David Locky's Product Reviews

  • Gilmour Chanter Reeds Excellent in many chanters, February 21st, 2014
    I have used these with great success in a Shepherd MKIII, Dunbar Elite II, and a McCallum Bflat chanter. As a beginner, I appreciate their balance and ease of set-up. I had to do some minor sanding to get my Easys manageable, but they remained very stable afterwards. I will buy these again.
  • Shepherd Chanter Reed A great reed for many chanters, February 21st, 2014
    I used this reed successfully in a Dunbar Elite II and, of course, a Shepherd MKIII. I liked it as much as my Gilmour until I stored it improperly and it got moldy. As with the Gilmour, I had to sand the Shepherd Easy a little to bring it down to my beginner strength but it remained very stable. Recommended.
  • HBT3 Highland Bagpipe Tuner A great portable tuner, particularly for beginners, February 21st, 2014
    As a beginner I've only used one tuner, this one, and I find it very useful. It is nice and small and works relatively well. I say relatively because it takes a while to get used to the sensitivity of the needle, even in the less sensitive mode. That said, I leave it on for up to an hour at a time while tuning and taping my chanters and then blowing tunes and it is an excellent reference for your tuning. I think it has improved my playing as it lets me know if I am over or underblowing. As a beginner, this tuner has allowed to become relatively proficient at setting a reed and tuning it with tape. This pedagogical aspect is well worth the price -- it's a lot more than a standard chromatic but takes the guess work out of tuning. Of special note is the excellent colour change from amber to green when you're tuning -- very handy! It has an excellent range and I have seen a high G occassionaly go into the low 500s with a wonky reed. It works well on both drones and the chanter but I don't find the included microphone all that useful. It is very sensitive to where you place it. The buttons and interface are very easy to use -- did I mention the awesome 'green when in tune' feature? It is very simple to use. All in all, this is a great portable tool for the bagpipe -- I don't know how a beginner piper could get away without something like this -- highly recommended.
  • Piper's Pal Reed Protector A must have in dry climates, February 21st, 2014
    This is a must have in dry climates. My start-up time has decreased markedly after I started using it. Should likely have a few of these but they are not cheap. The Pipers Pal reed case might be a good alternative. Great product -- nice Canadian innovation!
  • Dunbar Practice Chanter Nice, beefy, and well-tuned!, February 21st, 2014
    I love my Dunbar Millenium. It must be the beefiest practice chanter our there and feels great in-hand. The tone is quite true, in my opinion, and works well with a Walsh or Pipe Dreams plastic reed. I use one the foam rings to soak up moisture. I use a light beeswax-type lubricant to make assembling and disassembling the chanter easier. Highly recommended!
  • Drone Stoppers Perfect and Affordable, February 21st, 2014
    These work perfect and are very affordable. I bought two sets because I suspect one or two will walk away...
  • Waxed Black Hemp Beefy and very waxy, February 21st, 2014
    Very beefy hemp, at least compared to the waxed yellow. It appears to be almost too waxy, and indeed, it is more grippy than the yellow. I use it on my drone tuning pins because I don't like to see the yellow hemp on the black pins! Works well on chanter stocks, too.
  • Waxed Yellow Hemp Works well, February 21st, 2014
    This hemp works well and I use it in places that are 'hidden'. It is less 'greasy' or waxy than the black and of a finer guage. It is easier to use than the black on chanter reeds.
  • Stock Stoppers Perfect and Affordable, February 21st, 2014
    Perfect and Affordable -- recommended.
  • Mouthpiece Protector Saving my teeth - recommended, February 21st, 2014
    I am a beginner and a biter -- they are saving my teeth on my PC, GHB mouthpiece, and smallpipe mouthpiece. Fairly durable and flavourless - recommended.
  • Reed Protector Plastic Great., February 21st, 2014
    I got the McCallum version when I ordered an it looks quite nice with some decorative turning and such. It works very well, too -- it can even fit on my smallpipes chanter. That said, it feel flimsy compared to my tank-like Dunbar reed cap!
  • Dunbar DB2 Bagpipes Love the Henderson Tone, Craftsmanship, & Low Maintenance!, February 21st, 2014
    I love my Dunbar P2Cs -- they look beautiful with their fine turning and have enough bling with the celtic engraving and artificial ivory to satisfy me )at this point) -- the workmanship is excellent
  • Dunbar P2 Bagpipes Love the Henderson Tone, Craftsmanship, & Low Maintenance!, February 21st, 2014
    I love my Dunbar P2Cs -- they look beautiful with their fine turning and have enough bling with the celtic engraving and artificial ivory to satisfy me (at this point) -- the workmanship is excellent, and everything fits together nicely. There appear to be a number of versions of Dunbar (poly and ABW) out there with respect to the beading and combing. The ones I have are the model with the two-line scribe marks on a small unturned area on the drone tuning area. This is the best design, IMHO, and is the one Henderson used off-and-on from the 1920s to the 1960s -- very distinctive. I love the tone and harmonics of these pipes! It doesn't matter if I am using a Bflat chanter around 466 or a band chanter closer to 480 -- the harmonics are absolutely sublime. Many shun poly pipes but that is undeserved, IMHO. I have played ABW Nails, Gibsons, and 1940s Robertsons, and while those are top notch, lovely-sound pipes, I would not trade their tone for the tone of my Dunbars -- I suppose I am a Henderson man. These pipes tune easily and lock-in nicely and stay there. I love my pipes, and although I may someday get some ABW pipes, it will not be to replace my Dunbar P2Cs -- these are keepers. Beautiful, excellent workmanship, deep, rich Henderson tone, and virtually maintenance free -- what's not to like? Highly recommended!
  • Stock & Drone Brush Effective and good quality, February 22nd, 2014
    These look like they are good quality and they are effective at swabbing out my drones.
  • Chanter Brush Good quality and works well., February 22nd, 2014
    This appears to be of good quality and works well in my chanters.
  • Bannatyne Synthetic Pipe Bag with Zipper Very Good, February 22nd, 2014
    Mine came with my used pipes and was over three years old at the time. It was played regularly in a band during that period and to me there appears to be absolutely no wear or tear. The zipper is still completely air tight and the bag looks new. Since mine is an older bag, the moisture control system in it consists of an elbow and a synthetic soft tube with a nylon-like material on the outside, a fibrous-like material on the inside, supported by an internal plastic coiled wire. I am a wet blower and so far so good for moisture control. I just open the bag up after playing and pull the hose end out to dry. I recently played some pipes with a Ballantyne with the hide exterior and it is indeed more comfortable and a little less slippery. When my current Bannatyne goes I will likely purchase the hide version with the zipper. Until then, this is a rock solid basic bag with the convenience of a zipper -- highly recommended.
  • Bagpiper Case Looks Good!, February 22nd, 2014
    This is a great-looking pipe bag that is very versatile. The quality looks very good and there are many unique features. I can fit my GHB and a set of smallpipes in with some room to spare. It great reduces the weight of carrying your kit and is good for travelling or even walking a few city blocks -- my wooden pipe major case is hard on the hands after two blocks. That said, I can see use for both cases, the pipe major case providing the most reliable protection and the Bagpiper is the best for travelling, and hopefully, air travel.
  • Pipe Major's Case Heavy but Excellent Protection and Utility, February 22nd, 2014
    This is a rock-solid pipe case that provides excellent protection for your pipes. The extra storage at the end is fantastic for organizing all your small supplies. Mine was over three years old when I got it with my used pipes and it is still in excellent condition, despite have some dings and scrapes. I like the black exterior and the grey fuzzy interior, which is easy on the pipes. As menioned, it us well built and can seat an adult without difficulty -- I trust my pipes in here. There are numerous brass corners, etc. that keep the case up off of damp surfaces. I use it on the bus in winter and and the brass bits keep the case off of salt and crud on the floor. The handle is rock solid, too. There is lots of space in both compartments and I can fit my GHB and a set of smallpipes in with much room to spare in the main compartment. Warning, if you are walking for any distance and your case is full, your hands will be sore. A shoulder strap would help but the case would require additional brass L-brackets, like the version sold at Hendersons. Also, this case could not be checked on an airplane as carry-on. A soft or semi-soft backpack style case would fit the bill for those purposes. I will use the Bagpiper case for walking great distances or travelling by air. I can see use for both cases, the pipe major case providing the most reliable protection and the Bagpiper is the best for travelling, particularly air travel. I highly recommend the Pipe Major case.
  • Kinnaird Carbon Fibre Drone Reeds Great Reeds For Poly Dunbars, February 21st, 2014
    I switched out some three-year Crozier carbons that were acting up for these reeds and have, overall, been happy. I like the tone and harmonics with my Dunbar poly P2Cs just a little better than the Croziers, but the Croziers also have a solid tone. They will be a great back up after they're cleaned up. Back to Kinnairds, my Easy set were not plug and play. In fact, none of the three would play out of the box at all. It took quite a bit of adjusting the elastics and cone screws to get them to actually fire up and not cut-out. Right now the elastics are just below the lowest mark, with not much room left for adjustment. With a selection of standard mid to high 70s chanters, the drones tune well below the hemp, even with the screws unscrewed almost all out. With a Bflat chanter the drones are about 3/4 inch above the hemp, so no problem. With my Crozier carbons the drones were tuning about 1/4 inch above the hemp. Perhaps the issues I had and the low tuning pin issue could be solved with standard reed tongues but for now I am enjoying the tone.
  • Technochanter 2G by Fagerstrom Vastly multiplies practice opportunities, February 21st, 2014
    This device vastly multiplies one's opportunities to practice, and the simulated drones are a nice touch that help to spice a practice session up. Good earbuds make a difference. Crossing noises are very clear, but make sure your hands are moist or use some handcream to hydrate -- this device will not work with dry hands. The drones are nice but still a little digital sounding. Be aware that on the GHB setting some grace notes almost cannot be heard at all with some combinations. I switch to the smallpipes setting if I am focussing on grace, as they are clearer in that mode. Re battery life, I don't think I would get the stated 10 hours on one AAA, but it is not bad. Re ergonomics, finger spacing is good relative to a long practice chanter but I would prefer a beefer housing, more closely duplicating a real chanter. I would like to see the day when the electronics in this are integrated into a more tapered design -- why not pair with a chanter manufacturer? On the topic of ergonomics, as a beginner I can see that too much practice on this device diminishes my tactile sense on a practice or pipe chanter. Make sure you're using your practice chanter or practice on your pipes. I have played my instructor's Ross electronic chanter and while I like the large buttons on the stick, plus the integrated speaker, I do not like the large box on top! The Fagerstrom is better. Overall, this device has been very favourable in increasing my ability to learn tunes and play the pipes -- highly recommended!
  • Hearing Protection Ear Plugs OK, but..., February 21st, 2014
    I recommend these with a couple of caveats: 1) They only offer ~20dB of protection so it still seems a little loud to me sometimes -- I prefer a little more protection and as often as not, defer to the 30dB orange foamies -- it is harder to tune but slightly more comfortable. 2) These take a bit of getting used to -- they are tricky to get and to get out! Sometimes they cause a little pain when you fidget with them. I recommend them but honestly, they are more suited to a quieter instrument and I would say are perfect for playing fiddle -- I use them all the time with that instrument.
  • Chanter Tape OK, but..., February 21st, 2014
    It seems to work OK but I don't like the flat and rough exterior. Electrical tape does not hold as well, can get stickly, but blends in better with my chanter.
  • Crozier Carbon Fibre Drone Reeds Great Reeds For Poly Dunbars, February 22nd, 2014
    These reeds came with my used Dunbar P2Cs and I really like the rich and bold tone they offer (and they're purple!). They were in the pipes for over three years and require a little fine-tuning to get rid of some double-toning in one tenor. I suspect a good cleaning is in order. Otherwise, they strike-in easily and cut-off cleanly. As noted, they are a good match with respect to harmonics and tone with the Dunbar Henderson-like drones. I have since switched to Kinnaird Carbon fibre reeds, mostly as an experiment and to have two sets of drone reeds. I think I slightly prefer the tone of the Kinnairds but in comparison they appear a little more difficult to set up, even finnicky. That said, the Kinnairds are a little more bolder in tone, likely related to the bass reed (and they are also brand new). Crozier Carbons (and Kinnairds) sound great in Dunbars and I would recommend them.
  • Reed Absorb Works well, February 22nd, 2014
    These are really useful and convenient. Before these I was using pieces of paper towel -- not very nice after the fact... Be advised that they balloon out to about close to 10X their size when wet! When dry they maintain that size and just turn hard -- playing re-wets them quickly. I still need to empty out my chanter after about a half hour of playing, so don't expect these to sop it all up -- however, I highly recommend these.
  • Moose Valve Great Valve, Poor Water Trap, May 27th, 2014
    This is a nicely engineered blowpipe (stock) valve but it fails at any real moisture control in the form of a water trap. Only a 'bit' of foam is collected and that needs to be emptied very regularly as the collection space is minimal. Installed as a water trap, i.e., low in the blowpipe stock, it is incompatible with moisture control systems that require the insertion of an elbow to attach a sleeve or hose and bottle/jar. I could only recommend this as an expensive blowpipe valve.