When making reeds I try to make them so that they play as lightly - with as little air - as possible. For my chanter this means making a reed with thin lips and a narrow lip aperture. This gives me the low volume sound that I prefer from my concert pitch chanter - but making reeds in this way had the side effect of producing a weak back D. However I recently stumbled upon a solution which I think will solve this problem.
I found that the bridle on my new reed was moving a little with vibration up the blades towards the lips - just a small movement but enough to effect reed response. So I thought I needed to find a way to anchor the bridle so that it would remain exactly where I fitted it. To do this I applied a tiny amount of super glue to the edges of the blades just above the bridle. The amount of glue is very tiny - so I squeezed a little out of the tube on to a piece of plastic, then dabbed a little piece of plastic wire into the glue and then dabbed it onto the edges of the blades. When the glue set the bridle was anchored in place as I hoped. But when I tried playing the chanter later i found that I now had a very strong back D. Of course the whole reed had been strengthened (made more resistant) by the superglue, so I then needed to refine the scrape some more to get it back down to the light response that I like. After working at it gradually I got the reed to the point where it is playing nice and light, but this time with a back D which is not relatively weak or flat to the other notes.
So when making my next reed I will include the super glue as part of my method, applying it after I fit the bridle and before starting to refine the scrape. Anyway this was a chance discovery for me, so I thought I'd share it here, as I know that the weak back D is a perennial problem for pipers.
A forum to discuss the arcane art of making uilleann pipes, reeds, and set maintenance.
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