Product Review: Kinnaird Edge Bagpipe Drone Reeds

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One struggle I’ve often found with setting up my bagpipe to match my physiology (which requires a very easy bagpipe – my chanter reed is set around 23-24 inches of water) is with drone reeds. Namely, I’d have to close my drone reeds off so much that the drone tops would nearly be falling off the pin and a substantial amount of tonal quality sacrificed due to having a short effective tongue length.

For the longest time I played a set of Rocket drone reeds which were fine at the time but those are hard to come by these days and, to be quite frank, the last set I received just didn’t have the same quality as I had come to enjoy out of the original set that came with my 2008 MacLellan bagpipe.

After retiring the Rockets I settled on a set of Kinnaird Evolution reeds – the previous iteration of the Kinnaird reed. These were solid reeds with a good tone but due to having to close them down so much striking them in was impossible (even with a set of easy Evolutions). I was left to only blow them up with a quick puff and having to tolerate a split second of squealing tenors.

Then enter the Edge drone reeds – not an entirely new concept in the world of synthetic drone reeds but one that borrows some of the best design elements of various drone reeds prior and rolls them all into one killer combination. First off is the unique curved carbon fiber tongue on the Kinnaird reeds since day one – probably the most harmonically rich synthetic reed design and the closest to a cane sound as they come. Second is the fixed bridle of the Rocket reed  – this gives the longest possible effective tongue length across all strengths. Third is the grub screw strength adjustment of the Ross/Crozier Omega drone reed – this eliminates moving the bridle and allows for much more precise adjustment of the strength.

Now here’s where the Kinnaird Edge is different – instead of the bendable body with flat tongue of the Omega reed and/or the fixed tongue spring of the Rocket, one adjusts the tongue’s spring level of the Edge using the adjustment screw at the base of the tongue. No bridle adjustments are needed, leaving the full effective tongue length intact. Of course, pitch is adjusted with the grub screw in the nose cone as in all of the Kinnaird designs previous.

The reeds arrived to me well packaged and insulated. The reeds themselves are made from materials that are practically indestructible but this was an added measure of protection so the reeds will no doubt arrive at your door in proper playing condition.

After adding the required amount of black waxed hemp to seat the reeds securely in the reed seats, I plugged off the bass and middle tenor and proceeded to use the outer tenor as my baseline to match with the chanter reed for strength. I quickly found out that the tiniest of adjustments with the tongue grub screw produced drastic changes in strength. So much as 1/16th of a turn can make a very light reed into a very strong reed and vice versa. Several tiny movements and a little bit of patience are required to dial the reed in perfectly, but after several tries I found the “sweet spot” of having just enough overblow protection but not consuming too much air compared to my chanter reed.

I then proceeded to cork the chanter and then match the bass reed to the outer tenor and finally the middle tenor to the other two. Again, several tries were required to equalize all three reeds in terms of strength but a little persistence paid off when I got all three reeds to shut off at the exact same amount of overpressure. After I accomplished this, I added in the chanter to make further adjustments.

After 15 or so minutes of warming up the chanter to get it up to pitch, I was required to sink the grub screws in the nose cones to bring the tenors tops and bass mid section down to the sweet spot on the tuning pins. It should be noted these reeds are pitched fairly high so if you play a lower pitched setup you might require reed extenders. I had to sink the screws almost as far down as they’d go to get the drones in their optimal tuning range using a McCallum McC2 solo chanter with a Husk reed (my Low A pitches around 475 Hz with this setup – on the lower side of today’s tuning range which is my preference).

Once I got the pitch dialed in to match my warm chanter I proceeded to play several tunes. The results I got were nothing short of astounding – the drones did not budge in the slightest for the entire time I was playing. Not only did they remain locked in for the duration of the session they produced a big, bold, powerful sound in my MacLellan drones – a deep, profound bass with bright, ringing tenors that blended together seamlessly without any of the harsh buzzing noise found in many synthetic reeds. The end result was a solid wall of sound that brought out the overtones in the various notes of the chanter in a huge way. The entire setup just seemed to vibrate into my core. The entire instrument became a true joy to play.

Strike-ins and cutoffs were a cinch, even with a synthetic (Ross suede) bag. Note I do not use drone valves or a canister system either one so that’s saying something. Moisture resistance was very good – even as water vapor condensed on the reeds they remained steady as a rock.

I have nothing more to say than I am totally blown away by these reeds. They were the absolute perfect solution for my situation. The ease of setup, bold/rich tonal quality and ease of starts and stops really make these the ideal reed for a variety of players. I think only well-set cane reeds could possibly beat these for tone but who’s got the time and desire to deal with the headaches? If you want the best out of your drones without the hassle of cane, give the Kinnaird Edge drone reeds a try. You’ll be glad you did. Rating: 5/5.

 

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Song Lyric Sunday 2/25/18 – Blue Letter

Our theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is letters. Admittedly this one took some digging for me. Normally I have a few songs that surge to the forefront of my memory banks when thinking about the theme but this one was tough for me.

So after a quick Google search I came across this song I haven’t heard in a long time by a band I love that I haven’t listened to in awhile. We’re going back to 1975 for this Fleetwood Mac classic.

With that, here is the song “Blue Letter” (written by Richard Curtis and Michael Curtis):

It was a blue letter she wrote to me
It’s silver words she told
Wanna be on the road to paradise
I want a lover who don’t get old

Do I read a message in your eyes
You want a love to stay another night
Baby, when your day goes down
I won’t be waitin’ around for you

For every voice you ever heard
There’s a thousand without a word
Redbird, don’t say you told me so
Give me one more song to go

Do I read a message in your eyes
You want a love to stay another night
Baby, when your day goes down
I won’t be waitin’ around for you
Oh, yeah

For every voice you ever heard
There’s a thousand without a word
Redbird, don’t say you told me so
Give me one more song to go

Do I read a message in your eyes
You want a love to stay another night
Baby, when your day goes down
I won’t be waitin’ around for you

I ain’t waitin’ (repeat ad nauseam)
Source: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fleetwoodmac/blueletter.html

So that’s a wrap for today. Hope you enjoyed and see you all next week!

Beer/Cigar Reviews – The Barista and RoMa Craft Neanderthal

Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews! We’ve got a great lineup for you today so we shall just dive right in!

Today’s beer selection is:

The Barista

This offering from Clown Shoes Brewing Company in Ipswich, Massachusetts is an Imperial Brown Ale brewed with espresso, oatmeal and lactose. It weighs in at 8.5% ABV and an unspecified IBU and gravity rating.

Pours a hazy reddish-brown color with a thin ring of tan head. Aromas of caramel, dark fruit and coffee. Flavors of plum, black cherry, caramel, oats and dark chocolate. Lactose sweetness is present on the finish along with a deep, dark, bitter espresso. Medium in both body and carbonation and drinks very smoothly.

Overall a well-balanced yet bold brew while not being overly alcoholic so it’s sessionable. Rating: 4.5/5.

And now for today’s cigar pick:

Neanderthal

This offering from RoMa Craft cigars features a Mexican San Andreas wrapper over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan long fillers. This cigar comes only in one size – a 5″ x 56RG Robusto vitola.

First light reveals a loose draw with plumes of thick, chewy smoke. Full body out of the gate with a big blast of pepper and spice over and earthy draw with a hint of walnut going into the finish.

Getting into the first third the flavors retain their intensity while the draw morphs more toward a distinct leather note. A hint of espresso enters the draw along with a tinge of sweet cedar. The pepper and spice is joined by a hint of a heavy, aromatic oak on the retrohale.

Entering the 2nd third the pepper and spice fade while the body dials down slightly to medium/full and allowing a slightly sweet cocoa to enter the draw. The final third goes very heavy earthy on the draw with a cinnamon on the retrohale. Finishing at 1 hour and 15 minutes for a great burn time for a Robusto vitola and bringing in a medium nicotine strength.

Construction was impeccable with a razor sharp burn. The ash holds on about 1/2 the cigar at a time.

If you’re into fuller bodied cigars this is definitely one to check out. Bold and complex, this one left me wanting another puff. For best results, pair with a nice bourbon or a heavy, peaty Scotch. Rating: 4.75/5.

So that’s a wrap for today. Have you had either of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!

One Week Down

So I’ve completed the first week at my new job. Still don’t have my actual computer yet and my office is still under construction (to be completed toward the beginning of next week) but I’ve been working on a borrowed workstation for now.

After a two day weather delay, they finally got me my company phone and login credentials for the programs I’ll be using. Pumped out 4 lift plans today like the badass I am.

This place is leaps and bounds better. A cool boss, relaxed environment and actually feeling appreciated and recognized for my contributions feels so great. This really is going to be a much better fit for me and well worth the small tradeoff of getting up an hour earlier and a longer commute to/from work.

Again, I can already tell I’m going to be a much happier person here. A bad work life makes every aspect of your life bad – it’s a bleed-over effect. Breathing a sigh of relief.

To better days ahead!

 

Reblog: Sewing The Seeds, #TearsForFears #Compassion #1000Speak

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’ve leaned so heavily on their music over the years. So prophetic and ahead of its time. It’s almost like their words predicted the modern world.

Her Headache

“Time…to eat all your words…swallow your pride…open your eyes.”

I won’t include a link to TFF’s most well-known song: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, because I am sick of power and reckless lack of humanity.

As we show the next generation the way, we need to show them love, but too many of us won’t admit where we went wrong ourselves.

Though, (both love and hate, as movements/floods), can, instead, be seen as seeds sewn in each and every one of us given the right environment for such strong emotions.

Adults, those who are handed the positions of power and leadership, do your job and LEAD!!!

I am tired. I am not thinking all that straight. I just can’t…

I was pulled in two different directions on this night, just after February 20th, and of equal wonder, though firmly rooted in sadness for everything I wish could be different…

View original post 793 more words

First Day/Workplace Accommodations

So I started my new job today and I can already tell this is going to be so much of a better fit for me. In addition to being closer to home and thus closer to friends and family, my immediate supervisor is much more understanding of my unique challenges as an individual on the autism spectrum and thus much more willing to provide the necessary accommodations for me to be able to perform at my best.

The most notable thing he did was to put me in a very secluded office toward the back of the building. This will allow me the limited-distraction environment I need in order to be able to excel at my job. At my old job I had an office right in the main hallway and that was a linked to the conference room. Yep; one door went to the hall and the other to the conference room. As such, I had countless people cut through my office to get to the conference room as opposed to going through the lobby. In this new setting, hardly anyone will be able to barge in unannounced or unwelcome. As it will be out of the way, only if someone really needs to consult with me will be inclined to go out of their way to come visit with me in my office. As my job involves a lot of highly technical information and some intense mathematical calculations, the limited distraction environment is a must for me.

I really struggled in the beginning when I started doing drafting, not going to lie. My old company only provided me limited training and the rest I’m largely self-taught. When asked if adequate hands-on training would be provided for the new software I’ll be using, they said they’d absolutely be willing to provide that training. I’m not one who can learn by sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture. I have to get my hands dirty. There’s a disconnect between written/spoken word and doing for me.  I require a little bit of patience but I usually get something after a few repetitions of doing it myself (the first couple with a guide).

Of course, having a secluded office will also mean I can have a resistance band and a pair of dumbbells for me to do some light exercise throughout the day to get the blood flowing again. This is essential for me to remain focused and perform optimally.

As a side note, my new company has absolutely no problem with tattoos or piercings so that is not a worry for me. I know some companies are royal sticks in the mud about it but not this one. Glad to know there are a lot more forward-thinking companies out there who don’t judge one’s talent or ability by how he/she chooses to decorate his/her body. As I have more new ink planned in the near future (and maybe a new piercing or two – trying to decide if I have the nerve to get an industrial/bar on one or both sides), I can rest easy knowing whatever art I add to me will not be a cause for dismissal or a modified dress code.

Aside from working on a cold, I’d say it was a good first day at my new job. Once I adapt to the new routine (worst of which is getting up an hour earlier – my hours are 7-4 as opposed to 8-5). I’ll just have to adjust my sleep schedule to match.

Anyway, things are looking up for sure. Here’s hoping I settle in soon and that things will be much better for me moving forward.

Beer/Cigar Reviews – Avery Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porter & Padron 3000 Natural

Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews where we take a look at some notable (and some not-so-notable) beers and cigars. Let’s just jump right into it shall we?

Today’s beer selection is:

Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porter

This offering comes to us from Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado. It is, as the name suggests, a coconut porter aged in bourbon barrels. It weighs in at 10.4% ABV and an unspecified IBU and gravity rating.

Pours a dark brown color with a thin ring of tan head. Coconut and bourbon very up front on the nose supported by a roasted malt backbone and a hint of dark chocolate. Flavors follow the nose precisely with the coconut and dark chocolate up front (I’ve used this descriptor before but it’s apt – like a Mounds candy bar). The finish consists of a roasted malt and coffee finish under a distinct bourbon burn. Alcohol is well-hidden. Thick body with medium carbonation, this drinks way too easily and smoothly for its ABV.

Rich and dessert-like; this would go well with a variety of desserts. It paired very well with today’s cigar selection. Rating: 4.5/5.

And now for today’s cigar selection:

Padron 3000 Natural

I’ve reviewed a lot of the anniversary line Padrons but I don’t recall doing many, if any, of the lower-end series. That’s my fault entirely as the low-end Padrons are still great cigars that, while not as complex and transitional, still give you the prototypical Padron experience in a much more affordable package. As with all Padrons, this stick is a Nicaraguan Puro featuring all sun-grown tobacco and measures in at a 5.5″ x 52RG “Robusto-Plus” vitola.

First light revealed the typical open Padron draw producing plumes of medium-full bodied smoke. Earthy and peppery flavors out of the gate with a touch of aged tobacco mustiness.

Getting into the first third the pepper settles down a fair bit dialing the body down slightly to a solid medium. Flavors of a rich semi-sweet cocoa and a creamy coffee on the draw with a touch of the earthiness and pepper still on the retrohale. Consistent start to finish with the flavors melding together more throughout the cigar. Ending at 1 hour in for a solid burn time for the size and the strength matches the body at medium.

As is expected, the impeccable Padron construction with an absolutely razor-sharp burn and ash which holds on in solid 1/3 chunks. As mentioned before, though, I can’t get over these silly single caps (I’ve never had a problem flat cutting them but you do take a bit of a risk if stored less than optimally).

Though not the typical high-priced affair Padron is often associated with, this would be a good daily smoker at about $6.50/stick. I’ve smoked a lot of these but never done a review on it so I figured it was due time. A versatile cigar that’s easy to please and would pair well with a dark beer, red wine or a nice rum. Rating: 4/5.

That’s a wrap for today. Have you had either of today’s offerings? Let me know what you thought!