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Old 02-13-2010, 04:44 PM   #1
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Default Poly Pipes VS Wood?

Hi there. What is the difference? Do they both sound good?
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Old 02-13-2010, 05:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

take a look at this thread:


It starts off as a choice between Dunbar and McCallum but gets into the wood vs poly.

I have wood drones (Soutar DS-1s) and I like the sound of them. Some people love their poly pipes. Some people have both poly and wood sets that they use on different occasions. There are pros and cons to each. How you plan to use them, what your budget is, etc will drive your decision to some degree. Chose a model that sounds pleasing to you and fits your basic parametres. Don't buy something you don't like the sound of because that's what everyone else is playing.
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

There are a lot of variables in the "sound", only one of which is the actual
material of the pipes. I have a set of Dunbar P3's that have always had Kinnaird drone reeds in them. They have a very "big" sound: loud and rich. After a couple of years standing beside me in the circle, a bandmate was very surprised to learn they were poly. I also have a set of wooden Sinclairs from the 1940/1950 era. I play Ezeedrones in them. The sound is very mellow and totally different from the Dunbars.

I bought the poly pipes as a beginner because of cost, ease of maintenance, and durability. I have no qualms about playing them outside in sub-zero C temps on November 11. I have learned the importance of moisture control from dealing with condensation in the drone bores.

I bought the wooden pipes because I'd learned enough to know that I was staying with it. They demand more discipline in maintenance and I am more conscious of the hazards (temperature, low door jams) while playing.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

Nothing inherently "wrong" with poly's - esoterically, wood is prettier - and at high levels of competition you would want to play wood for its nicer resonance. Some pipers I know play their poly's on the street and reserve their 3k blackwood beauties for solo and competion.
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Old 02-18-2010, 08:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

Poly does have some slight differences in tone from wood but in general a competent piper could play either wood or poly and sound just fine.

Get in the circle!

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Old 02-19-2010, 03:26 AM   #6
David Marshall
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

If budget is your biggest concern then go poly. If you can handle the price of an abw set then go ABW. Set a realistic budget and then go looking on some of the sponsors sites to see what catches your eye within your price range. I would suggest going with the ABW set.
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Old 02-19-2010, 06:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

Originally Posted by MilitaryAuxiliarist View Post
Hi there. What is the difference?

One absorbs moisture, the other does not. To some pipers, this is a vital
and important difference.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

I have never owned Poly. I guess the difference in price can point you in one direction or another. However, as I have only one set, it would be Wood. Why? the difference in cost between good polypoly and good but budget minded wood is not so great.

So why buy poly?

Some say because they will take more abuse. If anyone abuses their pipes more than I have in the past, they should be put in jail. My pipes have survived the past 40 years fine and only started to being babied 10 years ago. REsults for others may be different. As far as sound, feel, looks and moisture control there is no question. Plus I think if you have a fine turned wood set you yourself will show them more respect. I admit it, I have a bias. I am not alone, no matter what others say.
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Last edited by ratherbpiping; 02-19-2010 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

I'm with RatherB. I play a blackwood bagpipe because it is pretty, it makes me happy to play it, and I think that if I am happier playing a particular instrument I will play it more often and with more respect. That makes me a better piper.

I can tell the difference in feel between a poly chanter and a blackwood one. This is based on three different poly chanters and two blackwood chanters. The blackwood just feels more vibrant. I like playing it better.

As to drones, it can be hard to tell the difference in sound between the two, but I am of the school of thought that says wood drones sound better with age. This is not generally disputed with string instruments, but some pipers seem to question it. If you think the wood improves with play, you will want wood.

As regards price, blackwood does cost more, but not much. A Dunbar entry-level P1 setup will cost only a little less than an entry-level blackwood set from any of several makers. McCallum makes a line of poly bagpipes that are about half the price of the same model in blackwood, but when you get down to it bagpipes are not really expensive instruments. I have a friend who teaches violin. His instrument cost $13,000. No kidding. He plays in a small local band whose flautist paid $15,000 for her flute. Talk to someone who plays oboe or bassoon and see what those cost! Bagpipes are not as cheap as entry-level guitars, but they are not truly expensive instruments.

Pick the pipes you will really enjoy playing and have a great time with them. Love them and you will find rewards in terms of long-term satisfaction with your instrument.

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Old 02-20-2010, 03:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Poly Pipes VS Wood?

Originally Posted by MilitaryAuxiliarist View Post
Hi there. What is the difference? Do they both sound good?

Just FYI. I started a thread, and a couple of related ones, about this about a year and a half ago. Got a lot of good replies. I guess you can find those by looking up my thread post history.

Bottom line I got from it is it's a lot like the boxers or briefs question.
There are pros and cons to both, With much to consider. But the big 3 seem to be;
How much you have to spend; The enviroment they will most be played in; and How much time you want or are willing to spend in their care*

Anyway. if you reference them, I hope my prior threads will be helpful. As i said, I got some good information back then from a lot of people.

*And, for the record, i think both boxers and briefs should be washed regularly. At least once a month...weither they need it or not.

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