Chris Apps’ reed advice: importance of the reed seat, and is my new reed a good ‘un?



How you seat your reed in your chanter is very important. Having a solid contact between chanter and reed will produce a vibrant sound and will be more stable.

Consequently, there must be just the right amount of hemp at the end of the reed. It must be firmly set at a height that produces a good low A to high A octave. If this height is not correctly set, some notes can easily move/buckle, causing instability. Too high in the reed seat and the E will most likely gurgle. Too low and the top hand notes will be very sharp.

What to look for when you receive your new reed: the colour, the shape, the sound?

Let’s be clear here. No reed maker is going to deliberately send you a bum reed. They want you to come back for more so it would be counterproductive for them to send out a dud.  Having said this, it’s rare that all the reeds you buy will behave exactly as you would like. But not liking the sound of your new reed is not sufficient reason to return it and ask for a refund.

So, when is it acceptable to send a reed back?  If there are any physical faults in the reed that were not caused by you. If it arrives with a chip out of the corner or a crack down the middle it should be replaced without argument or comment. 

If you just don’t like the reed because the strength isn’t quite right, or you the tone of the reed, that is not sufficient reason to send it back. Those are subjective issues that can be adjusted at home.

If you are unsure about your new reed, contact the company you purchased it from. They should be happy to speak with you. After all, they want your return custom.