Progress on G chanters?

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Progress on G chanters?

Postby Brynley » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:25 am

I read this on the nspipes site " There are developments in progress on G pipes which could relieve the problems of both finger spacing and shrill tone. Await developments!" I,m interested in hearing more on this topic ,....... anyone?
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Re: Progress on G chanters?

Postby Barry Say » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:46 am

As I wrote that, I think I should reply.

The reeds commonly used in F - F# pipes (the historical norm) do not perform well above the usual top note of the chanter. It is possible to get to a top 'c' on an F chanter but this requires a better than average reed and such a reed may well not stay in tune at the top end without periodic and careful adjustment. This top 'c' on F pipes correspond to B flat in concert pitch.

Chanter reeds for F pipes commonly start life with a length of 2". It is fairly straightforward to adjust the holespacing on the chanter to make such a reed play in G but the top note isn't there. In order to get a top b the whole reed would be reduced in size to 1.75" and if a top 'c' is required this would be trimmed considerably when fitting the reed. The reduction in length is shared between the staple and the blades of the reed so that the length of blades comes down from 1" to 7/8". This may not seem much but it reduces the scope of the reedmaker to adjust the final tone of the reeds.

Much of the argument revolves around what the pipes should sound like. Compared to other bagpipes the Northumbrian smallpipes have a very sweet tone and are a well-mannered indoor instrument. However, because they play nearly a tone flat on modern pitch some players feel that they do not compare well with other instruments. Accordingly there have always been a few players who seek a brighter tone and a louder instrument. If we take the pipes to concert G and keep with the bright and loud tendency then I, personally, think that this new instrument loses the characteristics that draw me to the pipes.

Another way of approaching the problem of raising the pitch of the pipes is to increase the bore slightly, this increases the hole spacing, easing the fingering, but this effect reduces, the nearer one gets to the reed, so in order to get the top note a slightly sharp reed would still be required. The initial attempts in this direction (not by me) suffered a setback when of two supposedly identical chanters made in tandem, one played in concert G with a virtually standard reed and the other stubbornly would not reach pitch.

I believe that Andy May has since done some work in this direction, but I haven't discussed this with him lately.

Barry Say
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Re: Progress on G chanters?

Postby pipemakermike » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:17 am

I am currently gathering data on chanter reeds with a view to improving the repeatability/interchangability of the reeds. I have built a testing rig with some good measuring tools to support this task. I am making some progress and you can see the results so far by visiting the link below. ... etting.htm
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Re: Progress on G chanters?

Postby Richard York » Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:15 am

Barry rightly said "Much of the argument revolves around what the pipes should sound like. Compared to other bagpipes the Northumbrian smallpipes have a very sweet tone and are a well-mannered indoor instrument."
I'd like to add that the setting makes a big difference to my own perception of how they sound/should sound.

I've fairly recently acquired some G pipes, and at home they do sound shrill, and loud, and I really prefer the beauties of the my F set, which feels like a different instrument.
I recently took the G's out for the first time into a general session setting, where nobody else plays smallpipes and they're mostly on GD boxes et al. I was gratified to find in that context that they sounded much more like the nsp's should sound again, against the other stuff which was going on; what's more, as well as being able to play in the same key as the others, the pipes were at least audible some of the time, but never felt shrill or too loud. I checked with a pipes-sensitive friend three seats away what they sounded like from in front - "The bits I could hear were fine."
Back at home, they again sound to be yelling. I really appreciate having these two ways of achieving the same effect in the different contexts.
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