The Royal Scots Cap Badge

New reeds 'squealing'

by Jim
(Leeds)

Hi Bill,


I've been piping for a few years but this is a new problem that's popped up and has me a bit perplexed. Basically, I've been trying a few different new reeds (some medium, eg MacLellan and Shepherd) and one 'easy' (G1 Platinum).

I can get them all sounding fine and play with them for a good ten or 15 minutes before the same issue arises - some squealing, as if the air pressure's causing a problem, especially noticeable going from high to low notes. Any ideas what's causing this? It's not my fingering (been playing Killiekrankie, the classic high A to low A test, for years) and I can't see the reeds, esp the Shepherd, being too easy as I'm not that strong a blower.

On one occasion wetting the reed seemed to help, as did toughening up my drones so they took more air, but I can't seem to get them staying stable for more than quarter of an hour.
Hope you can help!

Jim

Comments for New reeds 'squealing'

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 27, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
New reeds squealing
by: Bill Robertson

Thank you Jim for lettimg me know. It shows how trial and error has to be applied at times to help solve some problems. I think you might get used to the new bag. Remember the off to send you some pages e mail if you wish.
All the best,

Bill

Mar 27, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
End of saga!
by: Anonymous

Hi Bill, I finally worked out what was causing this and it was so basic I'm pretty embarrassed.

I got a new bag fitted (by post) at the New Year but hadn't really played the pipes since then until a few weeks ago.

Well, turns out I had mistakenly assumed one bag would be much like another - not so!

The shape of the new bag, with a slightly different neck, means I have to play the chanter facing slightly to the right for the pressure etc to work properly and my hands to be comfortable.
When I was turning the chanter to be more 'straight on' (as it was with the old bag) to my body it meant I had to change my left hand position by turning it outward a little unnaturally, and this was forcing my forearm into the bag - giving way too much pressure.

So, a lesson learnt! Perhaps for the long term I actually need a smaller bag, but for now I shall get on with playing squeal-free with my chanter slightly facing to one side and count myself lucky at that.

Thanks for all your help, Jim

Mar 25, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
New reeds squealing
by: Bill Robertson

Good to know Jim. I doubt though that the cracked stock would cause squeals, but could alter your air pressure/bag tighhtness.

Please remmeber to test the chanter reed strength and test the quality and balance in your chanter, if possible if in a shop or supplier's place. When a reed is too strong or unsuitable it is best to return the reed/s to the supplier with reasons and seek a less strong reed or whatever.
All the best,

Bill

Mar 25, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Good advice
by: Anonymous

Thanks Bill, it's my stock (rather than the chanter itself) that has the hairline crack but I'm guessing the advice still applies - it could be contributing to the 'choke and squeal', as I've started to call it.

I'll take up your advice on marking my best chanter position and think also, as a precaution, have my stock repaired or replaced.
Thanks again for all your help.

PS my dear Gran on my father's side (Elizabeth), who passed on last year, was a Robertson so always nice to speak to another member of the clan. And her daughter, my aunt Carol, is now in New Zealand - small world! Jim

Mar 24, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
New reeds 'squealing"
by: Bill Robertson

Hello Jim,
Godd to know some of the problems you mention recently. Almost certainly the positioning of the chanter in the chanter stock to get the right comforab;le fingering is most important even if slightly not exactly to your front, although too much out to the side. A mark/dot with a marker pen near the bottom of the chanter stock that alighns with the high A hole is good to have the position as you need it when replacing the chanter after say drying out, or checking the chanter balance by mouth blowing etc.A tiny split/crack on the chanter I am sure would contribute to squealing. If the split is quite open, as happened some years ago to a chanter of mine (somone esle did it, you could consider making the clean slit apart to then carefully super-glue it firmly together as directed on the glue package - no overlapping glue edges especially inside the bore, and clamped firmly for some time as directed perhaps on the instructions. Mine I am still using as my peferred chanter although I have another chanter of good make etc. You can avoid the likely hood of bad handling of a chanter by considering one of the black plastic of good quality and reputable maker. Also when taking a chanter in and out always (even plastic to get into the good habit) hold firmly by the bowl at the top of the chanter, not farther down especially when wooden.
If you would like some extracted pages of one of my manuals on the chanter reed setting etc., please ask through an e mail to me so that I can send by e mail to you. My e mail is: bagpiper1@slingshot.co.nz ----- Regards, Bill

Mar 24, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Some progress identifying cause
by: Jim

A short update Bill - through a process of elimination I've ruled out reed, fingering and air pressure problems (the 'choke and squeal' doesn't happen when blown out of the pipes, and affects all reeds, weak, medium and hard, in).
At a friend's suggestion I checked where I was positioning the pipe chanter when playing and noticed that I often, after the first 15 mins or so, tend to adjust the chanter a smidgeon by turning it anti-clockwise to be more square on with my body.
And that's when the dreaded choke n squeal begins!
If I turn it back again I can usually get the problem to disappear, though that does leave my hands facing slightly at an angle that I’d rather not play at and wondering what the heck is causing this.
Any ideas? I'm wondering if a hairline crack on the chanter stock could cause this (I think I have one, though very hairline).
Any further help appreciated and best wishes,
Jim

Mar 22, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
re squealing new chanter reeds
by: Jim

Thanks Bill, I've no tape on and the reason I discount fingering as an issue is that I can play a tune with lots of high hand to low hand movements, eg Itchy Fingers (fast) or Killiecrankie / Dark Island (slower) without any squeals at all for the first 15 minutes or so.

Later, I feel the reed starting to seize up a bit and know a 'squeal' is coming and when I try those same tunes sure enough it's there, even if I do the movements very slowly, checking my fingering - that's why I'm wondering if it's connected to air pressure / reed-drone strength.

But all of the reeds concerned are pretty new so I'll persevere, take your tip about giving them a regular pinch and bit of moisture, and let you know!

Thanks again for the reply and a great site.

Jim

Mar 21, 2014
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
New reeds
by: Bill Robertson

Hello Jim,

My first thought would be some misfingering especiall when form high A to low A, but you dircard that. Try a good number of times from high A to low A to find out if sometimes there are no squeals. That would indicate finering.
It is not a good idea to open up your drone reeds when if they are set to their optumum setting for steadines and good quality sound. However you say that your drones stay steady for about 15 minutes which is quite good, that is if whithout re-tuning.

If you have taped say your high or high G holes to flatten these notes too sharp, it can cause queals if the tape is approaching about halfway over the hole.

A little moist breathy-like, not too much, is good for the chanter to free it up initially. Some squeezing of the reed each playing time with thumb and finger about the middle to slightly lower middle of the reed blades will ease the reed to allow playing in wiout having to be too strong to help your fingering without straining too much with the blowing.

Not much more at the moment, so hope this might help.

Regards,

Bill

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Frequently Asked Questions.

 

 


| Privacy Policy | Disclaimer Statement | Contact Bill |

Bills Contact Number: +64 9 534 8553              Skype: royal.scot

Return to top

Free bagpipe lessons for popular bagpipe tunes.

> Copyright© 2004- All Rights Reserved