The Royal Scots Cap Badge

How to prevent the dreaded Flat or double-toning F?

by Jim Jack

Hi Bill, first of all many thanks for a really helpful, informative website.

My pipes are set up so they come into tune after a 5 min warm up and sound fine for ages afterwards. My troubles, though, begin when I've to take a break in playing (seems to happen usually in cold conditions) and then resume - the rest of the notes seem okay but the F has gone badly flat.

Any ideas - do I need to change my reed or maybe look at using a water trap if moisture's the culprit?

Hope you can help, and best wishes.

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Apr 01, 2015
How to prevent the dreaded Flat or double-toning F? NEW
by: Bill Robertson

Hello Jim,
This has been answered Feb. 2013. I do not why it has cropped up again in my e mail to action.
I can add that if the F tends to double tone when not too damp, and what i would term a very easy or weak reed, some very careful manipulation of the staple might help - a mandrel suitable to be inserted from the open bottom staple of the reed cne be very slightly pushed and perhaps wiggle a little when resistance is felt to very slightly open the reed and be a bit stronger to blow.
A chanter reed needs a certain moist air to free the reed and sound better, yet not as pointed our after playing in damp cold weather.

Feb 01, 2013
How to prevent the dreaded Flat or double-toning F?
by: Bill Robertson

Hello Jim,
The earlier one who replied to you on this has the right idea about moisture.
I always drilled my pipers to check and dry out especially their chanter stock after playing for some good time, or check for moistute there by puting the little finger up the stock to detect any moisture.
When moisture is present in any form dry out immediately, not much later because the sound of the reed will become dull and tend to double-tone sometimes on F, if left without attention. A suitable dowel/stick and absobent cloth with enough material on the end can be used to dry out thoroughly a number of times with fresh material brought to bear. Wipe any moistute away from the top of the chanter then replace, or as suggested earlier leave out for a few minutes and replace.
Your problem usually occurs in very cold and damp weather conditions. I suggest if playing indoors to play in a warmer room, not in a cold garage or suchlike. Also keep your pipe case with pipes in a temperate room. Moisture control devices can ne helpful, but not entirely sometimes - so always beware and test. Remember that your chanter reed needs an element of very slightly moist air to help the quality of tone, yet not too much. That is something to remmeber when/if using some systems that allow the chanter stock along with others to have moisture control. You might have the chanter stock too dry in warm weather conditions if so.
All the best,

Feb 01, 2013
flat chanter reed.
by: Anonymous

Chanter reeds tend to go flat from vapor condesation as they cool down between playing sessions. It might help to pull the chanter & let the reed air dry during the break.

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