New drones – what do you think?

So a guy in my band dropped off a new set of pipes. I hemped up the drones of his set to fit into my band pipe’s stocks (of Chris Terry manufacture). So the audio that follows is of my band set – the drones + these new drones. I figured I’d knock out a few of our band sets while I was at it. Sorry about the sharp F and flat high A, at times, and occasional cut out. Band chanter is Colin Kyo. Band reed is Gilmour. I used Redwood tenor reeds and an Ezee drone bass reed of some ilk (not the standard reed). The mic was placed behind me since we’re listening to the drones here (I’m a drone guy, what can I say?).

Scarce O’ Tatties, Cork Hill, and Portree Bay

Kalabakan and Bridge something or other

Glasgow Police Pipers and Troy’s Wedding

High Road to Linton, Sleepy Maggie, and Dancing Feet

Calista McLaurin’s and Kate Martin’s Waltzes

The bass drone may be a tad quiet, of course Redwood tenor reeds offer a bold tone without the harshness of other bold tenor reeds, so it may be relative. Both the tenors and bass tune very low down on the mounts. I guess that’s to be expected since the drones were probably made in Pakistan and are therefore expected to be quite flat relative to modern bagpipe pitch (my band chanter tunes to A 482 Hz). Do your ears feel violated now? I kind of do. I just spent 30 minutes recording Pakistani drones when I could have been playing the usual Terry, Gellaitry, Henderson, or Glencoe drones. If you’re wondering, the Colin Kyo pipes are off with Murray getting a refurb and the Jeffers pipes are being played by student; I didn’t sell them ;o). Of course, the original Pakistani pipes were unplayable. The bag looks like paper (not leather!), the SM-90 knock off drone reeds looked gross, I have enough experience with Pakistani sets to not bother with the chanter, and there ain’t no way in hell I’m going to put that blowpipe in my mouth. Who knows what carcinogenic lacquer/dye they put on that thing. The drone reed seats aren’t really tapered as they end in a hard edge despite being bigger than the bore for a short way up the drone (not enough to get a drone reed all the way up in there mind you, which would be nice since the drones are so flat).

Anyways, just goes to show Pakistani drones do work, sort of. After you buy a real bag, real chanter, real drone reeds, and a real chanter reed. Yeah, probably should have just started with a real bagpipe from the get go. Less mucking about, and you won’t feel violated for having gotten them to work and realized you could have been playing a real set of bagpipes the whole time.

Once I get a new field recorder (this Zoom I’ve been using for years won’t leave “low” gain mode making it unusable for what I’m about to say), I plan to start uploading audio of my new addiction, bellows blown smallpipes!

5 thoughts on “New drones – what do you think?

  1. Well Patrick as usual you milked every bit of sound out of a set that you can.. you set them up pretty darn well.

    Yes,, the bass is way too soft for my ears, but steady not withstanding all around.

    Good show.. but I do feel the need to take a shower and clean my ears for some odd reason ;)

    David NY

  2. I also forgot to mention they were steady as a rock. I would check every couple sets and I never felt that I could improve the tuning, so I never moved anything.

    I think that speaks more to Redwood and Ezee quality than the drones themselves.

    I’m becoming a HUGE fan of Redwood tenor reeds. They’re quite nice.

  3. yeah.. I agree.. the bass was very quite.. almost undetectable. However, I thought the drone sound was surprisingly nice, even though I knew about this experiment before I listened to the results. The Paki drone sound was nice, but kind of vanilla sounding.. nothing objectionable, but nothing resonant. Most of this was probably more a function of the reeds and the guy setting up the instrument rather than the quality of the drones. After all, I’ve heard Mike MacNintch make Christmas wrapping paper tubes sound good, so I wouldn’t get too excited about Pakistani workmanship.

  4. They sounded pretty decent I have to say. I’ll have to get a set of Redwood tenors to try out. I love a nice steady drone sound.

    Jim – Altenberg, DE

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