Updated: St. Laurence O’Toole returns to sheepskin bags and cane reeds
The Grade 1 St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band of Dublin has decided to switch back to a sheepskin pipe bags and cane drone reeds setup through its pipe section. The band had been using synthetic bags and mostly synthetic reeds since 1989.
The band’s primary objective in the switch back to all-natural materials is increased volume.
“This has been really evident at practice,” said a member of the band. “I mean, when you have drummers commenting on it then you know something has changed. This should give us more body on the top-hand.”
The SLOT pipe section had been using Ross synthetic bags and the Ross Canister moisture control system. Several of the pipers in the band apparently have never played anything but synthetic bags and reeds.
The current pipes|drums Online Poll indicates an overwhelming adoption of synthetic reeds by pipers worldwide, with less than 10 per cent of all pipers saying that they currently play cane reeds.
The synthetic reed market since Geoff Ross produced the world’s first non-cane product in the mid-1980s has been a boon to the industry. There are currently more than a dozen varieties of synthetic drone reeds on the market. The synthetic pipe bag market has less choice so far, with only a few makers dominating the industry.
A synthetic pipe bag can last for many years and cost far less than a sheepskin bag, which generally lasts no more than two years. Top-quality sheepskin bags are priced around $350 and need to be seasoned several times during the year, further adding to the cost and maintenance hassle.
The band also reported that Andrea Boyd of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has joined. Boyd enjoyed a highly successful season in Scotland in solo piping competitions.
The Grade 1
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