The Royal Scots Cap Badge

Reed chirps off and on while striking in and tuning drones

by Rachel

Hi Bill,

I am unable to strike in or tune my drones without the chanter reed chirping in and out. It is very frustrating because the only way to stop it is by letting up on the bag pressure. However, when I do this, I don't have a firm enough bag to tune the drones. This has happened once in a while over the past 5 years but now it's constant.


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Mar 03, 2016
Reed chirps off and on while striking in and tuning drones
by: Bill Robertson

Hello Rachel,

The comments below of Mar.2 appears to be very helpful.

I have a helpful page on striking in that could be helpful. If you provide me with your e mail address I'll send you a copy attachment.

Perhaps as suggested below, your chanter reed is relatively to weak/easy to blow. A steady initial double tone of the drones only when striking in is the way. You then place the bag to a comfortable position under your bag arm, then with both hands on the chanter position of E, bring on the necessary pressure to sound the chanter properly holding the E note a few seconds then tune the drones etc.

Regards, Bill at

Mar 02, 2016
Reed Calibration
by: Anonymous

Chanter reed is weakening. Drone reeds can be "calibrated" to the correct pressure so they remain steady - or warble if too little pressure, and stop if too much pressure.

In the case described, it may be necessary to open the drone reed tongue (one-at-a-time) by sliding the bridle ever-so-slightly away from the open end of the tongue. The tuning screw on the reed may need to be screwed in (shorten the reed sound chamber) to allow the drone to tune at the position that shows the first few winds of hemp at the tuning slide. Follow with the other two drones.

Alternatively, you may want to start breaking in a new chanter reed. Being so easy that uncontrolled chanter chirps come in is an early sign of a reed that is passing its prime.

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