Mar
14

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Small Tunes Podcast: “Deirdre’s Lament”

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St. Patrick’s Day is but a few days away, so why not bring out a little something from the emerald isle. This episode’s tune is a very old melody from Ireland based on the tale “The Lamentation of Deirdre for the Sons of Usneach,” an extremely old story that is part of the “Ulster cycle” of Irish mythology. The melody of this tune is considered by some to be the oldest piece of Irish music in existence. Download the score and listen to the podcast for more background and a rendition on the bagpipe.

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Mar
6

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Pipehacker Project: The Reed-Hack Survival Pack

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pipehacker_reedtech19Highland bagpiping requires a lot of skill, and not just the fingering kind. The demands on sound and bagpipe quality mean that Highland pipers need to be versed in a variety of techniques to sound their best. Mainly, the modern self-sufficient piper needs to be skilled in manipulating their own chanter reeds to get the awesome sound required for today’s competition boards. An active piper will certainly have the “tools of the trade” for reedsmithing: a sharp blade for scraping, hemp, a mandrel for poking, and other oddments necessary for instant use. Trouble is, these are usually in a box or pouch in one’s pipe case. Not much good when these things are needed out on the games pitch or in the band circle during tune-up. In the true Pipehacker tradition, here is a sporran-sized, exquisitely portable survival kit based on the Pipehacker Personal Reed Case and pipe-hacked, miniaturized versions of the tools you need for reed-hacking while practicing or fine tuning before performance time.

What You Need

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  • Empty mint or gum tin (Altoid brand or similar size.)
  • Foam cushioning (From an old chair or sofa cushion, or packing material from a new appliance.)
  • Standard Xacto blade with standard handle
  • 2, standard 10-24, 3-inch bolts (3/8-inch diameter, brass or steel)
  • Waxed yellow hemp
  • Metal file
  • Dremel hand tool with grinding or emery wheel
  • Hacksaw
  • Utility knife
  • C-clamp
  • Ruler
  • Hot glue gun
  • Sharpie marker
  • Old chanter reed
  • Round neodymium magnet (optional)
  • Hand drill/driver (optional)
  • Safety goggles (NOT optional)

How to Do It

pipehacker_reedtech21. Make your mini mandrel. Cut the head off of the 10-24 bolt with the hacksaw (or, since you have Dremel tool, you will likely have a cutting wheel bit, which works perfectly). Unscrew the top bushing on the Xacto handle and remove the bushing and the blade chuck. Take the handle and screw in the bolt until tight. WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES and carefully use the grinding or emery bit on the Dremel to grind off the exposed threads on the remaining 2-1/16-inch length. Read More

Projects

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Pipehacker Tip: The DIY Pipe Bag Seasoning Funnel

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bagpipe bag seasoning is messy stuff. The wide mouth opening of your modern container of Airtight makes it an easy matter to make a clean pour into your…

reedcapsules7

Pipehacker Project: The Reed Capsule

Friday, March 11, 2011

Even though you now has a portable reed case (as well as minty fresh breath) you still have need to store, transport, or otherwise protect your chanter and…

reedcase10

Pipehacker Project: The Personal Reed Case

Friday, February 4, 2011

An enterprising bagpiper can accumulate a large number of chanter reeds over time. But once you find those choice bits of cane, what do you do with them?…

pipehackerpunch

Pipehacker Tip: Bagpipe Bag Hole Punch

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For those new to the hide bag tie-in, it has always been necessary to measure out and place the spots where your stocks will insert. A quarter-sized hole is then cut into the leather and the stock pushed through. The trick is always to get as round a hole as possible. The more perfectly circular the hole, the less likely it will be to tear when you push your stock through. The only way to do this well is to have an ideally sized “punch” to stamp out that hole.

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Pipehacker Project: The DIY Blowstick Valve

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are there any pipers left who remember the days of leather blowstick flapper valves? The little circles of old bag leather that dried up and had to be gnawed back to life in order to function? No? Well, once upon a time pipers had to make their own flapper valves to tie on to their blowpipes.

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Pipehacker Project: The Chanter Cap Reed Dryer

Friday, November 5, 2010

The chanter cap has become as ubiquitous a part of the pipe box as a roll of black tape. But moisture left on the reed after playing can…

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Pipehacker Project: The Black Art of Black Wax

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in the day, the gooey black bits of “cobbler’s wax” were oftentimes a melted mess in a piper’s maintenance kit awaiting their next turn at a strand of hemp. What is simply globs of pine resin and pitch (otherwise known by the scientific name “soot”), the stuff was crumbly, sticky, and infuriating at the same time but has always been ideal for sticking that first wrap of hemp on your pipe tenons. But what do you do when your chunk of black wax has crumbled to nothing?

reedcase4

Pipehacker Project: A Case for the Eyeglasses Drone Reed Case

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Over the years, I have acquired many sets of drone reeds. Right now, I’ve got two combination sets going for solo and band playing that comprise three different makes. It has been an ongoing challenge keeping them packed safe and sound while they are not being played or transported in my pipe case.

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