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Oh... So, What Kind of Gaita Should I Buy?

Good (and Frequently Asked) Question.

Basically there are four different things to decide: key, wood, fingering, and number of drones. They are (almost) independent.

The key
depends on who you want to play with. For playing with multi-instrumental folk ensembles probably D is the best choice: it is a popular key (e.g., the one used in most uilleann bagpipes and Irish flutes) and it is easy for a guitar player (either using standard or open tuning) and for a violin player. It is also adequate for solo or duet playing. Very brilliant. For accompanying singing, probably Bb or A is the best choice, due to its sweetness and the range. C is also very suitable for solo or duet, and is also a popular key for diatonic accordions -- in fact, C is the most common key in Galician bagpipes.

The wood
depends on the climate and which tone quality one wants. In general lines, the harder and heavy the wood, the brighter and incisive the tone, and the best response in dry / hot weather; the softer and lighter the wood, the sweeter the tone, and problems can appear in dry weather.

For this, I would not advice a hard wood (say, grenadillo) for a D chanter, for the D chanter is bright enough on its own. Violet wood, rose wood, boxwood are possible more adequate. A C chanter is a little bit sweeter than a D one, and so grenadillo (plus any of the aforementioned woods) is a also a good choice for that. And finally, what one wants for a Bb or A chanter is usually a mellow sound, so a light wood would be advisable -- but if you want for whatever reason play with other instruments in A or Bb, and you want a prominent sound, go for a harder wood. Usually (but not necessarily: you can order special combinations) the whole bagpipe is made of the same wood.

there are two types, closed and open. Little to say about that... the fact is that they give a different character to the music. Closed fingering allows performing the so-called "crossing noises" which are not perceived as an evil in Galician bagpiping (unlike in Scottish bagpiping), but as something one can use to imprint a personal touch to your playing. Probably open fingering is gives clearer melodies, and some cross-fingered notes are commonly allowed by open chanters.

Number of drones:
one (bass drone), two (added middle drone), three (added high drone, which can give two different notes, depending on the reed). Since you can turn them off, three drones is the more complete option, and you loose nothing.

next up previous contents
Next: Care Up: Galician Bagpipes Previous: What Does it Look