Electro-Harmonix Effectology, Vol.12 “The Uilleann Pipes”
The uilleann (pronounced “Illyun,”) pipes are Irish bagpipes.Originally known as the Union pipes, are the characteristic national bagpipe of Ireland. The uilleann pipes bag is inflated by means of a small set of bellows strapped around the waist and the right arm. The bellows not only relieves the player from the effort needed to blow into a bag to maintain pressure, they also allow relatively dry air to power the reeds, reducing the adverse effects of moisture on tuning and longevity. Some pipers can converse or sing while playing as well.
The uilleann pipes are distinguished from many other forms of bagpipes by their sweet tone and wide range of notes â€” they have a range of two full octaves, including sharps and flats.
Pis of Old piper
Although uilleann pipes have been around since the early 1600’s, their revival in modern times began in the 1960’s with a musical group called The Chieftains. More recently, the uilleann pipes have been widely seen in the Riverdance band, and this has excited a great deal of interest.
Their sound is beautiful, complex, ancient, and haunting.
To start the video off I created a “Harmonic Drone” using a HOG in the freeze mode.
The HOG holding a frozen chord was run into the Stereo Electric Mistress pedal which combines both a flanger and chorus.
The combo of flange and chorus produced a constantly changing sweep of notes that never repeated.
I recorded the drone for several minutes and was amazed but how I never heard the sweep repeat itself!
Below are the “Harmonic Drone” pedal settings.
To begin the Uilleann Pipes piece I wanted to create a giant field snare drum sound.
I used a Big Muff PI with Tone Wicker into a Cathdreal reverb set for a very large room.
Playing a drum roll with my left hand fingers close to the bridge set of a explosive drum sound.
Below are the settings for the “Giant Field Drum” sound.
To create the sound of the Uilleann pipes using just a guitar and EHX pedals we used a Big Muff PI with Tone Wicker into a HOG-Harmonic Octave Generator.
The HOG`s “Spectral Gate"strips away the raw upper harmonics from the signal leaving more of a pure fundamental note.
The HOG,s sliders are set for one octave above and a small amount of the second octave above that.
The original and dry signal are set at zero.
This allowed me to play the melody lower on the guitar but sounding as if i played it on the upper frets.
Playing it lower on the neck gives the notes a longer natural sustain and a overall fuller sound.
I often use this trick as it really adds to the sound and sound very different than playing higher on the neck.
In this case the added sustain helped the sound by giving it a singing quality.
The attack slider on the HOG helped remove a slight bit of the guitars pick attack which rounded out the sound.
Notes can be bent using the guitars vibrato arm or by using the HOG,s expression pedal in the step bend mode.
Bass players and guitars with a fixed bridge wold use the expression pedal method.
Next in line was a Stereo Memory Man set for 300 milliseconds delay with chorus modulation.
A reverb can be added as an option at the end of the chain if needed..
I used a Cathedral reverb in the hall setting.
Below are the pedal settings I used in the video for the Uilleann Pipe sound:
The Backing String chain and settings are below.
I used the volume pedal to swell in each chord.
I recorded this clip using an 1988 Ibanez Jem guitar direct into the computer with a clean amp simulator.
No guitar amps were used. If you are using a guitar amp, set it for a very clean, flat or neutral sound when using the settings above.
Thanks for listening!