4 Steps for Getting Your Drone Reeds to “Point Zero”

“Point zero” is exactly what it implies. It is “zeroing” out your reeds. It is setting the strength of your drone reeds at their starting point before you begin making further adjustments for pitch and chanter reed strength. It is the starting point for your personal tolerances.

Why would you want to do this? As discussed before, your personal comfort is essential if you want to develop musically on the bagpipe. You might be trying a brand new set of reeds, or readjusting to suit a new chanter reed for your strength levels. You might just be tinkering in the ever-continuing search for better bagpipe sound and efficiency. Either way, here are the simple steps to making the whole process a bit easier and more controlled.
  1. Take out your drones from the stocks and blow each reed individually.
  2. Keep blowing until you are blowing hard enough to shut it off. (If you are blowing as hard as you can, and the reed is still playing, or just shuts off, then it is taking too much air. Conversely, if it shuts off before you are blowing your hardest, it is not taking enough.
  3. Move the bridles down (or up) on the reed(s) as needed and gradually increase blowing until you are just starting to exert a stiff blowing effort when they shut off.
  4. Do the same for the other two reeds making sure the effort you are blowing to shut them off is as equal as you can get it for all three reeds.
You can now begin making adjustments to set pitch and strength based on your chanter reed and blowing. Now is the time to calibrate your drones as excellently detailed by Dojo University. If you have spent the time to select a reed that is at its ideal strength for you, you should not have to make big adjustments to set up a balanced bagpipe.
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