Bass Regulator Reeds

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outofthebox8
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Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:54 am

I've got my own reeds working in my full set now - all except for the bass regulator. I've had a couple of attempts, but it seems that this one needs something different from the other regulators. At first I thought if I thinned down the lips as I did with the baritone regulator, then I could get bass and baritone regulators in balance. But this failed as the light reed just jumps the octave. So now I'm thinking that I'll have to go with thicker blades and lips so that the head is strong enough to resist jumping the octave. But in that case I fear that might mean that the bass regulator is way out of balance in terms of air supply/pressure and volume with the baritone reed. I have managed to achieve what I consider to be a nice low volume playing balance with the other six reeds, so I'm not prepared to change them just because the bass regulator needs to be much stronger.

It's a tricky one - so I'd appreciate any specific tips on bass regulator reeds that reedmakers who have been down this path could share.

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djm
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Re: Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by djm » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:48 am

You haven't mentioned how you are making your drone reeds: all cane, tube body with cane tongue, tube body with plastic tongue, etc.

For myself I use a brass tube and cut a slip of cane. I sand one end of the tube down at an angle to form the slot. I sand the slip down to be smooth on both sides. I look to see if the slip has a natural curl on either side, otherwise I press the back of the knife and run it down one side to create a curl. I cut the tail of the cane to be narrow, almost a V, to match the profile of the slot. I glue the slip to the tube with cyanoacrylate glue (i.e. superglue). I use an O-ring (found in automotive hardware stores) as a binding near the base of the slip. I use a drop of sealing wax to close the near end of the tube. You need the curl in the tongue to ensure it will open and close but not too much - maybe 1 mm or so max. That's what the binding is for. Sometimes a blob of poster putty on the tip of the tongue can help get a recalcitrant tongue going and keep it stable. You have to play with each element - the curl, the binding, the putty - to find a balance that will hold strong and steady.

Oh geez! I just realized that is for bass DRONE reed. Sorry. Must have been a brain fart.

djm
Last edited by djm on Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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outofthebox8
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:03 am

Re: Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:10 am

My drone reeds are ok. I make the traditional kind but from phragmites river reeds. I've even got the baritone drone going at F# to give me a tonic and third drone sound which I really like - all three coming in at low pressure and low volume.

But I'd like to get that bass regulator going if I can - but only if I can get it in balance with everything else.

Mike Hulme
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Re: Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by Mike Hulme » Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:10 am

If your bass reg reed is jumping the octave try scraping backwards towards the bridle. This gives a more "sloppy" sound, especially on Rowsome syle reg reeds. Using softer/thicker cane helps here too.

outofthebox8
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Re: Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:09 am

Thanks for the advice - I'll keep trying. Indeed the cane I was using was a bit hard - maybe just too hard to work with the bass regulator. I'll try again with a softer tube - and scrape it down further towards the back. If that doesn't work I might have to try a plastic reed :( .

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

Re: Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:04 am

Well another failed attempt with a bass regulator reed - but I think I'm getting closer. The problem is kind of the reverse of
how the chanter reed responds to pressure. The bass regulator reed always wants to jump the octave, but at low pressure. This means that if the pressure at the reed head isn't high enough when the low G key opens it will sound an octave higher. Or if it sounds the low G correctly at first, a drop in pressure will return it to where it wants to play - an octave higher.

At least I know that I can get the bass regulator to sound in balance with my low pressure/low airflow set-up. My thinking on this now is that what is going on is similar to what happens with a bass drone reed - in that it seems to require more back pressure to push through the high pitch, so that the reed sounds correctly - one octave below. So my challenge now is to find a way of producing this 'overblow' effect, but without increasing bag pressure too much. I think it may be possible to find a way to do this - well just maybe...

At times like this I am reminded of the words of Samuel Beckett -

'Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'

outofthebox8
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Re: Bass Regulator Reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:13 am

Just an update on where I am currently with my bass regulator. I had been trying for a while to make a bass regulator reed from the tubes I have of Medir cane, which of course is pretty hard stuff. But with my last attempt I decided to do something different - and instead of thinning the blades way down, I worked on getting it to play nicely in the higher octave. So in pitch terms my bass regulator is really more like a baritone or tenor regulator. But in fact it doesn't sound like either of them. The sound that it creates kind of reminds me of the sound that a guitarist gets when he sounds a 'harmonic' on his guitar string - so the pitch is there, but it is kind of a 'ghost' tone - quite subdued.

It struck me that I can make good use of my bass regulator by using it as an optional drone. So by jacking the key open just a little, I can get a nice A or G note (or even a B or C Nat if I wish) that sounds quite nicely in balance with my drones - but quite subtle - kind of like an overtone effect. Another thing that I like about this bass reg set up is that it requires very little air - much less than would be needed to sound the notes an octave lower. I can also keep the key quite low over the hole as the clearance needed is much less to deliver these notes an octave higher.

So I'm quite happy with this bass regulator setup - even though it wasn't what I was aiming for. Sometimes it is good to follow unexpected paths - they can sometimes lead to new and interesting places 8) .

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