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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.