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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Great Highland Bagpipe > Technique & Instrument
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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 11-05-2014, 05:53 AM   #1
Reid_
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Default Small Pipes

I have recently become interested in small pipes, and am thinking of purchasing a set. I was looking at a set of Fred Morisonís Reel Pipes as well as a set of Gibsonís Ceilidh. The Reel pipes are made of plastic and are twice as much as the wood Ceilidh pipes. I know that the Ceilidh pipes are mouth blown and the Reel pipes are bellows blown. I believe a good set of bellows can cost in the neighborhood of $250+. Can someone give me some insight at the price difference as well as some of the other makes out there that you like and why?

Thanks,

Reid
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Old 11-05-2014, 06:37 AM   #2
HighlandPark
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Default Re: Small Pipes

You'll likely get a dozen different answers here on this question. I've never played either of those sets but there are many positive reviews for both.

If you are price conscience you could try used for the above -- sets come up regularly on the forum and eBay. You may also want to consider a set of John Walsh A-2000 poly smallpipes (three drone model). I have had a set for almost a year and I like them a lot. They are plug-and-play under many different conditions, the chanter is true, and the tone is both warm and bold. These can be purchased for around $709.00 Cdn from Kinnaird bagpipes where I bought mine. I emphasize the Cdn $ aspect because it's dropping quite a bit compared to the US $!

There are lot's of sound files for these and other smallpipes online. Check out Henderson's for some of the better sound files: here's one for the Walsh pipes, one for the Gibson's, and one for the Morrison's (these are the same as the McCallum's, aren't they?). Good luck with your search.

BTW, have you guys dug out from your snowstorm yet? We didn't see a flake in E-town ; )
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Last edited by HighlandPark; 11-05-2014 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:09 AM   #3
RichPiotrowski
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Default Re: Small Pipes

Hi Reid,

Take Highlandpark's advice and listen to a lot of sound files.

Reel pipes sound different than smallpipes.

Some things to think about:

How much do you want to spend on a set?

What kind of sound do you like (reel pipes sound more like a GHB, while smallpipes have a softer tone.)

Do you want to play a bellows blown set or a mouth blown set?

How much are you going to play them? Are they going to be your main instrument or just something you play occasionally?

Do you want to start off with a less expensive set and then move up to a more expensive set? Do you want to just jump into a more expensive so you won't have to upgrade in the future?


Most of all have fun learning about smallpipes and reel pipes.
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:33 AM   #4
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Small Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reid_ View Post
Can someone give me some insight at the price difference as well as some of the other makes out there that you like and why?

Thanks,

Reid
There are both reel (border) pipes and Scottish Smallpipes produced by McCallum under the Fred Morrison name. They are very different instruments. Border pipe chanters have a conical bore and play in the same octave as the highland pipes (although often tuned to A=440). They have a timbre similar to that of the highland bagpipe. Scottish Smallpipes have a cylindrically-bored chanter and play an octave lower. They produce a much quieter sound with a warm, mellow timbre. Both types of pipes are widely available in bellows-blown and mouth-blown configurations (some makers do one or the other, some makers do both).

Prices will vary depending on a lot of factors: material choice, mount choice, choice of air source (the bellows itself is a work of fine craftsmanship and a good one commands a reasonable price).

I strongly suggest that you listen pipes by as many different makers as possible (YouTube is ok but in person is much better) before deciding what to buy. There's a huge range of possible sounds (somewhat unlike highland pipes, which are much more standardized) and you'll want to decide what combination of sound and price suits you the best.

Two makers I'd recommend without reservation:

EJ Jones (http://piperjones.com/instrument-making), who makes Scottish smallpipes.

Nate Banton (elbowmusic.com), who makes smallpipes and border pipes.

Both web sites have sound files showing off the various instruments and chanters available.

Hope this helps .
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Old 11-05-2014, 10:06 AM   #5
bob864
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Default Re: Small Pipes

There are so many choices out there, and which ones are good fits for you will depend on your criteria.

I chose plastic mouth blown ssp by Duncan Soutar of St. Andrews. I like them and I have been exceptionally happy with them. I play them only occasionally -- mainly when I'm camping.
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Old 11-05-2014, 01:39 PM   #6
Reid_
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Default Re: Small Pipes

Thanks guys, I appreciate all of your info!
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:09 PM   #7
Josh Whitson
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Default Re: Small Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reid_ View Post
The Reel pipes are made of plastic

Thanks,

Reid
Are you sure of that? I haven't seen them listed anywhere made of anything other than ABW.
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:40 PM   #8
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Small Pipes

In addition to E.J. Jones and Nate Banton, You might also do well to check out Chris Pinchbeck in Hope, ME, Mike MacHarg in So. Royalton, VT. There is really quite a number of quality smallpipe makers here in N.America these days.
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:03 PM   #9
Reid_
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Default Re: Small Pipes

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Originally Posted by HighlandPark View Post
BTW, have you guys dug out from your snowstorm yet? We didn't see a flake in E-town ; )
Hahaha yeah it took a while to get dug out. I guess that's the sign that the out door piping season is done! Only 9 more months until winter is over ;)
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Small Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Whitson View Post
Are you sure of that? I haven't seen them listed anywhere made of anything other than ABW.
You are correct, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Miss info, sorry about that.
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