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Chanter Tuning Brain Game #5
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Chanter Tuning Brain Game #5

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brainThere are many different ways you can tune a chanter:

  • Change Tape
  • Raise-sink a reed.
  • Lick a Reed
  • Adjust a Bridle on the Reed
  • Shave a Reed.
  • Poke a Reed
  • Carve out a chanter hole.
  • Etc.

What is the best way to tune your chanter in the following scenario?

Scenario:

A Piper's Bottom Hand is flat relative to the rest of the band.

Clues:

  • You're fully warmed up.
  • This is a band scenario, so we don't have the option of being "below the number." It's got to be the same as everyone else.
  • There is NO TAPE on the bottom hand notes.
  • There is enough tape on the high hand that we wouldn't want much (if any) more.
Show Me the Answer!!!
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This is very common problem, especially on a cold day. Some chanters "bottom out" as moisture accumulates on the reeds. And, moisture sets in a lot faster and in more abundance on a cold day.

Challenges:

  • We can't sink the reed - that will sharpen the top hand notes more than the bottom hand notes, due to the graduated tuning effect.
  • There's no way to sharpen the bottom hand notes - there's no tape to take off the holes!
  • We could pinch the reed to bring up its overall pitch - but that could be destructive to the reed, and will "wear off" before long.

The solution?

For me, this is where the bridle comes in. I tightly wrap a dental elastic around the reed and leave it just above where the reed blades meet the wrapping. This offers sort of a continuous, gentle "pinch" that will bring up the overall pitch of the reed. It will require some tape tweaking on the top hand in all likelihood - but it's a solution that works!

Just remember the downside to the bridle: Slightly less harmonic output as you raise it further up the blades. Therefore, I'd only use a bridle when I needed to.

Last thing - when would you consider carving chanter notes? I would only consider this in a high-level competitive environment when you need competitive pitch, and the environment doesn't allow for it. Only in that case would I consider carving bottom hand notes.

Questions? Don't hesitate to ask!

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Andrew Douglas Andrew is a prolific practitioner of the bagpipe, having been active at the highest level of pipe bands, solo competition, teaching, and creative endeavors for the past 20 years. He's also the founder and creator of Dojo U and of PipersDojo.com

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