If you've taken Dojo University classes on sound production, you'll know that a manometer is one of the things you need. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this useful tool.
The manometer looks like a complicated beast, but it’s not. It is an amazingly useful tool for creating and improving a consistent tone on the bagpipes.
A manometer is a tool for measuring the pressure acting on a column of fluid. Most bagpipe manometers use a U-shaped tube with water. The liquid in the tube reacts to the difference in pressures acting on the two “arms” of the tube causing a change in height.
Tip 1: Get Familiar
You'll need to familiarize yourself with the manometer, its set up, as well as know what kind of practice will get you the most benefit. When you get a manometer, the first stop you should make is with the Dojo U class “Blow Steady and Produce Great Tone with a Manometer”. This video covers the basics of manometer use and how to interpret the readings.
Tip 2: Maintenance Check-In
Before you start using the manometer you should perform a full maintenance check on your bagpipes. This means asking the 4 questions every piper needs to answer in order to produce great sound! This includes making sure your bag is airtight, all joints are airtight and the reeds firmly placed in the seats. The drone reeds should also be calibrated.
Tip 3: Set It Up
Setting up the manometer is a relatively simple task. It needs to hang unbent, which means it needs to sit fairly high up. A wire coat hanger bent to hook around just about anything makes this easier as well as easier to move and transport. When you fill the manometer with water, don’t fill the tube completely. Not much water is needed. A bit of food coloring added to the water will make the water much easier to see, or using blue glass cleaner such as Windex in place of water has the added bonus of inhibiting mold growth.
Take it easy when you first start up your bagpipes when attached to the manometer! Keep an eye on the water level. Too much liquid will have you making a big mess! If water starts to get near the top of the tube you might want to remove some of the liquid. This is especially important if you have food-coloring in your. You don't want to stain anything!
Tip 4: Get Results
Using the manometer for optimum result will require you to find the sweet spot on your bagpipes. The sweet spot is the maximum amount of air through the chanter reed without causing any undesirable noises. The Dojo Stealth manometer has adjustable slides to help you mark this spot. When you find the sweet spot, the water in the manometer will reach a certain point, mark this point on the tube.
Tip 5: Keep Working
To get the best results, you should work with the manometer on a regular schedule. Develop regular exercises when using it. Once a week, a few minutes per practice session, more time every few days, find the right schedule that brings you results. However you do it, follow the suggestions in the above-linked Dojo U class and keep at it. Pay attention to the results. You will find that your playing and sound production will improve when you put in the time and effort.
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Technique Development - Maintenance Musts
Technique Development - Drone Reed Calibration
Forget Blowing Steady!