Tune your Bagpipes With a Chromatic Tuner


Tuning Your Bagpipes with the Korg Chromatic Tuner

One of the most frustrating things for pipers to learn is how to accurately tune their instrument. The drones must be precisely tuned to each other and also to the chanter. Each note of the chanter must be pitched so that it properly harmonizes with the constant background sound of the drones. All of this tuning can be done precisely with an accurately trained ear, but until that skill is developed a chromatic tuner can be used.

The Korg CA-40, CA-30, and TM-50 tuners can be calibrated to make the tuning of the bagpipe easier. Following the instructions below should allow even the most inexperienced player to set up a well tuned bagpipe.

Tuning the Chanter
Sound the low A on your chanter and note where it is tuning on the meter. Adjust the calibration buttons up or down until your low A is reading “0” on the meter. The green tuning light will also come on when your meter is in tune with low A.

Use the meter notes and offsets from “0” in the following table to tune the other notes of the chanter. Ensure that the meter is reading the correct “note” which will show up in the top right corner of the tuner. Notes “C” and “F” show up as “C#” and “F#” on the tuner.

Tuning Chart
If the top hand is sharp compared to the bottom hand, lift the reed slightly out of the chanter to bring the pitch of the top hand down. Add some hemp to the reed if necessary. If the top hand is flat to the bottom hand sink the reed further into the chanter. This will bring up the pitch of the top hand relative to the bottom hand. To flatten individual notes, add a piece of tape to cover the top of the first open hole on the chanter. Sharpening individual notes requires modification to the chanter reed or chanter and should only be done by experienced players.

Tuning the Drones
The drones are tuned to the low A on the pipe chanter. Sound low A on your chanter and adjust the calibration button until the meter reads “0”. Adjust the tuning on each of your drones until they are reading “0” on the meter also.

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