How to leard to blow the bag

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Glenarley
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

Pancelticpiper

The nightmare that is the uilleann pipe!

My brother is the uilleann piper and he makes all manner of uilleann chanters and reeds. We never get humidity as low as you experience even when the nor-west buster hits us. Our biggest problem is high humidity and high altitude although he does make reeds for overseas pipers as well which has its challenges.

GHB pipers don’t know they are alive when compared to the issues the uilleann pipers experience and it always bemuses me as to why the GHB fraternity in general, will not acknowledge the playing and instrument management skills of the uilleann pipers. I refer to the GHB mob as the poor cousins of the uilleann pipers and maybe a little ingracious, GHB pipers could learn a lot from the uilleann pipers with regards to reed skills and instrument management. Rather than take advice from players of the most complex bagpipe in the world, they will believe the GHB nose tapping black art sayers and spend their piping life in the misery of con-men and rabbit holes.

Being of proud Scottish heritage and a proud wearer of the family tartan, I have spent a third of my life trying to keep the GHB craft alive. I make a synthetic chanter reed which I initially developed for my son as when he was nine and struggling with the full set of pipes, the synthetic reeds made the journey easier for him. The RSL band he was playing had 80% of pipers 70 and over and when they saw him playing without pain, they wanted the same and this is why I continue to make these reeds. While I do sell many, I gift half as many as I sell to mature aged pipers in many countries, and am happy to do so as many could no longer bust their guts on cane reeds and would put their pipes under their beds and leave the craft forever, a great loss. While proud to keep these old pipers in the craft, I don’t want to be making reeds for a job and there are many pipers that I just won’t even sell reeds to. They would just be too much work and I feel they deserve/need cane to develop.

Uilleann pipers are not as gullible as the GHB mob when it comes to gimmicks. Many GHB pipers use a reed cover I call the Humidi Cap. I did quite a bit of testing with this device and posted my videos on you tube for information and comment. These things cost more than $150 a piece and cannot do what the manufacturer states because of the passive process and the laws of physics yet, many pipers of notoriety support these devices with claims of amazing results. The laws of physics and simple grade school science proves the claims are bogus yet, many of the GHB mob are swallowing them up. This would not happen in the uilleann world.

The GHB mob are into stomping up and down the paddock with their big noisy war pipes, mainly concerned only with competition and tradition whilst the uilleann mob are more concerned with making music. This is why the uilleann mob have developed such a high level of instrument management skill and why the GHB mob should take a bit of notice.

Pancelticpipers states the willingness of the uilleann reed makers to experiment with different reed material. This proves their primary concern is the music and they care little about how they get the results, only that they do get good results. Try mentioning different chanter reed material in one of the largest GHB forums and see what happens. All the pitchforks and torches come out from the angry mob ready to burn at the stake anyone daring to deviate from their precious trad black arts.

I like the GHB and have had the pleasure of hearing many a fine tune played on the GHB with both cane and synthetic reeds and I could care less about which if the tune was well played. Pipers using my synthetic reeds have done well in competitions around the world because no one knew what was being used so the quality of the piper was the focus for the audience and judges. It’s not the wand but how you wave it.

Cheers

-G
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pancelticpiper
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by pancelticpiper »

Sorry I forgot my litany of what goes bad with the uilleann pipes, in what order, as the weather gets dryer.

This is from 45 years of experience of playing uilleann pipes in Southern California. The caveat is I've been playing the same chanter with the same reed since 1982, so I only have that experience.

1) The drones become unstable.

We sort of take for granted, with the uilleann pipes, how amazing it is that the drones can stay right on pitch even though we're constantly doing subtle pressure changes for the various chanter notes. Until the drones don't stay on pitch due to the weather being too dry!

2) Sinking Back D.

That's usually the first indication you have that the air has got dry. At the local pipers' club I've noticed that my Back D is the last one to exhibit this issue.

It can take very little difference in humidity to experience this! Once I was doing a stage performance with orchestra and in the Green Room my chanter worked perfectly but onstage I had to be careful not to overblow Back D (too much pressure makes the note go down, not up as Highland pipers would expect). My hygrometer showed that the humidity in the Green Room was 70% and onstage 63%, and that slight change was enough to make my Back D liable to sinking.

3) Gurgling Bottom D.

You have to be careful to not overblow Bottom D or the note will start fluttering.

Many years ago The Chieftains performed in Los Angeles during our dry Santa Ana winds. They were indoors, but nevertheless Paddy Moloney's chanter was wonky, and every time he played Bottom D the note was gurgling and breaking up. (The harp and both fiddles were constantly going out of tune. Only Matt Molloy's flute worked right!)

4) Entire low octave becomes unstable, but high notes become very easy and sweet.

Now's the time to play those Airs that dwell on the highest notes of the chanter! Because they're the best-sounding notes now, and your low octave is pretty much unusable. Time to put the pipes away!
Richard Cook
c1980 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle
Glenarley
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

Good day Richard

While what you have listed is directly relating to the uilleann pipes, the concepts will apply to all manner of bagpipe, especially the GHB. I notice you are also proficient on the GHB.

Every year in Nelson NZ they put on a Ceol Aneas with the broad Irish theme and all manner of musicians attend including special overseas guests that are sponsored to attend. The theme is about the music and a chance for those that know to impart their knowledge and skills to further the craft and for the public to experience the craft and its music. Events such as this rely on people like yourself who have over many years, acquired knowledge and skills and a willingness to unselfishly pass them on to those that will listen, especially the GHB mob. I hope you are appreciated in the circles you travel in and I enjoy reading what you contribute, do you tutor?

Cheers

-G
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

Such Gullibility should be Criminal.

I have addressed these humidi cap devices in this thread before but recent events have taken the issue to a new level and it is worth the read to revisit it.

Basically, a piper in Qld band had been using a synthetic chanter reed for about two years unbeknown to the rest of his band. His chanter had always past tune-up scrutiny and he had played at band events without issue until one day the PM discovered his little secret, blew a fuse and told this piper it’s cane reed or leave the band.

This piper struggled with the issues around cane but wanted to stay in the band so he tried to work with cane chanter reeds but was not doing so well. He was informed about these humidi caps and after reading the sales pitches and the glowing endorsements spent more than $800 on the biggest selling devices and some new cane reeds. He purchased the Tone Protector Reed Cap, the Tone Protector Reed Case and 15 various cane chanter reeds.

In my you tube humidi cap videos I did various tests and found that the device would not live up to the marketing and left it at that. This chap also found that his tone protector did not keep his chanter reeds at nominal moisture content and that the tone protector reed case did not hydrate his new dry reeds to nominal moisture content as is stated by the product marketing and endorsements.

This chap posted his concerns and questions on one of the large GHB bagpipe forums and was unable to receive any meaningful information as to why his tone protector was not working, even the product manufacture was unable to provide meaningful assistance. Undeterred, this chap took his tone protector to the science department to find out why it was not functioning as it should. His thread does not state it but I am guessing a university science department because of the terms “grad student” and “the PhD”.

Science people are really smart and they know how to convert just about anything into meaningful numbers and this is what they did, at a whole new level above anything I could do.

They weighed a chanter reed after it was played in (1380.93mg) and again after being in the tone protector for 72 hours (1257.03mg) and established the tone protector was not maintaining the nominal moisture content. It went in at 31% nominal moisture content and came out at 17%, the weights were also provided. As can be seen, they measured in mg down to two decimal places and also used resistance measurements as I did to measure the moisture content of the reed in various states. They measured the new reeds, weight and moisture % before and after spending time in the tone protector reed case and their testing showed that the reeds did not gain any significant moisture and nothing close to nominal value as is claimed by the product manufacturer.

The details were posted in a clearly laid out document with real data and they explained why this device would not do as is claimed. The Boveda pre-moistened salt sachets used as the moisture source are completely passive and in the case of the tone protector cap, were folded and inserted in such a way as to drastically reduce the working surface area. Without some form of energy to promote the migration of moisture from the sachet to the reed(s), and without actual physical contact, the moisture is not going to transfer as stated by the manufacturer and the test results showed this to be the case.

Why is this an issue? Apart from the tests demonstrating this device is seemingly nothing more than a con, it is how it impacts pipers and the craft that I take issue with and should be a concern to the wider GHB piping community.
The PhD suggested a year six school science room has the tools to test the validity of the tone protector claims. Neither the tone protector manufacture or the Boveda sachets manufacturer give any data or operational specifications for their products that would support the marketing claims. It is not reasonable to believe the tone protector manufacturer did not test his products before making the performance claims when he first marketed his products which suggests he knew all the time it was a con.

In this case, I believe a piper genuinely looking for solutions has been taken down a very expensive rabbit hole damaging his own self belief and confidence as well as causing irreparable damage to the craft. The tone protector products were even given the product of the decade award from Pipes and Drums publication and even they did not do any independent testing before giving this award. I have contacted them for their test data and have so far received no details. I can only wonder at the level of embarrassment being felt by all the top grade pipers that endorsed these devices without ever being provided evidence the devices worked as claimed prior to providing the endorsements, to now read the test results.

What is most egregious is how this young piper is being abused on the forum where he posted his cry for help. Despite the actual scientific test results he provided, there are those pipers that blindly supported and endorsed the tone protector device that would abuse this chap simply for posting data that is simply science. Science does not care about egos and status, just the numbers and while we may feel empathy at the embarrassment of those that are having their pants pulled down by the science, you can’t attack the messenger. It’s just a case of more fool you!

Normally I would just state “a fool and his money are soon parted” but in this case, with all the glowing endorsements from grade 1 pipers and especially the Pipes and Drums endorsements, it is easy to see how a piper might buy such devices on trust alone.

Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets, no miracle quick fixes and definitely no tooth fairy, just hard work and woodshedding. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Buyer beware.

-G
Glenarley
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

The Real Synthetic Chanter Reed Story.

I make and supply synthetic chanter reeds with a focus on the elderly and very young pipers. I believe that many of the other pipers actually deserve to play cane chanter reeds as for those with no reed skills, cane reeds will help you develop some and to the top-grade pipers that use cane, dealing with all the cane issues and still playing exceptionally well will help them earn their highly ranked status.

I am retired so 20 or so reeds a week is enough to keep me occupied and cost covering money but it has always confused me as to the reasons so many GHB pipers despise using synthetic chanter reeds. The benefits are obvious and numerous but unlike the acceptance of the synthetic drone reeds, synthetic chanter reeds are largely taboo.

This all changed recently for me and it is now very clear to me how this situation developed and continues to linger. I am surprised the penny did not drop a lot earlier.

I recently had a sit-down dinner with the manager of a large bagpipe retailer and after the red kicked in, so did the home truths about his business. He plays one of my synthetic reeds for his funeral work and readily concedes the advantages of synthetic chanter reeds over cane however, he believed that promoting them would be commercial suicide for his business. He made it quite clear that he does not make real money from selling pipes and chanters, the real money is in reeds and associated peripherals and moisture control gimmicks, something like owning an inkjet printer, almost free printer but extortionary prices for the ink.

He said that with the current CNC pipe production and makers like Wallace almost giving away new pipe sets, his bottom line is heavily reliant on cane reeds and the associated peripheral products. I personally recall Bob Shepherd (rip) telling me he made his killing from reeds, not chanters, and this seems to fit.

This retailer pointed out that if he promoted synthetic chanter reeds, reeds that last for years and remain constant to the ear under variable conditions, he would see fewer return customers and his cash-cow cane reed sales would plummet, along with all revenue from the moisture controlling gimmicks that are sold only because cane reeds exist, resulting in him going to poor street. As I see it, it’s the pocket book, not the pipers that have priority, we must always look for the money trails.

He further went on to explain that in his view, a good 30% of all cane chanter reeds he sells are not fit for purpose, something synonymous with a natural material, and yet he still has no issue selling them. He stated more than once that a salesman’s dream is to have golfers and bagpipers as clients as both classes of people will spend vulgar amounts of money on the latest gimmicks in the belief such will improve their playing, and do so willingly with only the expressed views of marketing and paid sponsors as evidence. If in fact, they spent the same money on the golf pro or a piping tutor fixing technique issues, they would end up with a lifelong benefit for the dollar spent.

The bottom line (revenue) is the real reason for much of the resistance to synthetic chanter reeds and not the tone and response as is often stated. Many of the nay sayers could be cane reed makers or makers of the reed moisture control peripherals like the Tone Protector and such, who go out of business if the synthetic chanter reeds are accepted like the synthetic drone reeds are. At the end of the day, you just don’t know who’s got a dog in the fight.

To point, in two years of the World Online Solo Piping Competitions, players from here playing synthetic chanter reeds picked up 16 first five places from 15 different judges including a first place. I will bet dollars to doughnuts that this would not have been the situation had the judges known they were listening to synthetic chanter reeds as many of these judges, excluding Willie McCallum, have been openly vocal against the use of synthetic chanter reeds.

If it feels good for you and it sounds good for you, it probably is good for you. The nay sayers really cannot tell the difference so keep your cards to your chest to keep the critiques more objective.

Cheers

-G
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

You just can’t change science because you want to.

Since my last post I have had a steady stream of pipers telling me the Tone Protector humidi cap is a wonderful device that works perfectly as stated by the manufacturer, contrary to my assertions in this thread and on you tube.

I stand by my assertions based on my testing and the results from the Queensland science department as posted in the tone protector thread on the other bagpipe forum. To tell me something is working without any evidence or data is just bunkum, keeping in mind that the Tone Protector manufacturer and the Boveda sachet manufacture have also failed to provide any such evidence or data to support their claims. It’s a case of “Put up or shut up”.

Those that gave the Tone Protector the outstanding product awards have also failed to provide any evidence or their independent test results to demonstrate the product does all that it states. They have been contacted by me directly for comment and have not responded.

I understand the highly charged emotional stress felt by those that parted with a large portion of money to purchase the Tone Protector product only to find that it cannot live up to claims made. To proudly show fellow pipers you have purchased this devise only to have the scientific study prove that your enthusiastic support is misguided and is at odds to real science, could be the ultimate source of personal embarrassment, I get it but sometimes you just have to face the facts and call too good. The Emperor’s new clothes would seem to be an appropriate analogy.

I deal with pipers almost every week that have been led down rabbit holes in the vast GHB Black Arts rabbit warren and I have had some very uncomfortable moments with clients when I end up being the one that has to demonstrate to them, they have been conned when they purchased a gimmick. No one likes to feel like a shmuck and I gain no pleasure from being the bearer of such news as it is just as awkward for me to point it out, as it is for my clients to hear it.

I am a proud direct Scottish descendant with a passion for the GHB craft and I see the gimmicks being sold to the uninformed as a destructive blight on the craft I support. Self-assessment is no recommendation so if any of those that write to me singing the praises of these gimmicks has any evidence or credible scientific data showing these devices work as stated, I am ready to take note and roll back my rhetoric. If these emails are just from shills then all I would suggest is that the science takes precedence over all else. Show me the alternative science if it exists.

I fully understand the level of embarrassment felt when you have had your pants pulled down, standing bare a_sed for the world to see is obviously uncomfortable for anyone but I didn’t do this, I am only the one pointing out that your pants are down around your ankles. If you feel aggrieved by my pointing this out, take your grievances to the source of your grievance as I am not prepared to take on the scientific industry based on subjective opinions from those who I feel are just the unfortunate misinformed or charlatans.

Cheers

-G
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

Smooth and Slippery as a Charlatans Tongue

At a recent piping competition, my boy had the drone tuner set his drones to the required band pitch, as is often the situation. This tuner was completely blown away with how smooth and effortlessly by boy’s pipe tenons could be adjusted and after the event, he came and asked to have a closer look as to how we had hemped these pipes to produce such a smooth feel.

I fit all our pipes with o-rings on the tenons as o-rings will take up a few thou of gap because of their flexibility and this means no more tight or loose spots in the tenon bore to affect the setting for tuning. This arrangement will also allow a little grease to be applied to the o-rings further allowing for a silky-smooth operation.

At the point this old stalwart saw the o-rings everything changed and he blew his proverbial trad fuse! He came to see me to learn how I got the tenons to be so silky-smooth because he saw the operation as desirable however, when he saw that I have used something modern and non-trad as o-rings, his poor old bum snapped shut.

I am not sure where I would have seen this tenon configuration the first time but it must have been sometime in my piping travels. I have modified many pipes to this configuration and all to the benefit of the pipers. No more tight or loose spots, always the same silky-smooth operation regardless of temperature or weather conditions. No more hemp getting tighter as the moisture running down the drones wets the hemp and all the effort needed to adjust the tuning of the drones can be done with two fingers and the thumb with great accuracy and little effort and because the o-rings are under tension, they hold position very well. Tell me why I would not want tenons to behave like this?

In the picture it is clear to see what is happening. I groove the tenon to the correct depth to get the fit right with the tenon bore. Because GHB pipes are not built to any known standards, the sizes are quite arbitrary so each pipe set has to be measured so the o-ring groove depth is at the optimal friction fit. I then fill the space between the o-rings with hemp almost all the way up to the diameter of the o-ring and this will stop any wobble if the bore is adjusted high up on the tenon. I use a little of that T-zip grease which remains trapped between the o-rings and there you have it.

This process can be converted back simply by removing the o-rings and replacing them with hemp, no one would ever know the modification had been done and the old stalwarts can unpucker their bums.
I don’t know who first started doing this but it is a very simple modification to make and it is reversible although I am not sure why you would want to.

Cheers

-G

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Glenarley
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

Your drones never lie

These words still echo in my mind as I remember the grumpy old tutor that seemed to do nothing but yell at us while learning to play the pipes, in hindsight, he was of course, right.

As a reed maker, my biggest bug bear is from customers that order reeds without really knowing how to know or check their playing pressure, be it high or low. To make matters even worse, many have never learned to maintain a steady pressure be it high or low and the issue seems to be unlearned technique rather than just ability. Reed selection pressure is one of the major advantages of synthetic chanter reeds, but only if you know at what pressure you are comfortable to control.

Back in the day, we were taught to play drones only to learn to blow steady at a pressure that would allow the piper to do so, and this is where old grumpy was right, as the drones will never lie and will always expose any blowing control issues. Having the chanter hooked up while trying to learn to blow steady seems counterproductive as the chanter takes noise priority over the drones until the piper has developed an ear for the harmonic lock between the chanter and the drones. It is only when you can maintain a steady bag that you are able to set the harmonics from each chanter note to the drones.

Today, the beginners seem to get put on the chanter only goose before they have learned to have any real bag control and this learning process can be very problematic as the focus seems to be on fingering tunes before breathing technique and bag control has been learned. The drones use more air than the chanter so conventional wisdom would clearly show the drones need to be controlled as the priority demand and this is why we spent the first part of practice with only the drones for a good ten minutes prior to inserting a chanter. Maybe seen by some as draconian but it produced the desired results, mostly.

Back then, the drone reeds were cane and as with all cane reeds, required to be moisture normalised prior to becoming stable and without the chanter overpowering the drone sound, it was easy to hear when the drones were in and locked playing drones only. They do not lie! As the historic band requirements for more volume took hold, we were forced into playing harder chanter reeds and because of the strength limitations of the cane drone reeds, to stop them shutting down through over pressurising them, we were forced into making the drone reeds artificially stronger by jamming a sporran hair under the blade or worse, poking a bent paper clip up the reed to force the blade to stay open.

Some liked the more edgy buzzy sound of the drone reeds jammed open while some preferred the more hummy sound of the drone reeds that could fully close. It’s subjective so each to their own and anyway, it all changed with the introduction of the synthetic drone reeds as they could be made with blades that far exceeded the maximum deflection strength of natural cane, so very strong chanter reeds could now be implemented without the risk of the drone reeds shutting off however, this brought a new problem to the table. A problem that is plaguing many of the pipers I supply reeds to and they have no idea how to fix this problem. Synthetic drone reeds, with their plug ‘n’ play expectation, almost completely removed the need for learning good bag control technique and basic reed skills! It seems acceptable to keep swapping out drone brand until you get one that works. Like the blind sparrow that eventually finds a worm.

I have pipers bring their pipes to me for configuration and balancing and it is bewildering to find how many of these pipers have never configured their drone reeds to suit their playing pressure. Older pipers with drone reeds set to shut off above 60” (15 Kpa) is commonplace yet theses same pipers, because of their physical limitations, are wanting to play a chanter reed set at 25” (6-7 Kpa). It’s just not possible and when I point this out to them, all I often get is that 1000 yard stare and a blank expression. Their drones are difficult to start, double tone at the playing pressure range and use a massively excessive volume of air and they then want to blame the pressure range charter reed for their ineptitude and, just when you might think it could not get any worse, I find that many have been sucker punched into buying what I can demonstrate are useless gimmicks like drone valves and tone protectors and such, in the misguided belief such gimmicks can replace good technique and reed skills.

If these pipers had applied the drone only technique when setting their drones, they would have realised that if their drone reeds were set to shut off about 35 – 40” max (7-8 Kpa), their problems would be minimal and that they could now manage to play a chanter reed at their comfort level without their pipes behaving like a bag of roosters, (accepting that they do have a reasonable level of bag control).

If your playing level has degenerated (through age or ability) to a 5 out of 10, why would you have drone reeds set to what a 9 out of 10 piper would play? Buying gimmicks will not address the problem, it is not the wand but how you wave it.

Drone only technique is akin to learning to play scales on other instruments like a piano or violin, boring as all get up but very essential in developing sound technique. Yes, you can learn to play the piano through phonics and tune memory but you lose out in flexibility in all but the very exceptional cases.

Learn to listen to your drones, they will never lie to you.

Cheers

-G
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

The Gouger

The picture shows a severely gouged out chanter with epoxy being used to fill some of the damage and the orange circles showing where the original holes were located.

Image

If I was the one that gouged this chanter, I would have disposed of it prior to anyone seeing it as what it states about a person that would do this to a chanter is not what the person would want others to know. If I was that person and my handy work was discovered I would probably try to justify such handywork with some sort of R&D concept unfortunately, all it will ever show is gross ineptitude and a reed skill rating in the negative numbers, Dumb & Dumber on steroids!

What can we glean from the picture?

The “Gouger” has no real understanding of how a GHB chanter functions.

The “Gouger” has no measurable understanding of how GHB chanter reeds function.

The “Gouger” is devoid of any analytical thought process in regards to GHB reeds and chanters.

The “Gouger” was hiding in the woods when common sense was being dished out.

The “Gouger” cannot equate cost benefit analysis.

I could go on but my point is clear, do not let this “Gouger” loose with GHB equipment.

It is clear that the “Gouger” was wanting to raise the pitch of the bottom hand notes without further raising the top hand notes so he/she could not seat the reed down to raise the low A without raising the high A too far. The fundamental chanter pitch has been measured by me at 476 – 478 Hz so I am of the view “Gouger” wanted a band pitch up around 484 Hz.

Where undercutting or moving a hole up the chanter will raise the pitch, it very quickly gets to the point where the chanter loses balance as, for example, projection from low A is affected by its relative location to low G, alter this relationship too much and chanter balance suffers.

The fundamental process when selecting a chanter reed to suit a chanter is not rocket science! You ignore the pitch in the first instance and simply focus on balancing the high and low A’s. You then focus on the F to determine if the reed is the correct pitch for the chanter. On most the modern chanters with the common throat configuration, the F will establish the correct reed pitch so if the A’s balance and the F is flat to the A’s, find a higher pitched reed and re-check, and visa-versa if the F if too high to the A’s. Overblow the low G to the octave G and see how closely matched the G’s are to each other and this will confirm the fundamental chanter pitch.

I have had articles sent to me where chanter reed selection was done using the high G, I don’t believe a more stupid process has ever been suggested regarding chanter reed selection.

With cane reeds, it is a little more problematic with the reeds needing to be moisture normalised before they are stable and as many cane reeds have a really scurley crow, it is difficult to measure a clean pitch without putting them in a small manifold to get a clean pitch tone, but it is not a complicated or technical process. Basic reed skills and some common sense will be good enough to get most pipers to a reasonable outcome at this part of the process, both these tools are missing from “Gouger’s” toolbox.

If you want to play a chanter at a higher pitch than its fundamental design, some more advanced reed skills are required and I am not addressing these skills in this post but needless to say, there will be taping and undercutting/drilling of holes and in the case of some high-level competitive bands, chanter manufacturers will relocate chanter holes to suit the requirements of bands in matching preferred chanter reeds to chanters. The picture does not illustrate custom tuning to a reed, just abject ineptitude.

It has to be stated, it is reasonable to believe that almost all chanters left the manufacturer in tune at a given fundamental pitch, with a reed of a given pitch and played at the design playing pressure. Experimenting and R&D should be encouraged as this is how innovation progresses however, what “Gouger” has done is just beyond the pale. We say that even a blind sparrow may eventually find a worm, in “Gouger’s” case, that sparrow died of starvation.

It also needs to be stated that cane is a living, breathing organism and as such, is not a consistent material. In a tray of ten, supposedly matched reeds from a manufacturer, on average, less than a third will be fit for purpose based on my observations, and the pitch of the tray of reeds could vary as much as a semitone. To point, in a box of ten clarinet reeds I buy, (and not the cheap brands) I feel I have kicked a goal if I get two really good reeds in a box of ten. I know I will also get some that are just firewood and these are simple single blade reeds from manufactures that have been around so long, they probably supplied reeds to Jesus and his band. If they can’t get it any better, what chance to the GHB reed makers stand with two cane blades, hand tying and finishing?

Don’t do what “Gouger” has done, learn some reed skills! Why buggar up a $200 chanter over a $25 reed? Makes no sense at all.

Cheers

-G
Glenarley
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

This thing just will not die a natural death

Every week I am still getting emails from people (possibly shills) wanting to convince me that Tone Protector reed caps and the two other competing Humidi-Cap devices that were referenced to me, actually work as two-way nominal moisture control devices, as per the marketing blurp and the baseless testimonials, and all this contrary to the applied and theoretical science and actual test results.

I cannot answer to why so many top-grade pipers give glowing endorsements for the Tone Protector cap and other humidi-cap devices! I can state that none, to my knowledge, have ever provided any actual tangible evidence or technical data with numbers and such, to back their endorsements, including the Pipes and Drums publication, so you need to ask them for their reasons. All I can state is the science does not care about reputations and such, only the facts, and the facts seem to be unequivocally stating Snake Oil!

Maybe it’s because of the embarrassment factor. I note that on the other main Bagpipe forum, one of the principal moderators, Andrew Lenz, deplatformed posters that provided evidence from a scientific study that proved the devices did not do as is being claimed. As a moderator and a piper of some web-based notoriety, his endorsing a device that was at odds with the science boffins would be a huge embarrassment, a real slap in the face to him personally, especially as his web site seems to cast him as a self-acclaimed authority on the GHB. I can only guess this would further apply to the noted pipers that also endorsed the Tone Protector and this type of product. These endorsers are identified so you can just as easily ask them about their endorsements, I did, including the device maker and the Pipes and Drums publisher, and all I got was crickets.

If you bought one of these humidi-cap devices and you think it is working just fine, great, I am happy for you. The same way a medical practitioner is happy when the sugar pill placebos he/she prescribes have a perceived positive effect. Maybe it’s the same type of situation or, maybe people that paid good money for these devices do not want to have to admit to themselves, or anyone else, they got duped, who knows? You will have to ask them.

All I can state is that the science does not lie and cares little about reputations. If you seriously want to know if your humidi-cap thing is really working, or not, the process to check this out is very simple, do what the science boffins did as part of their testing process.

Get a brand-new unplayed cane reed from the manufacturer and measure the moisture content of the dry reed using a resistance meter, a good multi meter can also be used. Put this reed into your chanter of choice and install the humidi-cap type device. Leave the chanter in your bag or in the usual storage location out of the direct effect of the weather conditions and wait for not less than 72 hours. Remove the reed from the chanter after this time and re measure the moisture content of the reed as before. You will now know if you have been duped by the claims made about these devices, it is just that simple. If after the 72 hours, the reed is not at nominal moisture content, (usually around 30% depending on the cane) the device is not living up to the claims. I believe you are looking at the Emperor’s New Clothes! It’s just that simple!

I have done all the testing I could and the man that posted on the other Bagpipe forum had a science department do the testing for him and he posted the detailed results, the same results I copied and posted in my earlier post on this subject in this forum.

To point, it does not matter how many times or different ways the questions are broached to me, I cannot look past the science so please, stop sending me emails trying to justify the unjustifiable. In the same way I am not going to object to the use of placebos by medical practitioners, so if using one of these humidi-cap devices has you believing the device is helping your sound quality and playing control, good for you, sometimes the power of the mind was the real answer all along.

Cheers

-G
Glenarley
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

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Glenarley
Posts: 126
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Re: How to leard to blow the bag

Post by Glenarley »

There are no Bb Reeds, just Bb chanters

I get a lot of requests for Bb reeds to suit Bb chanters and while I do provide reeds for Bb chanters, I don’t sell Bb reeds.

The Bb pitch (466 Hz) is determined by the chanter, NOT the reed. Clearly the reed pitch has to suit the chanter and as no chanters are manufactured to a standard, the reed pitch may vary to suit different chanters all playing at Bb 466 Hz

To use actual examples: if you have a Shepherd classic 3 chanter in tune and balance, at 22℃ and design pressure, that chanter will play at 476 – 478 Hz with a standard Shepherd classic molded profile reed pitched at c+20-30. Now take that reed and put it into a Shepherd Bb chanter and you will find that reed will play that chanter in tune and in balance at 466 Hz. This is because the chanter sets the pitch, NOT the reed.

Yes, Shepherd do sell reeds marked Bb but from all the measuring and testing we have carried out over the many reeds and chanters, it would seem that the only difference between the standard reed and the reed marked Bb is that the Bb reed is a slightly lower pitched version of the standard reed. A variation I believe is just the result of manufacturing tolerances.

We have measured some Bb reeds and found them to be a few thou different in length from the standard reeds and this will produce a slightly lower pitch but not enough to be an intentional reed design variation in my view.

Put a Bb reed into a Classic 3 chanter and you will see that in many instances, this reed can be made to play in tune and in balance in the 467-478 Hz chanter.

To be clear, the chanter sets the pitch, not the reed. You just need to know the reed pitch that is the design pitch for that chanter.

To take this further, it is still possible to find some of the old major scale chanters kicking about. The Lawrie with the Queens sticker on the front is one such example and can be clearly identified by the extended distance between the F and HG holes compared to a normal Mixolydian mode chanter. On the major scale chanter, the HG is a G# not a G natural. This was done so tunes like Danny Boy were not desecrated by those non musical GHB pipers that insist on playing this tune with the flat seventh making the listeners grind their back teeth and destroying the plaintive mood of the occasion.

It you take the in-tune reed from the Shepherd Classic 3, it will play in good tune in the major scale chanter at 466 Hz, clearly demonstrating the point that the chanter is setting the pitch and not the reed.

To set chanters and reeds is a skill that is disappearing fast but with a little time and patience, can be learned to great effect.

Cheers
-G
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