Bag dressing and tone

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Bag dressing and tone

Postby Francis Wood » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:32 pm

Following some very helpful advice from Barry Say, I dressed a musette bag which I had made long ago from leather which was good but not as wonderfully airtight as the stuff that Jackie Boyce uses.

I have the impression that this has also improved the sound of the instrument, though this needs further scrutiny and the instrument is currently on loan. I’ve always preferred bags without dressing, out of distaste for their greasiness and the possibility of reed contamination which I do think is harmful. Perhaps I’ll have to re-think this.

It’s perfectly obvious that a bagpipe bag radiates sound and it’s a logical assertion that the state of the inner surface is significant.

What do others think?


P.S. Hotteterre recommends lard. Yuk!
Francis Wood
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Re: Bag dressing and tone

Postby Tedley » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:51 pm

Lard and bee's wax mixtures are still commonly used as a treatment in bellows pipes. It is important to remove excess mixture once treated. Much less messy than the neatsfoot oil based treatments which migrate through the bag. I don't know the difference in sound from a treated vs. an untreated bag.
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Re: Bag dressing and tone

Postby Francis Wood » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:00 am

Ted is correct in remarking that neatsfoot oil is capable of causing difficulties and indeed this is true of all fat-based dressings, a description which more or less covers the field.

As with any similar substances it is important to temper the soiling tendencies and that is what the beeswax in correct proportion is able to do. The bag in question has received intensive use since treatment, several hours a day in fact, and is not showing the least sign of oily migration.

But the original question concerned the effect on tone. Comments, anyone?

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

Re: Bag dressing and tone

Postby Richard Evans » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:11 pm

Francis Wood wrote:But the original question concerned the effect on tone. Comments, anyone?

Better late than never:

We use bags from two suppliers and normally Anita dresses them lightly with the usual stuff, just to stop little bits of suede getting on the reeds. Both patterns are 100% airtight without dressing. One type of leather produces a markedly brighter/louder tone than the other but of course this is pretty subjective. I also have a 'suede out' bag on a set of SSP. This bag is undressed. The set is noticably louder than I would expect.
I'm sure the quality of leather and dressing affects volume and tone but I would hate to try and quantify it.
Richard Evans
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Re: Bag dressing and tone

Postby Dave S » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:46 pm

Hi Richard,

I recently played 4 sets of pipes by Rémi Dubois, and I checked them all with an app on my phone at 90 dB, BUT, and it's a subjective big but, one set with an ebony chanter sounded louder than the others ! I have a inkling that it is to do with the higher frequencies being reflected in the ebony chanter, and the same frequencies not being reflected by box or fruit wood. Perhaps the same phenomena as neck resonance ?

It is only conjecture but somewhere I am sure there lies a thesis about this -- the difference between warm and cold sounding instruments

Dave S
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Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:54 pm
Full Name: Dave Singleton

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