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?
✓ 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.
✓ 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.
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.