June 12, 2008 on 7:48 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off on Joints

It’s summer, the pipes and drums are in high gear, and the games are afoot.  It’s also the time of year we put our instruments (and ourselves) under their biggest tests - under stressful and, usually, trying conditions.   Wind, rain, sleet, cold, hot, “gloom of night“ – we perform under the full gamut of weather conditions.  We’re the “postpeople” of the music world.  Rarely do we get that perfect, cloudless 21 degree performance day.  But we always aim to deliver. 

Right, so aren’t we all wonderful! 

My point here is to remind pipers to watch their joints [note restraint shown here to not veer off on a tangent].  I’ve been tuning lots of drones lately, one hand in the air with a tuning meter, and the other moving a drone top. 

I’m reminded with all that tuning of some (more) simple, elegant advice from the late Captain John MacLellan: “your drone should always tune effortlessly with only a bit of easy turning using the thumb and forefinger”.

Super tight drone joints that require two-fisted tuning is to be avoided at all costs. Same goes for the tell-tale sign of pipes not played: hemp that turns with the drone top.  I’m happy to say I haven’t come across this in my own band – phew – but have in my experience and have seen many a piper, when judging, go about tuning their drones like they were wrestling a rabid cat: both hands lifted high, chanter unhanded and pointing shwing-like to the judge.  Not a pretty sight.

So, crappy drone maintenance, a bit of rain at the games and you’ve got the makings for untuneable drones.  All of that is a situation easily prevented.    

Our intention always?  To make it look easy, to make it look effortless.  Hemp and joints a part of that not to be overlooked.


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