Published: November 30, 2004

Naill strikes deal with Lee brothers

The Vancouver-based brothers, Terry and Jack Lee, have revealed that they have been working with David Naill & Co. bagpipe makers of Somerset, England, to redevelop the company’s chanters.

Naill states that even though their solo chanter has been one of the most popular and competitively successful in solo piping history, the trend towards synthetic bags, a higher pitch, and overall drier instruments over the last decade has made changes necessary.

“We have worked closely with Terry and Jack Lee to enhance the performance of our solo chanters under a variety of conditions, and using various reed-makes,” says Martin Cowell, Naill’s factory manager. “Our new solo chanters have a more stable F on all types of reeds, a sweeter bottom hand, and a threaded reed-seat.”

The company has also been working with the Lees to develop the Naill band chanter. While Naill has made the most popular chanter with top-flight solo pipers, it has struggled to anything close to the same success in the band market.

The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, of which Terry and Jack Lee are pipe-major and pipe-sergeant, respectively, has played Sinclair chanters since its inception in 1980. When asked whether Simon Fraser University or the four other bands in its system will play the new Naill chanters, Jack Lee said, “We are test-driving the Naill band chanters in SFU and Robert Malcolm Memorial right now. The RMM Juvenile band is going to the World’s this summer and will be playing them for sure. We are really liking them in SFU, so you never know.”

In a recent feature story on Piper & Drummer Online, Terry Lee was asked if his band would ever stop playing Sinclair chanters, and he said, “The simple answer is no. We have played them for 20 years now and I don’t see any product at this time that comes close to the sparkle that a well-tuned Sinclair can produce. Period.”

The move to work with the Lees comes several months after the company severed ties with Murray Henderson, who launched his “Strathmore” line of bagpipes and chanters earlier this year. Henderson, along with James McIntosh, worked with Naill to design the company’s solo chanter in the late-1970s.

While most of the top solo prizes were won with Naill chanters, pipers playing Henderson’s Strathmore chanter gained several top awards this year, including the Dunvegan Medal and the A-Grade MSR at the Northern Meeting.

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