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Anyone have experience with Tabor pipe? Question about keys.

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:21 am
by zaulden
I play tin whistle and am interested in trying out the Tabor pipe, basically a tin whistle with only three bottom holes. I love that this frees up a hand for a drum!

I ordered a Susato Taboriole in G because I think a D will be way too loud and shrill to practice around my family. (Playable notes start in what is the second octave of a normal D tin whistle).

Had anyone tried their hand at the Tabor pipe? Any advice coming from tin whistle? I ordered a copy of the method book by Dick Bagwell which seems to be the authority.

Maybe this will become clear once I get the method book, but do people usually play different keyed Tabor pipes like tin whistles with regard to alternate fingerings? Tin whistlers often finger always as if playing a D whistle, letting the instrument auto transpose into Bb on a Bb whistle for example.

On a Tabor pipe, is it common to just learn the blowing and fingering for a D pipe and use that always?

Or is it more common to read the music properly and finger the actual note? I would imagine this way would be preferred since as far as I can find, the Tabor pipe can't easily do two keys - (like how whistlers in D can do keys of D and G with a cross fingering for C nat) - just the single key it is in. Though I did see the Tabor society talks about a half hole for C nat on a D Tabor pipe, but I have had really poor success with half holes on tin whistle.

Any other tips would be really appreciated!

Re: Anyone have experience with Tabor pipe? Question about k

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:32 pm
by Tunborough
If you search the forums for "tabor", you'll find a few hits over the years, including different makes. As you suspected, you need a different pipe for each key.

Re: Anyone have experience with Tabor pipe? Question about k

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:15 pm
by zaulden
Thank you for your kind response. I've perused the results previously, but still felt somewhat unsure on keys and sheet music and what it means for tabor pipes. I know a lot of people mainly learn and know things by ear, but I tend to like sheet music to first memorize a song alongside hearing it.

In regard to needing a different pipe for each key, it sounds like you think it'd be preferred to learn the different fingers / blowing for each key rather than "doing everything as if in D" like with tin whistle?

If I mainly intend to play solo (along with the tabor beat), can I manually transpose a D song (for example) into the key of G and learn it that way? Or would that be not recommended?

Re: Anyone have experience with Tabor pipe? Question about k

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:28 am
by Tunborough
When switching keys with simple diatonic instruments like tabor pipes, it is more helpful to think in terms of where the tune goes in the diatonic scale, rather than what the note letters are. You can do this intuitively, as when you learn a tune by ear and can play it on whatever instrument you have in front of you, or you can use a movable-doh Solfège to assign names to each scale degree: doh (the tonic), re, me, fa, sol, la, ti, doh. Your sheet music may have a tune in C with notes C, C, G, G, A, A, G. To play that on a whistle other than in C, think of the tune as doh, doh, sol, sol, la, la, sol, or XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXOOOO, XXOOOO, XOOOOO, XOOOOO, XXOOOO. Play that on any whistle, and you'll hear the opening notes of "Twinkle, Twinkle," without having to keep track of what note letters you are playing. (On a tabor pipe, you could notate it something like XXX, XXX, XXX', XXX', XXO', XXO', XXX'.)

Others have explained it better elsewhere on these forums, but I can't find their posts just now.

Re: Anyone have experience with Tabor pipe? Question about k

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:57 pm
by Goran
I'm a tabor pipe player (with small drum that hangs on my L hand thanks to velcro-sewn-on leather straps). I have both C (an old Kelishek pipe from the mid-80s that is a gem) and many other pipes in D, metal and of various woods. I strongly suggest you consider trying an inexpensive metal pipe, e.g., Generation or Dixon pipe for the following reasons: 1) hand size 2) finger hole size 3) tone or timbre that pleases you 4) the playing circumstances, meaning how much (or how little) volume you want/need.
About points 1) and 2) -- I have pipes in G and B which I cannot reliably play because the finger holes are both too large and too widely spaced for my hand and fingers to cover reliably and with accuracy every time. So, I use only the C and D pipes.
Since I usually play outdoors, often where there is background/competing noise, I need a couple of really loud instruments. However, I can choose to use softer, less shrill pipes when it comes time to blend with other instruments (see point 4, above).

So, go explore; you might begin with FAQs at the taborers' forum -- ... n/FAQ.html
If you get really enthusiastic, there are a couple of makers who will make you a pipe out of English wood, to order. See, for example,

Sources about Tabor pipes & tabor drums

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:28 pm
by Goran
Some additional resources about taboring, piping, and so forth.

Brief history of tabor pipes & drums in Morris dancing: ... he-morris/

The Taborers Society, founded in 2005. See:
MONTAGU, Jeremy. (2010). The Tabor, its Origin and Use. The Galpin Society Journal, 63, 209-216. Retrieved from

Julie Gardiner with Michael Allen, eds. Before the Mast: Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose (Portsmouth: The Mary Rose Trust, 2005). See pp 226-49 for descriptions of the musical instruments.

MONTAGU, Jeremy “Was the Tabor Pipe Always as We Know It”? The Galpin Society Journal [L] (1997) pp. 16-30