Poly or Blackwood Chanter?

I was asked if there were tonal differences between poly and blackwood chanters. I said, “Maybe, but you wouldn’t know which one was which.” See if you can tell the difference and perhaps which one is which. The two recordings below are EXACTLY the same setup (Chris Terry drones, Redwood tenor reeds, X-TREME bass reed, the SAME John Elliott chanter reed {Sound Supreme, not G1}, L&M hide bag, same recording session, same original mp3 file, and the same standing position as best as I could remember) except one was recorded using a poly Colin Kyo chanter and the other using a blackwood Colin Kyo chanter. The chanters are roughly the same “older” vintage and both came in just shy of 481 Hz (modern Kyo chanters come in under 480 Hz in my experience). Both had tape on high G and the poly also had tape on E. The recordings are a bit drone heavy and I slightly regret that, but oh well. It’ll go toward correcting the balance of all those professional recordings where the drones are almost inaudible.

Fair Maid & Arnish Light 1

Fair Maid & Arnish Light 2


Check the comments for the which is which!

15 thoughts on “Poly or Blackwood Chanter?

  1. I’m going to take a guess and say that version 1 is the blackwood chanter, and version 2 the polypenco, but I might end up very surprised.

  2. Hmmmm…guessing the second set is the poly chanter. Sounds a little “brighter” to me. Either way both sound great!

  3. One should expect no difference. Instruments like pipes and flutes that develop their pitch from a column of air are not affected by overtones or undertones from the materials as violins and other stringed instruments are. With the bagpipe, it is the column of air itself that is resonating and being modulated. Likewise with a flute, whether it is made of bone, plastic or glass makes no difference, but changes in the size, shape and placement of the holes can make a huge difference.

  4. I’m thinking #1 is the BW & #2 is the poly. I too could be surprised as there is hardly an audible difference.

  5. My guess:

    #1 Poly for beeing brighter and a little bit harsher
    #2 ABW for beeing more round on the edge

    Like both of the records. Maybe #1 a little bit more, because you can here the chanters note harmonies are more present against the drones then the second record.

    Let’s look, if my guess is right.

  6. 1 is the poly, 2 is the ABW. Both are very nice Patrick. Although, you do seem to enjoy or be more comfortable on the chanter in the first recording.

    1. Setting the reed in two chanters takes time and settling and I was at the end of my rope by the time recording #2 was made. It is fairly noticeable isn’t it? The chanters are about as identical as you can get for being two different materials.

  7. I can definitely hear a difference, the second one sounds more…uh I guess I will describe it as “clear” to me. I would guess the second one is poly but am unsure.

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