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Old 09-25-2015, 07:06 PM   #1
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Default Choosing pipes

I know that this question gets asked a lot and that one's preference for a certain brand of pipe is subjective, but I'm asking for your opinions anyways.

My instructor shared with me that it's time to start working on marrying the technique of the PC with pipes. So, that means it is time to do some serious window shopping because the last year of work is finally paying off.

In my searching, and with his recommendations, we've narrowed down to three brands of pipes. We decided on new pipes solely because you get the most bang for your buck (bag, reeds, chanter, cords, etc.) and also have a warranty with new pipes.

I initially chose this set of McCallums: http://www.hendersongroupltd.com/car...idcategory=229

His thinking was Strathmore pipes or Naill (slightly more expensive, but his first pick). I know all about Naill and McCallum pipes and would definitely get Naills if I had enough money. I was wondering if any of you have any experience with Strathmore pipes and if they have a warranty.

This is the set of Strathmore pipes I am looking at: http://www.hendersonreedmakers.com/b...owall=&start=3

I appreciate you taking the time to read this and look forward to responses!
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:04 AM   #2
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Default Choosing pipes

I would suggest you contact Murray Henderson directly to discuss the Strathmore pipes, that way you get your warranty, and other, information directly from the source.

If you do a search here on the forum for Strathmore you will find a number of discussions listing people's opinions and thoughts. One of the big issues always seems to be that they are CNCd by someone else to Murray's specifications and he doesn't make them himself. McCallum also CNCs their pipes, but it's in their own shop. I don't recall anyone not liking the drone's sound.

I have heard a number of Strathmore sets, including Murray playing his own, and I had the opportunity to play one beautiful set of full silvers that a friend had purchased, and they can be a great sounding set of pipes. But like all sets, the player's ability, reeds, and other components seem to have a much greater effect on the "sound" than the make of drones. Murray, and his daughter Faye, have played them at the highest level of competition, so it's not like they can't keep up with the rest for some reason.

At the end of the day, whichever set you decide on from that list should give you a great instrument to learn on and take you to whatever competitive or other level of piping you strive towards.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:03 AM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

Originally Posted by Molasses4masses View Post

I appreciate you taking the time to read this and look forward to responses

Whichever you decide...at this stage you won't go wrong with pipes from any of the well established popular makers in USA,canada or UK ....Naill,Sinclair,McCallum,dunbar Hardie,as top picks.... You could make yourself a fun project and topic 'expert' by creating a spreadsheet of like models and pricing of each.

Whatever you do ...ensure you get the right size bag and blowstick length. A zippered banatyne hybrid bag would be my choice ( not a Bannatyne synthetic) .I'd opt for a fixed length wood blowstick over a non matching adjustable plastic one.
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

I had a set of Strathmores and they were solid pipes, good tone, good quality, typically played with Murray's Henderson Harmonic reeds. I sold them on after starting to play pipes I made.

The Strathmore ABW chanter is wonderful. Over the few years owning Strathmore pipes I tried every chanter possible with a variety of reeds, from the MC2 (just out at the time) to vintage Sinclair, tried them all again in my own pipes, had everyone else try my Strathmore chanter in their pipes, and I always go back to the ABW Strathmore.

EDIT: If you're unsure then you really can't go wrong with a brand like McCallum. In another year or so you'll likely be pipe shopping again looking for 'your tone.'


Last edited by tjm; 09-26-2015 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:33 PM   #5
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Default Choosing pipes

Originally Posted by tjm View Post
EDIT: If you're unsure then you really can't go wrong with a brand like McCallum. In another year or so you'll likely be pipe shopping again looking for 'your tone.'

I have only owned a single set of 2009 McCallums. This year, with Ezee tenors, Kinnaird bass and McC2 chanter, I have got comments on the great tone of my pipes, their steadiness, and chanter/drone blend. This has not only been from local veteran pipers but from competition judges. So, in spite of being CNC made (and why should it make a difference anyway?), they're working very well for me. You should certainly keep McCallums under consideration.

"Melancholy as the Drone of a Lancashire Bagpipe" (Behn, Aphra 1678. Sir Patient Fancy)
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Old 09-27-2015, 05:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

I can only speak of McCallums but, from a customer service point of view, they are simply amazing. Living in the US, I correspond with them via email, and they are always prompt it responding, and usually send something along, as a gift (T shirt, hat, tea towel, etc). I was invited to get a personal tour of their shop and factory when I visited Scotland a couple years ago. Sadly, I didnt take advantage of it-but I will be going back, and certainly will when I do!
My pipes have a great bass tone, and I would get compliments on them all the time.
As for the other two: my PM plays an older set of Naills, and he absolutely loves them. I've nothing on Strathmore, sorry.
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:12 AM   #7
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

As noted by others here, you certainly cannot go wrong with any of the aforementioned pipes; they all well-made, have a top-notch tone, and are played at the highest levels. You will have to use other factors to help you decide.

Re warranty, McCallum has the best at five years, Naill is two years, and as someone mentioned, you'll need to contact Strathmore for their warranty. As a beginner, McCallum would provide you with the greatest insurance against issues, which may or may not be a consideration.

Re cost, I suspect McCallum are the most affordable and would give you the most bang for your buck, particularly when you factor in the warranty (stellar and no-quibble -- I've used it myself).

Re availability, McCallum and Naill are ubiquitously available and I think less-so for Strathmore.

Re style, that's going to be personal. To my eye, McCallums and Strathmores lean more towards Lawrie/Henderson pipes in looks, whereas Naills harken back to their Starck roots. Mounts, ferrules, drone caps, etc. can be customized for each.

Finally, tone. 'Contemporary' McCallums (2011+) are based on vintage Lawrie/Henderson specs, Strathmores apparently vintage Henderson, and Naill on Starck specs. More info here. I believe that all three brands are bold in tone but McCallums and Strathmores would have more bass presence and Naills are more tenor-forward. None is better than the other but they are different.

Good luck with it.
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Old 09-27-2015, 10:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

A few years ago, pipes|drums did a survey of professional soloists competing at AG/NM, and a surprising number played Naill drones. Strathmore got a sliver, and McCallum was not represented.

While any of the three could likely be played at any level as they're all fine sets, you can clearly see that Naill drones can and frequently do take people as far as they want to go.

So if you 'splurge' on the Naills, it may be the only set you need to own for your entire career.

This is not very likely, though, as you develop your ear. My opinion is to buy primarily with an eye towards resale. I think you probably stand a better chance of this with McCallum or Naill drones.

I also don't like the idea of CNC being done out of house. The CNC may be fine, but such a large part of quality control is wood selection.
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Old 09-27-2015, 01:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

In looking through the online dealer sites, I've found only one mention a warrantee for Strathmore. Two years for "natural defects". Contact them to be sure.

tbrown747 said it nicely. Buy with a thought to resale. Sooner or later you'll hear the "sound" and it may or may not be coming from one of the 3 mentioned here.
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Old 09-27-2015, 05:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Choosing pipes

Thanks everyone. I've got some things to think about. I'm leaning towards the McCallum set because of price and warranty. I'd love a set of Naill pipes, but I'm afraid that what I want is going to cost exponentially more than what I can afford at this time.
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