Weak Back D

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seamusg
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:21 am

Weak Back D

Post by seamusg » Thu May 05, 2016 5:38 am

Hello,

My Back D is very weak and chokes/rasps with the normal type of air pressure I apply on the second octave.
I appreciate it is a balancing act but if I raise the bridle to the level where the back D stabilises then the 2nd octave becomes almost unreachable so I am solving 1 problem and introducing a bigger one. I would live with it but the choking sound is driving me mad.

Suffice to say I cant go back to the reedmaker, but would anyone have any advice for someone who has no experience with reeds?
Is there any magic fix (I guess there isn't) which doesn't involve scraping or some of the suggestions I have already seen on various posts?
If scraping or some technical intervention is required could you explain it in idiot/layperson's terms, - I would really appreciate any such advice.
The back d problem is so acute the reed is basically unuseable so I have nothing to lose.

Many thanks,
Seamus
(Apologies,- I wasnt sure whether I should put this in the general or reed discussion group)

Mike Hulme
Posts: 180
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 6:38 am
Location: Liverpool, UK

Re: Weak Back D

Post by Mike Hulme » Thu May 05, 2016 7:34 am

Seamus,

You don't say how long this has been going on. Is it a new development or has it been there from the start? If you can stabilise the back D by raising the bridle then the difficulty in reaching the second octave could be that the lips are too thick or that the reed leaks. Wipe some beeswax along the sides of the reed and see if that helps. There is something else you could do, and that is to rub each side of the reed flats across a piece of glass/smooth plastic while pressing the tips of the reed together with your finger. This compresses the fibres of the reed and can help with better air flow. (That's a trick from Geoff Wooff!). Neither of these procedures are invasive, so try them first and let us know how you get on.

Mike

seamusg
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Weak Back D

Post by seamusg » Thu May 05, 2016 8:13 am

Thanks Mike,

It has been an issue from day one (several months ago) but has definitely become worse. I had already tried the wax idea - without any improvement, and I will also try your second suggestion - thanks again.

seamusg
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Weak Back D

Post by seamusg » Fri May 06, 2016 3:18 am

I seem to have 'got lucky' - in my desperation I squeezed both sides of the bridle with pliers and raised the bridle to a new high level - the result is that my back D is stable AND I can still reach the 2nd octave. I hope it lasts!. Just posting this in case it helps others.

outofthebox8
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:03 am

Re: Weak Back D

Post by outofthebox8 » Fri May 06, 2016 5:14 am

That is a good result. Maybe it would be worth taking a close-up photo of the reed, with the good bridle position for future reference.

Mike Hulme
Posts: 180
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 6:38 am
Location: Liverpool, UK

Re: Weak Back D

Post by Mike Hulme » Fri May 06, 2016 5:03 pm

Well done!

A photo for your own information would be useful, but the simplest thing to do would be to mark the "ideal" bridle position with a sharp pencil point both above and below the current, working bridle position.

Squeezing the bridle sides may have evened out/corrected a very small leak allowing you to reach the second octave. With the bridle in the correct position you will need to play in the reed for a while until it settles down. Let us know how your new setup performs; can you maintain the second octave and can you jump octaves?

seamusg
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Weak Back D

Post by seamusg » Mon May 16, 2016 6:43 am

Thanks for the advice, - I meant to ask if pencil would be a problem.
The reed adjustment is definitely an improvement but overall I am not sure the chanter now sounds as sweet as it did before the radical bridle amendment.

outofthebox8
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:03 am

Re: Weak Back D

Post by outofthebox8 » Tue May 17, 2016 5:26 am

With reeds it's always a case of trying to get the right balance between how open the reed needs to be at the bridle and how close together the lips. I would suggest that for a sweeter, lower volume sound the lips need to be as close together as possible, without getting a bottom D gargle or bringing on a weak back D. A lot also depends on how resistant the reed is along the length of the blades.

My ideal is that a reed should be made so that the bridle area has a larger internal arc (thereby making it more resistant to pressure) than at the area closer to the lips which should have a flatter arc (making them more responsive). In this way the sweetness and lightness of playing and tone can be achieved at the lips, without the tendency for the reed to collapse inward towards the bridle. Now I just have to make one 8) ...

seamusg
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Weak Back D

Post by seamusg » Tue May 24, 2016 3:57 am

Agreed. Yes, I wish getting a perfect reed was as easy as buying guitar strings!

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