Chanter Reeds

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chanter reeds

From left to right, reeds for both pipe chanters and practice chanters have evolved a great deal over the last 150 years.

Chanter reed selection can be tricky. The first thing to realize is that all chanters and reeds are a little bit different in the way they are constructed. What this means, simply, is that not all chanter reeds go well in all chanters. It’s important to know the make of chanter you play and to find out what reeds go best in it.

My chanter reeds are a little pricier than those of most retailers. That is because when you order your reeds and tell me the strength you want I sit down with my box of reeds and make sure you get reeds that go in your chanter at your desired strength.

You may have found in the past that when you order an easy reed it is still too hard for you. With my pipe-teaching experience, I’ve developed a good sense for the strength of reed that suits what the customer has asked for.

At the risk of being accused of trying to sell you more reeds, I want to suggest that you not order less than three reeds. Personally, all of my life I rarely ordered less than 6 for my own use. Reeds change when they are played, so it’s hard to predict how they will turn out once they are blown in. When I ordered my six, I invariably found one or two were absolutely brilliant and those two would last me the whole year. Would I have gotten those two if I had only ordered two?  Maybe, but who knows? But the shelf life of the rest was excellent.

You can order your reeds from the shopping cart below.

  • $20.50
    Chesney (Brass or Copper Staple)

    This Chesney is the workhorse in my reed stock. It’s the most versatile reed I know, and one of the best tonally. It goes in lots of chanters and the reed responds well to shaving. Some of you who order an extremely easy reed from me may notice that I’ve shaved one or two to get them to your desired strength. You have to select either the brass-stapled or the copper-stapled. The brass-stapled is the most versatile and is best for the hobby piper. The copper-stapled is generally a bit stronger, has a flatter top hand and is favoured  by many top bands. Band discounts are available.

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  • $20.50
    Chesney Solo

    The most popular reedmaker on the planet has ventured in a new direction with this blue-wrapped reed aimed at soloists.

    The company describes the reed as “providing the soloist with a reed that is rich, comfortable and free – yet also retaining full clarity. Designed using our own copper staple with a focus on also producing a solid Pibroch high G.”

    Personal playing experience with this reed suggests they have done just that.

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  • $21.50
    G1 Platinum

    Though designed specifically for the G1 Platinum chanter, this reed is finding its place in other chanters both for bands and soloists. Like the Warnocks it is a ridge-cut reed with an incredible response in the chanter. Very vibrant and very stable. Band discounts are available.

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  • $20.50

    Donald MacPhee grew up in Texas, but with strong South Uist roots through his father Sandy. He has since moved to Scotland where he makes one of the best reeds on the planet, particularly for soloists. Lots of the top guys are playing these, largely because of its crisp response, stability, and ability to go well in most of the leading solo chanters. Band discounts are available.

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  • $20.00
    R. T. Shepherd

    Bob Shepherd won two World Pipe Band Championship in the 1970’s with his upstart youth band, Dysart and Dundonald, and changed the direction of pipe bands. His business, R.T. Shepherd & Son, has been successful for decades. The Shepherd reed as been a stalwart of the reed market for both for bands and soloists since the 1980s. While they go perfectly in the Shepherd chanter, they also go well in many other chanter makes. Band discounts are available.

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  • $16.50
    Sounds Supreme (John Elliott, Ontario) – Moulded reed

    This is John’s ‘moulded’ reed. That is to say, it has no sharp, ridgecut shoulders. Moulded reeds are sometimes not as blatantly loud as the best ridgecuts, but they can provide a sweeter sound, and a great drone blend. Moulded reeds also tend to be more free of squeaks than ridgecuts. If you are a piobiareachd player, your best bet to get a stable piobaireachd high G is a moulded reed, and this is a good one. This is a good solo and band reed, and I recommend it more than any other for use in the McCallum C1 and C2 band chanter. Band discounts are available.

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  • $16.50
    Sounds Supreme (John Elliott, Ontario) – Ridgecut reed

    This is John’s ‘ridgecut’ reed, which has a bit more response and presence than his moulded reed. This is a good solo and band reed, and it goes well in a variety of chanters. Band discounts are available.

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  • $23.50

    Jim Higgins began making reeds in the 1980s and continues to make one of the leading reeds in the US. They are made very much in the old MacAllister tradition and behave in similar fashion. They are vibrant and stable and respond well to manipulation like squeezing the blades to ease the strength. Band discounts are available.

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  • $22.00

    Often called the Troy “MacAllister,” this moulded reed (not sharp-shouldered like the ‘ridgecuts’) was developed by the famous Shotts MacAllister family and was the reed of choice for bands through much of the 1970s and 80s. Jamie Troy of Victoria BC bought the business some years ago and he and his son JT have been making the Troy MacAllister reed ever since. It is extremely stable, sweet and smooth. Some of them are extremely strong, but I use a method that eases them up beautifully without compromising the tuning. If you’re a piobaireachd player, this reed has a great high G. For what it’s worth, this is the reed I play in my AURORA JM solo chanter. Band discounts are available.

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  • $10.50
    Frazer Warnock practice chanter reeds

    All McCallum practice chanters go out with a Frazer Warnock reed. They are full, in tune, vibrant and resilient.

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