Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Tips on getting & keeping your pipes playing

Heat is your enemy!!!!!
Don't leave your pipes in a direct heat source, such as in sunlight in the back of a car, near a radiator or stove, under stage lights etc. - this will affect your reeds badly either temporarily or permanently.

If you live in or are playing in a hot and dry climate and your reeds begin to choke up, leave your pipes in a bathroom overnight (but not in the bath!!) with water in the bath. Keep a large piece of peeled cucumber or potato in your case. Soak the inside of your bellows just before playing or remove the clack valve holder and put a piece of wet rag or sponge in the bellows and replace the clack valve.

If your reed slips don't make that characteristic "clink"sound when you drop them onto a hard surface then the cane is probably underseasoned; microwave the slip for about 4 to 5 seconds and leave to cool, it works.

Split your slips out of the cane tube as soon as you can and leave to settle down for as long as possible. Make reed blanks and leave them for days, weeks or even months before you cut the head down and voice them. Never try to get the best out of a reed on the day that you make it, give the cane time to adjust to its new form. Time and patience pay off.

if your pipes begin to "act up"at a smoky, sweaty session or wherever resist the urge to "fiddle"with your reeds; rather leave your set to sit and rest for a few minutes or so, or even put them away and leave them overnight if you can- its amazing how often they come back to themselves without drastic adjustment.

After a while a chanter reed may become leaky with age, then coat the binding with nail varnish or glue.
Use oboe reed wire (available from woodwind suppliers) to cure any air leaks just below the bridle, the classical woodwind players do it to get a bit longer out of a reed so why not us pipers.

Keep all keys 100% airtight (very important). There is no need to re-pad with leather, sealing wax and heat any more, just use an old computer mouse pad to cut the pads from and glue them on. If a regulator key begins to leak use an elastic band to seat it properly until you can fix it. Leaks are the other great enemy (apart from bodhran players of course ;-)

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