2000, all rights reserved
One of my long
term goals has always been to learn to play the Great Highland
Bagpipes. On the occasion of the new Millennium, I decided it was
time to do something about it. As I go down the path of discovery, I
will informally document and photograph the journey. I will endeavor
to add links to the text as I go. Additionally, all the photographs
on this entire site can be selected to download an 800x600 dpi
version of the same image. I captured most of these images using a Kodak DC280
Digital camera. This is a work in progress. Aren't we all? If
you have suggestions, drop me a line.
I started out
with a simple "How do I get started" message on the
rec.music.makers.bagpipe newsgroup and was quickly thrown a virtual
life ring by Kenton
Adler, the host of "Pipers-L: Discussion forum for Great
Highland Bagpipe" LISTSERV repeat list. Kenton helped again with
some excellent advice on securing a reputable instructor through his
friend, then Pipe Major Rod Weeks,
of the Elliott Bay Pipe Band.
Rod directed me
to his Pipe Sergeant, Tyrone
Heade. At the time, Tyrone was Seattle's only full-time bagpiper
and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did a nice
article about him. I quickly secured a spot in a newly formed
beginning piping class. Since then, Seattle now has a second
full-time piper, Jori
starting lessons, Tyrone was fussing with my hand position on my
polypenco Naill long practice chanter. He decided the blow pipe was
too short by several inches. I looked at it and decided I could turn
an extension for it on my lathe. I used a small piece of ebony I had
and it worked fine. It also started the wheels spinning....
after, with Tyrone's assistance, I ordered a blackwood long Naill
chanter from Murray
Henderson in Scotland. It arrived and I used the ebony extension
on the new practice chanter. It was a great improvement over the
plastic PC. However, while the wood was nice, the finish on the
chanter didn't measure up to my woodworking standards and I didn't
like the look of the delrin top on top of such a beautiful piece of
wood. I picked up a piece of blackwood and turned a replacement top
section, reed chamber and extended blow pipe. I used copper for a
ferrule and finished it with dewaxed shellac. It came out very well
and I decided to refinished the chanter body itself to match the new
top. Since then I have made several more and my current one sports an
imitation ivory mount between the reed chamber and the blow pipe.
impressed I could turn my own parts and suggested I consider turning
my own drones. I couldn't tell if he was pulling my leg or not. With
this little nudge I started investigating pipe making. I found
several good Internet articles on pipe making, corresponded with
three different pipe makers, and talked to two more. The information
I gleaned from them combined with my woodworking skills and
formidable confidence were enough to get me to commit to the project.
Did it work?
What does it
24 July 2000
Yesterday evening, after my piping lesson, my instructor and I put
three layers of waxed gut on the pin and put Tenor Drone #1 together.
He had a new cane reed of questionable origin and fitted it to the
drone. He mouth blew it and thought it was a little quiet and it
didn't have quite the overtones he was listening for. He thought it
sounded like a drone that had been oiled recently. In fact it had.
The oil has not cured yet. We tried a second cane reed and he liked
it better. Next he pulled one of his 1914 Lawrie tenor drones from
the stock and mouth blew it. The Lawrie was a little louder, and had
more "presence". He blew my Henderson copy again and said,
"You know, this sounds like an old Henderson drone". I was elated.
This is an MP3 file I made last night. Keep in mind it is with a non-broken
in cane reed, was not tuned to a particular pitch, and was mouth
blown for about 20 seconds by someone who has never struck in a stand
of pipes. I was suprised how stable it was but what the heck do I know?
28 Jan 02
It's been a
while since I did any updating here. I have had several requests for
plans for my pipes now that I have made a couple of sets. Below are
Adobe Acrobat plans for Stocks, Tenor Drone, Bass Drone, and
Blowpipe. If you print these on 11x17" paper at full size, they
will scale accurately. As always, I'm available for questions. These
were modeled in Rhinoceros and
2D projections were exported to AutoCAD.
I added title blocks, dimensions, and line weights in AutoCAD
and printed them as Acrobat files.