Rocket or Rocket drone reeds? Vote now!

I ran across the chance to purchase a used set of Henderson-spec Rocket reeds and was given a trial of them first. I have been playing Naill-spec Rockets in my 1950’s Hendersons. So here’s your chance to tell me what you think about each as I’m trying to figure out which I like better, but I’d like your input too. The seller already told me he was planning on having a biased opinion (wink) so I’m not going to tell you which is which, muahahaha, until later, anyway. I haven’t had much practice time as of late so I suck more than usual (fingers are still tired a day later), yada yada yada…

Rocket numero uno:

King of Laois, Kitty Lie Over, and Drops of Brandy

74th’s Farewell to Edinburgh, Inverary Castle, and Miss Proud

PM Calum Campbell’s Caprice and The Big Yin

Rocket numero dos:

Fair Maid, PM George Allan, and Glasgow City Police Pipers

Rossshire Volunteers, Ewe with the Crooked Horn, and Rejected Suitor

These Henderson Rockets will be for sale should I decide not to keep them so keep them on your radar if you’re interested. Chanter was the same Colin Kyo with Husk reed. The vibrato you hear on the high A in the second set of recordings is due to a ever so slightly flat high A. Just add a little tape and viola! Cheerios!

16 thoughts on “Rocket or Rocket drone reeds? Vote now!

  1. Hello Patrick,
    personally i like the first one. They seem to my ear a little bit mellower/quiter as the second ones have a little bit more buzz. But that is just my opinion, as the two drone reeds have not too significance differences and sound both good, but every reed in its own way. I guess, the second drone reeds are the “Henderson” spec as they have a fuller/buzzier sound, but i´m personally a friend of the “mellower” sound.
    So just my 2 cents for this post.^^
    As usually, i wish i could just play as good as you. It´s everytime a pleasure to listen to your recordings.

    Best regards from Germany,

  2. Hey Patrick , I like dos, the second set. They compliment your chanter better. I can hear more harmonics in the air. Yea the first ones are more mellower . Kinda lacking in my opinion but but still sound good.

  3. I also like the first one better. I listened to the 74th set and the Fair Maid set. It may also have been that I liked it better because on the 74th set the drones sounded slightly out of tune. In any event, nice playing.

  4. By a mile set number DOS!

    Way better sounding from the recordings. Deeper richer bass, better harmonics, bigger sound, more room filling. Doesn’t matter which set they were made for what matters is how they sound to YOU in YOUR pipes.

    Set number 2 get’s my vote.

  5. I’ll be trying the Henderson-spec Rockets in a set of Dunbars here pretty soon. It’ll give me a good idea of how Henderson my Henderson’s are if they behave similarly, or not. I’ve measured my Henderson’s and a set of Naill’s and they are remarkably similar. But which is which? We’re tied 3-3.

    The first are a bit more mellow, the tenor presence is less so than the second set. I found the basses fairly similar, at least, less different than the tenors. My wife even noticed and said the first set had a deeper sound. I’m a tenor man myself so I’m leaning toward numero 2, basses being equal.

  6. Hi Patrick. I am partial to the first set with the chanter. I just like te blend better. In the absence of the chanter, I prefer set number two. It has a full broad tone.

    I’d be curious how the Henderson specs would sound in your Robertson’s.


  7. Hey John,
    I know exactly what you mean regarding the balance with the chanter. I wish I had a hybrid set of tenors, the middle ground between the two.

    Unfortunately the Robertson’s in my possession currently are out to Dunbar this Saturday for refurbishment as the owner is ready to part with them and wants to clean them up first. However, you can be sure we’ll be trying them in another set of Robertson’s, hopefully Sunday. Perhaps two sets of Robertson’s, 1920 and 1950 (which have slightly different bores).

    However, I’ll note this. I am in posession of a Robertson-spec Rocket bass and it does NOT work at all in my Henderson’s. That happens to be why I have it, the current owner of the matching tenors has Henderson spec pipes (Dunbar, I think?) and he sold me the bass as it didn’t work at all in his pipes but it worked so well in my MacPherson’s (go figure, Robertson-spec bass in D. MacPherson bass. Shawn’s right, if it works, it works!). Robertson basses like to tune really high on both pins, though I’ll note they rarely have strike in problems. Funny enough, D. MacPherson’s like to tune a little high on the pin too. It will be interesting to note whether or not the Henderson-spec Rocket is similarly misbehaved in a Robertson bass or whether it is more accommodating of different drone specs than it’s Robertson-spec Rocket counterpart. Boy, that’s not confusing.

  8. I prefer numero uno. The drones blend well with chanter so maybe the harmonics are better. Dos is passable but doesn’t seem to have the same character as No 1.
    and perhaps the tone is more singular than filled with harmonies..

  9. #1 for me but if I may suggest…for me to make a fair choice I would need to compair both sets to that same tune. That way I can be sure that the tune in itself would not hinder how the reeds bring the sound to my ears being the first part. The second part to compare would be the tune itself as sounding of the drones.

  10. I also agree with you, Patrick. As a standalone, the second set of drone reeds sounded better (bolder, room-filling, what have you), but the first set blended with the chanter better with mellower tone, much clearer harmonics (note that the first one still has great harmonics; otherwise it wouldn’t be room-filling). Personally, I would keep them both and possibly search for a different chanter to match the second set of drone reeds, but I know you would never part from your Colin Kyo =).

  11. Well- very varied opinions which is what makes it so subjective..and so much fun.

    To my ear, NUMBER 2- without question by far..

    The harmonics coming off the chanter are much more pronounced playing set #2. Fair Maid played with both sets would have been a great control as that chune really allowed me to hear the overtones…and oddly enough, one of my favorite tunes to hear how my chanter/drones are going, King of Laois, sounded just…flat with the first set of reeds.

    Nice fingers as usual, Patrick :)

  12. You know, I toyed with the idea of playing Fair Maid again for the 1st set of drone reeds but thought it might wear on my listeners a bit. Will do!

    The first, mellower set is the Henderson spec. The second, bolder set is the Naill spec.

    David S – I did pick up an Atherton chanter not too long ago. I could try that.

    The Naill spec have been my go to reeds in these Henderson’s ever since I got them because of stability more than anything. This Henderson bass drone is just a wee bit fickle. Polycarbonate canning bass worked really well too. They are the band pipe so the big tone of the Naill spec are fine since it all gets blended together anyway. But, often band practice is the only practice I get in during the week so I’d like to play the best tone I can. There’s been something missing since I moved the Gellaitry from everything duty pipe over to just solos.

    I’ve got a set of Glencoe’s (read Lawrie) to try these Henderson spec reeds with (though probably same effect as my Hendersons, they require big tenors like Selbie or Crozier carbon) in addition to Dunbar’s and Robertson’s so here we go!!!

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