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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:26 pm 
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Hey all, I'm a GHB player and I'm looking to add Uilleann pipes. I've been looking all over for a good practice set, and I'm wondering what people think of Kinnear bagpipes. I've heard his Scottish Smallpipes in person, and been really impressed, but I don't know if that necessarily translates to his new uilleann sets.

If anyone has any suggest for a good practical practice set, let me know. I'm sort of in the 800-1500 range. I'd love something that lets me add the rest of the half set next year without too much trouble.

Keyed or not keyed isn't a big deal, but would be a really cool benefit.

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:56 am 
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I've personally never heard of Ian Kinnear uilleann pipes. Where abouts are you located? It's preferred to find a maker closer to you, both for the reeds and ease of upgrading.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:20 am 
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That's a great point. I'm in Iowa right now, so not exactly the center of uilleann pipe culture. Anyone I should specifically look into? His pipes were just where I started because I liked his small pipes, which isn't much to go on, but since I don't really have the ear or feel for uilleann yet, I figured it was a decent way to at least figure out if the maker made quality products in general.

I've had the Celtic Winds (the carbon fiber ones) recommended to me a couple of times, which is nice because you avoid the waitlist, but I'm having trouble hearing them played by an experienced piper in person. I've heard their GHB, but not their uilleann.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:08 pm 
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Bruce Childress (located in Maine) makes a student-model practice that is right in your stated price range (currently $1050): http://www.bcpipes.com/Practice.html
And he has a special deal to apply that price to the purchase of a more advanced set.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:34 pm 
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Rhaco wrote:
I figured it was a decent way to at least figure out if the maker made quality products in general.

I think so, yes. While Ian's quite new to uilleann pipe making and can't be competing with top established makers (yet?), he's a craftsman and already among the top names for SSP. Given the quality of guest tutors he's attracting for his uilleann piping weekends, he's obviously got access to good advice, knowledgeable testers and feedback, but I'd agree perhaps not the obvious place to start if you're in Iowa. Please note also that I don't play uilleann pipes, so am simply answering your question about quality products based on my experiences of Ian, his SSP, and my expectations from what I know about his uilleann interests.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:39 pm 
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Rhaco wrote:
That's a great point. I'm in Iowa right now, so not exactly the center of uilleann pipe culture. Anyone I should specifically look into? His pipes were just where I started because I liked his small pipes, which isn't much to go on, but since I don't really have the ear or feel for uilleann yet, I figured it was a decent way to at least figure out if the maker made quality products in general.

I've had the Celtic Winds (the carbon fiber ones) recommended to me a couple of times, which is nice because you avoid the waitlist, but I'm having trouble hearing them played by an experienced piper in person. I've heard their GHB, but not their uilleann.

Like RenaissanceGuy mentioned, Childress has some decently priced student models, and I've heard good things about his instruments. I've played one of his chanters, but it was relatively early in my piping career, so I can't say too much useful about it, other than it was a well made instrument.

Another maker a similar distance away, more or less, is Nick Whitmer. Looks like his practice sets are also in your price range, and I've read good comments on his instruments, though I've never played one myself. He also posts here.

A maker I heard about more recently is Dirk Mewes in Colorado, and while I've read that his instruments are nice, I don't know the price.

Regarding the Celtic Winds pipes, I've seen them in person and Rob is a nice guy who lives in the same state as me, but they are another instrument that I played early in my piping career, and I don't have much useful to say about them either. I saw them recently, and they looked like good instruments, but I didn't have a chance to play them, since my band was playing at the same event.

I know that's not super useful, but I feel like pipes, sorta like flutes, are a special kind of instrument that really takes years of experience before you can gauge the quality, other than aspects of workmanship. If I played either Childress or Celtic Winds now, I feel I could give good feedback.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:44 pm 
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RenaissanceGuy wrote:
Bruce Childress (located in Maine) makes a student-model practice that is right in your stated price range (currently $1050): http://www.bcpipes.com/Practice.html
And he has a special deal to apply that price to the purchase of a more advanced set.


That looks like a really cool deal, and good on him for setting up such a great way for people to get started with the instrument. I've never had a hobby that was this frontloaded in terms of time/money/research.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:49 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Rhaco wrote:
I figured it was a decent way to at least figure out if the maker made quality products in general.

I think so, yes. While Ian's quite new to uilleann pipe making and can't be competing with top established makers (yet?), he's a craftsman and already among the top names for SSP. Given the quality of guest tutors he's attracting for his uilleann piping weekends, he's obviously got access to good advice, knowledgeable testers and feedback, but I'd agree perhaps not the obvious place to start if you're in Iowa. Please note also that I don't play uilleann pipes, so am simply answering your question about quality products based on my experiences of Ian, his SSP, and my expectations from what I know about his uilleann interests.


That's about where I'm at. I know nothing but good things about him as a maker, but I don't know Uilleann anything yet, so I've got nothing but recommendations to go on.

The distance does concern me now that people mention it, but I'm honestly wondering what the difference is once I'm talking about getting pipes from one of the coasts? Obviously Scotland is a hell of a lot farther from Iowa than Main, but from a practical standpoint, the shipping time/costs are going to be similar. If someone were three-five hours away, maybe Chicago or something, there would be the benefit of being able to physically visit at some point, but once we're talking about Main, it's postage and emails regardless.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:01 pm 
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dyersituations wrote:
Like RenaissanceGuy mentioned, Childress has some decently priced student models, and I've heard good things about his instruments. I've played one of his chanters, but it was relatively early in my piping career, so I can't say too much useful about it, other than it was a well made instrument.

Another maker a similar distance away, more or less, is Nick Whitmer. Looks like his practice sets are also in your price range, and I've read good comments on his instruments, though I've never played one myself. He also posts here.

A maker I heard about more recently is Dirk Mewes in Colorado, and while I've read that his instruments are nice, I don't know the price.

Regarding the Celtic Winds pipes, I've seen them in person and Rob is a nice guy who lives in the same state as me, but they are another instrument that I played early in my piping career, and I don't have much useful to say about them either. I saw them recently, and they looked like good instruments, but I didn't have a chance to play them, since my band was playing at the same event.

I know that's not super useful, but I feel like pipes, sorta like flutes, are a special kind of instrument that really takes years of experience before you can gauge the quality, other than aspects of workmanship. If I played either Childress or Celtic Winds now, I feel I could give good feedback.


Nah, any info helps. I've talked to Dirk Mews. His stuff looks great. Looks like he's a touch more than I would want to spend, but not enough so that I couldn't stretch it if I decided he was my guy. I actually used to live very close to him, and I do have some small concerns about things being turned in Colorado. The humidity and altitude make it so that pipes take years to really "settle in" there. When I moved here, every part of my GHB (Hardie Hendersons) went squirrely. Going from 25% humidity at 5280 feet to 70% humidity at 800 feet was sort of a trial by fire, and those were GHB. They're finicky instruments in their own right, no doubt, but I can't imagine the crazy fit uilleann pipes would throw.

One thing I do love about the Celtic Winds pipes is that I think he makes a good product (GHB) and I like supporting someone who is willing to get creative with materials and help develop new approaches to some really traditional instruments. I just don't know enough about uilleann pipes to say whether they stand up to his GHB. I messaged him to see if I could get some sound files. I don't have the ear yet to be really discerning, but at least it'll be sort of "I don't know uilleann pipes, but I know what I like," when I go to make the actual decision. If they play true and I'm pleased with the tone, at some point that's all that matters on an instrument that won't see a session for years.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:13 pm 
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It's true that the distance might be an issue regardless, but shipping to/from the USA is easier than shipping internationally, so there's that to consider as well. Do you have any pipers near you? If there's someone who can make reeds, you can really order from wherever. The only chanter I had shipped to me that actually had a reed that worked well was one that had a reed original made in the same city, in a set made 20 miles from me. I've purchased other chanters both from the USA and Europe, and none of them had reeds that played great for me. Luckily there's a pipe maker near me, so he made reeds for my first second-hand chanter, and since then I've learned to make reeds.

My main advice if you don't have a reed maker near you is to work with a pipe maker and don't really consider a used set. A maker would likely have a good idea of how to make a reed that would likely work in your environment.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:26 pm 
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There are (at least) two makers in your area. While they don't do inexpensive practice sets to my knowledge, they perhaps can point you to additional local expertise, etc.:
Tim Britton in Iowa
David Boisvert (Greenwood pipes) in Minnesota

Welcome to the madness. I have a Whitmer half set and am enjoying it.

Ken
Pennsylvania


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:12 am 
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I saw Ian's pipes at the All Britain Fleadh last year, the looked and sounded ok (half sets not practice sets though)

If you are looking at polymer chanters try KM Bagpipes - 3D printed chanter

David

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:01 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:04 pm 
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Rhaco wrote:
I've never had a hobby that was this frontloaded in terms of time/money/research.


I don't know any even moderately good uilleann pipers who consider it just a hobby; the right word would be something closer to "obsession". There are many obstacles to overcome, especially if you are far away from expert teachers and other pipers; the time and money required is just the beginning. Not trying to be pessimistic, but to learn in isolation you have to really, really want to - almost to the point of obsession.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:27 pm 
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Ken_C wrote:
There are (at least) two makers in your area. While they don't do inexpensive practice sets to my knowledge, they perhaps can point you to additional local expertise, etc.:
Tim Britton in Iowa
David Boisvert (Greenwood pipes) in Minnesota


Yeah, I came across Tim Britton, but he's well out of the range of what I can outlay to get started. Maybe one day, but I still have to go back to the wife with a number I can defend :)
I hadn't seen David Boisvert before, but it looks like his buisiness model might be a bit quirky for my needs. The whole "interests list," thing is awesome for the maker because he gets to do what he wants, and more power to him, but I'm already quite likely looking at a 6 months to a year wait for a lot of makers. I don't know if I can make a "sooner or later, if I find a project I'll enjoy," thing work. Part of the carbony appeal was the instant turnaround time.
Thanks a ton for the suggestions though!


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