Drone Reed

reed-diagram-526x1024Balance Tone Reeds

These unique drone reeds come ready to play. However depending on the drone characteristics and the actual blowing strength of your pipe, small adjustments may be required to obtain the optimum sound from your drones.

Reed Seat

There has never been a standard diameter for bagpipe reed seats; therefore, you may find that you have to apply hemp on the reed seat to ensure you have a firm, secure fit. If not, this will give an unsteady tonal quality.
Before applying hemp, take the reed seat apart from the reed body by sliding it off. Fit the reed seat by itself by pulling waxed hemp through the small groove/slit in the shoulder (see Figure 1).

Fig. 1. The reed seat removed from the reed body. Note the strand of hemp which has been pulled through the small groove. The groove holds the hemp in place, which aids when wrapping the hemp around the reed seat.
Fig. 1.
The reed seat removed from the reed body. Note the strand of hemp which has been pulled through the small groove. The groove holds the hemp in place, which aids when wrapping the hemp around the reed seat.

The hemp can be pulled through this (like a cotton reel) then wrapped firmly around the reed seat. Leave a small gap/space at the open end so when you squeeze it into the drone the hemp does not come off the end.

The reed seat properly fitted should be screwed all the way into the drone until the shoulder is firmly fitted against the bottom of the drone. The reed body can now be refitted by sliding it back on to the fitted reed seat. (Instructions for adjusting the reed body are below.) Care should be taken not to bump/move the reed when fitting into the pipe.

Reed Adjustment

The reeds come with the bridles set to suit a medium strength pipe. Balance Tone Reeds can be adjusted to optimise sound quality and to suit your blowing strength. Miniscule adjustments to the position of the bridle have a significant effect on the strength of the reed and tonal quality.

If you blow a strong pipe the reed may stop. If this happens adjust the bridle upwards i.e. lengthen the tongue. Conversely, if you blow a light pipe the reed may be too strong. To adjust the strength, shorten the length of the tongue by moving the bridle downward.

Once the bridles have been adjusted the next step is to get the drone tops tuning just above the bottom of the hemp on the tuning pins. Lengthening the reed will lower the tuning position of the drone top on the tuning pin and conversely shortening the reed will raise the drone top on the tuning pin. The recommended position on the bottom tuning pin of the base drone should be shorter i.e. between 30 to 40mm in length.
Adjusting the length of the reed, (either lengthening or shortening) is done by moving the position of the reed body on the reed seat.

Finally the volume can also be adjusted by rotating the white plug to reduce the reed aperture, i.e. the small rectangular hole in the reed body. Reducing the aperture will make the drone quieter. It is recommended however that the aperture be left unrestricted i.e. fully open as this usually produces the optimum tonal quality. Any requirement to produce a quieter sound can be made by adjusting the bridle as described above. Rotating the white plug to close the aperture can also shut off the reed.

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Switching all our pipes to your reeds!

We had a good test this summer while touring Northern Ontario, where some of the weather was cool and very wet. My concern was their ability to resist moisture build up from condensation. I am happy to report they worked out admirably and resisted to the bitter end under extremely poor conditions. I have been switching all our pipes to your reeds as the occasion arises. Good tone, low air consumption, easy start/stop. Tuning and volume control in all types of drones is excellent.

Bill Holloway, Ontario Provisional Police Pipe Band

Simply the best!

The Reeds are just the best, simple!

Graham Waller, Pride of Murray Pipe Band, UK

Great product, great advice!

Excellent advice … I will use the drone stock method from now on for your MCS2. I did manage after writing last night to get them adjusted and they are just great.

Wendy Finan, USA

Hi Bruce ! hope ye’re

Hi Bruce ! hope ye’re fine You really bring a very clever solution for moisture capture, I used to now about the venturi effect, as I’ ve worked a part of my career as a storeman, in car spare parts trade So I know that the venturi effect used in carburators can provocate condensation and even freezing by acceleration of the air flow, but I never thought that phenomenon could occur in a moisture control system, in fact it’s of the most logical, but it was necessary to think of it In addition, as I’m a current user of Balance tone, I’ m very interested by yer resonance reeds To finish with, I’m still a proselyte of your products Well done pipe major !


Playing is now a pleasure!

Just a note to let you know how much I’m enjoying the … Balance Tone Drone reeds I purchased from you at the “Worlds”. Playing is now always a pleasure with drones starting and stopping with ease.

Ian Cowe, Glasgow

Rock-steady, full of harmonics!

Just a short note to tell you how delighted I am with your Balance Tone reeds. I only played cane before and I have not been attracted so far by synthetic drone-reeds, but I must admit that your reeds are great, rock-steady, and full of harmonics, in particular on my MacDougall set. I will make publicity here in Brittany!

Patrick Molard, France

No moisture problems

I am really happy with your moisture tube. I have been playing this for three weeks now and it is currently my favorite system. I am able to play for over an hour without any moisture problems.. I’m going to recommend this system to my students from now on.

Sven Vollberg, Germany

Best thing since sliced bread!

Received the drone reeds,amazed how good they are. I am 70+ and they have gave me a boost,now enjoying blowing. Best thing since sliced bread!

Mickael Rankine, Ashfield

Second to none!

Your Balance Tone reeds are second to none. I’ve recommended them myself to people here in Australia.

Pipe Master Sandy Dalziel, Australia

Exceed everything you say about them!

Last week I installed my Balance Tone drone reeds. Wow! I didn’t know my pipes could sound so rich. They meet or exceed everything you say about them.

Terry McCarthy, USA

Not the most expensive, but the best I ever bought!

I always thought that the most expensive synthetic reeds also would be the best. That was a great mistake. Balance Tone are not the most expensive, but they are the best I ever bought. They are amazing!
Thank you very much!

Jan van Doornum, The Netherlands

Pipe carrier is a great idea and handy thing to have!

While participating in the Tartan Day Parade on April 6th in NYC, I became aware of your pipe carrier. What a great idea and a handy thing to have. I was given your e-mail address and have checked your web site and now enclosing a cheque for a Hand Free.

Charles P Murphy, Pearl River, New York

Easy, air efficient, nice sound and timbre!

I’ve been playing Bruce “Balance tone” drones for 8 years and I used to play Hepburn cane reeds. I found balance tone reeds very efficient and got the same sound and harmonics as with cane reeds. These reeds are easy, air efficient, easy to set, give nice sound and timbre, never stop due to moisture even during a long performance as ceol mor, all in all, Bruce has achieved a terrific level with his reeds. Well done Bruce an thanks a lot for yer grea’ job!

Jean Michel Platen, France

No setting up … and spot on

Received both sets of bridles today and both sets work fine. They took no setting up and are spot on … Also using your drone valves another excellent product. Thanks again and appreciate the extremely fast good service.

Brian Lynch, England

Play longer, perfect cutoffs, drones always strike in!

I’ve got to say that the Moisture Control System works great. I can play longer, I have perfect cutoffs, and my drones always strike in. I’ve recommended to many of my friends.

Bruce Pipher, USA.

Service was first class, will buy again!

I have tried other synthetic reeds and so far your’s are the best. From an engineering point of view I liked the design, especially the flat tongue and cut away body and the condensation groove. They are easy to set up, very steady and consistent in tone, stay in tune longer, and to my ear sound more like the cane reeds I grew up with. I blow the pipes nearly every day and I find that from one day to the next, the drones need only minimal adjustment. Your service was first class … and I shall certainly buy from you again.

Malcolm Morse, Bristol, UK

Tuned me in record time!

Have been using the Balance Tone Reeds for several weeks now. When I went to practice I did not say anything about the reeds but noticed the P/M seemed a bit surprised by the steadiness and great tone, tuned me in record time. A lot to be said for these great reeds.

Read Elwell, USA

Winner of Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal says…

The Balance Tone drone reeds are an excellent product. I won the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 2005 playing a full set of Balance Tone drone reeds and my students play them as well. They are easy to work with, take a minimal amount of air, and are very steady.

Donald MacPhee, Alexandria

Strike in every time and do not stop!

I am very pleased with the reeds as they strike in every time and do not stop – in fact, almost idiot-proof as far as the youngsters in the band are concerned.

L Proudfoot, Isle of Arran Pipe Band


The bridles arrived three weeks ago … I placed the bridles. I adjusted them then balanced the drones and adjusted my reed. WOW !!!!!

My early cocus wood  David Glen pipes are again happy. Your reeds cause these pipes to hum!

Charles Acklin, USA

Playing beautifully with almost no tweaking!

The reeds arrived less than half an hour ago and are playing beautifully in the McCallums already with almost no tweaking. They are brilliant with my nice solo chanter. Many thanks,

Gilbert MacKay, Scotland

Very simple to setup and very easy to adjust and tune!

Having ordered your drone reeds I have found them very simple to set up and very easy to adjust/tune in. Whilst my views may not be of value to your more experienced clients it certainly is the case that the plastic drone reeds produce a very clear and steady sound and are not as temperamental as the traditional type. As you will appreciate this is a big help for enthusiasts such as myself.

Arthur Johnstone, Scotland

Thrilled with performance!

I bought a set of your drone reeds at the Winter Storm event in Kansas City, Missouri this month. I also bought the drying system for my bagpipe. So far, I have only installed the drone reeds but I wanted to let you know how thrilled I am with their performance. I did not expect the results I am getting. The air efficiency is incredible and my bagpipe is so nice to play. It makes me realize how hard I was working before. Initially, the volume was a bit of a shock but now I love it!

Karen May, Kansas City

Struggled with previous reeds, playing yours straight away!

Thanks for the four chanter reeds that arrived today – very promptly!! I do not play the pipes a lot now and have been struggling with some reeds that I bought some time ago that were supposedly “soft” or “easy”. I was getting nowhere, they are very hard and even with a lot of scraping don’t improve much. Yours arrived, a brief wetting and they play straight away!! Wonderful! I can now pipe the haggis in on Saturday with a lot more confidence than I had a day or two ago.

Robin Jakeways, West Yorks

Making these my permanent reeds!

Bruce, thank you for the help – I did as you indicated and after a few adjustments, they worked fine. I used them in a competition last weekend and they sounded very nice. I even had a pipe major help tune me and he also thought they sounded very mellow and rich. I plan on making these my permanent reeds in part because they sound so good and in part because they are so easy to play and to tune. Again, thank you for the help – it made all of the difference.

Chuck Quimby, USA

Best system I have tried so far!

Thank you so much for sending me a new bass reed and the rubber connectors. Fast shipping. The Bass is perfect, steady and with little adjustments it is playing very well. Thanks for the amazing after sale service,and excellent tips. Also, your … MCS2 is the best system I have tried so far – very light, no dust, and very effective. Keeps my reeds dry and steady.

Stephane Chamberland, Montreal , Canada

Best performance ever heard out the band!

I just wanted to let you know that I recently purchased a set of your Balance Tone reeds…..AWESOME SOUND!! Being as I live up here in Flagstaff, we are always being chided about having lousy tone. We did a Burns dinner last weekend and Chris thought that this was one of the best performances he’s ever heard out of the band. Essentially my tone was able to match that of the higher band. Strike in/ cut offs were solid.

Monica, Flagstaff, USA

Would not put a cane reed in my pipe again!

I put in the full set of your reeds and after only 10 minutes to set up and settle I played Old Men of theShells. The pipe never moved. Don’t think I would put a cane reed in my pipe again. Can you please send me another 2 sets as I want to put a set in my other pipe and have a back-up set.

Stuart Shedden – Gold Medalist, Glasgow

Thrilled to bits!

Thrilled to bits with all the reeds. Thank you so much; its great to deal with someone who cares.

Jim Nesbitt, Dumfries

Best price/performance available!

This is the first time I have ever been asked by a pipe drone reed manufacturer if I was satisfied with the product. However, I’m not shocked, instead, I am very impressed. As impressed as I am with the reeds. I absolutely love the sound they create and delighted with the perfect visual set-up of the drones I have been able to set. Another significant plus, your reeds are probably the best price/performance currently available. I suspect you hear this a lot. Congratulation on a great product, my piper friends are certainly aware of my delight with my new incredible drone reeds.
Thank you.

P/Sgt Milton M Cameron, North Vancouver, Canada

Can not believe how great they sound!

I have just put your new moisture control system MCS2 into my pipes and can not believe how great they sound.

Russell Cooper, Australia


Reeds fantastic. It’s a pity they weren’t available 60 years ago; it would have been a breeze.

Andrew MacKay Drumbeg, Sutherland

No frustration with these!

I am very pleased with the drone reeds. I put them in and set them up in about 20 minutes. It is very different from my previous experience with other brands…..hours of frustration.

Skip Kirkwood, Florida, USA


I liked the idea of the rubber flexi-joint on the MCS2 which really made me decide to try it and it arrived just in time. I fitted it right away and I am very pleased with it. I played for quite a while and the reeds stayed bone dry, have played regularly since then and have no more problems with wet reeds. Also your Balance Tone reeds are very good and I’m very impressed with them they give me a good consistent sound with very little tuning time. Brilliant.

Max Stewart, St Andrews, Scotland

New piper finds them easier to strike with no necessary adjustments!

I am more than happy with the Balance Tones, as a new Piper, still in the learning stage, I find the reeds easier to strike in than cane reeds and once set I have not had to make any further adjustments. The tone sounds good and fits in with the band (South Cheshire Pipe Band) that I play with well.

Jez Frith, Alderley Park, UK

Lowest maintenance and steadiest bagpipe I’ve ever had!

Taking only seconds to remove and reinstall before and after each performance, this hassle free moisture control system has greatly increased my playing duration with no noticeable change in tonal quality or volume … definitely the lowest maintenance and steadiest bagpipe I’ve ever had.

Robert Watt , Northern Ireland

You thought of everything!

I have been playing with the reeds and may I say that I`m very impressed you seem to have thought of every thing.

Barry MacBeath, Aberdeen, Scotland

Every single judge I played before this year loved the drones!

I just had to drop you a line to let you know that it’s official – EVERY SINGLE judge I played before this year loved the drones!!! Several of them asked me about them after the competitions, and one even swore they were cane until I showed him otherwise!

Amy Drown, USA

Utterly thrilled!

I am utterly thrilled with the reeds I purchased. I have passed on the word and will continue to do so. Thank you again.

Denna Hintze-Yates, Canutillo, Texas

Made my life as a Piper so much easier!

Just had to write to congratulate you on an excellent product! I recently purchased the … moisture control system from you. Last night I played at an RAF Officers Mess Burns Night and was incredibly impressed with the performance … I am THE wet blower and having played for well over two hours (in total) my reeds were as dry as when then started. You really have made my life as a piper so much easier. I wish you every success with the system, you deserve it.

Andy Workman, UK

The only ones that work!

Your drone reeds were the only ones that worked in my Kilberry pipes! Thank you very much.

Robert Huffman, Germany