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] Date Posted:12:40:03 10/06/02 Sun
I'VE BEEN PIPING 2 YRS. IT TAKES ME WEEKS TO BALANCE MY CHANTER /S. I USE MED. STRENGTH REEDS. CHANTERS ARE WARMAC AND MCCALLUM POLY. AFTER SELECTING A REED MY SET-UP STEPS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
SEATING THE REED IN THE CHANTER TO GET LOW A AND HIGH A EVEN USING A KORG CA-20 METER AND A WATER MANOMETER. I USE A CHART TO ROUGH TUNE THE REMAINING NOTES (STILL HOOKED UP TO THE WATER MANOMETER).
THE CHART BASICALLY STATES IF LOW A & HI A ARE CALIBRATED TO ZERO ON THE KORG, NOTE B SHOULD EQUAL (+4),
C (-14) ,
E (+2) ,
HI G (-4),
LOW G (-4).
INVARIABLY LOW G OR HIGH G OR BOTH ARE FLAT, WHILE USUALLY ALL OTHER NOTES B,C,D,E,F ARE A LITTLE SHARP, SOMETIMES CERTAIN NOTES LIKE (E), ARE EXTREMELY SHARP REQUIRING TAPE TO COVER MORE THAN HALF THE HOLE. AND SINCE LOW G AND HI G ARE FLAT THE REED NEEDS TO BE SEATED FURTHER IN THE REED SEAT. NOW LOW A & HI A REQUIRE TAPE & MOVING THE TAPE OVER THE OTHER HOLES DOWN EVEN FURTHER.
I DON'T SEE ANY OTHER PIPERS WITH THIS MUCH TAPE ON THEIR CHANTERS. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I'VE TRIED NUMEROUS BRANDS OF REEDS. WHEN I DO OCCASIONALLY GET A REED THAT IS COMFORTABLE TO BLOW WITHOUT LOSING BODILY FUNCTIONS I FEEL IT JUST BY THE GRACE OF GOD. ALSO, BECAUSE OF THE EXCESSIVE TAPE COVERING THE CHANTER HOLES THE CHANTER DOES NOT PROJECT WELL.
WHEN I START SCRAPING THE MIDDLE PORTION TO FLATTEN THE PITCH THE RESULT IS ALL NOTES ARE FLATTENED AND I AM RIGHT BACK TO THE BEGINNING WITH LOW G & HI G BEING VERY FLAT.
Date Posted:14:13:36 11/02/02 Sat
First thing you need to do is to get your drones (or a single tenor drone) in perfect tune with Low A. Then browse up and down the scale, slowly, listening for the harmonic blend of the chanter with the drones. If there is no perceptible wavering, then the note is in tune. You might not want to rely on the meter so much.
If a note does waver, try covering part of the hole with your finger. If it improves the sound (eliminates or lessens the wavering), that note was sharp and needs to be taped. If the sound gets worse, that note is already flat. Try removing the finger and increasing the pressure. If the note gets into tune, then it's flat and maybe the whole reed needs to be sunk further into the chanter, or that note may need some adjustment / carving.
Unless you are playing in a competing band all the time there is no need to use a chromatic tuner at all. I've competed in the Professional Solo events in Scotland for a number of years and I don't know anybody who uses an electronic tuner to balance their chanter.
The first thing to remember is that an average pipe chanter reed will take "at least" a week to settle down, I always select a reed that is roughly OK when blown in the chanter and doesn't require too much adjustment. Apply tape where and if required (usually F, D, HG, poss. E) but do this by ear, don't use the meter. Play the reed for about a week without shaving it either by knife or sandpaper making minor tape adjustments as necessary.
Next step tune your drones to your LA and make sure they are perfectly in tune and then slowly go up the scale listening to the balance between drones and chanter on each note. If a note is out you WILL hear it, adjust tape as necessary. After doing this with every note on the chanter you will have a balanced bagpipe that no amount of fiddling with an electronic tuner will give you.
Hope this helps!
All the best
1 Scots Guards