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My refurbishing project is in its final stages and now after close to two years, I am back to fully playing my pipes. The title photo shows my Reedwrangler alongside a standard oval replacement mouthpiece I’ve been playing for years. I’d noticed a few pipers using the Flexible Ergonomic Mouthpiece from Reedwrangler for a while and I was growing tired of replacing the rubber ends on mine so I was looking forward to giving the Reedwrangler a try.

Since the Reedwrangler is a long soft plastic sleeve that fits over a standard blowstick end, I needed to go through several trips to the vice with a hacksaw to trim down a round blowstick and then gradually trim down the Wrangler until it was the right length for me.

I played with it for a few weeks but ultimately, I decided to go back to the standard oval. I found that where I tend to bite down on the mouthpiece is slightly forward of the rigid metal end inside the Wrangler and thus, think a plain old plastic end is what I prefer. I might try the Wrangler again at some point to make sure but for now I think my curiosity is settled.

In previous posts I mentioned I’d be experimenting with drone reeds and I pictured some Croziers I was trying out.

I played the Croziers for several weeks and I battled with two things not to my satisfaction. First, the tenors kept shutting off. I kept slightly nudging the bridle more open but I still experienced the occasional shutoff and I was wondering if maybe the bridles were too old. I also found them to be a bit too noisy as I was reading my pipes… I find it to be particularly annoying when lining up for something, even at rehearsal, and some pipers are making a bunch of drone noise! I don’t want to be that guy.

I’m now tweaking a set of Ezeedrones and I’m pretty happy with both the sound I’m getting and the strike in. At first, they didn’t seem stable and I didn’t like the gurgling sound I was hearing right before they fully came in. I’ve heard this and wondered about it at solo contests for years but for a band strike in, it’s not what I’m looking for.

My friend Wes Williams helped out a bit here. Wes has one of the pressure gauges common for checking the strength of chanter reeds but he’s put it into a deeper plastic body so it can be slipped over a drone end to try and set drones to a number as a start. Some tweaking afterward is usually necessary but it’s a really good starting point and I’ve never seen or heard of anyone else doing this. Thanks Wes!

I feel like I have a new set of pipes and I’m excited to be playing them again. Since the rest of 2020 seems to be a bust, with all competitions cancelled and opportunities to play at social gatherings extremely limited for the foreseeable future, I guess I’ll need to be happy playing for myself for now.

Author: Dan

Dan has been with the Highlanders since 2013 and was a student under fellow Highlander Joe Schreiber. "My father was my inspiration to take up piping, he was in a band when I was a kid and I actually took a few lessons at that time." In his spare time, Dan enjoys Photoshopping people into places they'd never expect!

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