Tonal Quality

Tonal Quality

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Many pipers around the world, including a shocking number of "top" pipers, assume that, after putting together a well-maintained bagpipe, the next step is to tune it. This could not be further from the truth!

Always shoot for the sweet spot of your chanter reed, and the rest will happen naturally.

Many pipers around the world, including a shocking number of "top" pipers, assume that, after putting together a well-maintained bagpipe, the next step is to tune it. This could not be further from the truth! The next step must be to develop a great bagpipe sound, otherwise known at a great "tone." Tone is produced by blowing the optimal amount of pressure into your pipes in order to hit the "sweet spot" of your chanter reed. No degree of tuning will make up for a bagpipe that is not pleasing to the ear.

Start With Good Maintenance

Remember, it's impossible to produce a good tonal quality without first setting up and maintaining your bagpipe properly.

Click here to review your bagpipe maintenance basics.

Find the Sweet Spot of Your Chanter Reed.

This is easy if you understand one simple fact: The more air you put through your chanter reed, the better it sounds. Reeds that are under-blown sound thin and shrill. Reeds that are blown to the maximum pressure sound full, rich, and vibrant. It is possible to over-blow, which causes the reed to make nasty squeaks or gurgles. So, what is the perfect sweet spot? The sweet spot of your chanter reed is the pressure where you are blowing the maximum amount of air through the reed without it making unwanted or unpredictable sounds.

Click here to watch a class on achieving a great chanter sound.

Blow Steadily.

Shouldn't this have come before finding the sweet spot? No! Think about it. If you're always shooting for that perfect sweet spot of your chanter reed, steady blowing will follow suit! Granted, you may need a little help with blowing and squeezing technique, which is where a manometer might come in handy.

Click here to watch a class on using a manometer to develop your blowing and squeezing technique.

Further Investigation

We have many classes that discuss ways to improve the tonal quality of your instrument. They can be found in the "Bagpipe Tone" section of the "Search the Archives" page. You can easily access this search page any time under the "Archive" tab above.

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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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