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

Published: February 29, 2012
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A-Grade

We sent out 38 requests to A-Grade pipers and we received 29 responses, for a response rate of 76% – slightly higher than average.

Pipe Chanter

 

With this group, the Naill blackwood chanter was the choice of 17 pipers, or 59% – by far the most popular. The next closest chanters were the McCallum MC2 blackwood or McCallum blackwood with three each (10%). With A-Grade pipers, Naill has a corner on this market.

Drones

 

Vintage Henderson drones are the number one choice of A-Grade pipers, with eight (28%) going with them. Modern Naill drones were second, with five (17%). But vintage drones overall are the most popular choice of A-Grade pipers. In the “Other” write-in category, Center (two), Robert Reid (one) and Starck (one) were listed, while Other modern makes were Ayrshire Bagpipes and MacPherson.

Chanter Reed

 

As with the Premier players, chanter reeds made by Donald MacPhee were most popular in this group, with eight (28%) going with them at the big gatherings. Troy (six, 21%) and Warnock (four, 14%) were next most popular. Listed in “Other” were Duncan Watson, Gilmour, and Grossart, each by one respondent.

Drone Reed Setup

 

Only one A-Grade piper played a bagpipe with all cane reeds, and 12 (41%) said that they played All Synthetic, Various Makers. Overall 21 respondents (72%) played a bagpipe with all-synthetic drone reeds, while 24% went with a cane bass and synthetic tenors – a higher rate than we saw with the Premier players.

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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.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY:
July 26, 1865John MacDonald, Inverness, born, Glentruim.
UPCOMING EVENTS July 26, 2014Scottish Pipe Band ChampionshipsDumbarton, Scotland

August 1, 2014Lorient Interceltic FestivalLorient

August 1, 2014Glengarry Highland GamesMaxville, ON

August 2, 2014Spokane Highland GamesSpokane County Fair & Expo Center, Spokane, WA

August 2, 2014Melrose Highland GamesMelrose

TIP OF THE DAY
Pipers: Need to manipulate your pipe chanter reed? – use a pen knife or Xacto knife instead of sandpaper. You have much more control on the amount of cane you take off with a knife vs. sandpaper. And it is much better for the cane itself; other woodworkers call this technique “feathering.”
Donald MacPhee, reedmaker, Alexandria, Scotland