October 31, 1999

New Ross Bag Zipped Closure Saves Time and Headaches

There is little doubt, at least with the majority of pipers outside of the UK, that the Ross Canister Bag from Ross Bagpipe Reeds Ltd. is a dramatic breakthrough in moisture control for the Highland bagpipe. The Ross bag system is a brilliantly conceived mechanism for keeping wetness off reeds, thus improving steadiness.

The biggest drawback of the original Ross Canister bag is the clamp closure at the rear. The bar clamp mechanism is a nightmare to put on quickly, and, once attached, can come loose and blow in mid-performance, as happened to a piper with the Grade 1 St. Lawrence O’Toole band at the World’s this year – literally blowing their chances of getting into the final round.

Geoff Ross of Australia has come up with a solution: a high-tech zipper closure that makes access to the canister device and secure closure quick, simple, and failsafe.

The industrial zip binds the bag shut with an airtight, solid seal. Adjustments to the hoses, drying crystals, and canister can be completed in seconds. Anyone who has tried to secure the previous clamp device immediately before a contest has experienced fumbling hands and an inevitable degree of doubt as to whether the clamp will hold through the performance. Now, the clumsiest monkey could work with the new Ross zipper bag.

In addition to the new bag, Ross has also addressed a few problems with the hoses. First, the attachment to the chanter stock now makes a 90 degree turn, allowing the tube to be free of troublesome kinks, which can disrupt airflow. Second, the tube material itself is thicker and more rigid than the previous material, again alleviating the chance of the hoses folding over.

Of course the new bag and hoses come at premium – about $75 more than the original version. To any serious piper, this one-time charge is a bargain when compared with the accumulated hours of aggravation and risk that the comparatively poorly engineered clamp mechanism brings.

Geoff Ross is quickly establishing himself as the Thomas Edison of the Highland bagpipe. These improvements to the ingenious Ross Canister System are welcome, and take an already excellent product to an even higher level.


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