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A Short Guide to Gibson Fireside Pipes

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Click here to view Gibson Firesides and other small pipes.

Before You Play

Your pipes have been set up and tested by us before shipment. Before you play, check that the reeds are securely installed, as they may have come loose during shipment.

Blowing

Fireside pipes are much easier to blow than Highland pipes, and it may take a bit of practice in order to achieve the ideal pressure.

Blowpipe Valve

The valve is a simple flapper valve and may have to be replaced eventually. Smaller valves made specifically for the Firesides are available.

Pipe Bag

Firesides come with a synthetic pipe bag, which requires no special maintenance.

Care of Your Drones

Like any other bagpipe, Fireside pipes should not be exposed to extremes of temperature. Examples of this would be leaving them in a car on a summer's day or letting them dry out in the winter months. Less than 40% humidity is the danger zone and if left uncared for in this climate your drones, could develop cracks. We strongly recommend that you invest in a case humidifier.

Oiling

Oiling the drone bores lightly once or twice during the minter months should be sufficient to protect your drones. You can apply oil to the bores with a narrow brush.

Hemping

We do not recommend the use of waxed hemp on Fireside tuning pins. These parts are very delicate and can easily break if over-hemped. We find that 100% cotton thread is perfect for the tuning pins as it is easy to apply a very fine amount at a time. Broken tuning pins are not covered by the warranty.

Air Regulator Valves

The air regulator valves fit into the small stocks that are tied into the bag. The drones can be shut off and turned on by rotating the air regulators. If the drones do not shut off check that the air regulator is seated all the way down into the bottom section. You will notice that the joints of the bottom and top sections have been smeared with wax. We find that soft beeswax from a toilet bowl ring works very well. This can be purchased from any hardware store. It is important that you keep the air holes in the regulators free of this wax, or your drones will not function properly.

Reeds

Regular practice chanter reeds are not recommended for use in the Fireside pipes. We only recommend reeds manufactured by Gibson Bagpipes. These have been specifically designed to operate at the required pitch and pressure. The reeds are relatively simple to work with. Each reed is identified as C = Chanter, B = Bass, T = Tenor and BR = Baritone.

Tenor Drone Reed

This reed should be slightly stronger than the Bass and Baritone. However, it should not growl or squeal. This means it is too strong. This can be remedied by very lightly sanding the top half of the blade of the reed. Do this a little at a time and test in the pipes after each adjustment. If you find the drone sound fluctuates it is probably too weak and the reed should be replaced.

Baritone Drone Reed

The baritone drone requires the weakest reed and can be manipulated in the same way as the tenor reed.

Bass Drone Reed

If you find your bass drone reed unsteady it is probably too strong. Try sanding as described for the tenor reed. If you sand too much try clipping about a thumb nails width off the length of the blades.

Chanter Reed

The strength of the chanter reed will govern the overall strength of the instrument. The drones should be set to the strength of this reed. If you find the chanter reed growls easily or squeaks it is too strong. Sand lightly until the growl is gone.

Reeds General

Make very small adjustments and test in the pipes before making further adjustments. All the reeds in your pipes will open up over time. Like all good small pipe reeds, this is their nature. Learn to make small adjustments, and your reeds will perform well for you for a long time.

Pressure

Unlike Highland pipes you will not need to "strike in" the Fireside drones. Just blow them up. If on doing this you get a squeak from one of the drones, simply apply a little more pressure. Take care not to over-blow. Test Low A with High A for a good octave. We do not advise that you make any adjustments to the reeds until you are certain that you are blowing steadily and at the correct pressure.

If you have difficulty finding the optimum pressure we recommend under-blowing until you hear the chanter "gurgle". The required pressure will then be achieved by increasing pressure very slightly until the chanter sounds proper. This may take some practice.

Tuning

Fireside pipes can be tuned in the same way as Highland pipes. The baritone is a fifth harmonic and therefore the note it produces is E. Once your tenor and bass are tuned just bring the baritone in until it sounds right. It will take time for your ear to tune in to the pitch of the baritone drone. Make sure that you are blowing steadily before making any adjustments to your reeds.

Keys

Your Ceilidh pipes are either in the key of A or the key of Bb. If you have A Firesides, your A should be the same as that on a piano. Your low A being at the third octave. The Low A should be 440Hz. The chanter scale differs from a major A scale because it has a flattened 7th (High G). The pipe scale is made up of one full octave with the 7th flattened plus one note below (Low G). Your notes from lowest to highest are as follows:

LowG - LowA - B - C# (# = sharp) - D - E - F# - HighG - HighA

If you have Bb Firesides your notes from lowest to highest are:

Low G = G#, Low A = Bb, B = C, C = D, D = Eb, E = F, F = G, High G = G#, High A = Bb.



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