Lee & Sons add bag-making to product line
You might say that Jack Lee and his sons want more skin in the games. The Vancouver-based Lee & Sons Bagpipes, headed by renowned piper Jack Lee, have added pipe bag-making to their line of products for sale, specializing specifically on zippered natural bags of sheep and goat skin.
The bags will be manufactured entirely in Canada by the Lee family, with the skins themselves coming from the UK -based tannery that most other bag-makers work with already.
According to Jack Lee, the bags, which start at $299 for models without a zipper and $349 with one, are aimed at “the serious piper who wants to get the richest tone they can. With our bags pipers can get all the benefits of goatskin and sheepskin and still keep their drones dry and steady.”
The integrated air tight zipper, he says, allows for the addition of a moisture-control system, while still obtaining the purported benefits of an all-natural bag.
He said that the target market is “pipers around the world who would like to improve their chanter tone. Often pipers are unhappy with a thin chanter sound that they may be getting. Some pipers have previously been reluctant to play goatskin or sheepskin for fear that their drones would get wet. Our zippers enable pipers to install a moisture system inside the bag to keep the drones dry.”
Since the 1980s, synthetic pipe bags have gained popularity, augmented by the use of moisture control systems, which have been impossible to integrate with all-natural bags without an access point. Other makers have introduced hybrid bags with a natural exterior affixed to a synthetic interior, while Gannaway in New Zealand offered cowhide bags with an integrated zipper.
A pipes|drums survey of Grade 1 pipe bands conducted in early-2012 showed a rise in popularity of natural pipe bags at the top level and a subsequent drop in the use of moisture control systems beyond a basic tube water trap.
Lee said that goatskin provides the feel of sheepskin, but is slightly thicker and thus could have a longer life. Most skin bags need to be replaced every year when played daily.
The only other full-time pipe bag maker based in North America has been L&M Highland Outfitters of Nova Scotia, which introduced hide bags starting in the 1960s.