Balance Tone HR (High Resonance) Drone Reeds

(21 customer reviews)

Balance Tone HR (High Resonance) Drone Reeds have been designed to produce more harmonics, resulting in higher resonance on the chanter notes and thus a more refined overall sound.

The HR reeds feature distinguishing black plugs and have all of the functionality of the standard reeds (with the white plugs).

SKU: HR2 Category:



Balance Tone HR (High Resonance) Drone Reeds have been designed to produce more harmonics, resulting in higher resonance on the chanter notes and thus a more refined overall sound.

The HR reeds feature distinguishing black plugs and have all of the functionality of the standard reeds (with the white plugs).  These innovative drone reeds are:

  • Steady
  • Exceptional in tonal quality
  • Easy to strike in
  • Easy and efficient to tune
  • Take a minimum of air
  • Moisture resistant
  • Easy to set up
  • Strike in every time

Product Data

Additional information

Weight 60 g
Product Code




Bass Tongue

Glass Fibre

Tenor Tongue

Glass Fibre



These unique drone reeds come ready to play. However depending on the drone characteristics and the actual blowing strength of your pipe, small adjustments may be required to obtain the optimum sound from your drones.

There has never been a standard diameter for bagpipe reed seats; therefore, you may find that you have to apply hemp on the reed seat to ensure you have a firm, secure fit. If not, this will give an unsteady tonal quality and the reed could stop.

Before applying hemp, take the reed seat apart from the reed body by sliding it off. Fit the reed
seat by itself by pulling waxed hemp through the small groove/slit in the shoulder (see Figure 1). The hemp can be pulled through this (like a cotton reel) then wrapped firmly around the reed seat.  Leave a small gap/space at the open end so when you squeeze it into the drone the hemp does not come off the end.

Figure 1 – The reed seat removed from the reed body. Note the strand of hemp which has been pulled through the small groove. The groove holds the hemp in place, which aids when wrapping the hemp around the reed seat.

The reed seat properly fitted should be screwed all the way into the drone until the shoulder is firmly fitted against the bottom of the drone. The reed body can now be refitted by sliding it back on to the fitted reed seat. (Instructions for adjusting the reed body are below.) Care should be taken not to bump/move the reed when fitting into the pipe.

The reeds come with the bridles set to suit a medium strength pipe. Balance Tone HR Reeds can be adjusted to optimise sound quality and to suit your blowing strength. Miniscule adjustments to the position of the bridle have a significant effect on the strength of the reed and tonal quality.


Figure 2 – The reed body with the tongue and bridles removed to show the 2 small raised lines. It is recommended that the bridle stays between these lines.

If you blow a strong pipe the reed may stop. If this happens adjust the bridle upwards i.e. lengthen the tongue. Conversely, if you blow a light pipe the reed may be too strong. To adjust the strength, shorten the length of the tongue by moving the bridle downward. HR Reeds have 2 small raised lines on either side of the reed body. It is recommended that the bridle stays between these lines for optimal functionality.

Once the bridles have been adjusted the next step is to get the drone tops tuning just above the bottom of the hemp on the tuning pins. Lengthening the reed will lower the tuning position of the drone top on the tuning pin and conversely shortening the reed will raise the drone top on the tuning pin. The recommended position on the bottom tuning pin of the base drone should be shorter i.e. between 30 to 40mm in length.

Adjusting the length of the reed, (either lengthening or shortening) is done by moving the position of the reed body on the reed seat.

Finally the volume can also be adjusted by rotating the black plug to reduce the reed aperture, i.e. the small rectangular hole in the reed body. Reducing the aperture will make the drone quieter. It is recommended however that the aperture be left unrestricted i.e. fully open as this usually produces the optimum tonal quality. Any requirement to produce a quieter sound can be made by adjusting the bridle as described above. Rotating the black plug to close the aperture can also shut off the reed.





One Click Purchase via Distributors:

Achiltibuie Bagpipe Specialists – Scotland

Hendersons Ltd – USA

Kilts and More – Germany

Scottlandliebhaber – Germany

The Bagpipe Shop – Scotland

Other Distributors:


Highland Supplies – Singapore

Highland Supplies – Hong Kong

Australia / New Zealand

Bryce’s Bagpipes – New Zealand

Celtic Affairs – Australia

Easton Bagpipes – New Zealand

St Kilda Retail – Australia

Central Europe

D&M Shop – Belgium

Kroashent-tro Rond-point Karamporiel – France

Scottish Bagpipe Centre – Netherlands

The Piper’s Corner – Germany

North America

Ben Bhraggie House Ltd – Canada

J Higgins – USA

Pipeline – USA

Scott’s Highland Services – Canada

Tartantown – Canada


Beatstreet – Northern Ireland

Cabar Feidh Bagpipe Supplies – Scotland

Kilberry Bagpipes – Scotland

Kingdom Thistle – Scotland

R.G. Hardie & Co – Scotland

Wallace Bagpipes – Scotland

Reviews (21)

21 reviews for Balance Tone HR (High Resonance) Drone Reeds

  1. Stephen Megarity

    No need for a long review. Reeds are freekin awesome to say the least.

  2. Peter Harvie

    I have used Bruce’s reeds for some time now, playing in Grade 1 in NI (mostly in the rain!), they really are a revelation in terms of ease of set up, reliability, never fail to strike in, air efficiency, tonal & harmonic quality and steady as rock in my 1930’s Hendersons. I have just put in a new set of the High Resonance 3 drone reeds…all of the above and some more. A sonorous tone, deep, full and ringing……..a seriously good product from a knowledgeable Piper.

  3. Kenneth Bland

    Couple weeks ago, I replaced a very popular drone reed brand with these Balance Tone HRs in my Naill DN4s. Their design provides very easy installation & adjustments – They sound great!! Also, Mr Hitchings prompt emails ere very helpful in selecting the best reeds for my setup.

    Thank You Major!!

  4. Brian Robinson

    fantastic Bruce ! I am using the HR reeds in a brand new McRae pipe and my 1934 Hendersons easy set up and very air efficient …..what a great product !

  5. Salmun Mousavi

    I’m incredibly satisfied with Bruce’s reeds. They provide great stability, good strike-ins/cut-offs, and great tone. I have two sets: one in my Blackwood pipes and another in my Poly pipes, and will not play any other reeds. Many thanks to Bruce for a superior product.

  6. Douglas Gardiner

    Very impressed indeed with the HR3 reeds. They produce a wonderfully rich tone, including the bass, and are amazingly steady. Add to the fact they are a doddle to set up, are very air efficient and you have an outstanding product!

  7. PM Ben Duncan

    I have been extremely impressed with the stability and harmonics produced by the High Resonance reeds. The harmonics really grip the notes on the chanter, producing all round balance and great results. They are also very air-efficient and straightforward to set up. The HR reeds have been a welcomed addition and I now play them in all three sets of pipes.

    Two videos of Ben playing can be found in this testimonial –

  8. Cameron Drummond

    The Balance Tone HR3 Reeds are fantastic. They have a great tone, lovely harmonics and a sweetness that lasts as long as I can play. The pipes are easy to tune, beautifully balanced and extremely steady. Along with the Highland Reed Moisture Control System my pipes have never performed better.

  9. Rod Watters

    Firstly I must report that the Balance Tone reeds I purchased from you have been going beautifully I my Henderson Pipes (circa late 1930 ). Easy to strike and cut, the drones need little tuning when playing from day today. Obviously during a 45min blow minor adjustments are required, but generally the drones are very stable with nice harmonics and good balance

    I have a sheepskin bag and I note that the collection of moisture on the reeds is less than with other synthetic reeds

    The ability to easily adjust the telescopic feature is a blessing. The ability to easily get the tenor drones to tune at the Hemp line and the bass at a point to maximise the sound effect is in my humble view a winner.

  10. David Slobod

    Standard Balance Tone drone reeds came with a used set of McCallum bagpipes I purchased a couple of years ago. I liked the sound so much that I decided to upgrade my vintage Henderson’s with your HR drone reeds. They are playing beautifully straight from the box. I love the simplicity of Balance Tone reeds. I never have to worry about them and most importantly, they strike-in every time. These are the only drone reeds I care to play from now on and I highly recommend them..

  11. Iain Gillies Kelly

    Just finished setting up these drone reeds on an antique set of pipes. The pipes are from the later part of the 1800’s and recently learned they were made by E. White, a pipe maker in Boston between 1850 and 1870. They have gone through a lot, and the reed seats are well worn. Also, the middle tenor is one inch longer than outside. I love the sound, but getting reeds to work has always been a problem. Having a separate piece for the reed seat has been a big help, and I think a unique feature of these drones. I took my time to make sure the reed seat section was tight, without having to push on the whole drone reed. Adjusting the reed to the drone was easy. They sound great. About the same as a set of cane reeds. Very well designed. I’m now going to get two more sets for my other pipes..

  12. Dennis Browning

    Hello Bruce – I have given your High Resonance Drone Reeds a few hours playing in my 1977 Kintail pipes and the tenors are virtually plug and play. Straight from the box and they tune where they should with 1mm or so of hemp showing, with exceptional tonal quality.
    With the bass I had to push the body of the reed up as far as it can go towards the hemp end of the reed and the drone is tuning about 32mm from the bottom. There is a very nice overall blend of tenor and bass and as advertised very steady and very air efficient. You are on a winner with these reeds Bruce!

  13. Mark Lamont

    Hey Bruce, I just wanted to tell you personally what a delight it is playing your new Balance Tone HR drone reeds. I put them in my Naills on Tuesday and have not wanted to stop playing, whatever you did with the new HR reeds, they strike in perfect, cut off perfect and that’s right out of the packaging, no adjustments made at all, awesome reeds. I can’t say enough good things about them,well done, it’s a joy to play my pipes again.

  14. Alain Marion

    Balance Tone High Resonance reeds have plenty of volume and produce a very rich tone. They perform extremely well in my pipes (vintage MacDougall bores), are very steady, air efficient, and tune just where they should at 478-480 Hz, Bruce Hitchings’ customer service is also impeccable.

  15. SSG Evan L. US Army (RET)

    As a piper in a US Army band, I frequently played events under difficult conditions: too cold, too hot, high altitude, standing for an hour before striking in…. I always chose reliability and steadiness In drone reeds over tone and balance. With the Balance Tone HR Reeds, I don’t have to make that trade off. With BTHR reeds, now I have a rich, resonant, sound along with reliability in difficult conditions. They have never let me down.

  16. Marco Kronenwetter

    I’ve been always happy with your drone reeds. From variant to variant they improved. About two years ago you gave me the HR ones to test. After Setting them up I thought wow – there can’t be anything better on the market. With the HR2 ones I am totally overwhelmed. These are as easy to handle as I’m used to your reeds. A warmer/rounder sound and more clarity/projection with the chanter. Thanks for THIS product, thumbs up. Regards Marco

  17. Alex Gallacher

    Dear Bruce, I have been using your High Resonance Balance Tone Reeds since I got them at the Worlds in 2019. I followed everything in your YouTube video on adjusting and setting up for better air efficiency and can’t say enough on these reeds. They are fantastic! So simple to use and easy to set.Using your reeds, I can blow out my drone reeds and they won’t come back on for about 1 minute 25 seconds. I am in my 70’s and my blowing is so easy and relaxed now. I’ve never been able to do that with other reeds. I will definitely be buying another set of these reeds for my other pipes. Thanks for a great reed.

  18. Neil MacTaggart

    I’m now working with mixed abilities in community pipe band and find your drone Reeds are fantastic steady easy to set .THANK YOU HIGHLAND REEDS .

  19. Jennifer McKenzie

    I am very impressed with your Drone reeds starting and stopping is so easy. I am taking out my Moisture system to use your moisture tube as there is a lot of discussion on increased harmonics in relation to a moist Cane chanter reed.

  20. Yves Tison

    Dear Bruce, after playing your fantastic HRBT reeds ind different vintage sets I cannot come back to my own cane reeds I used to play before.

  21. Barney Raffrey

    I had bought a set of your drone reeds on the suggestion of one of my students. I bought them from Pipers Hut and I bought the High Resonance Drone Reed. I wrote to you and reported that the reeds were very air efficient, but the tone was not quite what I was used to. You were kind enough to send me a new set of High Resonance Reeds.

    Well, the new set is just as air efficient, but the tone is much improved. These reeds are as good tone wise as my Wygent reeds. I am very pleased with these reeds and I intend to recommend them to all my students.

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