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Subject: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Eric R. Gagne
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Date Posted: 13:50:43 01/22/02 Tue

I just received a new set of bagpipes, Highland Pipes to be exact and I am having some difficulty adjusting and/or scraping the chanter reed. The first one I put in was working fairly well at first but I unfortunately fiddled around with it too much and removed too much material now it just "squaks" and sounds awful. My question is can I buy pre-tuned or pre-scraped reeds or do I have to learn this art of scraping and adjusting on my own, can anyone shed any light on my situation???

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Replies:
[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Randy
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Date Posted: 03:39:42 01/24/02 Thu

Wygent sells reeds that are pre-blown in, I felt that the cost was not really worth the quality of reed that I recieved. But maybe you would have better luck. Also, you may want to try Soutar, Or Ceol-moor, These reeds are pitched relatively high. But, I didnt think the Medium strengths were too difficult. I would also recommend if you havn't all ready, Check out Chris Apps reed manipulation kit. It's basically a mandrel for opening the mouth of reeds, small pliers for closing reed, sandpaper, and razor blades,and a pretty good book Explaining which action/actions will yeild certain results.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Peter Kosmoski
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Date Posted: 16:31:23 01/24/02 Thu

I'll second that notion. The low strength Wygents are the easiest chanter reeds that I've played. I'd say they are a good reed for a beginner.

If you scrape a brand new reed, it may be good for a while, but three months down the road it will die. Only scrape reeds that are broken in. For new reeds that are too strong to play, I prefer to pinch them to get a temporary reduction in strength. To pinch, hold the reed on the two (relatively) flat sides between the thumb and forefinger, about 1/4 of an inch from the top of the reed. Give a good hard pinch for about 2-3 seconds. Pinching makes the reed easier to play, but will sharpen the pitch. It's a lot easier and safer thing to do to make a reed playable than scraping.

Chanter reeds will get easier to play all by themselves if you play them for a while (about 3 weeks to a couple of months). After you've gained some endurance, you'll want to tolerate a slightly hard reed when it is new, because after several months it will be just right.

The best bet with scraping (if you just have to do it) is to scrape just a little, and then play it like that for a couple of days before deciding whether you need to scrape some more. The long-term effects of scraping are not always immediately apparant.

Chanter reeds also become easier to play with exposure to moisture. But since long term exposure to moisture results in mold and a dead reed, keeping your reed wet is not a long term solution. It may not be a bad deal to scrape a too-hard reed just a little, wet it with tap water, then try to play it for a few days. Saliva has acids that deteriorate the reed, so don't deliberately wet the reed with saliva.

To keep the moisture in your reed consistent (and mold free), always remove it from your pipes after playing. Reed protectors are good for this, as it allows you to keep your tune (you don't have to remove the reed from the chanter). A lot of top end players prefer to keep their reeds in a small sealed jar between performances. Plastic film canisters work good, always store 2-3 reeds together to keep the moisture levels correct. Be careful not to crush the tops of the reeds when putting the top on! That really hurts when you do that to a good reed.

Obviously, there are a lot of differing opinions on this subject. Civilized disputes to my opinions are welcome!

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Eric R. Gagne
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Date Posted: 14:43:56 02/04/02 Mon

>Peter,

Thank you for the information about chanter reeds and reed manipulation it was very helpful.

Thanks Again!!

Eric R. Gagne

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[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Randall Paine
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Date Posted: 11:13:39 01/24/02 Thu

eric,
also do a search on andrew lenz. he has some tips on reed manipulation that may help. this process is trial and error. keep at it and you'll get it. we all went through this.

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[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Randoplh
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Date Posted: 19:04:08 01/24/02 Thu

I know that a lot of pipers are going to say that this is scarelige but try the Clanrye synthetic. If you are fairly new to piping(I'm guessing that you are)it is no hassle. You can put it in the chanter tune it no more hassles. I've been getting a year out of them no trouble. Both times I've had to replace them was due to accident on my part. So the expense is well worth it.
Cane reeds do sound better but for me the clanrye's have been a real boon. I don't have to blow in new reeds or worry about manipulation and I get to enjoy my favorite passtime.
Oh they are availble in 3 strengths and it dosen't cahnge throughout the life of the reed.

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[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Hank Delison
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Date Posted: 23:07:51 01/25/02 Fri

Clanrye (plastic) chanter reeds. Wow, I know some people try them, we all have I guess, but what a waste. Just not the same as cane. Sound is lousy, feel is lousy, plus you don't get the enjoyment of learning how to use cane reeds.
Here's my advice, do as I did, find a bagpipe supplier on the internet, it's not hard, type in Bagpipes. Order an even dozen various strength reeds. When they come, settle back with a razor blade, sandpaper, punch, rubber bands, whatever and go to scraping, sanding, etc.. Yes, expect to ruin all 12 reeds, And a whole lot more, eventualy you will become skilled at reed manipulation. It's just part of the art of bagpipe playing. And can be quite rewarding when a reed you've worked on not only sounds great, but lasts a good long time. Chris Apps reeds puts out a good booklet on reeds, Check the back issues of The Voice magazine for articles by Nancy Tunnicliff. Ask every pipers you stumble accross what they do , Try it all and develop your own methods of reed manipulation.

I may not (am not) the best piper in the world, country, state or city, but by cracky I can still have good sound.

Hank
Been there, done that.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Eric R. Gagne
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Date Posted: 14:39:20 02/04/02 Mon

>Hank,

Just wanted to thank you for your response on the message board in regards to my entry inquiring about How to adjust/scrape Chanter reeds.

Thanks Again!!

Eric R. Gagne

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[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Randall Paine
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Date Posted: 08:31:49 01/26/02 Sat

eric,
the clanrye reed was mentioned here. although i agree that the clanrye reed's tone is lacking, it may be worth a try if you just want to see some progress on the pipes. they are very stable and easy to work with.
however, sooner or later you will want to move to cane. so, how you get there is up to you. i did the clanrye route. i must admit that it actually set me back because, although i have many tunes under my belt, i am still working on my stamina and that wonderful tone that comes from playing a robust reed.
ask yourself whether you want to struggle a little now or stuggle later. that may give you your answer with the clanrye.
as mentioned, the internet is full of articles on this subject. let knowledge be your guide. best wishes eric.

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[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Harold Cook
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Date Posted: 22:57:49 01/26/02 Sat

Yup, we've all been there/done it. Yeah, they're $6 - $8 apiece, but chanter reeds are consumables; you keep shaving and sanding and replacing them until you find a good one. Then you keep that one forever. Yep, a moist reed is much easier to blow than a dry one. And in most bagpipes, they're soaking wet the whole time they're being played. Wet your reed well before your start tooting. Chris Reed's book is excellent and cheap. Pick one up and read it. It'll get you manipulating reeds logically. I also like Bruce Liberati's booklet, but it's out of print. His wife sometimes has copies on eBay. Clanryes don't work well in all chanters, or even in the same brand of chanter. I've got one in a Naill B/W and I wouldn't change it. My other chanters have cane, and none of them will use a Clanrye acceptably - matter of fact, they sound really lousy. My belief is that if you bought one, you'd be unhappy with it, unless you happened to have the one-in-ten chanter that "works" with the plastic reed. If you're dead set on trying a Clanrye, I'll let you borrow one. Email me.
The "Easy" Wygent, Hardie and Soutar reeds will get you going, too, but I've never had a Soutar last all that long. That may have been because of my habit of scraping reeds before they're blown in sufficiently. I'm not real patient with reeds. Some of them ALWAYS blow like a 2x4 and I don't care to expend a lot of energy just to find that out.

Cheers,
Harold

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[> Subject: Re: Reed adjustment/scraping for new Pipes?


Author:
Steve Smith
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Date Posted: 16:01:20 03/14/02 Thu

I just followed this line of notes, and found it very interesting, especially in light of the fact that I used to play oboe for many years, and had been making my own reeds since the 6th grade. In the beginning, I wanted to have a store-bought reed or two around because I never knew if mine would turn out. I did try the plastic reed in the beginning, but even though it was easy to blow, it just never felt or sounded right. Once I got the hang of making the reeds, I never wanted one that I hadn't made. Of course, oboe reeds rarely last more than a week, so you're continually making them, but I agree with the folks here, when you've got a great one that you've made yourself, it's a tremendous feeling.
Nice to see that holds true in the world of bagpipes as well!!

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