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  • #16
    IMO, quality new pipes would be the way to go for a student unless they had a very involved instructor to help them through any vintage pipe "idiosyncrasies". A new pipe made to accept modern reeds, etc, bores that are (in theory!) true and consistent across the pipe, warrantees, etc, just a few things that would make it easier on a new piper? That said, as I think someone else mentioned, once the newbie gets the bug for a vintage pipe after starting out, you can always upgrade! I started out on a new set (Naills) and played them for ~10 years before moving on. That set got pretty roughed up as I learned on it, glad I didn't start with a super $$ or delicate vintage set.... Of course - YMMV!!
    "Don't think; it can only hurt the ball club." Crash Davis

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Søren E. Larsen View Post

      It's absolutely not neccesary to go with the hybrid type: A few of the top elite pipers use or have used the green Canmore bags and with great success. You can get absolutely great tone and moisture control out of the synth Canmore bag. also the new version! Save the bucks for other stuff!
      Absolutely! ....I’m sure you can,..and I can ( and have) and other successful Pipers play 1st and 2nd gen Canmore undershirt bags...but I see no need to put a newbie thru that 1980’s turn off anymore.
      As far as saving ~$49 for other stuff,,.meh...what it is is what it is...in for a penny and all that rot....Hybrid is the way in my mind...or full skin if up in the solo Piping echelons and your usual piping environment will support the need.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by el gaitero View Post

        Absolutely! ....I’m sure you can,..and I can ( and have) and other successful Pipers play 1st and 2nd gen Canmore undershirt bags...but I see no need to put a newbie thru that 1980’s turn off anymore.
        As far as saving ~$49 for other stuff,,.meh...what it is is what it is...in for a penny and all that rot....Hybrid is the way in my mind...or full skin if up in the solo Piping echelons and your usual piping environment will support the need.
        Totally with you, el gaitero. Years back, I put on a workshop for a group that was wanting to start a band. All had the same instructor (I think doing group lessons). I don't want to be unkind, but he should never have been teaching. Besides teaching them all wrong on embellishments, he had them all buy the same maker's pipes (fortunately, it was McCallum; so no complaints there). But he had them all start with the Canmore balloon and cane drone reeds. For beginners. Why? Talk about a pile of unnecessary issues.

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        • #19
          A few thoughts here:
          • a truly great vintage set is a joy to play and difficult to surpass
          • there are a lot of ‘not truly great’ vintage sets out - some are little more than fit to hang on the wall or light the fire with despite having been made by a classic maker of years gone
          • reeding and setting up a vintage set can be more problematic than with a modern set (which is one of the reasons why an increasing number of the highest level solo players are using modern instruments now).
          • ‘Managing’ a set of vintage pipes tends to take more expertise and experience than a modern set
          • There are some absolutely first class new/modern instruments out there. (Three of the five prizes in the 2021 Bratach Gorm Premier Piobaireachd competition were won on modern instruments).
          So, I would always recommend that an inexperienced pupil is going to make better progress with a modern set. Occasionally I have had a pupil who has an inherited/family heirloom set. It has sometimes been a difficult message to give that the instrument isn’t as good as they might have been led,
          or persuaded themselves, to believe. Even with a good vintage instrument, there are definitely more complicated management issues - whether that be finding suitable modern reeds or the instrument being less forgiving of unsteady blowing.

          (I’ve just noticed Matt’s comments above and he has already covered much of this ground so apologies for the repetition but worth reiterating!)
          Last edited by Roddy Livingstone; 01-06-2022, 08:25 AM.

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          • #20
            The other thing about many vintage pipes is that ivory is now frankly a millstone, and will only get more problematic over time. Especially true I think if you're a non-UK player and likely to be crossing borders more than we do.
            http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
            -- Formerly known as CalumII

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Calum View Post
              The other thing about many vintage pipes is that ivory is now frankly a millstone, and will only get more problematic over time. Especially true I think if you're a non-UK player and likely to be crossing borders more than we do.
              Good point. I will no longer risk taking my S&I pipes across the border. I have my wife's old, "blingless" pipes as a back-up, should we cross out of the US.

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              • #22
                Another thing to consider: many vintage sets of pipes out there today have been altered in some way (e.g. drone bores reamed, etc.) so as to work with modern synthetic reeds at 480+ pitch, so what you perceive to be a "classic" sound may in fact be a far cry from how the drones were designed to sound at A = 450-ish with cane reeds 100 years ago.

                I'm very happy with my 100-year-old ebony Lawries, and I have no need for another set of pipes, though if $10,000 suddenly fell in my lap, I'd probably give Murray Huggins a call. I've also always loved the sound of old David Glen pipes.
                www.portlandpipes.com
                soundcloud.com/channing-dodson

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                • #23
                  What I'm finding curious with all the references to vintage pipes not being suitable for modern pitches, etc. is why a number of modern makers are modeling their pipes on vintage sets, bores, etc.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post
                    What I'm finding curious with all the references to vintage pipes not being suitable for modern pitches, etc. is why a number of modern makers are modeling their pipes on vintage sets, bores, etc.
                    I have tried a god number of very old set of pipes and it has never been a problem - mostly Hendersons/Lawries and they all tune high on the pins. Only problem would be a bass drone that could tune low, but it's really not a big problem, actually I prefer that the bass drone tune low on the lower tuning pin. Biggest problem I have seen was with a set of 1970'ties Hardies! And if you find a set that's flat you could always use short drone reeds, like short Ezees.
                    www.selpiper.dk

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post

                      .....why a number of modern makers are modeling their pipes on vintage sets, bores, etc.
                      Yes,...so they say.
                      Personally I think ‘modeled’ might be an operative word in those claims....like modern reeds are ‘modeled’ on old reeds.
                      Faithful replicas of old pipes I think might more likely be found from ‘one off’ makers.

                      FWIW...bores on 100 yrs pipes aren’t what they were when first coming off the lathe.

                      So,...I think it’s really all in the ear and set up by the current player...and new pipes alongside old can be indistinguishable,...modeling notwithstanding.

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                      • #26
                        I'm reminded of Richard Cook (Panceltic's) story about asking an uilleann piper what a set of drones sounded like ("they sound like drones!") - a story in which there is more than a germ of truth. A stable, in tune bagpipe is better than anything else, regardless of tone...
                        http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
                        -- Formerly known as CalumII

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post

                          I do agree with you, Ralph. And I want to underscore that I believe that there are a number of outstanding makers today, producing pipes of incredible quality, sound, options, and so forth. I do wonder about what quality of materials, particularly the primary wood (recognizing that other materials are being used), that is left. You remember that in the junior band to which you belonged that almost all the members had new pipes. I can only recall two who had vintage pipes (one was one of my students, and she received my original instructor's '63 Hardies; the other had c1900 Center pipes handed down in his family). You also may recall how many with the new pipes had cracks and other issues (e.g., warping). Yes, the manufacturers, being reputable, did fix all the issues.

                          So, again, I am indeed impressed with the quality of the pipes being produced today. I also question whether I fall into the generalized trap of "older is better"; and I agree with you about the care of selecting and "refurbishing" a vintage set, especially if it has simply sat un-played. I return to what is available today and how the wood is dried and otherwise cured. If that is a valid concern--and perhaps it's not--I cannot but wonder what today's makers would produce with some of the "old growth" wood that was available 40, 70, 90, whatever years ago.
                          Hey Mike,
                          I did talk to one prominent teacher and player recently with lots of experience with pupils with new pipes who said there was a few makers out there worth purchasing from only. He mentioned that there is a lot of “crap wood” out there these days and these makers were the ones willing to discard the wood that would be problematic and only use the good stuff for instruments. Whether that is because the wood is as good or not as in the past I cannot say. One has to wonder if pipes in the past were given such attention to quality of wood or not even as there are surely bad sets out there and who knows how many sets that don’t exist anymore because they weren’t good wood and cracked.

                          As far as my band experience goes, when I was in the junior band most pipers had vintage pipes or naills. I remember at least two Henderson’s and those centers and a few other pipers that were vintage but I don’t know the makers. My pipes were hardies. Mccallum didn’t exist at that time. The only player I remember who had problems were those centers and another who damaged his pipes and were replaced by naills. Hope you are doing well and staying safe.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by ralph View Post
                            As far as my band experience goes, when I was in the junior band most pipers had vintage pipes or naills. I remember at least two Henderson’s and those centers and a few other pipers that were vintage but I don’t know the makers. My pipes were hardies. Mccallum didn’t exist at that time. The only player I remember who had problems were those centers and another who damaged his pipes and were replaced by naills. Hope you are doing well and staying safe.
                            Thanks, Ralph. I appreciate your comments and perspective, as well as that of the instructor's. "Vintage" is relative, of course. Yes, you were in the earlier stage of the junior band. I tend to forget that. As for the one Center pipes. I recall handling them, and each section of the drones was like holding granite; so dense. I recall, too, the painful circumstances of how those century-old drones cracked. The young man was ill-advised to put a wet cloth in his pipe case when going to a competition in Canada that was very hot and dry. He pulled out his pipes, and the rapid change in conditions was just too much, even for that dense wood. It broke our hearts to see the damage (Forum friends: We're talking virtual explosion! The widest splits I'd ever seen).

                            I, too, hope you're doing well. You're a brilliant piper. Cheers, Michael

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                            • #29
                              As I said above, I've owned four sets of pipes. The first were new and not very good 1980ish Hardies. The. I was given a ca 1900 set of ebony Centers (as I discovered many years later). My uncle played them in school in the 1930s and they then spent forty years in various English attics and basements. I got them re-bagged and reeded. No troubles with L&M cowhide, Goretex balloon, hybrid Bannatyne and Ross. Over several years cracks opened up in every stick but one; nonetheless, they played well. After 15 years I ordered a set of Krons based on ca 1920 Hendersons. They were great, really nice sound. Ten years later I got too old and feeble to cart around all that wood and silver on parade, so set them aside and got a set of repros based on 1890 J&R Glens. They are very light and absolutely super and are my band set. In the meantime I got the Centers (now identified) whipped and, having learned a lot in 30 plus years, went about getting them up and going. Have found my sweet spot, so to speak, with a 1980s Dunbar Eller chanter with Gilmour reed, and Redwood drone reeds. They are my at home or indoor solo gig pipes.

                              The repro Glens work well at 474 to 484, and at 466 with drone adjustments, as did the Krons. I play the Centers at 470-472, but they will go up or down.

                              What does this mean? In the grand scheme of things, nothing. The Hardies were washouts, and I understand that ca1980 was a bad period for them, or maybe they were made on a Friday afternoon. The others have worked well, and with the miracle of modern reeds have done what I wanted and sounded better as I became a better player. But they're made of wood, and every piece of wood is different, so similar pipes might sound better of worse especially as each set is in a different climatic location and is kept differently. This is just my experience.

                              I was unlucky with the Hardies. and lucky when my uncle gave me his pipes, though it took me a long time to realize it. I got both the Krons and Glen repros through Jim McGillivray, and Jim knows what it's about. So, my advice: buy from a reputable maker or dealer. A cursory look through past Dunsire threads will give one lots of advice, all based upon the advisor's own experience.

                              I do have a hankering to try a set of Liddle-MacRae repros.
                              Fortunately inflation is eating at the pension, so .........

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Matt Weasner View Post
                                IMO, quality new pipes would be the way to go for a student unless they had a very involved instructor to help them through any vintage pipe idiosyncrasies.

                                A new pipe (is) made to accept modern reeds...
                                Over the years I've found, in general, far fewer idiosyncrasies in vintage pipes than in new ones. The vintage drones have accepted modern reeds better than new drones.

                                Strike-in issues, instability, etc have been entirely absent in my vintage pipes.

                                My current sets, both from the 1940s, simply cannot be made to have bad strike-ins no matter how I try. In fact the don't require being struck in at all- you can just start blowing into the bag and the drones go boom. And after starting these drones are dead steady.

                                I am continuously puzzled at beginners being saddled with finicky drones, when un-finicky ones can be picked up for half the price.
                                proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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