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Old 03-22-2019, 09:37 AM   #1
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Location: USA
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Default Too Large Pipes?


For those of you who own too large of a pipe set up, I recently learned some tricks in order to make them more compact and thus, easier and more fun to play.

I began playing the pipes as an 11 year old kid, and they were always too awkward and large. I never had consistent blowing because the reach for my arms was too far and every so often throughout the set I'd have to shake and adjust my bag up against my shoulder because it would slide down.
Then I met a bagpipe maker and he was able to cut down my mouthpiece in order to bring the bag closer. Additionally, we ziptied the drones close together with the rope so they weren't in such a wide-spread fashion over the shoulders.

It has made an amazing difference and made bagpiping a lot more fun!

Hope this helps some of the smaller sized players out there.

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Old 03-22-2019, 10:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?

I'm glad you were able to find someone to help you with this, but I'm surprised it wasn't your instructor (assuming you have an instructor, but if not, now you know another reason why its a good idea to find one).

The bagpipe is not a one size fits all instrument and unless you get it setup for you, you will find you have issues just like you describe. As you learned, the distance between the drones and the blow pipe length are both important, but one thing that you didn't talk about is the bag size, and that can have a major effect on comfort and the ability to "reach the chanter". And trying to find the right size can be difficult as there doesn't seem to be a lot of consistency in sizing between brands and different materials give a different feel to the bags. The best way I've found of trying a lot of different setups is to go to piping workshops and ask around to try to find someone with the brand and size of pipe bag you are interested in and then see if they will let you try it. You might also be able to do this with pipers in your area (if you are lucky enough to live in an area with lots of pipers).

Then you add in the different angles of stock that can be tweaked with the tying in process, and you quickly learn that you don't need to just live with an uncomfortable pipe once you know what your options are and how to go about making it fit you.
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?

An option in terms of bag size is to modify what you're playing now.

If the bag is too small, there's not much you can do except trade or sell, and start over.

But, if the bag is too large, you can modify its girth by cutting off an 18" section from the leg of an old pair of jeans, and fitting it over your bag. If it's still too large, sew a dart the full length, and try again. Once you settle on a circumference that feels good, you can cut some holes for the drone stocks, and keep using it. Or, if you really want a new bag with this new dimension, simply take some measurements and send those in with your request for a new bag. ("Please send me a bag with a circumference around x inches as measured right behind the stocks")

Easy Peasie
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Old 03-22-2019, 12:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?


No instructor or band for over 15 years now- but honestly its much better that way

This was a far cheaper option than buying a new bag. Also it worked for me, and so a new bag was unnecessary. Never heard of the blue jeans trick that was mentioned on here after your post by @RJB. Very cool idea.

Last edited by brigadoon007; 03-22-2019 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?

Not sure how suffering for 15 years with a Bagpipe that didnít fit you was much better than having a good instructor? Personally I would rather have someone that has decades of experience help me past the easy parts (like getting your pipes setup for you), rather than take decades to get that experience. But to each their own as the saying goes.

And the pants leg trick is a good one to have in the tool box, Iím glad it was mentioned.
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:02 AM   #6
Andrew Lenz
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?

This page with bag measurements may be helpful:
(Admittedly, it's been six years since I've updated it, submissions are always welcome.)

There's a section on that page talking about the pants leg/corset trick.

Andrew T. Lenz, Jr.
www.BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." ---Mark Twain

Last edited by Andrew Lenz; 03-25-2019 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:52 AM   #7
piper Q
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?

To piggy back on what Mr. Lenz wrote, consider your physical size and ability when either ordering your pipes or replacing the bag. Very few people will need an extended size bag. Myself, at 6'2" with a 34" sleeve have done much better with a Ross medium bag than a large bag.

The player's comfort and way the bag is cradled or supported really makes a difference, more so than the amount of air the reservoir holds. If you have opportunity as suggested earlier to hold and go through the motions with several sizes of bag prior to ordering or replacing, it may save you some aches and mistakes in getting comfortable with the instrument.

It more of the complete package, the reach of the drones, length of the blow pipe, position of the chanter and girth of the bag under your arm which help to determine how comfortable you become.
Breaching the peace? What bagpipes officer?
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Old 11-13-2019, 05:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: Too Large Pipes?

Originally Posted by piper Q View Post
Very few people will need an extended size bag.
An extended size bag is generally not equivalent to a large bag. For example, the only difference between the small Canmore bag and the extended small Canmore bag is that the latter is one inch longer. The circumference under the arm is exactly the same for both bags. This is also true of the the Canmore medium and extended medium bags. Other makers usually add to both the length and the depth of their bags to make an extended version. For example, the extended small Bannatyne bag is 1/2" deeper than the small size. This places the extended small size almost exactly halfway between the small and medium sizes. Many pipers find the small Bannatyne a bit too small and the medium a bit too large for comfort. The extended small works well in this case. Unfortunately, there is no standardisation in the terminology used by different bag makers.
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