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Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?
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Author:  GoldTop [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

I've played in a few pipe bands over the years and pretty much hanged it up after piping out my Dad. That was in 2001.

My last set of pipes were made by David Naill.

Now I'm looking for quality bellows blown small pipes set, mainly for home use and small sessions. I'm looking for a solid set. Does not need to be ornate. Not adverse to polypenco ... something trouble free; synthetic bag etc.

Price wise, I'm seeing sets in the $1500 to $2000 range. Am I missing something? Any guidance from the small pipe hive mind would be greatly appreciated. :pint:

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

Depends *where* you're looking to buy and whether a local maker's important to you...

In Scotland, most folk would probably say something like Moore, Garvie and Kinnear, though I sold my Kinnear poly A set on finding them increasingly unused when I got my Lochalsh Pipes (which have a growing reputation for both quality and astonishing value) combo A/C/D set. So now I play Garvie borders and Lochalsh smallpipes and love both.

On your (?) side of the pond, some names springing to mind might be Nate Banton, E.J. Jones (Tidy Cottage) and, for the poly value, John Walsh. But haven't tried any of those, *know* I've missed some good ones on both sides and don't really like making lists for that reason!

Author:  GoldTop [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

I was about to inquire about your poly pipes ... looks like I missed again.

I'm inclined toward Scottish makers. I appreciate the "lists" you provided. I will be doing my due diligence. Best, Cyril.

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

Hamish and Fin Moore closed their order books a year or two ago to catch up with existing orders and I don't know if they've reopened them yet. Moore smallpipes are relatively quiet and play at very low pressure, but also have a lovely sound.

Ian Kinnear favours all-cane reeds even for poly sets whereas Nigel Richard (Garvie) and Ross Calderwood (Lochalsh) are using Ezeedrones for the drones. Dunno about Moore, but I'd guess all-cane. Ian Kinnear likes a robust sound and a bit more pressure where Lochalsh pipes produce good volume with low pressure (had to get Ross to adjust mine slightly because he likes playing with very low pressure himself).

Nigel Richard also offers a further option with Session Smallpipes (not to be confused with his Session Pipes per se, which are basically mouthblown borders) for a bigger sound in smallpipes. I also like what Julian Goodacre's doing (like Ross Calderwood) with native woods etc., and he's developed some very interesting instruments for Callum Armstrong.

Don't think any of these makers are using synthetic bags, but sure you'll find modern leather smallpipe bags trouble-free. One thing that may affect your choice is whether you like to play with the drones over your shoulder or over your arm, where my Lochalsh Pipes sit equally comfortably either way but my Kinnears just didn't want to sit on the arm and might have needed a new bag cutting for that.

While I love my Lochalsh smallpipes, I prefer to play both borders and smallpipes with my Garvie bellows (for which I have two separate blowpipes) and keep the Lochalsh bellows as backup.

Disclaimer: I'm a relatively new piper (three years) but have been interested in piping throughout a lifetime in music and know some first-class pipers.

Author:  iain beag [ Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

If you are located in America then you are probably best buying a set from one of the makers over there.

A few names that spring to mind are Seth Hamon, Nate Banton and Pinchbeck. I could no doubt think of others but I know the first two have a good reputation.
The thinking for this is that should anything go wrong then the maker is at least in the same country which will help keep wait times down and postal costs down and make getting any other spares easier.

Other makers here in the Uk are Simon Hope, Richard Evans, Dave Shaw and John Burke.
Depends what you're after.

I have smallpipes made by Iain Kinnear, Simon Hope, Colin Ross and David Naill. Personally I prefer my set from Simon, funnily enough I bought my Kinnears from someone who had bought a set from Simon and decided to sell his Kinnears.
Both are good sets, one added thing is that Simons bellows are well thought of and he supplies other pipe makers.

One thing though is to stay away from GHB makers who make smallpipes as a sideline.

Best of luck.


Author:  GoldTop [ Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

I've heard that confusion is the first stage of enlightenment.

The Simon Hope SSP's look beautiful; waiting for response.

Any positives on McCallum small pipes?

Thank you for your insight, folks.

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

iain beag wrote:

stay away from GHB makers who make smallpipes as a sideline

Yes I agree. Up until recent times there seemed to be two paths:

1) GHB makers who made SSPs which were, more or less, practice chanters with drones, and

2) NSP makers who made SSPs which were, more or less, simplified NSPs with Scottish fingering.

In my opinion the latter were always nicer instruments.

Now it's far more complicated and you have people like Jerry Gibson who made Practice Chanters which were, more or less, mouthblown NSP chanters, and fulltime SSP makers.

I don't have experience with many of the makers listed above. Some, like Nigel Richard and Hamish Moore, I only have experience with their "border" pipes.

I will say that John Walsh's "smallpipes in A 2000" with all-synthetic reeds are maintenance-free and always stay in tune, and are perhaps the best sound and playability in that lower price range. (I used to have a set, which I bought new for around $500.)

I met Ian Kinnear at his booth at The Worlds a few years back and was very impressed with his pipes. He had two sets, both in A, one in ABW and one in poly, and both sounded great. Were I need an SSP tomorrow I would try to get a poly Kinnear set (it was a bit louder than the ABW set, though this might have simply been those specific reeds).

For years now I've been playing a 100-year-old set of 'miniature Highland pipes', cocus and ivory, with a new ABW chanter in A by John Walsh. It sounds fine and is trouble-free, but no doubt the Kinnear is a much better instrument.

Author:  GoldTop [ Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

Thanks panceltic. For small pipes, I'm thinking Simon Hope.

Now I have the urge to pick up the GHB again. I'm looking at Henderson.

My wife will simply kill me. :pint:

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

About GHB, do you mean original c1890-c1960 Hendersons, or the new "Hendersons" made by the new RG Hardie firm?

The new Hendersons sound very good. There's a guy in our band (with over 50 years piping under his belt) who maintains three sets of pipes all going equally well

-new Hendersons
-new McCallums
-Naills which are around 10-15 years old

and all perform great and put out a high quality sound.

The CNC Celtic engraving that Henderson is using looks much nicer IMHO than that McCallum is using.

I don't know if you were aware of this, but a couple years ago McCallum did a major overhaul of their drone specs, and their new pipes are much better than their older ones, very close to a vintage Henderson tone, a big fat bold vintage-like sound. So now both Henderson and McCallum are, more or less, making reproductions of classic Henderson drones.

McCallum also changed the metal of their mounts from nickel plated (which would eventually wear off) to solid alloy, permanent and much lighter on the shoulder. They also changed their imitation ivory from the brittle stuff to a very tough stuff (which Dunbar has used for many years). The new Hendersons use the same tough imitation ivory, and I think their metal mounts are alloy too.

Both makers are using very nice-looking African Blackwood.

Here's a new Henderson set with the antiqued Celtic cnc-engraved mounts


Looking forward to hearing about your Simon Hope smallpipes!

Author:  GoldTop [ Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Scottish Small Pipes: Top Three or Four Makers?

Simon and I are looking at the details; very nice to deal with. I'm interested in his bellows blown classic set in blackwood and boxwood.

The new Hendersons have my attention. The drones are really solid and the chanter is formidable.

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