The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing (amazingly for February!) and so were the Northumbrian Smallpipes after some rather overdue ‘fettling’.
All piping (Uilleann, Northumbrian or otherwise) involves a certain amount of ‘fettling’ especially when the weather/seasons change, which can play havoc with your tuning if it happens suddenly and catches you unawares. Brass and metal work were polished, bores were oiled, bindings were re-hemped as required, and drone reeds tweaked, flicked and generally faffed with!
A day or two devoted to maintaining them every now and then is well worth the effort – you just have to be in the right mood to tackle the 17-key chanters with the polishing cloth…
Pictured above are my trusty Colin Ross Boxwood and brass 17-Key F set, and Andy May concert G chanter, and a lovely wee 16-Key G set by Dave McQuade in Blackwood and Nickel Silver. Both beautiful, but completely different beasts in tone and character. Dave McQuade taught me to play way back in the early 80’s so I am delighted and honoured to play a set that he has made.