Monthly Archives: September 2013

Adrian Melvin chanter reeds and more Rocket reeds to play with

Here’s a few clips of my carved up Colin Kyo chanter with an Adrian Melvin ridge cut reed. In an unmodified CK chanter the bottom hand comes off too sharp because the reed can’t be sunk enough to bring the top hand up sharp enough. In talking with Adrian, the reed I’m using is older and his newer ones balance much better in the CK chanter, so we’ll be ordering some direct to give them a shot for the band. CK chanters have a narrower reed seat than most chanters so if you play just about any other chanter, it isn’t necessarily something you’d have to worry about, especially since they’re better balanced now than before. His reeds have just a great crack on them. Having ordered easy strength, dry it was too hard but slobber on it a bit (quite literally) and squeeze the thick part of the ridge a few times and voila, perfect strength without any loss of crack. The crack and response from this reed is superb. Might give them a go if you haven’t already. Additional to the Melvin chanter reed, this post features Atherton MacDougall spec Rocket tenor drone reeds and a Naill spec Rocket bass drone reed in my 1950s Hendersons. The MacD bass reed was tuning on a nanometer so I switched back to my standard Naill one.

King of Loais, PM Calum Campbell’s Caprice, The Big Yin, and Scotaire Hornpipe – the first tune was chosen to feature the F which is just really sparkling with these Rocket tenors and Melvin chanter reed, as are B and D. I don’t know if it’s the chanter reed, the drone reeds, or both, but live this pipe is singing.

Skyeman’s Jig (arr. Duncan Johnstone) – out of John MacFadyen’s first book mentioned in the previous blog post. First jig in a set of jigs that ended in my drones being too far out to post the rest of the set (about time to reseason the L&M bag on these pipes, they’re getting temporally unsteady) and additionally the kids got home, opened the door, yelled at me, slammed the door, and I boogered up a few times, so, you just get the first tune, lol.

They all end on D

Well, I’ll have to gear up the blog again. I recently acquired a nearly new set of Rocket reeds intended for Atherton MacDougall pipes. I was hoping they’d go well in the Jeffers and while they sound nice, I still think Selbie are a better fit. However, they are a marked improvement over the Naill spec Rockets I had been using in my 1950’s Hendersons so here soon there will be a post about that. With every new set of drone reeds I acquire, I have to run them through every set I own to see which pipes they work best in. The ultimate goal is to simultaneously optimize the sound of each bagpipe and all of my bagpipes. Thankfully so far, most pipes like different reeds since I’ve only got one of each brand. Today was the try these new Rockets in the Gellaitry’s just to make sure they’re not better than the Kinnairds I have in there now. The bass seemed a little finicky so the recordings below have the regular Kinnaird bass back in coupled with the Rocket tenors. I’m also playing my newest Colin Kyo addition, a chanter with a boxwood sole and bulb to go with the boxwood on the Gellaitry pipes.

I had used my Zoom H2 to record something else in the interim and I forgot to reset the levels so the recordings in mp3 came out really quiet so I had to normalize them. Since Audacity doesn’t do a great job of re-encoding to mp3 after normalization, to save “resolution” I opted to save them has lossless wav files, so the recordings below top out around 35 MB of data (but at least they’re audible!).

Mrs. Lily Christie and The Quaker

Twisted Fingers and The High Drive – What we learn from this set is that The High Drive should be played round, unlike the way I played it. Also, Twisted Fingers is a tune I just recently learned (first day on the pipes actually, don’t worry, this was like the 30th take, lol) taken from John MacFadyan’s book 1, more about that below.

James MacLellan’s Favourite, Hen’s March, and Kenneth MacDonald’s Jig – I just recently found the first jig in John MacFadyen’s book 1 which you can buy at piping shops or through the College of Piping’s app for iPad (how I did it). Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band also played the first jig in their medley during the qualifier at the World Pipe Band Championships, of course I didn’t realize that until yesterday after recording the tune. Kind of like when you first learn a new word you start hearing it everywhere, I guess it goes for tunes too.

So, I’ve only got 2 chanters going at the moment, both Colin Kyo, both with Husk reeds. For some reason I keep thinking that maybe some other brand will hold the magic for Colin Kyo chanters, but then, each time I take stock of what I’m playing, it has a Husk reed in it that I spent just a little time boogering up to play at my strength level, and it goes pretty good.

I’ve ordered one of the new RJM solo chanters (Roddy J. MacLeod, yes that one) so expect that review after a while. We have to wait for it to be made and then shipped overseas so it’ll be a month or so, Roddy says.

Time to get some chanter stocks made with all the same inner bores so I don’t have to keep a bunch of different chanters going, argh.

Summary of bagpipe specs used in recordings above

Gellaitry Drones+ Atherton MacD Rocket tenors + regular Kinnaird bass

Colin Kyo blackwood chanter + Husk chanter reed

Gannaway zip bag