An innovative adjustable stock that allows less-experienced pipers to shut off the flow to their chanter with a twist, allowing them to practice tuning their drones, has been developed by Ayrshire Bagpipes of Troon, Scotland, and will hit the market in the next few weeks at a price of about £39.
Brian Mulhearn of Ayrshire Bagpipes said that idea for the stock came to him after years of teaching students to tune their pipes, struggling with blowing as they try, in his words, to "tune the beast."
The new stock allows the player to twist the stock and shut off air-flow to the chanter so that they can move to bring their drones in to line.
"As a teacher I get the greatest satisfaction, after months of lessons, in getting the pupil onto the bagpipe," Mulhearn commented. "Young learners strike up the pipe and are quite happy to be tuned up. However, older learners want to know how it's done for themselves."
Mulhearn says the Kwicktune stock "will help less experienced pipers tune their pipes quicker and more accurately by following a few steps" – blowing up the full instrument, shutting off the bass and one tenor, tuning the remaining tenor to the chanter, and then shutting off the chanter with a twist of the stick. The player then can more easily bring in the other drones and then put them in line with the tenor.
Mulhearn added that he has personally used the stock in solo competitions with good results, especially when one drone won't seem to come into tune.
Ayrshire Bagpipes last year debuted a new plastic solo chanter last year, developed with acclaimed solo piper Colin MacLellan, and priced as low as any on the market.
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Don't be afraid to modify or undercut holes to improve chanter intonation. It may seem extreme, but there would scarcely be a Grade 1 band that hasn't partaken in a spot of chanter renovation to beneficial effect.