Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pipe Band Forum 2-29-08

Making Practice Chanter Reeds

Yogurt containers have worked the best for me although you do have to be picky about the type of plastic they use. Yoplait has been the best, but it was a while ago since I made any and can't vouch for which is best now. I did try 2L bottle plastic and as has been mentioned it doesn't work well.

I have used the gibson reed as my pattern. Besides the plastic (don't use a flat piece of plastic - it has to have a curve to it), you'll also need a staple (the metal tube the blades are bound to), crazy glue (or something similar), dental floss and/or waxed hemp, teflon tape and an emery board/sandpaper.

For the staple I would simply reuse the staple from your old reed, but you can purchase metal tubing from a hobby shop (I've even used aluminum tubing). Cut the tubing to the appropriate length and then flatten one end of it slightly to an oval shape opening - if you flatten it too much you can use a stylus to push it back out. Cut the blades from the plastic and using a small dab of crazy glue attach the blades to the staple (just enough glue to hold the blades in place). I use the old reed as a guide for how far up on the blades the staple should be.

I then start low on the staple and wrap dental floss up the staple towards and then over the blades about a third of the way up and I wrap it fairly tight. I then go over this wrap with a good wrap of teflon tape and finally wrap the bottom with waxed hemp or dental floss to get a good fit in the chanter. When you try it out it is going to sound aweful. You'll have to do a lot of sanding and maybe even some minor trimming to get it to sound decent. If some notes come into tune and others don't continue to experiment with the sanding and 9 times out of 10 you can get it to work for you. My reeds have generally lasted as long as a purchased one has, but for the price of a purchased one the only reason to make your own is to get some "Reed Making 101" experience.

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