Balance 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).

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.

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.

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.