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Chris has built up a wealth of experience working with and setting up nearly every make of bagpipe. This coupled with Chris’s introduction to engineering in his first employment has allowed him to develop what he believes to be a superior line of products.


Chris is the Pipe Major of ScottishPower Pipe Band - a band which regularly rank among the top 3 bands in the world. His Pipe Major experience at the very top level and his years of pipe band playing has allowed him to amass a wealth of knowledge and insight in to the conditions and demands pipers place upon their instruments. His extensive pipe band back experience,  alongside his impressive track record in the solo piping scene, means that Chris knows what it takes to produce a top class sounding instrument and he has used this knowledge to aid in the design of his products. All of this means that you can have complete confidence in the both the service and quality of X-TREME bagpipe products.


Achievements

Winning the Bratach Gorm in 2007
Overall Champion Piper at the Scottish Piping Society of London in 2007
First in the Former Winners MSR at the Argyllshire Gathering in 2001 and 2011
First in the A grade MSR at the Northern Meeting in 2001
First in the MSR at the PM Donald MacLeod Memorial Invitational 2002
Runner up in the Former Winners MSR at the Northern Meeting twice
Overall champion in 2002 and 2003 at the Cowal Highland Gathering
In 2003 he won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting

X-TREME DRONE REEDS

There are two versions of X-TREME Drone Reeds - Standard and Premium - both precision engineered to exacting standards making them extremely air efficient. 


The design profiles a carbon fibre tongue which will give you a tailored, stable and rich tone. The Premium version comes with the added benefit of being moisture resistant, and this is due to the hydrophobic nature of the material from which they are manufactured. 

X-TREME drone reeds have been engineered and tested extensively in a wide variety of bagpipes. Varying bore sizes between different makes of bagpipes and individual chanter reed strengths mean you may need to make slight adjustments to achieve the best results. The instructions are available here to view on-line or download. Please read them before attempting to make any adjustments to the reeds. These instructions are applicable to both versions of X-TREME drone reeds.


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I found the X-TREME Premium Drone Reeds to be very professionally designed and made to the highest standards. Having played them in my pipes they were very easy to manage, plug in and play with a very rich, steady sound. I would highly recommend these drone reeds to anyone.
— Callum Beaumont
These reeds were very easy to set up in my pipes. They are easy to tune, take minimum air and stay in tune. The quality of sound is excellent and I would recommend these reeds for any level of piper.
— Margaret Dunn

REVIEWS

For this month’s product review we have chosen Chris Armstrong’s X-treme drone reed range. This is a relatively new product to the piping world but don’t let that bring any thoughts of uncertainty. It has been played and put to the test at the very highest level of piping and performs very well.

Fitting is simply as you would fit any other drone reed; hemping to suit different bore sizes applies. Although there are many synthetic drone reeds on the market the unique design of the X-treme drone reeds sets it out from the crowd. The basic principle of the drone reeds is the same, with an adjustable screw at the bottom of the drone reed to alter pitch.

These reeds are constructed using a hydrophobic material, which is moisture resistant. After playing, the reeds can be dried simply by taking the drones out of the stocks and allowing them to dry naturally.

Prior to this review I tested the two different types of drone reeds that Chris produces, the Standard and the Premium. I found them very easy to set up – essentially it was a case of ‘plug and play’ with a slight adjustment to suit my bagpipe.

The reeds are very stable and produce a solid, robust sound. The drones are easily locked in and after an hour of playing I had no moisture issues whatsoever.

First class product. Marks out of 10: 9/10.

• Double Gold Medallist and Pipe Major of Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band, Dougie Murray is the proprietor of Kilberry Bagpipes in Edinburgh.
— Dougie Murray

Note - This review is published here with the kind permission of Dougie Murray and The College of Piping. You can find this and more in the Piping Times; Vol. 68, No.4 January '16


My X-TREME Premium reeds arrived in a very attractive, slick cylindrical box about 5 inches in length, 2 inches in diameter, matte black finish, with the words “Chris Armstrong X-TREME Carbon Fibre Tongue Bagpipe Drone Reeds” in white and gold lettering, all looking very tailored and well made. This is very strong marketing and branding stuff, to be sure.

With some mouth blowing of the reeds in the drones, some adjustments were made for pitch, volume and tuning uniformity, and then into the bagpipe with the chanter stock corked so I could get a sense of the drones only. I put the pipe together, which in this case means fitting the Lawrie drones into the Ross bag with canister set-up that I use for them, but without putting the chanter in. Strike-in was a slight issue until I moved my hand to the rear of the bag and used a somewhat smart strike to the bottom of it. Problem almost solved. I believe that even synthetic reeds mature and benefit from playing, and I’d expect the strike-in issue to disappear with a few hours of playing.

Then, in the process of blowing up to the full pressure one would use, there was a satisfying “motor bike rumble” from the drones as they went up to pressure. This is always a good sign in my experience. I don’t have the technical knowledge to explain this, but it seems to me that reeds that do that are showing you that they can produce the full range of harmonics that we all seek.

Then I followed the same process, but with a chanter in. Same strike-in, same rumble, and a nice rich blend of presence, projection and harmonics. The tenors tuned just below the hemp line, a little low for my taste, but the pipe sounded good. A pleasant surprise was the fact that back when I played these Lawries, and was using cane they sounded great, but they were very difficult to reed. They accepted these reeds readily.

Apart from a niggling concern about striking in, I found these reeds to be very good indeed, and ready to take their place amongst the best of the synthetic reeds available.

The full review is available with a subscription at; www.pipesdrums.com/article/revving-up-the-drones/
— Bill Livingstone

After speaking with Chris Armstrong regarding his new X-TREME Drone Reeds last month, he kindly sent a set of his PREMIUM DRONE REEDS for me to test and review. I was eagerly awaiting a parcel from Chris and around 1 month ago I received the reeds in the post. Upon opening the parcel, I found that the reeds had been packaged in a very different way from all other drone reeds that are currently on the market. A black cylindrical cardboard tube with attractive writing and branding. Taking the lid off revealed 3 pre cut cylindrical holes that house each reed and offering a lot of protection for transit and storage. An initial inspection of the reeds found them to be extremely well made and manufactured to a very high precision. Everything about the aesthetics’ of these drone reeds is very appealing. Now came the test. I had set out to test these drone reeds in 3 different sets of Bagpipes that I own;

1: 1917 Full Silver Duncan MacRae – Begg Sheepskin Bag
2: Pre 1900 Full Ivory Henry Starck – Bannatyne Hide
3: 2009 Atherton MD. Bannatyne Hide – Willie McCallum

The initial test for 1 week was with the MacRaes. After adding a little more hemp on the drone reeds to secure them into the reed seats, I blew up the drones, corking off the chanter stock. I set my tuner for 478 the pitch of my solo Blackwood Sinclair Chanter and preceded to tune the outside tenor drone to this pitch. Very little adjustment of the bridle was necessary to have the drone reed set at the strength that I normally blow and then a fine adjustment of the tuning screw so that the drone was tuning just above the hemp line. I followed this procedure with the next tenor drone then the bass drone. The strike in was good with no squealing at all. Once all drones were in tune, I noticed that I had a big bass sound that blended very very well with the tenors. Extremely stable and not much change at all with varying of blowing pressure. Once I added my chanter, again no problem with strike in and after a good 15 mins of playing the drones were locked in and solid as a rock. I was so impressed with this setup that I couldn.t wait to set them up in my pre 1900 Starcks.


PRE 1900 STARCKS - This test like the MacRaes was for 1 week. After setting the reeds in the reed seats I played the pipes along with the chanter. I noticed I had trouble with some steadiness with the middle tenor. I had to spend quite a lot of time to get these reeds going in the Starcks. Frustration and finally perseverance paid off after a solid hour of adjusting the bridles and tuning screws for the reeds to be as good as they were in the MacRaes. After this time I finally produced a most beautiful and steady drone sound, again with good bass volume blending together well with the tenors.


2009 ATHERTON MD - This was the final bagpipe I was to finish my testing of these reeds and was looking forward to putting them into a more modern made instrument. Again installing the reeds firm in the reed seat I then needed some minor adjustments to suit these drones. Once done, again just superb. Lovely balanced sound. Again big bass and a good balance of volume with the tenors. Strike in was excellent.


All in all I would thoroughly recommend the new X-TREME DRONE REEDS by Chris Armstrong.
I found they are more difficult to set up than your normal plug and play drone reeds, but with a little patience and perseverance and being familiar with the way the reed works and adjusts by reading the instructions on the website you will find that you have a superior set of drone reeds that produce the goods. There is not much variance in the drone reeds with change of pressure and they seem to lock in and stay extremely stable. I have been really impressed with them from the packaging, manufacture and tone they produce and also due to the fact they are very air efficient compared to other reeds I have used in the past. The X-TREME DRONE REEDS are definitely the drone reed of the future.
— Cameron Bell

WOW: Any serious product new to the market has to have the ‘’WOW FACTOR” and X-TREME CARBON FIBRE TONGUE BAGPIPE DRONE REEDS are:
WOW FACTOR.

You see the box for the first time: WOW
You open the box and see the reeds for the first time: WOW
You put the reeds in your pipes for the first time (plug n play): WOW
You talk to Chris Armstrong (customer support): WOW

X-TREME is to piping what Apple is to technology:
The innovation, the quality of product and the quality of customer care

I literally put the reeds straight into my pipes and away I went, playing for about an hour each day, practicing March, strathspeys, reels and a piobaireachd. The pipes remained steady with a drone sound that I would have been happy with back in the day when treading the boards.

I then had to replace my solo chanter with a B flat chanter, no problem. A slight adjustment of the tuning screw and I was in perfect balance once more and perfectly in tune with the military band.

Our band plays in B flat for 2-hour parades in 50-degree heat. It has been a struggle to find drone reeds that can cope with these extreme conditions but no longer: X-TREME reeds for X-TREME conditions.

The icing on the cake was when setting up our grade 4 competition band.
X-TREME reeds were easy to set up; the band members loved the packaging and the look of the reeds and couldn’t wait to get playing. Anything that gets students excited and motivated to play is a great thing.

The drones are easy to work with, easy to tune and produce a really good drone sound even from a band with inexperienced players.

Looking for a great drone sound that’s user friendly? Go X-TREME


Paul B Warren

Senior Piping Instructor with the Royal Air Force of Oman School of Music
SCQF Assessor for the National Piping Centre
Former Pipe Major of Lomond and Clyde Pipe Band, taking the band from grade 4B to top 3 position in Grade 2 in only 6 years
Former instructor at the National Piping Centre
Founding Director of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland
— Paul B Warren


RE:TRADITION

Available for download only, RE:Tradition is a reinterpretation of the way bagpipe music is presented. Browse through this collection of original compositions complete with audio recordings.


The title of the book and its content are meant as a compliment to our tradition and many of the tunes inside do just that. Of course there are few tunes that reside outside what would be considered traditional, but as a whole the collection helps to highlight the direction that Chris has taken with his piping and music more recently.


TUITION

Chris has built up a great resource of knowledge, teaching skills and styles which are available in Skype, Facetime or in-person format.


Chris has a a broad background in teaching and can cater for all levels of piping instruction, from beginner through to advanced. For more information or to ask any questions about the lessons please contact Chris using the form below.

Chris is also available for group lessons/overseas schools or pipe band workshops. For more information on these services please also use the form below to make contact and discuss your requirements.


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On-line Lessons Terms and Conditions

  1. All on-line students must agree to adhere to these terms and conditions
  2. Payment for lessons is required in advance. No lessons will be undertaken for which payment is outstanding.
  3. Chris Armstrong Bagpipe Products Ltd can not be held liable for any technical difficulties or service interruptions. If difficulties arise during a lesson, the lesson may be reschedule at the tutors discretion, however refunds are not available.
  4. Lessons are 50 minutes in duration, 5-10 minutes of which may be used to sort technical difficulties.
  5. Both parties must agree to adhere to Scots Law, with respect to this booking.

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