These are the same acoustic design as our original brass/plastic "Budget Drones," simply with the plastic parts made from turned woodwind grade hardwoods including very renewable North American rock maple, African mopane and South American cocobolo. The tone of test drones has been essentially indistinguishable from the budget brass/plastic.
Ours will be "budget wood" drones which, while necessarily costing more than the budget brass/plastics, will be made aesthetically plain and from the better tone woods that are lower priced than ebony and African blackwood (grenadilla). The acoustic design is already completely set and proven in the brass/plastic, so development is almost purely a matter of mechanical issues of drying, stabilizing and finishing the wood pieces. I have started seasoning for a number of stands' worth of pieces over the past few years so it will be feasible to being selling limited numbers of wood drones right away.
Since even the brass/plastic Budget drones are traditionally made inside, actually more complex than the most popular modern Concert D drones, we expect our wood instruments to be more dependable than most and to have a tone that has no sacrifices whatsoever, directly competitive with the finest drones made for uilleann pipes.
For extended durability, no brass tubing is inserted into any of the wood segments which eventually causes cracking even in many top name sets as the years pass and wood tries to settle around unyielding metal. Our tubing bends are connected only inside inert end-pieces which in turn mount through the common reinforcing ferrules over the outside of the wood bore pieces.
Tuning slides use brass tubing that has been sized to exactly fit the bore proportions of the source drone designs. This is to ensure a permanently round tuning socket not subject to cracks or to warping with pressure or age.
First offerings will be sold with wood-and-brass Pakistani mainstocks which include temporarily plugged mounting holes for regulators, and the brass tube mainstock extension for the bass regulator. I am developing tooling for a traditional mainstock of our own make to be built of durable, inert Delrin plastic.
The wood is naturally air-dried, seasoned timber purchased from special-purpose musical instrument wood vendors, hand-selected to be most appropriate for woodwinds.
Next, the parts are given their preliminary bore and rough exterior, followed by an extended period of settling. As with my natural cane reeds, this includes "climate-forcing:" by repeated exposure to both humid and dry air. Testing has demonstrated that this triggers a significant amount of the natural irreversible settling that otherwise requires years to achieve in unworked solid timber aging on shelves. It's not a simplistic shortcut however; all our wood also has significant traditional seasoning before it's finished into instruments.
Click here for a photograph of a wood Penny-Chanter bottom with a reference round tube inserted, after months of climate cycles, ready to be finished. Notice the slightly irregular shape shown by the varying gap between the bore and the piece of round brass reference tubing. Wood permanently settles different amounts along grain layers vs. through them. This is why it's important not to create final bores early in the construction process. Settling will eventually render the bore both smaller and somewhat oval, which degrades tone and performance, and for sets using wood as sockets or tuning slides, compromises the mechanical airtightness of the joints.
After rough boring and turing and climate settling, the inside is further bored out to its final dimensions, and the exterior is finished. The drones are then assembled and given a natural oil treatment inside and out to minimize the cyclical response to normal changes in weather and climate, then polished and fine-tuned for playing.
The drones are constructed using multiple-reamer tool sets, so that they can be readjusted any time in the future if needed. Drones however are usually much less critical than chanters so I don't anticipate a need to readjust them once they're finished at a decent careful pace.
Photos will be posted during mid to late March.
Based on chanter testing and the amount of brass in all drones traditional or otherwise, I don't expect either cocobolo or mopane drones to sound detectably different from our plastic/brass Budget drones already in production.
Because there is no acoustic development and bore tooling required, an initial sale date depends only on the required construction time plus a modest amount of development of the external aeasthetics. I expect a few wood stands to become available in the Spring.
The maple/brass drones have a slightly mellower tone than all the others, but the Daye/Harrington design has enough built-in power that reed adjustment gives more variation than choice of instrument construction. The maples are an excellent choice for house playing, and they can equal the power of many drones of hardwood and Delrin by other makers. It's easy to set them up with the classic antique pipes "purr" over a range of loudness for house or sessiun playing.
I believe the maple will be of interest to many buyers, for cost consciousness and especially for playing a concert style instrument in close quarters, so we'll complete a few stands with it as we proceed with the widely used mopane and cocobolo.
We expect the maple to be some percentage more modest cost than the tropical hardwoods, but we are still creating the setups and estimating labor so we don't have price estimates except to know that they'll be above the plastic sets.
To E-mail David Daye click here
Telephone Cuyahoga Falls Ohio USA (New York time zone) 330-923-3293
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