What the world’s best pipers are playing: a pipes|drums Survey

Published: February 29, 2012
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Bass Drone Reed


Henderson cane bass reeds were again most popular (six, 27%), while Ezeedrone and Henderson Harmonic each were listed by three (14%). A couple of players went with Rocket, and the rest that were named were each by one piper, including, under “Other,” Apps cane, Shepherd and one piper who made his/her own.

Tenor Drone Reeds


It’s clear that for tenor reeds the B-Grade pipers are emulating the Premier and A-Grade folks, and Ezeedrone again easily was tops here, with 13 (62%). Henderson cane was a distant second, with two (9%). Of the rest that were named, they each had one respondent, including under “Other” Apps cane and Shepherd.

Pipe Bag


Exactly half of B-Grade pipers who responded said that they played natural bags. Overall Begg sheepskin again came out on top with eight (36%), followed by Ross synthetic (18%) and Canmore (14%).

Moisture Control


Every B-Grade piper, according to those who responded, said that they use some sort of moisture controlling device. Again, the Ross Canister system and the basic tube trap were equally divided as the top choice, with 10 pipers (45%) naming each one as their preferred slaver-saving system. Of the write-ins under “Other,” one piper named the Gannaway system, while another said he/she uses a Ross Canister system but with silica gel beads instead of the clay material.

A typical bagpipe played by a piper in the B-Grade competitions would comprise a Naill chanter with Naill drones. The chanter would have a Shepherd reed, and the drones would use a Henderson cane bass and Ezeedrone tenors. The bag would be a sheepskin Begg model, and because of that they would use a basic tube trap. If they opted for a synthetic bag, it would be a Ross with a Ross Canister system.

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  1. Doc

    For the future, it would be interesting to know if anyone has changed their set up in the past year, or even how many times they’ve changed their setup in the past 5 years, for example. Also, what is being changed. This would give us all an idea of the most volatile” areas that need watching

  2. Bagpipermann

    Perhaps the reason for a greater percentage of vintage pipes in the premier grade and newer pipes on the B grade is a reflection on the age/longevity of the players and their respective accessability to (at the appropriate age) reasonably priced instruments? EG, a 16 year old us not too likely to cough up 10K for a set of now rare Silver & Ivory vintage pipes compared to 2K? for an abundant new set of equal or better quality sound? Maybe? As far as bags and reeds, it’s interesting to see that the Old Dogs” have a preference for modern technology while the “Young Pups” are slanted more towards the old…hmmm…perhaps pups have more patience or energy for the persnicketiness of the old ways? Well. I’m stayin’ with my old pipes and new bags/reeds…I just don’t have the patience for the protracted battle of attrition for a negligibly better or worse sound at the end of it…gimme instant sound anytime!… Cheers

  3. AndrewBerthoff

    @Lawrie – thanks for the comment. I’m sure many of the respondents don’t care about revealing their identity, but keeping everyone anonymous gets many more responses, which is most important. @Doc – good idea. Perhaps we will add a question or two along those lines next time.

July 6, 1988Piper Alpha oil rig disaster, North Sea.
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Big bags aren’t always the way to go, choose one that fits you – your arm won’t be so cramped reaching for your chanter.
Sean McKeown, Toronto