|In this section we provide the answers to some of the doubts and frequently asked questions received from clients over the years on a number of different subjects:
Tuning | Delivery and transportation | Mantenance | Others
If you do not find the answer to one of your questions or, if you would like further clarification on something in particular, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:
Telephone: +34 981 676 656 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. What is the difference between a drone reed high drone and a chanter reed high drone?
The main and most notable difference is the source of sound that gives each one its name.
The chanter reed high drone produces an intense sound which is characterised by the discords with neighbouring notes generated by the chanter as it is tuned in the chanter’s fifth.
The drone reed high drone produces a much smoother and melodic sound. It is also tuned in the fifth of the chanter albeit one octave lower, which produces an interval of four notes below the keynote, reducing discords to a minimum. This high drone was launched on the market by the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane in the 1980’s, after long term research and studies.
2. Why does the note in the third grade sound too low, compared to other instruments?
This is because this note is tuned in the natural scale so that it harmonises with the bass drone (keynote) and the high drone (dominant note). In order to achieve tempered tuning, you need to try positions 1 or 2 (see gaita fingering section).
3. What is needed to make a gaita tuned in C into one tuned in B Flat?
As well as changing the chanter, you will need to add a third (C-B Flat) to the drone and a special tenor drone cup, keeping the drone reeds tuned in C.
4. Sometimes, with the cold, I cannot manage to tune the gaita, it is too low.
In order to solve this problem, you can heat the chanter gradually and softly o use a smaller chanter reed. You can also roll some thread over the chanter reed plates. See ‘A very good trick’ in the ‘Basic suggestions on the touching up of the Chanter Reed’ section.
5. How can I find out the tone in which my gaita is tuned?
Covering all the tonal holes in the chanter, apart from the one that corresponds to the little finger in your right hand, the note generated is the one that matches the tone in which the gaita is tuned.
6. Can I use a tuner to tune my gaita?
Yes, as long as the deviations required for the natural tuning of the gaita are taken into account. If all notes are tuned to the centre of the scale, you will achieve the tempered scale although the drones will not be in tune with the chanter (see questions 3 and 12).
7. How can I learn more about natural tuning?
There is an article written by Carlos Real, Manuel Fernández and Xesús Vaamonde on the subject (in Spanish), titled ‘The Galician gaita’s tuning – natural scale or tempered scale?’ You can find it at www.arrakis.es/~jpresedo/afinacion.htm or on the Association of Galician Bagpipers’ website www.gaiteirosgalegos.com
8. Will any reed work with any chanter?
Obviously not. Each chanter tone should have a chanter reed made for that tone. In general, the deeper the tone, the bigger the chanter reed is. As a reference, a chanter reed for a chanter tuned in C measures around 34-35mm in length.
9. Is it good to moisten chanter reeds in alcoholic spirits before playing?
A chanter reed should have a certain amount of humidity to behave and function correctly, although this humidity does not have to be alcohol based. Some bagpipers carry a small bottle of chlorinated water to provide that level of humidity whilst safeguarding hygiene, especially if they are responsible for trying more than one chanter. If you live in an area with a mild climate, the required humidity can be achieved with the flow of air produced during the first ten minutes of instrument use.
10. How do you tune a gaita?
Begin with the chanter. Tune the keynote to perfection and follow the instructions for tuning and scale compensation which you will find in the ‘Basic suggestions on the touching up of the Chanter Reed’ section. Once tuned, put the chanter in its stock, inflate the bag and proceed to tune bass drone, covering the tenor and high drones if you have them. The tuning of the bass drone is carried out by making a tonal comparison to the chanter’s keynote. If you initially do not know whether the bass drone is too high or too low, open it or close it completely to ensure that it is high or low when compared to the chanter’s keynote. Then vary its length by using the tuning slides until the harmonics of the bass drone match the chanter’s keynote.
Proceed in the same way for the tenor drone. The method is the same for the high drone, apart from the note for comparison will be the note of the tone in which it was made.
After this initial tuning, it is advisable to play for a while and make adjustments if necessary.
If you have never tuned a gaita, it is recommended, with respect to the drones, to start with the tenor drone or high drone if they exist, as it will be easier to appreciate the harmonic differences with the chanter through these sound components.
11. What is tempering?
Tempering is the term used to describe the correct regulation of the pressure in the bag at all times, adjusting it according to the necessities of the sound components for correct tuning. Your arm is responsible for this pressure always being constant whether air is being blown into the bag or not. This means that, when air is being added through the blowpipe, your arm should compensate for the increase in pressure provided by your lungs, by squeezing the bag less and vice versa.
12. Is it acceptable to use adhesive tape to correct the tuning for one note?
It is permissible as a compromise or to achieve a specific result at a given time. However, it is better to use an appropriate chanter reed and adjust it to the chanter as explained in the ‘Basic suggestions on the touching up of the Chanter Reed’ section.
Delivery and transportation
1. What is the delivery time for a gaita?
It depends on the chosen model and any chosen extras but, on average, it takes approximately three months.
2. Is the gaita adequately packaged for transport by land, sea or air?
All gaitas leave the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane in a carry case and packaged in a made to measure cardboard box.
3. I travel by air a lot and would not like to have to check in my gaita. Do the measurements of the Seivane carry case meet the size limits imposed by airlines for hand luggage?
1. How can you tell if the bag is losing air?
First of all, remove all the sound components from their stocks, leaving the blowpipe and insert corks into the stocks to stop air escaping. Next, fully inflate the bag and squeeze it with your arm. If you notice a sudden decrease in the amount of air stored in the bag, it would suggest that there is a loss somewhere.
2. How can I clean the gaita cover?
You should dry clean it, at a dry cleaner’s.
3. Can I use common silver cleaning products for the silver decoration on my gaita?
Yes, but you should be careful not to touch the wood; You can also use the special cloth designed for cleaning silver, which comes with your gaita.
4. How are the gaita’s corks lubricated?
The best thing is Seibo, a product manufactured by the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane. However, you can also use sheep’s or goat’s fat.
5. Can I use Vaseline on the corks?
It is not advisable as it will end up drying the corks and making them hard. Use Seibo, or sheep’s or goat’s fat.
6. I have a goat’s skin gaita bag which loses some air. What can I do to avoid this?
Remove all tubes from their stocks and insert a cork into each one. Remove one of the corks and insert a small amount of neat's foot oil into the bag and re-insert the cork. Spread the oil evenly around the bag rubbing both internal sides together from the exterior. Remove the excess oil and re-inflate the bag fully, inserting corks into each stock once more. Leave it like this overnight and check if the air loss has ceased.
Neat's foot oil has always been used by tanners and leather workers to soften skins and block their pores. You can find it at their establishments.
7. My gaita will not be used for a few months. What should I do to protect it in the best possible way?
The best method is to dismantle the gaita completely so that, as much as possible, the corks recover their initial elasticity. Remove the chanter reeds and drone reeds and ventilate the bag to dry its interior properly. Once you are certain that there is no humidity, wrap the pieces up separately to avoid them being scratched and store them in their protective carry case.
1. Is it possible to order gaitas with ivory ring caps?
Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane does not want to make gaitas with ivory rings because ivory is included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which covers one hundred and sixty countries and lists twenty five thousand plant species and five thousand animal species in their appendices. However, a substitute can be used (synthetic ivory).
2. I live in Madrid, in a dry climate area. Is a boxwood gaita advisable?
We would recommend a granadilla gaita, because boxwood is more sensitive to extreme climates. It does not mean that you cannot have a boxwood gaita in Madrid, as long as you are scrupulous in your care and maintenance, but perhaps granadilla or cocobolo would be better.
3. I am planning to go to Galicia in a few months. Is it possible for me to visit the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane and order a gaita there directly?
Yes, the workshop can be visited, always through a prior appointment given by email or telephone (see the information in the ‘Contact Us’ section). You can also order gaitas in person at the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane.
4. We are a group who would like to visit the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane. How far in advance should we make ask for an appointment and how many of us can go?
You should let us know fifteen days in advance and you may bring a maximum of thirty people.
5. Is it possible to engrave a name in the gaita that I want to order? How about a drawing made by me?
Yes, it is possible to personalise a gaita with a name, surnames or artistic name. In the case of a drawing, it needs to be in a digital format, preferably in vectors.
6. I was given some boxwood that has already been cut some years ago. Can I use it to have a gaita made at the Obradoiro de Gaitas Seivane?
Yes, always when the wood meets our requirements and the level of quality that we insist upon.