Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.


No announcement yet.

Thoughts on modern Naill pipes

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Thoughts on modern Naill pipes

    I have been looking at modern bagpipes, got lots of great responses about atherton pipes I am curious on peoples thoughts of modern naill pipes regarding steadiness, ease of tuning, reeds, craft man ship. I know that they are to a degree mass produced but it seems like they still have a very high level of quality and a pretty good price for what you get. I would appreciate any all thoughts and comments thanks ralph Drew

  • #2
    Greetings, Ralph, and to All.

    These now many years ago... one of our mates in the band decided to
    become a dealer... for the then new Naill pipes.

    He did so because he liked them so much!!... and his view was that they
    would... Stand the Test of Time...

    He was known as a damned fine player... and his view carried weight...

    Now... I have never owned a set... being more of the Old School and
    pre-1940s mob... but I have played several sets... and without hesitancy
    am confident to state... that they're damned fine pipes!!... and if you
    elect to acquire a set... you shall most probably be... greatly pleased.

    Wishing you Good Fortune... in your Quest,


    My friends all know,
    With what a brave carouse...


    • #3
      Whilst on a weeks tuition at the glasgow college of piping in 2015 i bought a set of Naills on the recommendation of the piping staff. I am happy with them but use a kyo chanter with the drones. I found they were difficult to tune with the eze drone reeds they came with but that was probably my incompetance. I changed to chris armstrong reeds very easy to tune. On a whim i got Ackland overtones but had difficulty getting them to play. I finally got them going with some help from a forum membre.
      I dont think you will be disappointed with a set


      • #4
        Drew, I've owned and played Naill drones and chanters over my 30 plus year piping career, but that just notes longevity, not expertise. And I've not exclusively played Naill, but seem to return to them. I currently play a DN5 with the antiqued imitation ivory mounts and Thistle engraved silver. Ezee tenors and a Kinnaird base, hide bag. My go to chanter is the RJM Naill (I have a mid/late '80's Naill I enjoy too along with a Henderson by Hardie and a lovely MC2 from McCallum--all reeded and ready to go, but the RJM is THE chanter right now). I've found these pipes are very steady and easy to reed. I purchased the latest set in 2019. I think, but could be very wrong, that the base has more umpf than the previous Naill drones I've owned--and I've played the same Kinnaird base reed in all sets going back to the early/mid 2000's. The tenors assuredly tune higher on the pins than the previous sets (DN4 early 2000s, DN6 mid-2000's) and I believe there may have been a tweak to the design to allow that to happen(? speculation ? so, I'll let others weigh in on this--all I know is that every set has been easy to reed, bright and stable).

        I love the classic look and the ease of set up. Tone is exceptional in my opinion. My current set certainly gives me the confidence to entertain fleeting thoughts of competing solos again.

        All the best in your search and piping.


        Chris Knife


        • #5
          When a work bonus a few years ago handed me enough money to buy pretty much any bagpipe in the universe, I plumped for a set of half-silver Naills. Never had a moment's cause to regret it. Sound is subjective, but I don't think there's a maker out there that produces as consistent an instrument.

          -- Formerly known as CalumII


          • #6
            Thanks for these replies. I have heard some people say that naills are harder to tune than others (maybe because of the sound of the bass?) has that been a problem for anyone?


            • #7
              I can only speak for myself, but no, I don't find that at all, to be honest. I think a lot of opinions are things repeated by someone who spoke to someone who spoke to someone who tried them once and they were different to his normal pipes.
              -- Formerly known as CalumII


              • #8
                If you want to go back 20 years rather than a new Naill, here's a half-silver Nail made in 2000 for a very low price on Ebay.

                The seller is in Glasgow.

                David Naill Bagpipes, Sterling Silver & Imitation | eBay
                proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Calum View Post
                  I can only speak for myself, but no, I don't find that at all, to be honest. I think a lot of opinions are things repeated by someone who spoke to someone who spoke to someone who tried them once and they were different to his normal pipes.
                  Would have to agree.

                  Though Naills do seem to have a seamless style of drone tone in my experience, possibly making tuning challenging for some?
                  Happy Piping


                  • #10
                    Yes, there is a lot of passing on of opinions that are utter garbage. Or perhaps, more like a hypothesis that gets taken for truth by others before tested by the originator.

                    Suffice to say, Naills are no harder to tune than any other pipe.
                    My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC


                    • #11
                      Thanks everyone for their thoughts. This has all been very helpful.


                      • #12
                        An additional comment regarding Naill pipes...
                        Naill makes the pipes for Roddy MacLeod’s RJM line of bagpipes. Here’s a link to his site...

                        If I were in the market for new pipes, I would include these pipes on my short list. The vintage homage styling of these pipes is very nicely executed by Naill. The aged mounts are spot on. If you were in the market for silver mounts, Naill’s work is top rate!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ralph View Post
                          Thanks for these replies. I have heard some people say that naills are harder to tune than others (maybe because of the sound of the bass?) has that been a problem for anyone?
                          In my experience with three different sets of Naill's over a 20 or so year experience, I've never had an issue with them regarding tuning. And as I mentioned earlier, and I am relying on memory for comparison, the newest set I own (2019) sounds to my tin ears to have a base with greater presence than the other Naill's I've owned. But again, I didn't have an issue with tuning any of them. At the end of the day, I like the way Naill drones sound and play: full sounding, steady, and a lovely tone. Others' experience clearly varies.

                          All the best,

                          Chris Knife


                          • #14
                            Naill did tweak the bass profile to give a 'bigger bolder sound'. Not sure when though. A few years ago.


                            • #15
                              Okay, I am biased, having owed multiple sets, but I think I can be objective in saying that Naill pipes are absolutely top notch.. These pipes are ROCK steady with a full, very harmonic sound. If you just look back at the last 5 years of gold medal prize lists at Oban and Inverness alone, there are many, many sets of Naill drones being played, some years 3 or 4 in the top 5, not to mention their constant presence at the Glennfiddich and other top contests. The list of names is long. That would not be the case if the pipes were anything less than stellar. I find the pipes very easy to tune. I have found great success with Ezee tenors and a Henderson carbon bass. Many of the top guys are playing this combo, but many other reeds work very well.

                              The wood used is very good and aged at least 5 years. The craftsmanship is outstanding. These are truly heirloom quality instruments.

                              There has been some speculation as to whether there has been some change to the drones in recent years, and I know for a fact that there have been a few tweaks. Nearly a decade ago a small change to the drone lengths was made to help with the tuning position. Prior to that, some found it difficult to have the drones tuning up on the hemp at higher pitch. This was in no way a defect, the drones just tended to be in the sweet spot a little lower. I have owned sets prior to this change and my current set reflects the change. I love the change and have zero problem tuning as high up on the hemp as I wish and regularly play at 480 or higher.

                              More recently, in the last few years, slight changes were made to the bass bell dimension and bush diameter to open it up as well as a slight increase of the bass bottom bore. I sent my existing drones into the shop last year and had them make these small tweaks to great success. I had a hard time deciding whether or not to do this because I was very, very happy with the tone prior to the changes, but I can say that I am extremely happy with the changes. Although subtle, the changes have increased the power of the bass and the overall blend and harmonic balance. Even though these changes have been marketed of their "vintage" line, they are now currently reflected on their entire line. Keep in mind, this is not a drastic change, but to my mind, it is a positive one as one of the few complaints about the drones in the past was that perhaps the bass could have been bigger. The tone retains the classic "Naill" sound which is extremely harmonic, with brilliant high harmonics coming off the tenors and now a little more bass presence to pull everything together for a brilliant overall tonal package.

                              Here is Alastair Lee demoing the newer "vintage" line, which reflect the bass changes.

                              John Miner
                              Forum Gold Medal
                              Last edited by John Miner; 05-06-2021, 10:17 AM.