Foolproof Reed Selection for Beginners

How do you know what reed to chose when you are a brand new piper?  Your instructor said the reed was easy, but is it right for you?  What do you do if the reed squeals, gurgles, or doesn’t make a sound at all?

Andrew explains a foolproof way to choose your very first reed and every one after that.  Stop struggling and start playing your new pipes!

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Video Transcription:

Andrew:
From Dave, "I've got a bunch of reeds that came with my pipes, but I can't seems to get any to work, some gurgle, others make no sound. How can I get reeds fit for a beginner and how many should I get?" This answer is identical to the previous answer, which is you stick the reed in and you play 16 bars of music or if you're a beginner and you don't have 16 bars of music, just play low A for 16 beats, okay? You just count it out.

Carl:
That's good suggestion.

Andrew:
You know what I mean? Just play low A for 16 beats. A lot of times if we're just starting on the pipes, playing Scotland the Brave is really hard and confusing, so it's going to totally distort this test, but play it. Now, if those reeds gurgle like crazy as you're playing those 16 beats, it's not a good reed. If you can barely get any sound to come out of the reed, it's not a good reed. Then, from there, let's say you do that and you end up with no usable reeds.

Andrew:
Okay, then you want to contact your dealer of, let's say, pipersdojo.com or maybe you get your reeds from your band or maybe from your teacher and you say, "I need three beginner strength reeds" and order those reeds in. Do the test again and send back anything where you can't do the 16 beats, keep the remainder. Super simple, right? Then, from there, if the reed worked when you mouth-blew it, it will work in your pipes. Now, it might be that you don't have good coordination yet and that you have to develop stuff. That's called learning, okay? We all have to do it. We all have to learn how to operate the pipes.

Carl:
Generally, I recommend two reeds at least for a beginner, just because-

Andrew:
Yeah, you want to have a backup.

Carl:
… you want to have backup. What I said yesterday was give your local supplier a call and say, "Hey, I'm a beginner. I need some really easy reeds." They'll help you out.

Andrew:
Yeah. I just did that with Adrian Melvin. I emailed him. I wanted about a dozen to have around for my students and whatever. I was like, "Adrian, I need some really easy reeds for beginners, super easy," if that's what you feel like you need. Now, meanwhile, just ordering the standard easys are good. The other thing is, if you do have one of those chanter reed pressure gauges, you could use that. You could even use a Dojo style manometer with a measuring tape and you can figure out how many inches of water your ideal reed is. That can sometimes be helpful when ordering reeds. Some retailers will be able to cater what they send you through the inches of water.

Andrew:
At the same time, done is better than perfect. It's much quicker to just email whoever your person is, saying, "I need some super easys, easier than easy" and just go from there. Then, it's all going to be trial and error.

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