Home Interest Technique & Theory Finding the Right Chanter Reed (Tonal Quality Discussion)

Finding the Right Chanter Reed (Tonal Quality Discussion)


How do you select the right chanter reed for you? It all starts with understanding the basics of tonal quality. From there, it's easy to figure out how to select the right reed.

Related Question: Why should Solo Reeds be easier than Band Reeds?

Solo Reeds:
✓ Have to play them a lot longer.
✓ Details are a lot more important.
Solo bagpipes are designed/optimized for solo playing, therefore “sweet” “mellow” sound is actually what you want.
✓ Comfort/Sweetness/Longevity

Band Reeds:
✓ Don’t have to play them as long.
✓ Details are a bit less important.
✓ Band pipes are optimized for volume/projection/clarity (think: “Crackle”)
✓ Hard reeds are less susceptible to pitch change due to unsteady blowing.
✓ Crackle/Tunability/Volume

Selecting a reed:

Big mistake: selecting a reed based on whether or not you can get a sound to come out of it.

What you’re really trying to do: Select a reed that can be sustained AT THE SWEET SPOT for the required length of time.

Litmus test: Play 1 line of Scotland the brave with one breath, while sustaining a pleasant tone.


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