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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:49 pm 
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Location: Bergen, Norway
Hello from Bergen, Norway!

I've been a member here for some years, and love wind instruments from the other side of the North Sea. I play the tin whistle / whistles / low whistles, but of course Uilleann Pipes fascinates me.

I said to some friends lately that if I had a lot of money, I would buy Uilleann pipes, knowing that it would not be likely. My friends then secretly raised a lot of money from people around me for my birthday. Suddenly I have a mission: To buy Uilleann Pipes and learn to play them! :)

I know very little. But this is what I am looking for as far as I have any idea of what to look for:

1. I do not want to put too much money into this after all. But of course the pipes should be of a quality that's good enough to be played well and sound well. So at least one step up from the cheapest ones.

2. I love the patina of used things, and maybe that would be a good idea for both quality and not too high prices.

3. I play slow tunes, and my strength in music is the melody lines. I would like an instrument with good dynamics for this. I would rather have a tender voice than a loud voice in the chanter.

4. I understand the chanter has at least 2 octaves range, that is very important for me. (I don't even know how you shift to the upper octave...)

5. It seems that the drones often is shut off in popular celtic music, so that you only hear the chanter. I would like this option.

6. I also understand that the drones can change tune before each playing or even during playing. I would love that.

So out form my list. Do you have any suggestions, general or even very specific? Please tell! :)


Thanks a lot!

SverreTheFlute


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:02 pm 
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Welcome SverreTheFlute!
Just a few thoughts off the top of my head:

Are there any Uilleann pipers located near you? It's a rather difficult instrument to learn in isolation. Some instructors offer lessons online via Skype.
There are some indications that there was once an "Oslo Uilleann Pipers" club, but they don't seem to have any online presence these days.

1. If you don't mind telling us, what kind of price range is possible for you?
The standard method is to start learning on a practice set, which consists of chanter, bag and bellows (no drones). This would also be the most affordable option.

2. It can be convenient and affordable to order a used set that somebody has listed online, but then you will most likely need help from an experienced piper to get the reeds working properly, and to get the instrument in tune. Another concern is that the chanter reed is sensitive to climate, and a reed made in one region of the world may not respond as expected when transported to another region. It's best if the reed is made locally. This is another reason why it's useful to connect with pipers in your area.

3. Flat sets (in the key of B, C or C# or roughly thereabouts) generally have softer, warmer tones than concert sets (key of D). However, if you are looking for affordable used instruments, concert-pitch sets seem to be easier to get a hold of at lower prices. Also, concert-pitch pipes more easily play in key with other instruments in a traditional session.

4. Two full octaves, and occasionally you may even manage to squeeze out a couple notes in the lower end of the third octave. As part of your learning process, you will find out the proper technique for playing in the second octave.

5. Yes, a drone shut-off switch is a standard feature on Uilleann pipes. But drones can wait until later, since you will just playing the chanter in the beginning stages.

6. On the majority of sets, drones are actually meant to only be played in one key. For example, the drones on a concert set are designed to sound the note D.
(You may be thinking of regulators, which have metal keys you press gently to play different notes for harmony)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:31 pm 
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Location: Halden, Norway
Hi.
I am another Norwegian uilleann piper learning by myself. It is very important you buy a quality instrument. It is so difficult to learn you at least need to be sure there is nothing wrong with your gear. I play a Martin Banba halfset (chanter and drones) and have been at it for about two years. I am coming along nicely, but have a long way to go. I know of two other norwegians playing the pipes but have not yet met any of them.

As mentioned it is a hard instrument to learn, and it is very important that you are patient and that you search and read all the information you can get. And then after awhile you can make up your own decision what is good advice or not. I really hope you go through with your mission, but again. Get a quality instrument!

Ketil
Halden, Norway


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:49 pm 
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Looks like your questions have been answered well. If I were to start again now, and if money were an issue, I would probably consider ordering a 3D printed chanter from Kenneth McNicholl, and a bag and bellows from Kelleher. I have a pipe maker nearby, so I bought a second hand practice set when I started, then had reeds made 20 miles away. Martin, who Ketil purchased from could be a good option too. Keep in mind I've never played either or even seen them in person, I've just read good comments on both.

https://www.kmbagpipes.com/selling.html
https://www.kellehertrad.com/

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:47 am 
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Hope no one minds me hijacking this thread, as I'm in a similar position as OP. Looking for an affordable way to start learning Uilleann pipes.

I've been a GHB piper for a little more than a decade now, and also play the SSP.

That 3d printed chanter just blew my mind!

I wonder: Is there any reason why my SSP bellows might not work with an uilleann pipe bag? I'm wondering if I can just buy a chanter and bag and use my current bellows to save money.

And lastly, I'm struggling to find educational assets for the UP. eg, instructional books, beginner tune books, instructors online/nearby... any sources that could be shared? I live in Washington state.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:37 am 
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thePhotopiper wrote:
I wonder: Is there any reason why my SSP bellows might not work with an uilleann pipe bag? I'm wondering if I can just buy a chanter and bag and use my current bellows to save money.

And lastly, I'm struggling to find educational assets for the UP. eg, instructional books, beginner tune books, instructors online/nearby... any sources that could be shared? I live in Washington state.

The SSP bellows should work just fine. In fact, I replaced a set of leaky bellows on my flat set with a set by Simon Hope, who as you probably know, made SSPs. I actually have a set of SSP as well, and on that particular set, the bellows are a tad bit smaller than the Hope bellows and the bellows on my UP, but they'd probably still be sufficient.

Where abouts in WA are you? If you're near Seattle, or even if you're not, reach out to the club there. As of a few years ago, they still had loaner sets, and they hosted a tionól every other year in Feb. I don't know if he's still involved, but I think Tom Creegan was part of the club, so you could reach out to him. If there's no luck there, and you're near Portland at all, there are a handful of us pipers down here that could assist in the beginning steps. If neither of those are good options, check out the DVDs from NPU (pipers.ie), as they are the closest I've seen to what I got from my first lessons.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:46 am 
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thePhotopiper wrote:
Hope no one minds me hijacking this thread, as I'm in a similar position as OP. Looking for an affordable way to start learning Uilleann pipes.

I've been a GHB piper for a little more than a decade now, and also play the SSP.

That 3d printed chanter just blew my mind!

I wonder: Is there any reason why my SSP bellows might not work with an uilleann pipe bag? I'm wondering if I can just buy a chanter and bag and use my current bellows to save money.

And lastly, I'm struggling to find educational assets for the UP. eg, instructional books, beginner tune books, instructors online/nearby... any sources that could be shared? I live in Washington state.


Hi thePhotopiper

Smallpipe bellows would work no problem, and Kenny makes good chanters (I have 2) so go ahead.

David

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:58 am 
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Hello there thePhotopiper, your bellows should work fine as long as you have an air-tight connection to the bag. Air volume might tend to be a little different on bellows made for one type of pipes or another, but some makers sell the exact same bellows for use on either Uilleann pipes or smallpipes.

I have the Kenneth McNicholl 3D-printed chanter, and I really like it.

Here are a few instructors offering lessons via Skype or other online methods:
Piper Patrick D'Arcy: http://uilleannobsession.com/lessons.html
Piper Joey Abarta: https://joeyabarta.com/#lessons
Pipemakers Tim and Stephanie Benson: https://bensonuilleannpipes.com/lessons

I'm sure there are others as well; these are just the first ones that came to mind.

For self-study, here are a few good resources to start out with:
"The New Approach to Uilleann Piping" book with CD by H.J. Clarke
"The Art of Uilleann Piping" DVD series by Na Piobairi Uilleann
NPU's free "Learn" series of videos: https://pipers.ie/source/section/?sectionId=2041

It would also be a great experience to go to a Tionól and connect with other pipers. The West Coast Piping Tionól alternates each year between San Francisco and Seattle. It should be coming to Seattle in 2020, though as of right now there is no information online about it. I'm not sure if the Seattle Pipers Club is very active at the moment. Their website is gone, they no longer publish their newsletter "The Pipers Review," and the last updates on their Facebook were for a couple of last-minute low-key meetings at the end of 2018. I reached out to them about club membership a while back, but nobody ever answered me.

Edit: I notice some of this was already addressed while I was drafting my post!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:19 pm 
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Thanks for the input folks!

Quote:
Where abouts in WA are you? If you're near Seattle, or even if you're not, reach out to the club there.


I am in Seattle actually. I recently saw on e a site there is someone in Sammamish who plays, but I've lost the site and I don't recall the mans name or contact info...

Quote:
I'm not sure if the Seattle Pipers Club is very active at the moment.


I came across them recently as well and it does seem they aren't active anymore...

However, tomorrow night I will be joining my first irish session so perhaps someone there will have more info for me. That's one of the main reasons I'm finally looking into the Uilleann pipes. I've heard some... mixed.. and...strong opinions about SSPs in irish sessions, and since I've always wanted to learn the UP anyways, I figure now is the time!

But I will definitely look into the West Coast Piping Tionól! And those educational sources!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:38 pm 
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thePhotopiper wrote:
However, tomorrow night I will be joining my first irish session so perhaps someone there will have more info for me. That's one of the main reasons I'm finally looking into the Uilleann pipes. I've heard some... mixed.. and...strong opinions about SSPs in irish sessions, and since I've always wanted to learn the UP anyways, I figure now is the time!

The problem with SSPs in an Irish session, or really any Scottish pipes, is the repertoires are often completely different.

If you're on FB, you could try reaching out to Tom Creegan on there. It looks like he's still in Seattle. He's a brilliant piper, and he taught at the tionól I went to a few years ago in Seattle.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:46 pm 
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thePhotopiper wrote:
I am in Seattle actually. I recently saw on e a site there is someone in Sammamish who plays, but I've lost the site and I don't recall the mans name or contact info...

It could be Ian Lawther, who is listed toward the bottom of the contacts former Uilleann pipemaker Seth Gallagher's site: http://www.uilleann.com/contacts.html
Mr. Gallagher stopped making pipes a number of years ago, so that contact page might not be up to date...
If you want to get in touch with Mr. Lawther to see if he's still giving Uilleann piping lessons, he is a moderator over at the Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums: http://forums.bobdunsire.com


Last edited by RenaissanceGuy on Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:09 pm 
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RenaissanceGuy wrote:
It could be Ian Lawther, who is listed toward the bottom of the contacts former Uilleann pipemaker Seth Gallagher's site: http://www.uilleann.com/contacts.html
Mr. Gallagher stopped making pipes a number of years ago, so that contact page might not be up to date...
If you want to get in touch with Mr. Lawther to see if he's still giving Uilleann piping lessons, he is a moderator over at the Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums: http://forums.bobdunsire.com

I think that's him! I'm pretty familiar with the Dunsire forums, I'll hop over there and give him a shout.

dyersituations wrote:
The problem with SSPs in an Irish session, or really any Scottish pipes, is the repertoires are often completely different.

That is what I'm learning pretty quick. That and the irish tunes that can be played on the SSP are usually in a different key than most sessions play (apparently). There is a piper on the Dunsire forums who compiled several tunes and rearranged them to fit better in sessions, which is what I have been trying to learn from this past week.

I visited the session last week and asked explicitly if SSPs were welcome and they assured me they were. Apparently, depending on who shows up, it could lean either irish or scottish. Either way, I'd still love to be able to pull out a set of uilleann pipes and jam away with them.

But I'm also learning the tin whistle (which is how I found these forums), so if all else fails I'll just whistle away!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:24 pm 
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thePhotopiper wrote:
That and the irish tunes that can be played on the SSP are usually in a different key than most sessions play (apparently). There is a piper on the Dunsire forums who compiled several tunes and rearranged them to fit better in sessions, which is what I have been trying to learn from this past week

Yeah, if you have the typical A chanter, it's going to hard to play in the same key. Maybe with a SSP chanter in D? Though the chanter won't have enough range for most Irish tunes. I once played a session with a borderpiper. While it was good fun, he had no common tunes with all of us Irish tune players.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:20 pm 
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RenaissanceGuy wrote:
Welcome SverreTheFlute!
Just a few thoughts off the top of my head:

Are there any Uilleann pipers located near you? It's a rather difficult instrument to learn in isolation. Some instructors offer lessons online via Skype.
There are some indications that there was once an "Oslo Uilleann Pipers" club, but they don't seem to have any online presence these days.

1. If you don't mind telling us, what kind of price range is possible for you?
The standard method is to start learning on a practice set, which consists of chanter, bag and bellows (no drones). This would also be the most affordable option.

2. It can be convenient and affordable to order a used set that somebody has listed online, but then you will most likely need help from an experienced piper to get the reeds working properly, and to get the instrument in tune. Another concern is that the chanter reed is sensitive to climate, and a reed made in one region of the world may not respond as expected when transported to another region. It's best if the reed is made locally. This is another reason why it's useful to connect with pipers in your area.

3. Flat sets (in the key of B, C or C# or roughly thereabouts) generally have softer, warmer tones than concert sets (key of D). However, if you are looking for affordable used instruments, concert-pitch sets seem to be easier to get a hold of at lower prices. Also, concert-pitch pipes more easily play in key with other instruments in a traditional session.

4. Two full octaves, and occasionally you may even manage to squeeze out a couple notes in the lower end of the third octave. As part of your learning process, you will find out the proper technique for playing in the second octave.

5. Yes, a drone shut-off switch is a standard feature on Uilleann pipes. But drones can wait until later, since you will just playing the chanter in the beginning stages.

6. On the majority of sets, drones are actually meant to only be played in one key. For example, the drones on a concert set are designed to sound the note D.
(You may be thinking of regulators, which have metal keys you press gently to play different notes for harmony)





Thank you so much RenaissanceGuy! :) Your answers was to great help! :)

No, I don't have any players nearby, but nice to hear that there at least is one at the other side of my country, Kjell! :)

Yes, I understand this is a hard instrument to learn, I have great faith in Youtube, though, I hope I will pick up some instructions that way. ;)

I want to keep the price range between 500 and 1000 £, and closer to 500 than 1000. I know many would say that's too little but still. I'm not sure how far I will take this, I can't invest too much.

On eBay there are offers, starting as low as between 200 and 300 £. All those seems to be the ones from Pakistan. I guess you have some thoughts about them...

I've been looking around a bit now for handmade sets and found practice sets for a little more than 800 £, I would prefer a bit lower to end up under 1000 with taxes and shipping to Norway included.

It would be of great help for me with some links or recommodations within my price range. :)

Your advices helps me to understand it's best to buy a practice chanter. But if the half sets under 1000 £ is good enough it wouldn't hurt. Actually I would most prefer to have one or two drones included.

The most important thing for me is the sound quality of the chanter. I understand it's not easy to buy anything else than D for my price range. Maybe it would be an idea to buy the chanter for itself, and add a cheaper set of bag and belly.

Sverre


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:36 pm 
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sverretheflute wrote:
I have great faith in Youtube, though, I hope I will pick up some instructions that way. ;)

I want to keep the price range between 500 and 1000 £, and closer to 500 than 1000. I know many would say that's too little but still. I'm not sure how far I will take this, I can't invest too much.

On eBay there are offers, starting as low as between 200 and 300 £. All those seems to be the ones from Pakistan. I guess you have some thoughts about them...

I've been looking around a bit now for handmade sets and found practice sets for a little more than 800 £, I would prefer a bit lower to end up under 1000 with taxes and shipping to Norway included.

It would be of great help for me with some links or recommodations within my price range. :)

Your advices helps me to understand it's best to buy a practice chanter. But if the half sets under 1000 £ is good enough it wouldn't hurt. Actually I would most prefer to have one or two drones included.

The most important thing for me is the sound quality of the chanter. I understand it's not easy to buy anything else than D for my price range. Maybe it would be an idea to buy the chanter for itself, and add a cheaper set of bag and belly.

Sverre

Sadly not much in the way of YouTube piping tutorials. Check out the videos that RenaissanceGuy mentioned. At that price range, a practice set is really the only option. The lowest I've seen a quality used 1/2 set was around $1200, but that set needed reeds, and that was about a year ago. Don't even consider the sets made in Pakistan. I borrowed one for the fun of it years ago, and it was garbage. Totally unplayable and leaky. Since it sounds like you have no local pipers, definitely consider a new set, as reeds are a nightmare when starting piping, especially if they aren't working. The cheapest options that I know of are the 3D printed chanters already mentioned, and penny chanters from over here in the USA. Then something like Kelleher for the bag/bellows. There are also some makers with lower prices for practice sets like, Martin Gallen, Nick Whitmer, and Childress.

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