Donald MacPherson’s historic Lawrie drones, Hardie chanter for sale

Published: April 30, 2012
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The bagpipe that the legendary piper Donald MacPherson used to win the majority of his competition prizes is up for sale to the highest bidder. The R.G. Lawrie drones that MacPherson acquired in 1954 and the R.G. Hardie chanter that he played for most of his career are being sold through Pipe Dreams, manufacturers of popular Ezeedrone and EzeePC reeds.

MacPherson, who will reach the age of 90 on September 5, 2012, is not sure of the exact year that the full silver and ivory-mounted Lawrie drones were made. “Realistic” offers are being welcomed for the historic instrument.

MacPherson’s pipes, which he has played consistently until only recently, are described as being in excellent condition. According to MacPherson, he purchased the drones for £15 from a colleague when he worked in the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank, Scotland. The man he purchased the chased-nickel and ivory drones from recalled that he bought them in 1936.

Donald MacPherson is one of the most – if not the most – successful competition pipers of all time. His record of nine Clasps won at the Northern Meeting is unmatched. His other competitive feats include the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering 15 times, including five consecutive wins from 1962 to 1966; and six Silver Star MSRs at Inverness.

In the 1940s, MacPherson set a new standard for tone and tuning, and achieved a consistency of sound that his fellow competitors strived to achieve. He retired from competition in 1990 at the age of 68.

In 2007, the MacDougall of Aberfeldy pipes played by the late John Wilson of Edinburgh and Toronto were purchased for $13,000, thought to be a record price for a set of vintage Highland pipes. Since the sale  and subsequent  refurbishment of the Wilson pipes, they have since changed hands again at least once.

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Quality reed selection is a pre-requisite to obtaining a good tone in a pipe corps. Four criteria to consider when testing reeds are balance, vibrancy, volume and strength. Check the High A Low A balance against a single sounding tenor drone – if these two notes are in the ballpark chances are the rest of the notes can be tuned.
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