Oliver Seeler's
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The Practice Chanter:
Water Trap


Dunbar's  Water Trap
The water trap,
next to the reed-cap of a J. Dunbar Ltd
Extra-Long (22") Practice Chanter

As a practice chanter is played, warm moist air from the piper's lungs passes through the blowpipe/reed-cap, through the reed and finally exits through the chanter itself. Spit also tends to get into this act. Depending on the humidity and temperature and to some extent the physiology of the piper, more or less moisture will condense and collect inside the reed cap of the instrument and on the reed. If left to accumulate too long during play this can interfere with proper operation of the reed, so clearing it out periodically is desirable. This is made easier if there's a water trap, and Dunbar has now designed one that simplifies this chore which otherwise might require opening the practice chanter, which can be a bit messy and during which there's always the danger of dinging the reed.

The new water trap consists of a machined nylon plug-like structure fitted with an O-ring (see photo above). The O-ring keeps the trap in place up in the reed-cap, above the top of the reed, and of course also provides a seal. The body is hollow and has a hole in its side above the O-ring. Water accumulates between the outside wall of the trap and the inside wall of the reed cap. The water is emptied by simply inverting the chanter.

The trap is installed by simply inserting it into the reed-cap in the orientation shown in the above picture and pushing it in with a blunt rod - say a capped pen. A very little Vaseline or such on the O-ring will make installation easier.

Important: Be sure it goes all the way in - otherwise it may not clear the tip of the reed and crush it when you put the chanter back together. If you have any doubts, take the obvious measurements before reassembling the chanter.

The trap can be removed, should that ever be desired, by pushing it out from the blowpipe end with a suitable smaller-diameter rod. (Be careful not to stab yourself when it pops out.)

This accessory water-trap can be a useful addition to the chanter, but it is not something essential and we're not going to tell you that you've got to have it. One reason some people have more water trouble than others is caused by how the tip of the blowpipe is held in the mouth. If you have the opening right between your lips, you're making a funnel for spit to run down. Also, eventually you'll not be able to handle the higher pressures of a bagpipe with such a location. You want the tip of the blowpipe past your teeth, hovering in the empty space below the roof of your mouth, away from touchng anything (and keep your tongue away from it). This will minimize or eliminate "water" running into the chanter, though there will still be moisture carried in vapor from your breath. Water vapor condenses, and the colder the chanter the more condensation will occur; keeping your chanter in a warmer location, when possible, can help. People seem to vary quite a bit in how much water vapor is carried in their exhaled breath.

Be aware that this water trap will only fit the Dunbar Millennium 2000 practice chanter, the one that comes with the outfits we offer here. This chanter may or may not have "Millennium 2000" inscribed on it. It is otherwise identifiable by being 22 inches long, and by the enlarged bore extending a couple of inches below the fingerholes. If you have another model Dunbar practice chanter, the trap won't fit.

The water trap, installed or loose, is US $12.00. If you want to add it later, the price is the same but add another $2.00 for postage.


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Copyright 2003, Oliver Seeler,