mid-20th century H. Starck with various drone reeds

Jim up in Colorado recently purchased a set of H. Starck bagpipes but having just got them back from being refurbished he his headed out of the country. So, he mailed them to me to play for a little bit. This post is me throwing my collection of drone reeds at it: Canning, Kinnaird, Selbie, Ezeedrone, Crozier Glass, and Colin Kyo with a few more to come. This chanter reed is on its way out so the chanter sound isn’t super crisp (nor is my fingering). Excuses excuses….

Recorded October 9, 2013:

Canning reeds with carbon fiber bass – Castle Dangerous, Loch Maree, and Lochanside – the new band 3/4 set, just listen to the ring of those drones, that’s the Cannings talking right there

Genesis Kinnaird with low pitch bass – Bloody Fields of Flanders and Willie Cumming’s Rant – my favorite drone reed set up, I think, Canning was good as was Crozier glass

Selbie – Kilworth Hills and Archie Beag – I think I hit 1 birl. Also, the reeds just wouldn’t settle.

Recorded October 10, 2013:

Ezeedrone – The Haunting (Neil Dickie) and The Keel Row (as a reel) – sight read though I’ve played both tunes many times in the past on the practice chanter, not quite the same sparkle as Canning, but a solid sound nonetheless

Crozier Glass – Echo Lake (Donald MacLeod) and Benside (Donald MacLeod) – a pretty good example of the harmonics of the drones interacting with the chanter

Colin Kyo (drone reeds) – Banks of Locheil and Jack Aloft (Donald MacLeod) – the slow air was the one Lyon College used at the 2001 World’s (grade 3B, 2nd place), I’ve never played the hornpipe before, in the tenor “ring” department about half-way between Canning and Ezeedrone

I have to say, these drones are very amenable to just about any set of reeds you want to put in there. Stabilization is always very fast and tuning stable with reasonable pitch response (except a wee bit with the Selbie’s, but I think that’s a Selbie thing in that they produce larger amplitude overtones and so you have to really get them dialed in). The only drawback is the weird drone reed seats. I had to finagle the hemp on the reeds to accommodate what seemed to be very wide reed seats that didn’t correspond to the angle that any maker uses when forming the shape of the tenon on the reed body. For reference, I spent more time fitting the reeds than warming up each set of reeds and recording the set. I may have to have another go at the first 3 considering the difference in recording despite the fact that I was standing in the exact same spot and relative orientation to the mic both days, mic up high bass drone height part way between chanter and drones on my left, tenor side. The drones seem less full in the first 3 recordings which is a bit different than what I remember, so maybe pretend the drones are a little louder in those. Trouble with comparing recordings! Might just be my imagination.

Here’s a pic:

Edit 2013-10-14

Here are recordings where the drones are facing the mic.

Battle of Waterloo, A Dram Before you Go, and Deer Forest – Canning with carbon fiber bass

51st Highland Division, Scarce o’ Tatties, and Deer Forest – Canning with polycarbonate bass

4 thoughts on “mid-20th century H. Starck with various drone reeds

  1. Take aways here:
    1. The Canning’s are really full and sweet sounding.
    2. Kinnaird’s also very good with a bit more volume.
    3. Toss up between Canning’s and Kinnaird’s.
    4. Selbie’s took forever to tune because of big overtone amplitudes.

    5. I need to work on 3/4 march rhythm and birls.

  2. I am gonna have to go with kinnaird as my first pick and the canning second. Maybe it was the fact the canning have really full sounding tenors, but I felt the bass was a wee bit “lost” .
    I am and always will be bass biased I think though.

    The Ezee just always seem to have a shallow sound to my ear.
    Crozier would be a nice treat against the shoulder. Nice harmonics

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