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2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds and?
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Author:  Animist [ Fri Nov 20, 2020 9:22 pm ]
Post subject:  2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds and?


I have 2 sets of pipes I acquired years ago when I used to work at Groth Music in MN. They were new then, are Pakistani and made of wood. Groth as I understand it contracted with a small maker in Pakistan to make good quality pipes for them to sell. I have shown them to a man who repairs and plays pipes in my area and he says there very well made. I want to get them going by Christmas if I can to surprise my wife, as we both aspire to play. We are both quite musical and play a number of instruments along with our daughter (she plays as well, we don't play her!) I know one set is a set of Highland pipes, and the other is smaller, so small pipes, border pipes? Lloyd who looked at the pipes said I should consider better reeds, and that a couple of the joints need to be re-wrapped. I'm looking for suggestions on where to get reeds, and help on adjusting them if that's a thing, and the best type of string to get for wrapping. (Waxed linen?) I will get some better details about them, and see if I can confirm what the second smaller set is, likely measurements will tell the tale?



Author:  pancelticpiper [ Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds a

As somebody who has played Highland pipes for 45 years and has "set up" hundreds of sets of pipes of all makes, I can tell you that it's not something that can be done by a person without thorough experience, and cannot be done remotely (though messaging, Zoom, or Skype). It absolutely has to be done in person by somebody who really knows what they're doing.

Setting up Pakistani pipes is exponentially more difficult than setting up legitimate UK-made or North American-made pipes. Why? Because they're not made with the correct bore sizes and ratios. (What a bagpipe looks like on the outside doesn't enter into it.)

With a quality pipe you can get a set of EzeeDrone drone reeds and pop them in there and nine times out of ten they will go. They still might need adjusting.

With Pakistani pipes all bets are off. I've had people bring Pakistani sets to me that, after an hour of trying every different make of reed I have and trying every adjusting trick I know, just won't do anything other than squeal. With a quality pipe I could have got the thing singing in ten minutes.

Smallpipes can be just as probematic.

People have to understand that Pakistani pipes aren't musical instruments. Musical instruments' overriding purpose is to play, and they're designed from the inside out. Paramount are the internal dimensions and as for the outside it's form-follows-function.

Pakistani pipes are designed backwards, from the outside in. Their overriding purpose is to resemble musical instruments on the outside, and little to no regard is spent designing and making the internal bores.

I know it's not what you want to hear, but it's the sum of nearly a half-century of experience.

So, it's quite possible that no Highland piper, no matter how skillful or experienced, can get those pipes going. Maybe, just maybe, an experienced skillful piper can get them to sort of work, make buzzing noises perhaps. They will almost certainly need new reeds, perhaps new bags, and perhaps valves. Pakistani chanters are usually far worse than the drones so you'll probably need to replace the chanters on both sets. After all of that you will have invested far more money in those pipes than they originally cost. BTW direct from the makers in Pakistan the pipes are well under $100, I've seen them for $30 sometimes. Just a set of legit drone reeds will cost $100.

In any case your only hope is to find a good experienced Highland piper in your area who will get together with you in person. This is an absolute must! A piper can't adjust reeds remotely.

Keep in mind that some pipers who are good players aren't experienced in the "setting up" of pipes. Best to find an experienced Highland pipe teacher, or Pipe Major of a Pipe Band, who will have the skills needed.

Author:  Animist [ Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds a

Thank you for such a thorough and generous response. It's certainly possible that everything you say about Pakistani pipes is true of these that I have, I cannot say yet, however the man who looked them over has been a piper, a bagpipe teacher, and a bagpipe repairman for decades, involved with the Lacrosse & District Pipe and Drums, and told me that these were decent pipes that could be made to play without a lot of trouble. Also, Groth music where I worked for 7 years is one of the top music retailers in the nation, and as I understood it, contracted directly with one of the few makers in Pakistan who would make pipes "from the inside out" as you put it in order to have a less expensive instrument that would play well, as they as a business were not interested in wall hangers. I will contact the man here who has seen them and get his input. He and I met before Covid at a session so everything we discussed is not so fresh.

Author:  Animist [ Sat Nov 21, 2020 3:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds a

Ok, I may be way off the mark here. It looks like it's possible these pipes came from Scott's Highlands in Canada. I'm working on sorting this out.

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds a

I think I know the Scotts Highland Service products, they're called "Piper's Choice". ... cert-pipe/

The Piper's Choice things I tried (border pipes, smallpipes) were in an uncanny valley between the utterly worthless Pakistani stuff and legitimate instruments. Maybe they've improved. I wouldn't bet on it until I tried their new stuff.

If you want Scottish smallpipes that actually function, by far the best value are the things made by John Walsh in Canada. He's a fantastic piper and his instruments are prime examples of form-follows-function. For him it's all about how his instruments work (excellently) and not how they look (ugly).

He makes "shuttlepipes" and "smallpipes". The shuttlepipes have a shuttle drone, the smallpipes have traditional separate drones. The smallpipes sound better.

What's amazing and perhaps unique with John Walsh is that he "sets up" each instrument before he sends it to you, so unlike any other bagpipe his play perfectly right out of the box. That makes them ideal for beginners/newbies.

The only time I've seen John Walsh smallpipes/shuttlepipes that didn't work right is when misguided newbies mucked with the reeds. If you get a John Walsh set PLEASE don't muck with the reeds! They're perfect as they came. Anything you do will diminish or destroy their functioning.

His pipes work, play, sound as good as fancy wood pipes that cost ten times more.

Here's his site, I see he's making wood pipes now too. Before, his pipes were all black plastic which put people off (people who buy an instrument for how it looks not how it plays). ... tro-Pipes/

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2 sets of Scottish Pipes, Great & Small, needing reeds a

Animist wrote:
the Lacrosse & District Pipe and Drums

I looked them up, here they are

I see they're not a member of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association.

Bands are graded by the Association from Grade One (the best bands in the world) down to Grave Five (beginning-level bands).

Below Grade Five are the noncompetition bands, which they appear to be one of.

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