Monthly Archives: August 2011

Marr poly chanter + Gellaitry drones

Recently I had the chance to review a set of Marr drones (recordings here and here), and now I’ve played a Marr chanter as well. The chanter has a unique design so it is easily recognizable. I ended up with tape on every finger hole except the A’s, so the chanter is in general, a tad sharp. That’s not a terrible thing though (and maybe intentional, I dunno), as you’re pretty much never going to have a flat note! In that, the note with the least amount of tape was high G, which is odd in that every other chanter, this note has the most tape. Needless to say, I like it! However, for those of you who like to play the sharper version of high G in Piobaireachd maybe need not apply, as this chanter may not get you there (see this post and this post). That said, this would seemingly be a great band chanter as you’d never have to worry about carving the chanter. Whereas McCallum bagpipes has a band chanter with effectively the same property (never having to carve a hole) because they’re big and oval (the holes all still requiring tape), the Marr chanter keeps the hole size to a reasonable level (still round too) and you just tape them down a bit. The holes are a bit bigger than what you’ll find on most solo chanters, but that would seemingly be to compensate for the need for tape so that no notes become noticeably quiet in comparison to adjacent notes. So, it was quick to tune once I got tape on the holes. A picture of the chanter right next to my Colin Kyo chanter is below. Note that the exact same brand reed (Gilmour) was used in both chanters (you can see the CK tuned very well with no tape save for high G, furthermore, you can see the CK is capable of the sharper Piobaireachd high G [which is stupendous by the way]). You can click on the picture to get the full size version. Not the greatest picture in the world, I admit, but you’ll notice how all the holes between low A and high G (not including them) are higher on the Marr, which is consistent with those notes being sharp and the tape needed to tune them.

Lastly, some recordings with the chanter plugged into my Gellaitry pipes. The first is of some common 4/4’s and then on to a couple tunes I’m learning (so cut me some slack!). Also, it’s a new reed so the high A isn’t quite broken in yet. I also retied the blowpipe stock and went back to a shorter mouthpiece. The whole pipe is more comfortable now, yay!

Rowan Tree, Murdo’s Wedding, Wings, Scotland the Brave

Abercairny Highlanders and Miss Proud

McLaren synthetic chanter reed strength guide

You’ve probably heard by now about Malcolm McLaren’s synthetic bagpipe chanter reeds. He gives a rough guide as to the strength ratings he uses (13-20) by giving the equivalent values in inches of water for 3 of his reed strengths (13 = 18 in. H2O, 17 = 28 in. H2O, 20 = 35 in. H2O). It is immediately obvious that the scale is roughly linear. So this is a trivial post, I’m just going to fill in the gaps for ya.

McLaren in. H2O McLaren in. H2O
12.97 18 13 18.07
13.38 19 14 20.5
13.79 20 15 22.93
14.2 21 16 25.36
14.61 22 17 27.79
15.02 23 18 30.23
15.43 24 19 32.66
15.84 25 20 35.09
16.26 26
16.67 27
17.08 28
17.49 29
17.9 30
18.31 31
18.72 32
19.13 33
19.54 34
19.95 35

The equations are:
McLaren = 0.41095890411 * (in. H2O) + 5.570776255708
in. H2O = 2.431432432432 * (McLaren) – 13.540540540541