Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We constantly aim for better tone and stability of our instrument. Here are some simple tips that will help:

• Check that all joints and tuning slides are well hemped and that none move or rock on the joint.

• Test that your bag is airtight and your blow pipe valve is working properly.

• Ensure that you have a suitable Water Trap or Moisture Control System installed.

• If using a canister system replace the drying agent.

• Check all hoses to your Moisture Control System. Some hoses may leak, replace them. Some brands of hoses offer more stability and reliability than others.

• Some drone reeds will not last forever. If any are suspect clean the reeds and replace the bridles. You may also need to replace your reeds if you suspect tongue fatigue.

• Balance your drone reeds for strength (the methods are highlighted in The Complete Pipers Handbook).

• If your chanter reed is old and not giving the best performance, replace it.

• If too much moisture is building up on the reeds invest in a new Moisture Control System.

• Practice blowing exercises, as a lot of instability can be caused by poor technique. A Bagpipe Gauge is available from the School of Piping Shop which you can use to monitor your blowing.

• Do not assume that instability is caused by your blowing, I see so many instruments that are poorly set and pipers just assume it is their bad blowing.

• Get a good maintenance guide to help you to learn to set your instrument up.

Too often I see old equipment that has passed its prime or badly set instruments and pipers ignoring it. They either put up with the bad results or assume it is their own failure to blow steady. It is the Pipe Majors catch cry to have difficulty with an instrument and tell someone to blow steady! This might not always be the problem.

Give yourself a fighting chance and try the above points to get a better result from your instrument. The Complete Pipers Handbook is a great guide to help you to get a better result from your instrument. Also the School of Piping Shop has great deals on many reeds and products, and we are always willing to offer help and advice along the way.