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Subject: Re: Slips/Reeds
From: David Daye <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Daye <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 10 Mar 2001 08:37:40 -0500

text/plain (91 lines)

At 07:52 PM 3/9/01 -0600, Bob May wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: <[log in to unmask]>
>> cylinder t' get the edges sharper so I can get more buzz...

That's because your cane is under-seasoned, and the edges are deforming
slightly, bending backwards. Irregular curving near the edges is the #1
cause of muted or muffled tone.

Stop before you resand one of these next time. Hold the blades under
bright harsh side light and rotate slowly to inspect the shadows moving
across the inside curve near the lips. You'll almost certainly find
that the inner surface is irregular, with a flat zone or even some
slight reverse curve (maybe only 1 mm wide near one of the 4 edges.

Tim Britton has a section on this in his book and shows how to
repair it, to a degree, without taking the reed apart.

All this new excitement about the low stress chamber type construction
and shifting to bridles that pull the reed open are in my opinion a
reaction to changes in the cane quality. It's certainly been a headache
for me.

At least half or 2/3 of the time, reeds that are fixed by resanding
will simply deform again later. This could actually be one of our
oldest problems. It may account for the classic reedmakers' advice
to discard a reed immediately if during finishing it begins to show
difficult response and bad tone (classic deformed edge symptoms).

If you have this problem, try microwaving your next split strips or
half gouged slips (not fully thin) for about half a minute to a minute
at high power, with a glass of water inside to avoid burning up the
oven. Enough to become very warm but not burning or cooking.

Let the cane dry 1-2 days (or several hours in circulating dry air)
before using. I think you'll find less need to adjust those edges
after making the reed.

> > How far do you reed carvers (who get USABLE results) go on the
>cylinder? Is
>> there a point at which th difference betwen fairly sharp and paper
>thin makes
>> no audible difference?

Well there comes a point where thin edges become too thin to
work properly, depending on the quality of the cane. Something
around .01 to .015" . Less than that and if the cane is firm or
hard, tone becomes extremely bright and fibers can split away;
otherwise edges are almost certain to deform under pressure
from the rest of the assembly. Weak edges that bend too
much during vibration can act like thick edges, giving dull
tone and tough 2nd octave, except that when you thin them or
the sides of the scrape they behave even "thicker."

>                 I got my second octave A to come down by changing the
>taper on my staple.

There is one concern here:

Reeds are made out of grass. Pipes are made of wood and metal. Which
is more dependable and accurate?

If you're developing a chanter, pick a reed design known to give
very good results with that style of chanter. Then make a few
specimens to build a collection that shows you the average default
results. Also make a few boundary-pushing reeds a little flatter,
a little sharper, very easy and very strong.

Now _do not_ change the reed style! Tune up your chanter design
to suit the way the average reeds work out naturally. Use the
flatter/sharper and easier/stronger reeds to check and improve
the limits of stability (ease of 2nd octave, stable well tuned
hard D, stable back d).

Then you can name your price.

It is _vastly_ kinder to the rest of the world if all the rocket
science is finished on original design, where it only needs to
be done once, so that the thousands of subsequent times we all
make reeds the results will usually be decent if we use the right
major dimensions and crow sound.


Educational Uilleann & Highland Pipe Pages:
Uilleann Pipes Home Building Page:
Penny-Chanter and Sets Sold:

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