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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 12-05-2011, 06:05 AM   #1
Fillmore
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Default Aluminum Bagpipes

Just a crazy thought here. Lots of plastic materials have been succesfully used to replace wood in the manufacturing of bagpipes, I've even see a clear (acrylic?) set.

Has anyone ever seen a full aluminum set ? With judicious turning, I'm pretty sure they would come out pretty much at the same weight as AB, and they would be both indestructible and timeless. With some black anodizing, they might even look really sharp.

I'm trying to imagine what the sound would be like, either really powerfull or badly tinny ?
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

Twenty years ago at the behest of a local pipe major, a friend of mine, a tool & die maker, produced aluminum copies of the Ross drone reeds. They worked well, though it was not clear if they were an improvement on the original. He then turned down the head of an old plastic chanter and threaded it. He then produced an aluminum copy of the head with internal threading to take the chanter. It produced clearly a very solid sound, with the added bonus of the ability to adjust overall pitch a bit by screwing the chanter in and out of the head. Damned heavy, though.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

Did a bit of web surfing, and AB has a density of 79lbs/ cubic feet, Delrin is 88lbs/cubic feet, and Aluminum is 168lbs/cubic feet.

So definitely, the pipes would need to be thin walled in order to maintain a decent weight. Maybe two piece hollow stocks and straight piped drones, or again two piece hollow parts if the look of traditional pipes was to be maintained.

Definitely a new look, but I really wonder about the tone. Aluminum is already used for flutes, drums, electric violins and guitars, and probably other instruments that are traditionally wood, so who knows ?

I like the idea of an adjustable chanter though. Could be made out of two pieces of Delrin, so no weight gain.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

Robin Beck has made aluminium smallpipes for a while now:
http://cowalbagpipes.com/scottish-small-pipes
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

I've seen an aluminium set of GHB, including aluminium chanter, must have been 15 to 20 years ago. Cannae' mind the guy's name at the moment, but he lived up Argyllshire, used to make tufnol and polypenco pipes too.

Dugald MacNeill (again, if I mind right) played the aluminium set and said they had good tone.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

Combined with modern CNC machining, this could make an interesting instrument. Tuning pins could be threaded and o'ringed, with o'rings for the stock connections as well, eliminating hemping alltogether and making tuning easy.

They would look so different, nobody would probably want them to march with, but they might make a good concert instrument, well suited for electronic amplification too.

Betcha Red Hot Chili Pipers would love 'em...
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

I might imagine expansion and contraction due to temperature might be a bit of a problem. Aluminum is a very good conductor not so good as an insulator. There's also nowhere for moisture to go. Which has it's benefits and drawbacks. Getting people to play them might be hard since most pipers are pretty traditional when it comes to how their pipes look. Just my tupence.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

A friend of mine has a full set of aluminum pipes made by J & R Glen, he said they were done during the war. calims they sound pretty good, but I have never heard them played but I have seen them.
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

Ayrshire Bagpipe Company has a set of stainless steel pipes on their site (as well as a few other pipes of strange materials).

http://www.ayrshirebagpipes.co.uk/st...ipes-p-44.html

I would imagine condensation and moisture accumulation could become a problem on metal pipes. Ayrshire says theirs are lined with wood, maybe thats to help combat this?

Interesting topic for sure
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Aluminum Bagpipes

In the early 70's J.&R. Glenn's had a brass set hanging in the shop window. I believe it was one of 5 made. At this time of the year it was lit up with Christmas lights. Reports are that it sounded quite lovely. It had either thistle or celtic designs all over.
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