New player enters the chanter reed market
There’s a new player on the pipe chanter reed market, and it’s a name familiar to many. Greig Canning of Fife, Scotland, has turned what he describes as a “lockdown project” into a part-time business, and he already has notched a professional solo win by a satisfied customer.
Canning is a veteran pipe bandsman, currently a piper with reigning World Champions Inveraray & District and the former and last pipe-major of the now defunct Grade 1 Dysart & Dundonald. He’s also had good success on the UK solo piping scene.
He has worked in the past with R.T. Shepherd & Son Bagpipe Makers doing “everything but reedmaking,” he said, and while competitions were on hiatus due to the coronavirus he applied what he has seen and used throughout his piping career into teaching himself through trial and error how to make pipe chanter reeds. He’s now selling them through his Castle Bagpipes company for £12 each.
“I started out trying to design and make reeds in my spare time as a bit of a lockdown project,” he said, “purely for my own satisfaction and learning. I have previous experience of working with cane from my time at RT Shepherd & Son, but I had never actually ‘tied in’ a reed, despite having a good working knowledge of the processes necessary.”
I wanted to make a departure from the sanded style of reed to incorporate my own ideas that I felt would make a reed that had a different feel and response.
In an increasingly crowded market, Canning needed to stand out somehow.
“I wanted to make a departure from the sanded style of reed to incorporate my own ideas that I felt would make a reed that had a different feel and response,” he added. “I was used to reeds being made with a brass tube staple, and cane that has been sanded. I decided to move away from this and go back to the handmade idea of making the reeds with very sharp blades and chisels, with a rolled copper staple. Before I knew it, I was buying more and more machinery and getting involved in the design and engineering of the required tooling, to ensure that I could make something that had consistent manufacturing processes.”
Canning continues his work as a piping teacher at Lochgelly High School and other local schools in the Kingdom of Fife, and the reeds have caught on enough to provide part-time income.
“Fast forward 12 months and I now have the capacity to manufacture reeds for sale,” Canning continued. “I think the key to taking this next step was to be happy with the consistency of the product, and I have to say that I am very happy with the feedback I am getting from pipers who have the reeds.”
He’s the second Canning to be in reedmaking, with Ryan Canning (no relation) a long-established maker of synthetic drone reeds. Greig Canning also has competition within his own band. John Elliott, owner of G1 Reeds, also plays with Inveraray, as does Rory Grossart, whose MG chanter reeds and White Mamba MG drone reeds are widely played.
Toronto-based Sean McKeown has been playing Greig Canning’s chanter reeds, and recently won the Professional Piobaireachd in the PPBSO’s first online competition, playing “Lament for the Children.” Here’s McKeown’s performance:
Canning leaves Dysart & Dundonald; search on for P-M
August 20, 2013