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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 06-25-2019, 05:06 PM   #1
salmunmousavi
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Default Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

Hello everybody,

I have been interested in replica bagpipes and how well they perform compared to the pipes they have been modeled against. This would apply to the Breadalbane series by Dunbar, and also for the Duncan Macrae line by McCallum.

Has anybody found that replica pipes perform just as well as original pipes? I know that a lot of it has to do with bore size for drones and material, so I'm not totally in the dark on this topic. But has anybody found great difference between new pipes and their vintage counterparts?
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Old 07-04-2019, 10:05 AM   #2
EquusRacer
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

There are too many variables, some of which you mentioned, for any generalized statements. There's the maker, the materials used, the set up, the player. In addition, not all--even the "classic"--vintage sets played all that well, no matter how well set up and played. I'm sure others, more expert than I, will have more valuable input.
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Old 07-04-2019, 06:53 PM   #3
Glenurquhart
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post
There are too many variables, some of which you mentioned, for any generalized statements. There's the maker, the materials used, the set up, the player. In addition, not all--even the "classic"--vintage sets played all that well, no matter how well set up and played. I'm sure others, more expert than I, will have more valuable input.
So far eight sets from my collection have been copied (unknown pipe ca. 1780, Donald MacDonald 1,Donald MacDonald 2, Donald MacDonald Pastoral pipe, Malcolm MacGregor, Thomas Glen, Allan MacDougall, John MacDougall), none of these sounds exactly like the original but it is likely that the reproduction sets sound more like when the old pipes were new. Since the originals are mostly about 200 year old they are difficult to set up and to tune. The reproductions are trouble-free and a pleasure to play.
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:25 AM   #4
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

I used to have a set of antique MacRaes, I now have a set of the new MacRae SL4's. They don't sound exactly like my old MacRaes, but they are far steadier, far easier to strike in, and take a wide variety of reeds, My old MacRaes were only happy with cane, or eezedrones in the tenors and a cane bass, and took a lot of setting up and retuning.

As Glenurquhart says, they are a pleasure to play.
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:28 PM   #5
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

I own a set of the Breadalbane, they are fantastic and my favorite set that I've owned so far.

As the others have mentioned so much of how pipes sound really has to do with setup. The player, the environment it's played/recorded/heard in, and most especially which drone reeds. I made a post with various drone reeds played in the Breadalbane that you can hear here. As you'll note with most variables in my experiment locked except the drone reeds, one can make most sets of pipes sound big or quiet or bold or subdued etc just depending how you reed them. What I enjoy about the Breadalbane is the quality, and that between the tenors and the bass drone it's very even. Very harmonious sound as opposed to a bass or tenor driven sound overall.
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:51 PM   #6
Glenurquhart
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

Quote:
Originally Posted by William McKenzie View Post
I own a set of the Breadalbane, they are fantastic and my favorite set that I've owned so far.

As the others have mentioned so much of how pipes sound really has to do with setup. The player, the environment it's played/recorded/heard in, and most especially which drone reeds. I made a post with various drone reeds played in the Breadalbane that you can hear here. As you'll note with most variables in my experiment locked except the drone reeds, one can make most sets of pipes sound big or quiet or bold or subdued etc just depending how you reed them. What I enjoy about the Breadalbane is the quality, and that between the tenors and the bass drone it's very even. Very harmonious sound as opposed to a bass or tenor driven sound overall.
The setup changes everything. A "quiet" pipe reeded with cane or elder won't be "quiet" anymore...
I enjoy playing both the originals and reproductions, both are just an entirely different matter.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:07 AM   #7
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

It depends

Nobody can really know for certain what a given instrument sounded like 100+ years ago. They were reeded with cane, possibly played at a different pitch, possibly played in a different climate, and the wood has aged and changed over time.

As a world-class competitor said to me once, "the one thing no [modern] pipe maker can do is make the wood a hundred years old." There's a lot of truth to that. It's really impossible to compare a modern instrument with what an old one MIGHT have sounded like in days past. The best of them capture what we consider to be the important characteristics of what's being reproduced, but even that is subjective to an extent.

I would say that yes, modern reproduction instruments GENERALLY perform similarly to the originals, but there are too many variables involved to say that they are "exact" copies in terms of sound (even if they are in dimension, which isn't always actually desirable...).

I haven't heard a Dunbar Breadalbane in person. We have several McCallum Macraes in the band, and I will say that they are very, very good. I also say that having heard Stuart Liddell play both the original and the reproduction in person.
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Old 07-21-2019, 03:11 PM   #8
salmunmousavi
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

Thanks for the input, everybody. I think I'm gonna swing for some MacRae's when I can afford it. Better to have the warranty that comes with the pipes too, I think.
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:30 AM   #9
John Haack
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Default Re: Are replica pipes comparable to the original?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post
There are too many variables, some of which you mentioned, for any generalized statements. There's the maker, the materials used, the set up, the player. In addition, not all--even the "classic"--vintage sets played all that well, no matter how well set up and played. I'm sure others, more expert than I, will have more valuable input.

It's a great question that I've often wondered about. On the other hand, I think I never wondered all that much since I'm with EquusRacer on this.

I think all sets of pipes are a bit of a crapshoot. A decent maker is always capable of turning out a gem, but also due to nature, wood, luck, etc....turn out a less-than-a-gem or even a clunker. The better makers that use/used better materials and better attention to detail and standards, just turned the odds more in their favor a bit and turned out more gems.
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