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Subject: Re: Reed Troubles...

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Date Posted: 16:37:12 03/17/02 Sun
In reply to: Bob 's message, "Reed Troubles..." on 23:06:18 03/16/02 Sat

My personal experience with this problem when I was a new piper was that the relative "easiness" of a reed required to play at this level lends itself to poor tone. "Easy" reeds tend to be shaved, pinched, or whet to the point that the fibers of the reed are so broken down that they no longer produce good tone.

If you have a tuner, check your low A and see where it sits. Your reed may be seated too flat and thus your drones have to be tuned fully out to match your chanter. Preferences vary but low A should be at least 440 cycles or higher (440-470 is ok to start).

Sink your reed to get your low A within this range. Unfortunately, with this reed you'll have to tape the crap out of the lower holes to match your flat Hg and Ha. This isn't all together a bad thing as you'll have a louder high hand relative to the already loud low hand but you'll find setting a balanced chanter may be difficult. Until your strength and stamina allow you to play more stable reeds, this will always be a problem.

Also, start with a nice reed of good material. Not all reeds are created equal and some reeds use a finer cane material that lends itself to greater manipulation. I like Shepherd reeds but there are other good ones out there. There are reed shaving techniques that theoretically can change note tone as well as ease of playing. Someone else can probably explain this better than I can.

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[> Subject: Re: Reed Troubles...

Peter Kosmoski
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Date Posted: 17:54:01 03/28/02 Thu

All the previous advice sounds right to me. Here's more for you.

Play low A, then high A at the proper pressure (the proper pressure is generally the lowest pressure that sounds the high A, or only slightly above that pressure). If the high A is flat relative to the low A, the reed needs to be pushed in further. If the high A is sharp, take it out, add more hemp and replace the reed so that it's not in the chanter quite as deep as it was before.

Once the the two A's match up, check the other notes. If any notes are sharp, you can "tape them up", meaning wrap tape around the chanter, so the upper part of the offending hole is covered with tape. This will flatten that particular note.

If any of the other notes are flat, I'd recommend a different reed for the chanter. Another (unattractive) option involves taping most of the holes (7 out of the 8 to be exact), but this is complicated to explain and I'm leaving that one alone! Still another option involves scraping the proper area of the reed to bring the offending notes into tune. To do this, you need about 20 years experience in the craft, and you also probably need special... spiritual powers. If you can pull this one off, you would have been burned at the stake in less modern times. Honestly, at this point it's best to try another reed.

Question - is this a reputable (Scottish) chanter? Just wondering, because you'll never get one of those Paki chanters to sound right...

Hope this helped,


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