Reedmaking Video Review

Copyright 1994 David C. Daye

This is the reedmaking video by Kieth Powell of Wales, advertised in the March _An Piobaire_. It costs 25 pounds sterling, plus shipping. It's in British TV format so I paid $ 20 (u.s.) locally to convert it to US format. Video quality suffered in the conversion but because of the way the visuals are shot it's not as big a loss as you'll think at first. The sound is fine.

I'd recommend the video as one resource for the amateur uilleann pipe reedmaker's library, especially for those who have never seen a reed made, but it's not complete enough to be a sole reference or a substitute for in-person reedmaking instruction. I don't think it would be much use for Highland or other types of reeds which are constructed and played very differently.

All the major chanter reed dimensions are provided either in the video or on the included note sheet, so that the reed can be accurately reproduced. It's a conventional (seems to me) parallel-edged reed, using a (fixed, I believe) bridle partway up from the binding, in a largish size (blade width is over 1/2"). Staple is made from non-tapered standard 5/32" hobby-store brass tubing.

I would have benefitted from more full-screen closeups (and, having to convert the video, I'd want the greatest magnification possible). A few important points are not covered in detail. For example, while the length and outline of the scrape are shown, there is no information about its depth or cross-sectional shape at various points. Bridle fitting and sanding/scraping of the lips are discussed and shown (in long shots) for a time, but few details are seen by the viewer. Blade-edge thickness is mentioned but not shown or diagrammed.

I made a reed to this pattern and it tunes accurately in my Dave Williams chanter. However due to the lack of detail mentioned above, my first reed has some performance problems I'll try to fix on my next attempt using some educated guesses from my own experience. I may have scraped too deeply down the centerline of the blades, and my edges appear to be too thin for my softish cane and the rather large lip opening, and consequent strong bridle pressure, this reed seems to end up with. I don't recall the video showing an end-view of the lips before bridling, so I'm not certain about this.

The video brings the reed to the point of crowing and playing a scale in the chanter. There it ends. In a future revision, I'd love to see & hear some fine adjustment, at least for basic playability factors such as overall strength, ease of 2nd octave, and common tuning problems. High magnification closeup still and motion views such as I've mentioned would be helpful too.

Video is available at 25 pounds sterling (plus shipping) from:

Kieth Powell
Berllan, Lon Fain
Dwyran, Ynys Mon,
Gwynedd LL61 6YF
(tel) 0248-430147

Just my opinions of course.

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