August 31, 1999

A Ross Canister Bag technique

There’s little doubt that the Ross Canister Bag has been a revolutionary advancement for the great Highland bagpipe. From Grade 4 to professional, instruments are almost universally steady. A bagpipe that drifts substantially in mid-performance is almost unheard of today.

There are myriad options for configuration of the Ross system. The most common is simply to have all four hoses connected to each stock. Almost all players will opt to have all three drones to be connected. It’s the chanter connection that’s the most variable from player to player.

Some pipers who are drier blowers prefer to leave the chanter stock open. For them, connecting the chanter means not enough moisture to the cane chanter reed, which needs a certain amount of wetness to stay steady and reach peak performance.

But sometimes, because of the synthetic bag, the chanter becomes a bit too wet, especially in cool weather. It’s nearly impossible to reach a medium between too dry and too wet for those in-between blowers.

The chanter hose can be put to good use, though, by connecting it to the blowpipe stock so that moisture is directed to the back of the bag. Simply connect the chanter hose to the blowpipe stock and, instead of connecting the hose end to the canister, leave it open, pointed to the back of the bag.

In effect, this works similar to a tube water trap. The moisture that may collect at the back of the bag can be easily dried at the end of a playing session.

For those blowers who have a moderate but not excessive amount of wetness, using the chanter tube as an ersatz water trap can be an effective solution.


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