Moisture Control and Water Traps
Ever hear the saying, "Keep your powder dry"? Well Pipers should have a saying, "Keep your reeds dry"! The drier you can keep your reeds the longer and steadier you can play.
Most of us play synthetic drone reeds and a cane pipe chanter reed. Once you tune a set of synthetic drone reeds they will pretty much stay tuned. The reason you have to keep re-tuning them is not that the drone reeds have gone out of tune but rather the pipe chanter reed has changed its pitch. The pipe chanter reed being made of cane will take on, and shed moisture. When you play your pipes the moisture from your breath condenses inside the bag and is soaked up by the pipe reed thus changing the reed's pitch. Then you have to readjust your drones to match the new chanter pitch. The more the pipe chanter reed changes pitch the more you have to re-tune your drone reeds. If you could have your pipe chanter take on just enough moisture to give you the ideal pitch and then have it stay there, you would not have to keep re-tuning the drone reeds. That's what water traps are all about- keeping the pipe chanter reed dry, and to a lesser extent keeping the drone reeds dry.
Hide Pipe Bags are limited to the water traps you can use; I can only think of two.
The First - Stock Water trap - This bagpipe water trap is fitted inside the blowpipe stock and forms a well inside the stock in which the water is trapped. The disadvantage to this type of trap is that you have to empty it very regularly.
The Second - A removable tube water trap . This bagpipe water trap has a two part blowpipe stock; one part of the stock is tied into the pipe bag. The second part of the stock fitted with a long plastic tube fits inside the stock section tied into the bag. The plastic tube runs inside the pipe bag along the bottom and up the back of the bag. This plastic tube traps excess water and can be emptied after playing. The two part stock also allows you to remove the bagpipe water trap when you season the pipe bag, and also for easy removal of the tube for cleaning.
Synthetic bags (zippered) - Can use the water traps discussed above plus a few more. Tone Enhancers - Fit into the bottom of the drone stock. They are fitted with filters and desiccant to remove moisture as the air passes through them keeping your drone reeds dry. The wetter your drone reeds become the more likely they will be to shut off. Canister Systems - Are a central canister with tubes connecting it to all three of the drone stocks plus the chanter stock. The moist air must pass through the canister filled with a drying desiccant before going on to any of the reeds.
Some other bagpipe maintenance to help keep your reeds dry. After playing stop and dry all the bores with a pull through or brushes. Remove the pipe chanter and cap the reed with a chanter stock. Leave the chanter stock and blowpipe stock open when you store your bag to allow the bag to dry. Don't lick the pipe reed before playing.
Caution: - When using a bagpipe water trap or tube trap of any type make sure the bore is large enough not to restrict your air pressure
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