What the world’s best pipers are playing: a pipes|drums Survey

Published: February 29, 2012
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Premier-Grade

We counted and sourced names and addresses for 26 pipers in this elite category. Nineteen responded – a 73% rate.

Pipe chanter

 

The Naill blackwood chanter is the choice of the Premier-Grade players, with six (32%) using it, while the McCallum MC2 blackwood model is coming on strong with four players (21%) and McCallum blackwood played by three (16%). Of the 20 choices, only eight makes were selected, and none under “Other.”

Drones

 

Vintage drones like Henderson and Lawrie are still the preference of these players, but Naill drones are prominent, with three Premier players using them. One piper played vintage Lawries at Oban and then Naills at Inverness, which is reflected under “Other.” In all, 17 varieties of drones were offered at choices, not including “Other,” and nine makes were selected overall.

Chanter Reed

 

The number of chanter reed makers continues to increase and selections were more varied here. MacPhee reeds were the most popular choice, with three playing them. Others were played by two or one respondent. Under Other, two pipers said that they played a reed made by Duncan Watson and one by James Murray.

Drone Reed Setup

 

Here we wanted to investigate trends with pipers playing all cane, all synthetic or a mix of the two in various forms. The most popular approach is All Synthetic of Various Makers with eight (42%) listing this, while All Synthetic, One Maker was the choice of 32% (six). Cane Bass, Synthetic Tenors has a combined score of four (21%), with two saying this combination was of a single maker, and two of various makers. Interestingly, no one played an all-cane drone reed bagpipe last year.

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  1. Doc

    For the future, it would be interesting to know if anyone has changed their set up in the past year, or even how many times they’ve changed their setup in the past 5 years, for example. Also, what is being changed. This would give us all an idea of the most volatile” areas that need watching

  2. Bagpipermann

    Perhaps the reason for a greater percentage of vintage pipes in the premier grade and newer pipes on the B grade is a reflection on the age/longevity of the players and their respective accessability to (at the appropriate age) reasonably priced instruments? EG, a 16 year old us not too likely to cough up 10K for a set of now rare Silver & Ivory vintage pipes compared to 2K? for an abundant new set of equal or better quality sound? Maybe? As far as bags and reeds, it’s interesting to see that the Old Dogs” have a preference for modern technology while the “Young Pups” are slanted more towards the old…hmmm…perhaps pups have more patience or energy for the persnicketiness of the old ways? Well. I’m stayin’ with my old pipes and new bags/reeds…I just don’t have the patience for the protracted battle of attrition for a negligibly better or worse sound at the end of it…gimme instant sound anytime!… Cheers

  3. AndrewBerthoff

    @Lawrie – thanks for the comment. I’m sure many of the respondents don’t care about revealing their identity, but keeping everyone anonymous gets many more responses, which is most important. @Doc – good idea. Perhaps we will add a question or two along those lines next time.

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TIP OF THE DAY
When tuning a pipe corps, do three or four at a time (depending how long it takes) and get the others to blow their pipes back up to pitch prior to tuning them.
Richard Parkes, P-M Field Marshal Montgomery

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