Monthly Archives: April 2011

Redwood reeds in Gellaitry pipes

Highland Bagpipe Company had a promotion going on that if you spent more than 50 pounds you’d be entered to win a set of Marr bagpipes. Well, I didn’t win, but the friend I told about it did. But, I did end up with a set of Redwood drone reeds. Tim Gellaitry told me on the phone he thought they sounded nice in his pipes so I figured, why not? You’ll find the drones go out towards the end of each recording as my sessions are short so the only recordings I get are of things getting warmed up (except the last recording, of my tunes, where I’m about done warming up but had to stop to attend the kiddos). I find the tenor reeds to move with the chanter very well, the bass less so and therefore requiring more tuning, but they all settle in nice. They are very bold reeds. I get quite a nice lovely ring off the tenors, with maybe a bit of edge to them. This fiber glass thing has me wondering about Wygent’s and the reintroduction of Crozier’s versions. We’re having a spot of trouble getting them going in my friend’s Robertson’s (same guy who won the Marr pipes), the bass being a bit temperamental (it’s either off or growling), but hopefully we’ll get it sorted (though it’s a bit tough to beat Canning’s in Robertson’s!). I don’t find that the tuning pin (not screw, it just a pressure fitted o-ring) does just a whole lot, and the bridle is sensitive, but you’re not likely to find many bridles that aren’t. I got them set quickly though. Sorry for the gaffs!

David Crosbie Miller, Battle of Waterloo, 51st Highland Division

Congress Reel, Farewell to Connaught, Rakish Paddy, Dick Gossip’s Reel, Ger the Rigger

Last but not least are some tunes I wrote, the first is the first I ever wrote with a name my dad came up with, the second named after my dad, and the last named after my wife. You can find sheet music here. Enjoy!

Empty Quiver, Hilton McLaurin, Latisha McLaurin’s Jig

Oh yeah, old style Kron band chanter with Gilmour reed.

McLaren synthetic reed + Kron Medalist chanter

I’ve had a couple McLaren synthetic reeds laying about for quite a while. I purchased them new when they first came out (2009) but never had any luck with them. I could never balance the scale in any of the chanters I had/have. Correspondence with Malcolm McLaren, the manufacturer, resulted in me getting a second batch that wasn’t much better than the first. I chalked it up to long distance shipping and Lubbock’s climate, as the youtube demonstration of the reed had it sounding decently well in what I believe was a Naill chanter (I didn’t have the same result).

As I was trying to put together a recording of the Kron Medalist chanter for the blog I found a hard time reeding it without getting a flat F# and C#. I tried many brands and while the severity of the flatness would change, it would never go away. So, before I put it up, I figured, why not put a McLaren in there and see what happens. AND BOY  WAS I SURPRISED! I’ve got 1 piece of tape (high G) on the Kron Medalist with a strength 15 (~23-24 inches of water) McLaren synthetic reed.

First thing I noticed, you have to blow these reeds out. I regularly play a smidge above 30 inches of water so I felt I had to go easy on the reed, however I found the pitch would drop off just a bit and the reed will cut out, as you’ll hear in the recording below. Also, my drones weren’t set well for this easy of a reed, so they tended to drop out when I didn’t keep the pressure up, so in the first tune I played with this setup (Hector the Hero), you’ll hear the tuning go in and out as I unnecessarily baby the reed and show off how poorly my drone reeds are set to play at this pressure (and how poor my blowing is in general).

Lastly, I noticed (outside of blowing/pressure issues), my whole pipe NEVER had to be retuned. It stayed right where I set it (low A = 480 Hz). Yes, as you go up the scale, it starts sounding a bit, well, thin isn’t the word I’m looking for. If a cane reed on high A sounds like a fine wine glass, the McLaren sounds like a regular wine glass. One last thing. Since I didn’t have much to lose with the reeds, I’d moved the bridle all over the place and have just approximated where it was when I received it from Malcolm, so the state of this reed as I’ve played it isn’t necessarily what you’d get straight from McLaren.

Here ’tis:

Long list of tunes – first time out on the reed

Salute to James A. Henderson

Scots Air Hornpipe

Oh yeah, pipes are 1950’s Henderson’s with Crozier Cane tenors and Colin Kyo bass on a Monarch medium swan neck bag, Crisler adjustable blowstick, and a TrueFit cover.

Gellaitry with Colin Kyo, Naill, and Kron chanters

The playing isn’t that great because this was the 3rd time I’ve practiced in a month, and it was pretty sparse before that; oh well. Drone reeds are Kinnaird bass, Colin Kyo tenors in Tim Gellaitry pipes. All chanter reeds were Gilmour unless stated otherwise. I can no longer play a birl, so that’s nice. E grace note is slowly making a comeback, finally. Also, no one else was home so I got to play in a bigger room. The Zoom H2 was placed on top of a free standing bookcase.

The reed in the african blackwood Colin Kyo is new, so it’s crowing a bit on high A.

Calista Anne McLaurin (waltz) and the Swallow’s Tail (reel)

Alan MacPherson of Mosspark (jig)

My friend’s Naill ca. 2000 was setup a long time ago with a Caldwell reed I’ve had forever.

David Crosbie Miller, Battle of Waterloo, and 51st Highland Division

Calista Anne McLaurin, Iron Man, Congress Reel, Gravel Walk, Bush Reel (I think) <– This one kind of sucks, you can tell from the amplified ending.

This is a poly Kron, #219, so it is one of the original Kron poly chanters before the modification around #600 which apparently fixes a potential flat F# (of which this one obtained used has the F carved). I like this chanter! I wish my newer one fit in the stock! I’ll have to save up some dough and go bug Tim. :o) The E is just tad sharp, oops.

Sweet Maid of Mull and Farewell to the Creeks

The reed in the Kron was brand new too, so here’s what setting up a new reed looks like: