Northumbrian Smallpipes Tutor

John Liestman's Tutor is now available as a PDF download - in return for a donation of at least 12 GBP to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Please contact us if you require more information, or for download instructions if you have already made your donation to the charity.

Drone reed adjustment (newer style with o-rings)

NB – when handling the reed, try to avoid touching the O-rings which hold the plastic tongues in position as moving them will affect the pitch and pressure.

It is possible to adjust the drone reeds for both playing pressure and pitch. These are related but may be adjusted separately, at least to some extent.

Adjustment is simple in principle but can be rather fiddly and should be attempted in very small steps.

You can mark the starting position of the tongue and O rings using pencil on the tongue and drone body, than you can reverse any changes!

Adjust pressure before pitch.

The upper face of the brass body is cut at an angle to create the required gap between blade and body. The O-ring which controls the free length of the tongue is situated on or near the shoulder of this angled section - look at the reed sideways to see this. Moving the O-ring towards the free end of the tongue will lower the pressure and any more than a slight movement will shut the reed off altogether. With care, the pressure can be adjusted to suit. The pitch will be raised and this can be compensated for by lowering the pitch as below.

This is controlled by the vibrating length of the tongue. To lower the pitch, push the tongue from the fixed end under the O-rings in such a way as to lengthen the free end without moving the O-rings. It is particularly important that the O-ring nearest the free end of the tongue is not moved. Use a thumb nail or the edge of a craft knife blade against the fixed end of the tongue and make adjustments in small steps, about 0.5mm.

To raise the pitch, push the tongue back under the O-rings by pushing on the blade, against the body, with your thumb. Do not push the free end of the tongue with a thumb nail or craft knife blade since this risks distorting the tongue. Alternatively, trim the end of the tongue in 0.5mm steps with a sharp craft knife.


Printable PDF: How to adjust our drone reeds, newer style with o-rings

Richard & Anita Evans

Makers of Northumbrian and Scottish Smallpipes