Concerning issues in pipe-making

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Concerning issues in pipe-making

Postby Francis Wood » Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:17 pm

Adrian has raised a number of interesting issues. Whilst some of them address carelessness in making, many of them are actually about the different needs and habits of individual players.

This is absolutely not a case of "one size - (curvature of chanter/length of bag-neck etc.) - fits all" !

When it comes down to it, the customer should be very clear about what he/she wants from the pipe-maker.
If the bag-neck length (to take one example) is uncomfortable, that may be because the issue hasn't been discussed.

The exact disposition of the drone-stock and blow-pipe stock is also variable, depending on the shape of the player, weight of the drone set, and playing pressure. Some players are happy with whatever they get; demanding players may require some experimentation.

Playing pressure too is an individual matter. I remember surveying pipes pressure at a London meeting. The lowest was 9" water and the highest 19". Both sets were working very well and both players were justifiably happy with their different pressures and the sound their pipes were producing.

It is up to an experienced player to communicate their requirements effectively. He who pays the pipe-maker calls the tune! However, where the player is inexperienced, the responsibility to make appropriate recommendations lies, of course, with the pipe-maker. At the most basic level, there is no point in sending a big customer away with an small bellows-pipe.

This raises a further issue which concerns the price of pipes and pipe-makers' time. I was recently at the Early Music Exhibition in London and took the opportunity to look at the price of other hand-made woodwind instruments. To take just one example, one-keyed flutes either in three or four joints were on offer for £1500 as a common starting price with many being much costlier. Factory made items in plastic were available at £499 or £375 for something absolutely basic. £1500 is a pretty average lower end price for such an item, but for something close to that amount, you would get an impressive multi-keyed NSP, with 20 x the number of carefully-fitted components plus the set-up time.

The question that remains is really about what a well-made set of pipes should cost. Furthermore, the pipe-maker may be investing quite a bit of time in discussing particular requirements with a customer. How should this be taken into account?

I'm posing these questions pretty much as an outsider since I'm only an occasional pipe-maker. But I'd be interested to read others' views.

Francis Wood
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Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 7:38 pm

Re: Concerning issues in pipe-making

Postby adrian » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:14 pm

I remember someone at the London meeting, years ago, who had an electronic manometer. His scale went down very low, I believe. He was shocked that my pipes didn't register at all. My pressure then was 3.5", it is now high, at 5"!
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Full Name: inky-adrian

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