed making skills as much as I have been lead to believe? Or is there something else I do not understand?

(I do understand that uilleann pipe reeds are not exposed to moisture like other woodwind-reeds, but I also had the impression that they would still need replaced occasionally)


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 11:07 am 
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AaronFW wrote:
Does a piper not need reed making skills as much as I have been lead to believe? Or is there something else I do not understand?

(I do understand that uilleann pipe reeds are not exposed to moisture like other woodwind-reeds, but I also had the impression that they would still need replaced occasionally)

While reed making is indeed a useful skill as a piper, it is not required. Many pipers either have local pipers or makers help them with reeds or they get lucky with reeds made elsewhere. For the first couple years I got away with just being able to tweak reeds, and I knew very little about making them. Reeds can last for decades, like with pancelticpiper's reed. Eventually pipers often get curious about making reeds, they acquire a chanter with a reed that they can't get to play well, or a reed dies, sometimes by accidental breaking.

My first chanter when I started came with 3 reeds that wouldn't play for me, and I had no idea about reeds, tweaking or making. So I paid a local maker to make a reed for it. Eventually I experimented with reed tweaking and got all 3 original reeds to more or less play. When I received my current set it came with a reed made in the same city by another piper, and that reed has been stable for 2 years. I've only ever had to move the bridle as the temperature changed.

But the same set came with a broken bass reg reed, the set that arrived before that one had non-functional drone reeds, and my C chanter that arrived from Europe never had a good reed, even after tweaking the reed. So I started learning about reed making, and I now make drone and chanter reeds.

I could have paid either the local pipe maker or another piper to make reeds for these sets, so I still didn't need to learn, but like I said, it's a useful skill to learn as a piper. And I think it's fun.

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:46 pm 
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Thanks dyersituations, those examples are really helpful. :)


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 3:55 pm 
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AaronFW wrote:
I'm basically new to the uilleann pipes, I'm borrowing a practice-set and I've gotten to sit down with it two or three times... but in reading forums and reading about events, I had the impression that Uilleann Pipers needed to be able to make and work on their own reeds. Yet you've had the same reed in your chanter for all these years. :-?

Does a piper not need reed making skills as much as I have been lead to believe? Or is there something else I do not understand?

(I do understand that uilleann pipe reeds are not exposed to moisture like other woodwind-reeds, but I also had the impression that they would still need replaced occasionally)


Aaron, a full set of pipes is a complex instrument with many things that must work well together and be in balance to get a good sound. The joints and reeds are both susceptible to changes in temperature but especially humidity. They can be very frustrating at times, more so if live in area with dramatic seasonal weather changes. Central heat and air conditioning can both play havoc with reeds and joints, because both tend to remove humidity from the air. Uilleann pipe reeds may not be subject to breath humidity like other woodwinds, but they are very much subject to air/room humidity.

You will get more out of your pipes and piping if you learn some basic maintenance yourself - how to add (and subtract) hemp/thread from tenons, how to check for air tightness, how to fix flapper valves, and how to adjust reeds. Having said that, he best reed advice I can give you is to try and obtain a reed for your chanter that was made in something like the same humidity and climate as where you live, and then to adjust it as little as possible - not at all, if ever you can. I have found that it is far better to adjust the room humidity if possible, and leave the reed alone. Sometimes this is just not possible though. As an example, my pipes and reeds were made in Ireland, and they need 30-40% humidity at a minimum (and would rather have 60%+) to play well. Where I live, the humidity is frequently in that range, but not indoors because of air conditioning and heating. So, I humidify the room I practice in - until the day I had to play outdoors for my dad's funeral in Denver, with next to nothing in humidity. I adjusted the bridle of the chanter reed and managed to play.

The first set of pipes I got, I fiddled with the reeds a lot, and both the drones and the chanter and reg reeds started to lose tone after a few years. The second set of pipes I had, the chanter reed was made by the pipemaker in France, for the (then) owner who lived in Australia. I never did get that reed to work for long in Texas, and had a hard time getting any other reed to play well in it. I eventually sold that set. The main set that I play most often now, made by the same maker as the first, and trying very hard not to fiddle with the reeds, it still plays as beautifully as new 3-4 years later.

Then, there is not one standard way to make a chanter reed, and not all chanters are alike, and many need different characteristics for a reed. They are definitely not "one size fits all". My pipemaker can make a great sounding reed for his chanters in about 10 minutes, using little more than a box cutter-type razor knife. If you take a reed making class, you will learn a greatly different procedure, depending on who is teaching it.

Sorry to be so long-winded. Uilleann piping is a long journey and an adventure, with many things to learn. Best wishes on your own journey. And when you get a really good reed, treat it well and try not to adjust it much if you can.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 4:54 am 
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An Draighean wrote:
[...]

Sorry to be so long-winded. Uilleann piping is a long journey and an adventure, with many things to learn. Best wishes on your own journey. And when you get a really good reed, treat it well and try not to adjust it much if you can.


For me, all of that was helpful, so thank you for explaining. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:07 am 
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Aaron you bring up a valid question, one with no simple answer.

When I started out playing the uilleann pipes the opinion here in the USA was that a piper needed to make his own reeds. And I could see why! My first few years on the pipes, I only had a working chanter half the time. I would get a reed that worked somewhere, then it would die (the dry weather here is deadly for reeds made in moist places) and I would be without a working chanter for months, until I happened upon another reed. I was evidently the only person in the region who played the uilleann pipes at any level.

Ireland-based pipers I met told me that back in Ireland many pipers didn't make their own reeds. I have been told that Paddy Moloney doesn't. I think the difference is the accessibility of good local reedmakers.

Reeds being a major problem for beginners here in the USA, I have long advocated for locals who are looking to buy their first uilleann chanter to "buy the reed, not the chanter". What that means is to find the most-local good reedmaker you can, one who is willing to be a reliable source, and purchase the exact chanter that his reeds are designed to play in (because his reeds might not work in any other type of chanter).

So here in Southern California we now have a great reedmaker who makes reeds specifically designed for Michael Hubbert chanters. It behooves locals to get that chanter! You'll always have wonderful reeds.

I advise most beginners here on the Left Coast, who want a chanter ASAP, to get a David Daye chanter. They always work, even in our problematic weather. Get the Daye now, and get on Hubbert's wait list!

But you're in Ohio. I don't know who your most-local and reliable reedmaker might be, or what make of chanter his reeds are designed for. (As an aside, I attended the Dublin Ohio Irish Festival last August, and I might go this year too. I have family in West Virginia only a couple hours drive from Columbus.)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:18 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
Aaron you bring up a valid question, one with no simple answer.
[...]
I advise most beginners here on the Left Coast, who want a chanter ASAP, to get a David Daye chanter.
[...]
They always work, even in our problematic weather. Get the Daye now, and get on Hubbert's wait list!
But you're in Ohio. I don't know who your most-local and reliable reedmaker might be, or what make of chanter his reeds are designed for. (As an aside, I attended the Dublin Ohio Irish Festival last August, and I might go this year too. I have family in West Virginia only a couple hours drive from Columbus.)


Thanks for the detail on reeds.

As for a local reed-maker, as far as I can tell, David Daye is the closest I have to a local reed maker. He lives about 50 minutes from me. I had scheduled a visit with him a few weeks ago, but he ended up in the hospital for a few days. He is still getting back on his feet, but I am hoping to meet with him soon.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:59 am 
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Hi Aaron,

You can get in touch with Brian Bigley who lives in the Cleveland area.

http://www.brianbigleymusic.com

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