MG Reeds

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Shaving A Chanter Reed


  When removing cane from a reed always remove very small amounts at a time and test the reed in the bagpipe between adjustments, its very easy to take cane off but it can not be put back on. 

  Too Hard Should your reed still be uncomfortable to blow then it can be eased off in the following ways : 

Shaving a Chanter Reed

  If it is tight in response then using a sharp blade very gently shave the upper region of the blades remembering to remove the cane evenly across the width of both blades. Be aware that this will also flatten off the top hand notes a little, so you may require to nudge it down in the reed seat to compensate.  Avoid shaving the lips of the reed. 

Freeing Up a Chanter Reed

  If the response is good (a slight tightness is desirable for stability) then you can ease it slightly by removing small amounts of the shoulders just above the staple. This should be removed evenly on both sides of each blade. Be aware that this will slightly sharpen some of the bottom hand notes, particularly C and D. It will also increase the response but not quite as much as removing cane from the upper region of the blades. 

  Another method often employed is the application of a small elastic dental band, this is very effective and can often help stabilise a reed in its initial blowing in period. Two or three wraps of the band around the sound box will ease a reed considerably; it will also lift the pitch. 

Applying a Band To a Chanter Reed

  This band can remain on the reed for the duration of its life. It can be used effectively to raise and lower the pitch in small increments to assist with tuning within a pipe band environment.

To raise the pitch simply slide the band a little further towards the lips of the reed. To lower the pitch  slide it towards the staple. 

Be aware that if the band is placed too high it will muffle the reed too much, to avoid this keep within the sound box area.

  Flat C and/or Double Toning F On occasions this can occur with any reed/ chanter combination and is easily remedied.  

Using the dental band, as already mentioned, is very effective.

The reed being sunk to far into the chanter, try lifting the reed a fraction.

Removing a Chanter Reed Crow

 Alternatively using a very sharp blade, cut a slither off the top of the blades, a hairs width.  This will also raise the pitch and strengthen the reed slightly. Be carful as too much taken off here can dramatically raise the pitch of F, HG and HA, if this occurs then they can be brought back down by thinning the upper region of the blades as explained but remember this will then weaken the reed also. 

High A Too Croaky 

This can be caused by a number of things. 

Insufficient pressure on the reed, just blow a little harder and it will clear. Every reed is different and requires slightly different pressures to obtain optimum sound, learn to get the best from a reed by learning to blow the pressure that suits it. Maintain this pressure at all times otherwise an unsteady bagpipe will result. 

The bottom of the staple touching the wall of the reed seat wall, ensure that this has a wrap of hemp around it.  The reed sunk too far in the reed seat, lift the reed a little.

Lastly if a croak is persistent then rubbing the very tips of the reed blades at right angles across the back of your thumb nail or on a sheet of glass will clear this. Be carful though as too much will cause a very thin sound to the top hand notes.

Fine Tuning  

Fine tuning of any chanter is achieved with the use of tape applied across the top of the open hole of the note that is sharp. Notes that are persistently flat with a variety of reeds can be undercut but this should be left in the hands of an experienced player or manufacturer. Fine tuning with tape is very straight forward and to begin with is a trail and error process.  More tape covering the hole = flatter note.  Bear in mind that when the sound hole is taped to flatten low G it will also flatten slightly the low A and E. Similarly if the Low G hole is taped to flatten Low A then this will also have a very small effect on the E 

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