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Turn £100 Gafin Morgan pibgorn into a Welsh bagpipe

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 8:21 am
by TapTheForwardAssist
(originally written for r/WelshBagpipes on Reddit, just spreading the idea to get more feedback on other platforms)

Check it: so you get a Morgan plastic pibgorn and want to make it into a pibau cyrn (the bagpipe-ified version of a pibgorn). All you really need is a bag, blowpipe, stocks, and at least one drone, probably a D an octave below your chanter, and optimally one that can tune higher to E (either as it is, or with minor mods you can do yourself).

This can be done from crazy cheap (like "give the pub a miss for one evening" money) with a little DIY, or a few hundred £ if you want to go deluxe. On the scale of options:

[*] make a bag out of vinyl upholstery (done it myself, various instructions online), make stocks of PVC pipe or similar, make a blowpipe of whatever tubing and a valve of the scrap vinyl, make a drone of tubing with a bit of brass telescoped in to serve as a slide. You'll want a long enough slide or/and a tuning hole (tuning ring/bead optional) so the drone can hit both D and E. Find a reed that'll fit your drone and sounds good at same pressure as your chanter at appropriate volume. Can probably do it for £50 or less and a few evenings on your kitchen table with minimal tools. Won't be pretty but it'll work.

[*] go on Dunsire Bagpipe Forums, go to their Trading Post and post something like "WTB: scrap stocks, blowpipe, D drone for Welsh bagpipe project (UK)" and just take whatever junk-but-functional (or maybe decent mismatched spare) bits folks sell you cheap and do same as above, basically. Optionally you can buy a nicer bag, and I can ask a pibau player I know which size of bag he recommends. Note you can only see the Trading Post if you're logged-in, and if you make a new account it takes a week or more for Admins to manually approve it.

[*] (for original audience who owns a Scottish Smallpipe already) You might could just rig it into your SSP set, depending on if you can rig it to fix your chanter stock. Then you'd just need to set your drones for D and A for D-based tunes, or E (and possibly B) for E-based tunes. I know Seth Hamon has rigged Swedish bagpipe chanters to SSP sets.

[*] if you want to go deluxe yet do minimal work, you can find someone who has all the bits you need in decent plastic already, or get someone to make you such. Deiv Liutaio in Italy sells really affordable plastic pipes in various formats (piva, hummelchen, medieval, etc) and seems like a cool dude, would probably sell you a full set of whatever minus the chanter at reasonable price. Seth Hamon of Texas could probably do same, but I don't know if he has only a D/E drone at same octave as your chanter or if he's made his low-octave D/E resin casting mold yet. And you can also price out for either of those the cost of buying just the sticks from them and doing the bag yourself vice "everything, minus chanter." And again you'd just need to check or rig compatibility between your pibgorn and the stock. There are also some Eastern European pipemakers I'm vaguely familiar with who could turn you exactly what you want for sticks/stocks from Delrin, and quite affordably, but I don't know them well enough to facilitate, but could point you at them. And for both the drone and your pibgorn/chanter I'd take a hard look at sourcing synthetic reeds from Seth Hamon since he does really great single reeds.