Dear Peter,
Tradition is the name of the game in instrument making where makers are sticking to well tried materials that they know will last two or three generations and will be an investment as with string instruments. When you start to mention computer aided design it is a mistake to think that this will produce perfect instruments especially in repect to NSP's. The input for any programs being used has to come from someone who has had a lifetime's experience to start with and then variables such as the reeds, the type of bag being used and the ambient playing conditions can all knock things sideways.
Colin R

-----Original Message-----
From: P DUNN <>
Sent: Sun, 27 Sep 2009 22:41
Subject: [NSP] re chanter material.

I've been following with interest, the string regarding chanters/drones
  made from non-wood materials. My first clarinet, a 'cheapish' Boosey
  and Hawkes was made from a plastic material. My second, and much more
  expensive, was made from African Blackwood.

  I notice the positive remarks that ivory seems to get with regard to
  tone. Am I completely wrong to assume that the very qualities that
  ivory possesses, e.g. hardness and impermeability, are shared by some
  of the man-made materials that have been mentioned? Interesting that
  the more expensive woodwind instruments seem to shun such materials.

  At some time in the future, might this mean that chanters and drones
could be produced using computer-aided programs (I believe someone has
  or could produce such a program) and would this mean an end to tuning
problems, whether caused by some of the holes being slightly mis-placed or by temperature fluctuations, and other such-like problems associated
  with a naturally made product? I suppose the downside (or upside,
  depending on one's point of view)) would be instruments which didn't
  display any maker's idiosyncrasies.

  Just a thought!

  Peter Dunn

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