Spruce Reeds?

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dirk the piper
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Spruce Reeds?

Post by dirk the piper » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:19 am

I'm embarking on a new line of experimentation - reeds made from spruce! Benedict Koehler wrote a good article on the topic a few years back, and I got to try a very nice B chanter specimen made by his partner, Mr. Quinn, so I am inspired to give it a go. Would folks with some experience on the topic be willing to share some tips and observations about spruce chanter reeds? (I'll be back to check in a few days...)
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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by jcullen » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:27 pm

I don't have any advice to give on making spruce reeds, but I'm using spruce in one chanter and cedar in another (both Froment chanters) and I love the sound and playability. Both reeds are very resistant to changes in weather conditions. The reeds were made by Mr. K.Padraig O'Kane in Florida.
"Imagination is more important then knowledge" - A.E.

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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by hpinson » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:32 pm

Assuming you are talking about Andrew's. OT, but did you have success reeding that chanter? I had a hard time with it. Different reeds would bring out very different character, and I never think I got it to where I thought it should be.

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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by outofthebox » Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:01 am

I'm wondering about the process for making spruce reeds. Would the method involve first heat-forming a reed size tube from a thin slice of spruce wood - or am I barking up the wrong tree :?

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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by djm » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:03 am

outofthebox wrote:or am I barking up the wrong tree
Yup. :wink:

It's done by sanding both sides of the slip, usually using sanding cylinders of suitable diameter, and sanding done to very fine grits - almost polishing fine. The wood recommended by Benedict Koehler comes from the sounding boards of old pianos (his family background is in restoring instruments). I went out to a piano restoration place where they routinely rip up old pianos and got a spruce sounding board for making double reeds and 88 keys for making sugar pine single reeds (drones). No charge, as this stuff would normally have gone to the dump.

I gave the sound board and half the keys to my pipemaker to play with. I have two spruce double reeds that he made for my tenor and bari regs. They are about as steady as you could ask for, and don't require bridles. The sounding board is made up of bits that are parqueted together in a chevron pattern, so you need a table or band saw to rip the strips of wood out of it to make your reed slips. Again, this was following suggestions from BK. I'm sure there must be an easier way, but the goal was to get access to really really old wood of a tighter grain than is available anymore.

This stuff requires a lot of work beyond what you would normally put in for a cane double reed. Only you yourself can determine whether the extra effort is worth it.

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dirk the piper
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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by dirk the piper » Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:25 am

Assuming you are talking about Andrew's. OT, but did you have success reeding that chanter? I had a hard time with it. Different reeds would bring out very different character, and I never think I got it to where I thought it should be.
Hi Harlow,

Andrew has very nice-playing spruce regulator reeds, but I thought his current chanter reed was cane. I did get a chance to play one of DM Quinn's spruce B chanter reeds in Ireland, and it sounded and felt quite like the better cane reeds I have played on Andrew's chanter. Using a method that Dave Hegarty demonstrated for making a B chanter reed from cane, I have had some success reeding that chanter. It does not strike me as a chanter that is hard to reed. I have had to deal with some concert-pitch chanters that were significantly more difficult...

The problem is that even the good cane reeds are not very weather resistant. So, they don't play the same in our dry winter as they do in the more humid summer. With some tweaking, they seem to be not too hard to revive. However, I think a lot of players run into trouble when trying to figure out exactly how they should tweak the reeds when they start being affected by weather, and tweaking seven reeds is a pain. So, to help solve that problem, I do think it is worth the effort learning to make the spruce reeds. The word is out that quarter-sawn spruce is more stable.

Dirk
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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by Chabb » Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:57 pm

Hi,
any pointers on making a reed out of cedar?
I've never made a reed before, and I just can't be bothered with getting some cane. I have a whole lot of western red cedar, which I have heard is sometimes used for reeds in the same way as spruce.
any help would be much appreciated.

Chabb

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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by jcullen » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:39 pm

I'm told that cedar sawdust is highly toxic, so it might be wise to consider another material, or be sure to take appropriate safety measures. I do love the cedar reed that was made for me, but Mr. O'Kaine probably won't work with cedar again.
"Imagination is more important then knowledge" - A.E.

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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by dirk the piper » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:16 pm

You know, breathing sawdust of any kind is not good for you. Why not get a small downdraft sanding table, or at least a dust mask? That way, you don't have to worry about whether the dust will kill you now or more slowly...

-Dirk
I'm a piper, you're a piper, he's a piper, she's a piper - wouldn't you like to be a piper too?

outofthebox
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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by outofthebox » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:33 am

Yes - it is a good idea to wear a dust mask for reedmaking, when a lot of very fine dust is created.

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dirk the piper
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Re: Spruce Reeds?

Post by dirk the piper » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:07 am

Finally got a chance to make a spruce chanter reed that plays pretty well. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a good third-octave D out of it on my own chanter. But, that's a problem I sometimes have with cane reeds, as well. Does anyone have ideas about how to fix that? Other than that, making a reed from spruce was a lot like making one from cane, I just had to be a lot more careful when making the slip the right shape. The spruce can tend to split during the gouging process, if taken too fast...

-Dirk
I'm a piper, you're a piper, he's a piper, she's a piper - wouldn't you like to be a piper too?

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