How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

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dirk the piper
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by dirk the piper » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:21 am

MichaelLoos wrote:
I am getting confused and have to ask about definitions:
what do you mean by "chimney height"? I used to think this was the wall thickness at a certain fingerhole, but "back d chimney should be around 10.0 mm" makes me think I must be wrong.
And what is this measurement: "at 262mm I would expect reeding it to A=440 might not be too tough"?
Hi Michael,

It is a measurement that is meant to imply the correct wall thickness, but it does so with the depth of a probe into a tone hole. If one has already made an accurate measurement of the bore, you can make it easier to measure the amount of scalloping on a tone hole by inserting a small probe with one rounded end into the tone hole until the probe rests in the inside of the bore. This measurement has produced reliable results, and is what is meant by the "chimney height." I think I might have heard "stack height" before, too. It's a much simpler measurement to just insert a probe than to try to get the thickness with calipers, or something. Besides, if the tone hole is rounded, or undercut, and the bore is tapered, it's going to be even more difficult to accurately measure the wall thickness any other way.

For instance, on a scalloped D back hole (for a concert-pitch chanter) you might see a chimney height of around 8.5 to 10mm. A couple of less-scalloped chanters I own have a back-d depth of around 11mm.

I'm not sure what the number "262" means, now that I look it up, and the chanter in question is 362.5 mm long. Or maybe we are talking about an alternative placing for back D? I think that Bill means that the seemingly short overall length of 362.5 should still make it possible to make a reed for the chanter such that it will be in tune with the modern concert pitch where A=440 Hertz. In the old days, the conventional piper's tuning used to be higher, so probably Leo Rowsome played an A that was pitched a bit sharper at around 444 Hz, or maybe even higher than that. I think I remember that the Chieftains like to play at around A=447, to match the pitch of Paddy Maloney's chanter, which I understand was also made by Leo Rowsome. You can read more about where and how the pitch standards and conventions changed in space and time here: ... tern_music.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by billh » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:08 am

262, err, I meant 362 (362.5, actually). Chanter overall length. It was a slip of the fingers, perhaps I was thinking momentarily of back d distance to bell which tends to be around 262mm (but is longer in the case of this chanter, at 266 mm). I don't think that 362 mm is at all "short" for wide bore concert pitch - but opinions and experiences vary on that count. Depends a lot on the reeds one is accustomed to making.

Sorry the "chimney height" measurement convention is confusing. You are correct Michael in that the "height" is really the wall thickness, but that is very difficult to measure directly; what's fairly easy to measure reproducibly is the distance from the front of the tonehole to the back wall of the bore, as Dirk describes.

For what it's worth, I think this chanter is somewhat atypical of Leo's work in the bore - it's straighter than one often finds.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by MichaelLoos » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:00 am

Thanks Dirk and Bill, for clarification!

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by MHay » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:27 am

"Leave it with me, I'll see what I can find out for everybody about the chimney heights at least."

Bill, did you ever get a chance to look at the J. H. Rowsome chanter?

I was comparing the bores of the J.H. chanter and Gay McKeon's Rowsome chanter and noticed they were very similar in shape with the J.H. bore being a nearly constant amount smaller along the entire length.
Looks like like they could be made with the same reamer(s) inserted further in the case of the McKeon Rowsome chanter (though it might need a new top reamer). The holes are smaller on the J.H. chanter and the chanter is about 0.050" longer. I'd expect the J.H. chanter to be a little quieter and a little flatter than the McKeon chanter, all things being equal (which they never are). I'd like to make both chanters for comparison, especially if they can be made without making yet another set of reamers. I'd need some idea of the hole geometry or a least a picture to have much chance of success.


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