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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 06-27-2019, 07:12 PM   #1
MacTallanambeann
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Default Does different price mean different quality?

Hi all,

A general question here sparked by talking to a few makers of pipes recently while looking to buy a new set. I have been gifted a few thousand pounds and decided it was time to get some nice shiny brand new pipes and 'retire' my 'of unknown parentage' old pipes.

The question is: Do you think that, in a range of pipes from a single maker, there is (or isn't) any significant difference in the actual instrument from a playing perspective? Does the difference in price only reflect the difference in mounts and levels of artistic work required for different models in your opinion?

Last edited by MacTallanambeann; 06-27-2019 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 06-27-2019, 07:38 PM   #2
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

The several sets of Tim Gellaitry pipes I’ve had the pleasure of holding/playing/owning have all been expertly crafted regardless of decoration. The same for Colin Kyo.

If you’ve got a couple thousand pounds, spend wisely. You (don’t) get what you (don’t) pay for. Some makers start their pipes at higher prices for a reason.
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Old 06-27-2019, 07:54 PM   #3
Pip01
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?





Hmm.... An interesting situation... and congratulations
on your gift!!

Were I in your most enviable spot... I think that I would
begin a search for a truly grand old set of vintage pipes.
(Just a thought. :)

But before "retiring" your OUPs (of unknown parentage),
I would have them gaged by someone who could "see"
into... their possible... secrets.

I mention this only because... my first set... that were
very much... OUPs...turned out to be... 1916 Lawries!!

How e'er you go... All the Best!!






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Old 06-27-2019, 08:49 PM   #4
el gaitero
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

I’d Buy gold.
And a set of reasonably priced pipes worthy of your personal playing ability. Higher cost isn’t going to translate to higher quality playing.
Many current viable ‘run of the mill’ shops provide a very good quality product. eg Hardie, Lee,Mccallum Dunbar,Sinclair,Naill etc...not in order of spectacularity... ...will do you very well for not ‘stupid money’.
I’d Buy gold with the ‘smart money’ excess.
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Old 06-28-2019, 04:19 AM   #5
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

Some 40 years ago wen I was looking to buy my first e set of pipes, I decided on a set of G&M BP2. Good solid pipes withpout a lot of bling. The went for about $450 US back then. At the same time another newbie in the band shelled out much more for a set decked out in silver and ivory- lots of "Bling" one of those sets sounded better and has been played regularly by the same piper for 40 years. … not the fancy one.

Find a set of pipes that makes you want to play and invest the rest for future needs.
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:40 AM   #6
bob864
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

There was a thread here many years ago. Two pipe makers chimed in. One said that they just drop the wood into the CNC machines and use any wood for any pipes. Another said that when he sees a piece of really nice wood he sets it aside for a special set of pipes.

So the answer is it depends.

Mostly with the more expensive pipes you're paying for bling, but apparently with some makers you get better wood.
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:42 AM   #7
MacTallanambeann
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

Thanks for the replies. I have to say that I had actually taken the plunge before I got around to posting this thread and I am now hoping that I have made the right choice(s).

I decided on Henderson's in half nickel with Zoomorphic engraving. I had contemplated the half or full silver or the ones in half nickel with boxwood projecting mounts but I couldn't actually really get worked up enough about having boxwood mounts (not really a fan of the look) or silver to feel the actual cost was worth it to my frugal Scottish soul.

I then decided I wanted a B flat chanter and suitable reeds as I like playing my old lower pitched blackwood chanters so got back onto Hardies and ordered those items.

I then decided that I would rather have two separate sets so that I could set one up as a B flat and older lower pitched chanter set and the other as a modern set for any time when I might play with other pipers at modern pitches so I have now acquired a set of David Naill's(plain ones) used at a very reasonable price.


The gift came from my elderly mother who gave me quite a healthy sum of money from the sale of her house following her remarriage and it's the first time in my life I have had the necessary spare to actually get myself a decent set of pipes and I find myself instead with two sets! I'm one happy piper I tells ya!

As to the 'Of Unknown parentage' pipes I currently own I am pretty sure they aren't any kind of 'Diamond in the Rough'. I have shared pictures on here and the general consensus is that they are of Pakistani origin. I can't do them down to be honest as they sound pretty decent and seem to be fairly well made in what appears to be African Blackwood although, as one of our forum members pointed out (I hadn't noticed) that the drone tops were separate pieces possibly made of ebony. I am contemplating having someone look them over and maybe refurbish and re-mount them. The cream plastic mounts, which make no real attempt to look like ivory, are the most noticeably 'cheap' part of them. They only cost me about £150 used about ten years ago and have earned me a few pounds and bottles of whisky over the years.
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:20 AM   #8
MacTallanambeann
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

When I spoke to Hardie's and asked what the difference was between the sets and they said it was really what you wanted as mounts etc. and that all the pipes were of equally good quality as instruments. This is what actually got them my business as there was no hard sell or attempt to convince me that the extra grand or more for the silver sets meant a better set of pipes.


Don't get me wrong, I do like a bit of bling but I am guessing that, apart from those 'in the know' most folks wouldn't know that your metalwork did or didn't cost you a small fortune so the bling is kind of wasted on the viewer. I would love pipes with mounts that resembled malachite, Turquoise or purple marble though now that would stand out from the crowd!

Last edited by MacTallanambeann; 06-28-2019 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 06-28-2019, 02:25 PM   #9
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

I think most makers would use the same wood for their full silver pipes as they would for their plain turned pipes, but not the same wood for their plain turned pipes as they would for their full silver pipes.

In other words: they’ll use the same stuff across the full range of pipes, but when they get that piece of really special wood, they’ll save it for special pipes.

That being said, internally, the pipes will be the same whether plain poly or full silver ABW as long as their the same make (note: some makers make multiple “makes” of pipes)
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Old 06-28-2019, 04:09 PM   #10
MacTallanambeann
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Default Re: Does different price mean different quality?

That took me a while to work out! Too hot here in Argyll tonight and it's slowing my brain down.

The wood question does throw up a further puzzle though....

How do you know a particular piece of wood is going to be tonally brilliant or is it more selection for durability, resistance to warping/splitting and aesthetic qualities?
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