Upper Lip Pipe Hint

by Calvin McCarthy

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Wooden organ pipe building is a fairly simple woodworking project, as the John Smith video shows, but getting the pipe to sound as good as it can is a trial and error exercise. You make a nice windway and attach it to the top of the input chamber. You place the “upper lip” approximately where you think it should go, then blow into the input pipe. You then move the “upper lip” until you get a clear sound out of the pipe. If you are lucky you are ready to glue the upper lip to the pipe. Maybe there is a small chip in the windway so the sound is poor. Take things apart, clean it up and try again. Maybe there is a leak between the input chamber and the pipe apart from the windway. Find it, seal it up and try again.

You may find that you have glued the upper lip to the pipe and you must take it off and move it to fix a poor sound. Doing this you may break the pipe and/or the upper lip. I would suggest that you use a cardboard spacer between the upper lip and the pipe. When you want to break the glue joint, and it is likely you will want to, you will only be tearing the cardboard and not tearing or breaking wood.

 

You may question the change of alignment of the sharp edge of the upper lip with the windway, but I have found that I am quite satisfied with the sound resulting. My reading suggests that the alignment does change the resulting sound slightly because the amplitude of the harmonics are changed but at the level of perfection I work it is no problem.

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