Making reeds is an art, and it will take many attempts before you can make a good one.
I buy my raw cane from
They supply Arundo donax cane reed by the kilo, a kilo will last a very long time. I ask for 7mm to 7.5mm diameter. They are very good at sending the right size.
Phragmites australis is harder to get hold of and if you know of a supply please let me know.
There is much written about making reeds and this is the guide I used to start. I think it’s the best guide out there:
My Pibgorn reeds are about 50mm long with an approximate tongue length of 38mm and width of 6mm. I cut down no more than 1/4 of the depth of the whole reed, any further is too much. A good reed should make the note F, slightly lower or higher doesn’t really matter.
I do not scrape the reed tongue to make it work or to raise or lower the note. I make them so they should work without removing the natural protective layer.
Once the layer has been scaped away, they become very suseptible to moisture and harder to keep stable.
Instead of a cotton tuning bridle I use a small piece of plastic pipe which is the best for small adjustments or an 8mm rubber plumbers o-ring. The pipe can be bought from a brewing shop, a 10mm outside diameter normally does the trick.I cut the pipe about 1mm thick, the plumbers o-rings can be bought at any plumbing supplier or diy shop.
If the ends need sealing I use red sealing wax as it looks great and does the job
You can use thread to finish the reed seat end and use the whipping technique similar to the chanter tenon.
But I use insulation tape instead of thread. It puts less tension on the reed end, I have also seen Plumbers Mate tape used which works well but doesn’t look as nice.
If I use the chanter in a bag I prefer to make an upcut reed which moves the tongue hinge at the sealed end of the reed and away from the moisture. Most Swedish pipes use an upcut reed.
I have also had some success with plastic reeds but they are alot quieter.
Adjusting the reed.
All adjustments are minute, try very small adjustments at first, it will take time and practice to master.
Lifting the tongue lowers the note and narrows the scale this can be done by inserting a hair into the tongue and moving it down towards the bridle or raising the tongue using heat setting or the warmth from your hands. lowering the tongue raises the note and extends the scale, or move the bridle further towards the tip.
Adding beeswax to the tip of the tongue lowers the note and removing beeswax raises the note, Olle Gallo recommends scraping wood to raise the note, I do everything I can to prevent this, but scraping the tongue will raise the note.
If the interval between Do and So is too narrow.—Lower the tongue or move the hair towards the tip.
If the interval between Do and So is too wide—Lift the tongue or move the hair towards the root.
If top Do is flat to bottom do insert the reed further into the reed seat, which will raise both notes but the top note more, and if the top Do is sharp, pull the reed towards you out from the reed seat.
If a single note is too sharp we can lower that note by adding beeswax to the top of the hole.
I have recently been experimenting with quill reeds as there are some historical references to them being used instead of cane, at first it is very difficult to make a stable reed as the tongue is hugely smaller but have managed to now make stable ones, they are very loud and are not so effected by moisture having a natural protective coating, I find raw quills taken from swan or goose the best with swan being the largest and un seasoned seems quills to work the best, more to follow including pictures but interesting and suprising results.