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McCallum getting into uilleann making
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Author:  pancelticpiper [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:38 am ]
Post subject:  McCallum getting into uilleann making

There's a thread on a Highland bagpipe site about McCallum Bagpipes getting into uilleann pipemaking.

This could potentially turn the uilleann world on its ear, so to speak.

For those who don't know about McCallum, they are by far the world's biggest Highland pipemaker, and no one else is remotely close.

What they did was to come into the pipemaking thing with a completely different "business model". Highland pipes were traditionally made by what might be called "artisan" makers, a single guy at a lathe who selected the wood, turned all the parts by hand, and in many cases sewed the bag and made the reeds. I would guess that it would typically take one of these guys around a week to make a set of Highland pipes.

McCallum went about it entirely differently, by setting up a state-of-the-art factory with the latest computer-operated CNC machines. I've heard it estimated that McCallum makes around 40 sets of pipes a week. McCallum has gained a good reputation based on good instruments and fantastic customer service, though many traditionalists dislike the very notion of CNC made pipes.

Here is their factory

http://www.mccallumbagpipes.com/about/factory/

McCallum has been continuously updating the acoustics and materials of their Highland pipes, coming out with a large number of different chanter designs (different pitches, chanters for solo work, pipe band work, orchestral work, Breton chanters, etc) and has got into the world of Scottish Smallpipes and Scottish Lowland/Border pipes.

McCallum's Scottish smallpipes and Border pipes are AFAIK designed in collaboration with Fred Morrison, the fantastic Scottish piper, and he is the one AFAIK behind McCallum's incursion into the uilleann world. I have read that the McCallum uilleann pipes are based on Fred Morrison's Dave Williams set, and that Jimmy Cartner will be making the reeds.

So there will be the potential of a maker who can make dozens of uilleann chanters a week.

The big question I ask is, will they be any good? Potentially they can, if Fred Morrison's Williams chanter is good, and McCallum makes exact copies of it, which given their technology they should be able to.

What is the opinion in "the uilleann world" on Dave Williams chanters? What did Dave base his design on? Who is Jimmy Cartner?

Author:  rgouette [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

almost bought a set of McCallums a while back

boy, surely will be interesting to see what comes of it

:boggle:

Author:  BigDavy [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Hi Pancelticpiper

Fred Morrisopn on his Dave Williams set

He can make that set talk. I have sat 3 feet away from him playing the set and I can say with confidence that if McCallum makes a duplicate of the chanter, then they will sell a lot of them.


David

Author:  andymay [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Fraid to say that's not the Williams chanter in the clip but a one by Benedict Koehler.

Fred has had a few different chanters over the past few years - at least 2 by Williams, a Froment, and the Koehler you see there.

Still, interesting to see what they come up with!!!

A

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

So it will interesting to see which chanter McCallum will be copying... all I read was that McCallum was copying Morrison's "Williams set" but does that mean the set as a whole, or the Williams body but one of Fred's other chanters?

Author:  Cathy Wilde [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Did Paddy Keenan play a Williams chanter for a while? He plays a K&Q chanter now but IIRC, he had Dave copy his Crowley set back in the late 90s, and he still plays the Williams set (sans chanter).

If that timing's right I wonder if he recorded "The Long Grazing Acre" on the Williams chanter?

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Although it's being done all the time, a mass producer entering into the copying of designs will trigger some interesting questions with regards to intellectual property, copyright of designs etc.

Author:  PJ [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Mr.Gumby wrote:
... copyright of designs ...


You're in the domain of patents and you'd need about $30,000 to apply for a run-of-the-mill patent. Then there's no guarantee that you could actually get a new patent, particularly when all you're doing is copying someone else's design. Where's the innovation?

Let's face it, nothing in the last 100 years of uilleann pipemaking could be described as "innovative". In fact, most of the serious work has been in trying to rediscover what the 19th century makers were doing.

Author:  andymay [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Cathy Wilde wrote:
Did Paddy Keenan play a Williams chanter for a while? He plays a K&Q chanter now but IIRC, he had Dave copy his Crowley set back in the late 90s, and he still plays the Williams set (sans chanter).

If that timing's right I wonder if he recorded "The Long Grazing Acre" on the Williams chanter?


No, that CD is the Williams body but his old Rowsome chanter.

Author:  Ted [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Paddy never played or recorded with the Williams chanter that came with the full set. Williams made 5 sets based on the Crowley body/Rowsome chanter of Paddy's, one of which is Fred's. Paddy has used the boxwood copy of his own Rowsome chanter made for him by K&Q. Paddy was not able to reed the Williams chanter to his satisfaction. A year or two ago, I was contacted by Fred Morrison for a staple which might cure the intonation problems in his Williams chanter. I told him a staple may help some but the tuning problems he described were inherent in the chanter and no "magic staple" would cure them. I suggested a new chanter based on a Rowsome, but a model with the fewest intonation issues. I suggested K&Q. He got a chanter from Benedict after that and now uses it exclusively.

A local GHB piper went to a workshop this fall with Fred near lake Tahoe. He ordered one of the first new practice sets of McCallum's through Fred. I doubt Fred had them copy the Williams chanter, as it had tuning issues. He said Fred is playing the Koehler chanter, as it is in tune. Fred will approve the chanters and may even be involved in the final voicing. Fred, like Paddy, is a perfectionist about tuning. I would suspect that what they are making is a copy of Fred's Williams body, which was a copy of Paddy's Crowley body and a copy of Fred's Koehler chanter, which is a copy of two different Rowsome chanters plus refinements to the bore. McCallum/Morrison had no compuction about copying Hamish Moore's design of border pipes and reel pipes, without acknowlegement, and selling them as the "Morrison model" reel-pipes.

Author:  Cathy Wilde [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Thanks, guys! That's good to know. And it's amazing what you all know!

As for the mass-production of these things ... I can't figure out what to think. It's so complex. I'm irked for the individual makers but then I find myself thinking McCallum's just doing a similar thing on a grand scale ... sigh. And it's great if everyone can get a mid-priced alternative to Pakistani pipes, but ... I'm just not a big fan of industrialization in this case.

Although if no one's gotten an up-to-scratch copy of Paddy's Crowley chanter yet, there may still be hope for the idea of the unique, quirky, one-off and just plain magic.

Author:  andymay [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

Well i know a guy that bought the Koehler chanter from Fred last year, so he's definitely not using that anymore, wonder what he's switched to now?

Ted - not to doubt you but are you sure Fred's Williams is one of the Crowley copies? I ask because talking with Tiarnan O'D this summer he reckoned his set and Fred's were the first 2 Dave made from steel, and therefore earlier than Keenan's. But i know Fred got another chanter from Dave later.

T O'D reckoned his are Dave's earlier pattern based on Felix Doran's pipes, and that Fred's, as the twin, were the same as those?

At this rate even McCallum's won't know who copied what......

A

Author:  andymay [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

p.s. If the Morrison pattern border pipes are anything to go by, this isn't going to be a mid priced alternative to anything....

Author:  an seanduine [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

andymay wrote:
p.s. If the Morrison pattern border pipes are anything to go by, this isn't going to be a mid priced alternative to anything....


Quality control, quality control, quality control. It's all about quality control. . .and that's not cheap. Otherwise it might as well be made in Pakistan. And of course, now they have CNC now. . .for whatever that is worth.

Bob

Author:  PJ [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: McCallum getting into uilleann making

If McCallum is hoping for a huge surge in uilleann piping, I have a suspicion that they've missed the boat by about 10 years.

Maybe they'll be up and running for the next up-swing in the piping market. We seem to have one every 30 or 40 years ...

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