Flashy: that set Griogair has was very much like the John Cameron set pictured in the article, and may well be a Cameron set. Very, very old -- maybe 1830s or earlier. Ebony or cocuswood from that period might not survive the journey in time, but the indigenous woods are hardy. Fascinating set to play; flatter, 'mellow' and really steady, which surpirsed me. Very similar in tone to the so-called "Culloden" set on the site now, which is a bit of a mystery.
I heard Griogair Lawrie playing the old laburnum set (circa 1820?) you sold him right after Allan MacDonald's pipes that Andrew MacNeil of Colonsay gave him. You could hear how the tone changed from the lower, mellower rich deep sound to the brilliant, sparkling, loud sound we know today. No judgement about which is better here. Both are fantastic. The harmonics off the old pipes were incredible on the "dark notes", especially the 'b.' You could also sit right next him without feeling like your eardrums would burst. I wonder if there might be a growing interest in these flatter, mellower, quieter Highland pipes like there is among uilleann pipers for flat sets. Griogair's chanter is a circa 1840 MacDougall. It's a great pipe for pibroch. Thanks for the article and all the great photographs.
As the owner of four seriously old sets of Highland bagpipes, I read Jim’s article with great interest. He brings to the subject a wealth of first-hand experience in both handling and playing old instruments, and he has an impressive knowledge of bagpipe history and its literature. I had not known until recently that in the late 1800s and and early 1900s Highland bagpipe sets were often made with a mixture of ebony and blackwood: one of Jim’s points. Sure enough, my 1913 Hendersons are mostly ebony, but the end joints, which will have required deeper turning, are blackwood.
Well done Jim.What a well written and researched work.
I found your information on buying an instrument on the money. Eg. My dad had a set of vintage Hendersons 1916?,and he broke the middle drone top. He sent off to Henderson for a new piece, and when it came the instrument never quite sounded the same. As P.M. I had acess to numerous tenor drone tops, and one by one I tried them. I finally found one that created a great sound, and locked beautifully even though it did not match the original Henderson top. In appeaerance it is close.
One buying this set, would get a great sound,and it is the sound that makes the instrument.
My daughter has played them since, and loves them.
Again great article Jim! Reay
Just read this. Excellent article. And I just realised I think that the drones I thought were Hardie pipes from the 1970's I think may be actually be Lawrie's. Mounts very similar and maybe ebony not black wood. Must get these checked over and re valued.
jim, very interesting article. well written and carefully researched. it took a lot of time and effort to write,and your love for the music these pipes produce shines through brightly.lang may your lum reek! don mole
Published: September 27, 2010 Author: JanetteMontague
Brilliant , authoritative, each one of these articles is better than the one before just when that seems impossible. Nothing quite like something that's been written by someone who knows their subject inside out. Next time I buy vintage pipes, I know where I'll be coming to. This piece is surely a 'must -have' for any serious student of piping. Packed with A1 information, and as usual, brilliantly written and presented.
Published: September 27, 2010 Author: StephenMacNeil