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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 05-15-2018, 04:11 PM   #1
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Default BEST Chalice style

Out of the tons of bagpipes that are out there, I'd like a discussion on who thinks what brand of pipes makes the best chalice style tops.

I've seen old Kintails, and some Dunfion, but I'm becoming partial also now to the Gibson chalice style mainly because I saw a set at a recent concert and they not only looked great but sounded great too.

What sayest thou anyone? And if applicable, maybe not even chalice tops as your "fave" but alternative shapes such as Alexander De Graham's pipes or similar--he is making an antique pipe that has a thistle top on it.
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Old 05-15-2018, 05:16 PM   #2
John McCain
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

Roddy MacLellan in my opinion
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Old 05-15-2018, 05:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

I looked. Absolutely agree with your choice. Beautiful pipes and I have heard them as well at a wedding I did as a pastor--these were regular style Maclellans and were gorgeous in and of themselves with light finish, great grain on the wood, and a beautiful sound. They were SO EASY to play (the piper let the pastor try em!).

What I like about this design is that it is truly a chalice, cut off the top, put a base on it, you've got the cup of Christ in front of you. A lot of "chalice" tops look more like "bowls" to me or horns from the Middle Ages. Those in and of themselves are also beautiful and unique in their own rights but these Maclellans are truly chalices.

OK well I probably just ended my own thread unless someone wants to argue...
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

It depends on what you mean by "chalice style" and how you define "best".

By "best" do you mean best-looking? Or the best-sounding?

And the term "chalice" drone tops is used loosely, to mean more or less any drone top that isn't the ordinary modern squared-off style (possibly pioneered by Donald MacDonald near the end of the 18th century).

The typical mid-18th century Highland pipe style was one having rather slender drones and huge chalice tops.

You can obtain exact reproductions (using exact specs from measurements taken from the Waterloo pipes, and using the same materials) from Julian Goodacre, and I would consider his pipes the "best" (most accurate) 18th century style pipe.

Here's the original so-called "Waterloo" drones with Julian Goodacre's reproductions, using the same local Scottish wood, and same horn mounts. (The wood will presumably darken over time.)

Here's Barnaby Brown playing a Julian Goodacre reproduction 18th century set. The drones are exact copies of the so-called "Waterloo" pipes, the chanter is (I think) a reproduction of the Ian Dall chanter. (Barnaby and Julian measured a number of 18th century chanters; Julian made the reproductions, Barnaby reeded them.)


Here's the MacLellan pipes, which as you can see have the thicker modern profile but take some stylistic cues from the Waterloo pipes

Here are old Kintails which have the chunky modern profile but with chalice tops

Then there are the Guinness tops!

To me the most interesting-looking Highland pipes are the earlier ones, of unknown date and provenance, which have a variety of fascinating drone-top shapes.

This is the earliest clear depiction we have of a Highland piper and of the Highland pipes (The Piper To The Laird Of Grant, 1714). Look at the lovely drone tops, the local hardwood with horn (or pewter) mounts, the matching dirk. The painter exactly captured the colour of the sheepskin bag, and shows the seam and tie-in cord.

Look at these amazing early pipes. The tenor tops and bass top are rather different. Note the similarity of the bass drone top to that of the Laird Grant pipes. I'd love to have a reproduction of this set!

proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

Last edited by pancelticpiper; 05-16-2018 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:28 PM   #5
LJ Neville
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

Alasdair Gillies had a chalice top Lawrie set that was magnificent... of course, it could have been who was playing them, but my, what a sound!
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

Best looking is my question, or for that matter, most authentic to the original types of early bagpipes.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

MacLellan's perhaps because you can customize them to what you believe is 'best' although is difficult to have just one.

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Old 05-17-2018, 09:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

Lawries! Classic and sophisticated. Plus, they likely sound great.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:20 AM   #9
Søren E. Larsen
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Default Re: BEST Chalice style

Just got a set of Lawrie chalice drones. Will post pictures soon.
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