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 Post subject: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:34 pm 
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Hi Pipers,
I'm considering getting a Walsh SSP (NOT the peg-leg or "shuttle" pipe), and I wondered what people who owned them thought of the tone, construction, etc. I travel frequently for school and endure harsh climates, so I'll definitely be angling for the polypenco version. I'd love some thoughts on these pipes by people who own them. Do they have a good tone despite their synthetic construction?

Also, in the synthetic bagpipe world, what is the best sounding smallpipe in your opinion? My teacher has a wonderful set of Hamish Moore pipes; wish synthetic pipes could sound like them...

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:36 am 
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I owned and played a set of the Walsh Smallpipes in A 2000 for several years, and really liked them. Much better than his Shuttlepipes, which I don't care for.

Ugly? Yes. Just plain plastic. But the important things, the bore designs and reed designs, are great. The chanter has a nice full tone (far superior to his Shuttlepipe chanter) and the drones sound great. They come "set up" very well, in other words he takes the time to adjust all the reeds so the pipes go great right from the box, for which Walsh is rightly famous.

I played that set on stage with a Celtic Folk/Rock band in all sorts of weather conditions and they always functioned properly and were always in tune.

But for a superior-sounding plastic SSP try Ian Kinnear. I heard him play a set he made out of ABW and a set out of plastic (both in the key of A) and I actually liked the tone of the plastic set better! It was somewhat louder, which is what you need for playing in pubs. Of course a Kinnear set with a cane chanter reed won't stay at the same pitch in all weather conditions like a Walsh set with a plastic chanter reed will.

BTW I sold my Walsh SSPs when I aquired a lovely 100 year old set of cocus & ivory Scottish Miniature pipes. I had John Walsh make me a blackwood A smallpipe chanter for that set, which I have set up to play in A (it plays great).

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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:36 am 
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I currently have two sets of Walsh small pipes in D, one in ABW and one in Delrin/Polypenco.

While there is a difference in the sound it's not as great as you would think.

The blackwood set is mounted with imitation ivory and looks quite nice, not "fancy" but tasteful, the plastic set not so much. The do look very "plain" as PCP states. However, several years ago I had a polypenco set in A and had Lynn Miller at the House of Bagpipes in San Francisco mount them with brass ferrules. The finished pipes looked really great.

I too had John Walsh make a blackwood chanter for the plastic set and the tone improved, although it wasn't bad to begin with. I basically use the plastic set when traveling and the blackwood set when playing "domestically".

One complaint I have with John's pipes is with the bellows adapter he sells. It stresses the blow stick stock something fierce, and makes the pipes want to twist under your arm. I ordered the blackwood set with a proper convertible bellows stock, it can still be switched over to mouth blown when I prefer, I'll eventually add this option to the plastic set as well. Probably when I need to change out the bag. This option is listed on John's web site.

Another "improvement" I'll make to both sets is adding a leather bag when I need to replace the synthetic bags. But then the synthetics might just outlast me. :P

Another nice thing about John's pipes is that they hold their value quite nicely. Really don't think you can go wrong.

Now, go back and re-read what PCP has to say. Good advice that. :thumbsup:

JD


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:31 am 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
My teacher has a wonderful set of Hamish Moore pipes; wish synthetic pipes could sound like them...

Think they probably could/would if Hamish was making them!

pancelticpiper wrote:
But for a superior-sounding plastic SSP try Ian Kinnear. I heard him play a set he made out of ABW and a set out of plastic (both in the key of A) and I actually liked the tone of the plastic set better! It was somewhat louder, which is what you need for playing in pubs. Of course a Kinnear set with a cane chanter reed won't stay at the same pitch in all weather conditions like a Walsh set with a plastic chanter reed will.

I've got a set of Ian Kinnear poly pipes (in A) and they're great. Bought secondhand, then checked over and set up by Ian this summer. But they're all cane reeds (drones too, because that's what he's using for all his pipes) and the set-up's been changing significantly recently as summer turns to autumn and I've had to start tweaking things to bring the pitch down and keep them playing at the pressure we had before. Not doing more there than I have to right now because I'll be seeing him again soon (taking them to his course at Edzell next weekend), but wonder whether the Walsh set might work better for you in more extreme climates where I'd prefer the Kinnear (as a top Scottish maker) with the Walsh not quite such a 'bargain' this side of the pond.

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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:58 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses, I really appreciate your taking the time to respond so thoroughly. PCP, I didn't see a poly set of Ian Kinnear pipes on his website, I take it I should contact him directly to inquire about those? I'm glad people seem to like the sound of the Walsh pipes, I don't care how they look as long as they sound good. I guess what I'm trying to figure out is whether the Walshes (which are a major bargain at about 700 USD) are a suitable instrument, or if I'd really be better served saving up for a "top-tier" set like Kinnear's. My little brother plays the GHB, and his teacher was firmly of the opinion that if it was possible, saving for the best possible set was essential. Does this theory carry over as much to the smallpipes? I guess my biggest fear is that I get something that a piper would describe as "a practice goose with drones" rather than a real instrument.


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:10 pm 
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Madman,

I consider myself a "duffer", albeit one with 45 years of piping experience, but if PCP says he had a set of Walsh smallpipes, and liked them that would convince me. And believe me I tend to be real "Scottish" when it comes to buying stuff. :poke:

JD


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:52 pm 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
I didn't see a poly set of Ian Kinnear pipes on his website, I take it I should contact him directly to inquire about those?

He doesn't advertise them, but think he's still making the occasional set.

Quote:
or if I'd really be better served saving up for a "top-tier" set like Kinnear's.

Ian's poly pipes are (at about £700?) actually a lot cheaper than you might expect. But, to quote some advice I got from Dougie Pincock (who's got Kinnear poly smallpipes for Scotland's National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music), 'the thing that pushes pipes of all shapes and sizes over the £1,000 mark is silver, which looks quite nice as long as it's not overdone, but certainly doesn't make the slightest difference to the way they sound.'

Quote:
Does this theory carry over as much to the smallpipes?

See above, with the obvious caveats that 1. the best makers still make the best pipes and 2. I'm no expert here (relying instead on the advice of experienced piper friends). On which note Dougie's advice was given re. Ross Calderwood's Lochalsh Pipes (sub-£1,000, made from native Scottish hardwoods, still comparatively unknown, but superb value), which he knows well (they also have Ross's border pipes at the National Centre) and encouraged me to order (due for completion shortly!) way before the Kinnear set popped up at an irresistible price. So, while I might not have ordered that set had I had the Kinnear set first, I'll be quite happy to have both with a nice wooden combo set from Ross and a secondhand poly A set from Ian (which I might take places I wouldn't take the others) complementing each other nicely where I could easily have blown more on a single set less appropriate to my needs.

Might just add that I strongly considered the Walsh poly pipes myself thanks to (amongst other things) pancelticpiper's recommendation, and would probably have ordered but for the added price of importing to the UK tipping the balance in favour of Lochalsh (just a couple of hours up the road from me) followed by that opportunistic Kinnear purchase. But doubt I'd be so hesitant in your position (same continent as Walsh) with your climatic concerns!

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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:14 pm 
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Neat! I loved looking at Lochalsh Pipes, what a beautiful and traditional design. It's a little sad that native woods aren't used so much any more. Maybe if I settle down somewhere with a decent climate I'll look into a set of those. And yeah, I may not know much about the C&F community compared to many, but even I know what a great resource PanCelticPiper is. I'm always grateful when he replies to one of my threads. I'll run this conversation by my teacher because it's looking to me like Walsh's are a dependable, quality product. Again, thanks for your insightful, thought-out responses!


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:35 am 
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Madman,

I'm just down the I-5 from you, well, a lot down the I-5, just above Santa Barbara and climate was a big consideration for me. We can be dripping wet in the morning (marine layer) and in the 90s with no humidity in the afternoon. Cane highland pipe drone reeds were a bitch, so part of my Walsh choice was due to advantage of plastic reeds.

If you decide you want a higher-end instrument, just scroll down John's small pipe page and check out his blackwood sets. I think mine compare to anything I've heard or played. Mine are set up with his very nice mouth/bellows adapter, not the one that fits in the blow stick stock, so they can be played either way. Sometimes playing mouth blown makes transitioning from whistle or bodhran during a set less cumbersome.

Wish that I had the Chiff and Fipple (and Dunsire) crew(s) guiding me when I bought my first set of pipes about a hundred years ago. Talk about confused. :shock:

JD


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:51 pm 
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Has anyone compared Walsh against MacLellan in terms of sound quality? MacLellans are a few hundred dollars cheaper, but the question of course would be if they're any good compared to the Walsh pipes...


http://highland-pipemaker.com/MacLellan ... 0pipes.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:04 am 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
My little brother plays the GHB, and his teacher was firmly of the opinion that if it was possible, saving for the best possible set was essential. Does this theory carry over as much to the smallpipes?


Even more so in my opinion. Maybe look for advice from pipers in your part of the world to make sure there is an advantage with plastic over wood/cane for your climate. I don't think many would suggest plastic over wood in normal circumstances. Mine (Moore smallpipes and Garvie borders both with cane) have certainly not been as stable and easy to play in humid countries as they are here in Scotland but maybe pipers set their pipes up differently if resident in these places.


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:13 am 
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....... I don't have experience with Walsh pipes but the sound sample of the A set suggests they're pretty good. I certainly wouldn't recommend getting mouth blown - bellows every day of the week for stability and relatively problem-free piping!


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:56 am 
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bogman wrote:
I certainly wouldn't recommend getting mouth blown - bellows every day of the week for stability and relatively problem-free piping!


I'm used to supporting things with my breath. I don't like all the straps and gizmos for the bellows, nor the elbow-flapping chicken dance required to play them. With synthetic materials I don't think stability will be an issue, at least where climate is concerned.


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:07 am 
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That would mean using a plastic chanter reed, that will sound significantly inferior to cane...


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 Post subject: Re: Who owns Walsh SSP?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:01 pm 
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People seem to like Walsh's, and given all the trouble a cane reed would cause me in the Minnesota-Seattle commute every three months, I'd just rather not worry about it. It's stressful enough keeping my blackwood flute at the proper humidity.


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