Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bagpipe Band Forum - 7/23/07

Drone Valves (my comments)

I started with a hide bag setup and cut offs were a piece of cake. It was a borrowed set of pipes and leaked like crazy, so I was in heaven when I got my own pipes. It took some getting used to the Ross zipper bag with cannister, but once I reached a comfort level I was good to go. I was using ezeedrone reeds and had no problems with cutoffs.

Some members of our band switched to kinnard reeds and I liked the sound so I bought some and after a bit of tweeking was getting the sound I wanted. Problem was that my cutoffs went down the tubes. I felt like I was having to start my blowdown way early and it was causing my drones to waiver at the end. I really struggled to get a clean cut and keep my drones steady.

I wasn't the only one in the band having the problem, but that was no excuse so I finally purchased some hyland drone valves. They went in super easy and not only were my cutoffs clean but my strike ins were right on too. To me it was like discovering the miracle cure to cancer! I was very happy with them.

I did hear some comments from various people about the affect the valves might have on sound quality, but at my last competition one judge said, "nice big pipe sound" and the other said, "pipes full and balanced". If the judges like the sound I'm not going to gripe about it.

The only down side I can see is that my shoulder and elbow aren't going to get as good a workout blowing down my bag. Darn!

I may upset some folks, but here's my two cents (I say that because it seems that if you've played pipes less than 20 years then that's about all your opinion is worth).

I'm going on five years now and I love the valves I put in my pipes about 6 months ago. Do I play better? Probably not. Am I a worse player because I use them? No, I'm consistently improving which is reflected in my score sheets. Are my strike ins and cut offs cleaner and more consistent? Yes, definately. Should I have to learn to strike in and cut off consistently without the valves before using them? Why should I? It makes no difference as to whether I'm a worse or better player with valves and I enjoy playing the pipes more.

Hmmm ... I play the pipes more because the valves make it easier and more playing makes me a better piper ... maybe valves are making me a better player.

I was going to say that I don't know what the fuss is all about, but I actually think I do. As technology makes piping easier and easier, at what point are you no longer "playing" the bagpipes? At some point I suppose someone will just turn on their pipes and listen to them and claim that they are a piper. I wonder where the line will be drawn ... another topic for another thread.

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