Plug, play, safety squeeze: DC2 reed promises ease-of-use consistency

Published: August 9, 2014
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David Caldwell

He says it has been 20 years in the making, with painstaking research and development, and now David Caldwell’s DC2 chanter reed is poised to go to market, promising “plug-and-play” readiness, but with the ability to make strength adjustments with no loss in quality.

The Northern Ireland-based Caldwell’s DC1 chanter reed has already been on the market for some time, with the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band – in which Caldwell is a piper – playing them with success.

He said that the DC2 is “designed to be instantly playable within a few minutes while maintaining a very stable, well-balanced, bright sound. You can adjust the strength of the DC2 quite easily without losing any of the qualities associated with the reed. The reeds have also been played in a number of pipe chanters to ensure consistency and stability.”

Caldwell_DC2reeds_med

Caldwell DC2 reeds (top) feature a seamless brass staple; DC1 copper staple reeds shown below.

While the DC1 reed was a success particularly with top-level pipers, he said that the DC2 is “more flexible for all levels of expertise.” Caldwell said that the reed has been designed to work well in numerous makes of chanters.

The differentiating aspects of the new reed he said include blades precision profiled to work with a seamless brass staple that matches the tone of his copper staple DC1, and the ability to squeeze the blades at their centre to adjust weight and pitch with less risk of damaging the reed.

Caldwell said he will have samples available at the World Championships. He said that he will sell them directly from his own online business, and that in the coming months at least one dealer in each piping-rich country of the world will stock them.

Caldwell has set the price at £10 for each of the DC2 and DC1 model reeds.

As recently as the 1990s, the pipe chanter reed market was domintade by only two or three makers, namely McAllister, Shepherd and Warnock. Over the last two decades reed options for pipers and bands have exploded with dozens of craftsmen entering the market successfully. While competition has grown, average prices have nonetheless steadily increased, but with far better reliability and quality control in products.

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Pipers: Always ask yourself, Where has the reed been? Remember that all makes of pipe chanter reeds need a bit of moisture. To put some into it without a lick or a sook try the “heavy breath,” like when you want to “fog up” a window or your eyeglasses.
Donald MacPhee, reedmaker, Alexandria, Scotland

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