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© Copyright Jonathan Swayne 2012-2018

English Border Bagpipes

Border Pipes   -   Student Pipes   -   Lowland Pipes   -   Pastoral Pipes   -   Historical Pipes   -   Bellows

 

Full Sets

Border Bagpipes

This is a modern name which stems from the fact that the instrument was thought to be native to the north of England and the south of Scotland. Recent research suggests that it may have been played all over Great Britain  from the late 17th to the early 19th century. My border pipes are based on the format and concept of this instrument but its performance is extended and enhanced. For more information on the background to this see here.
The chanter has a range of one and a half octaves, from the seven-finger note giving a whole tone below the tonic to the three-finger note in the second octave. The upper octave is reached by increasing the bag pressure. A complete chromatic scale can be played except for low G# and F# (in the case of a G chanter). The minor third is played by means of a hole for the lower thumb; the remaining accidentals are played by cross-fingering. The fingering is half-closed. Fingering charts can be found on the Resources page.
Drones: unless otherwise specified, these are bass, tenor (octave) and treble (high octave) which I believe give the best foundation for the chanter, while not interfering with tunes based on the fourth of the scale. But I am always ready to discuss other drone combinations; a fourth drone at the high fifth is a quite popular option; it seems to give extra 'fizz' to the chanter sound, especially the third and sixth. The drone stock is positioned so that the drones can lie either across the chest or over the left shoulder, though it can be optimised for either one of these. Note that in the case of pipes pitched in low D or below, the  physical length of the bass drone is reduced by about one-third by triple boring the first section. This reduces the number of sections to two, and makes the drone more manageable (especially in crowded pubs...).
Although the instrument is usually bellows-blown, it can be supplied mouth-blown if required.
Pitches available are: high D, high C, Bb, A, G, F, low D, low C.
Materials:  plumwood with brass ferrules and artificial ivory mounts, or plumwood with imitation black horn mounts. Ebony, boxwood or mopane are other possibilities for woods which can be specified at extra cost, as can silver- or gold-plated mounts. Hand-stitched cowhide bag.
See Price List for options.

Two-Drone Pipes

This is a simplified border bagpipe, with one bass and one tenor (octave) drone intended to be played over the shoulder, and mouth-blown. (But see under Bellows). The idea is that this pipe takes a place midway between a full set and a student set in both price and complexity.
Pitches :  as for full sets above.
Materials : plumwood, imitation black horn mounts; hand-stitched cowhide bag.
See Price List for options.

Student Pipes

By simplifying the turning details and omitting any applied mounts, this instrument is designed to minimise cost and maximise reliability without compromising its quality as a musical instrument. The chanter is acoustically identical to that on the full sets.
While I recommend the two-drone version as giving a much more solid drone sound, it is also available with one bass drone (two octaves below the 6-finger chanter keynote) for the most cost effective option. 

Always available within six months, or sooner - often straightaway.
Pitch : G.
Materials : apple or pearwood; cowhide bag; horn-tipped blowpipe.
See Price List for options.

Lowland Pipes

This instrument  is quite close to the traditional lowland or border pipe described above. It is pitched in A. The chanter has the same nine-note scale and the same fingering as highland bagpipe, but a flattened third, sharpened fourth and flattened sixth can be got by cross-fingering.
The drone arrangement comprises a bass, tenor and high fifth, or a bass and two tenors. 
Mellow-toned and moderate volume. Normally bellows-blown.
The name Lowland bagpipe is my way of distinguishing it from my border pipe range. See the Lowland and Border Pipers Society website  for a discussion of the use, meaning and scope of the name.
Materials : boxwood, plum, ebony or mopane are possibilities, with artificial ivory mounts; hand-stitched cowhide bag.
See Price List for options.

Pastoral Pipes

Called the ‘pastoral’ or ‘new’ bagpipe in John Geoghegan’s tutor of 1756, this instrument probably dates from the end of the 17th century, and was the forerunner of Union pipes. It’s capable of a range of two octaves with some cross-fingered accidentals. A mixture of open and half-closed fingering seems to work best. The tone quality is firm and sweet and reminiscent of a small holed Union set. These examples are based on originals by Hugh Robertson who worked in Edinburgh in the last  quarter of the 18th century, and except for the change of pitch in the case of the D, have undergone no significant modification. The  Eb set, a pitch  typical of many originals, is based on an instrument in the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels, while the original of the D set is in private hands. 
Pitch : Eb or D; bass, tenor and treble drones at the octave; bellows-blown only.

Materials : stained boxwood, ebony or mopane; artificial ivory and brass mounts; silver- or gold-plating options.
See Price List.

Historical Pipes

Medieval Pipes
These pipes use the same acoustic systems as the border pipes but are visually inspired by pipes shown in late medieval paintings. Pear-shaped bag.
Pitches: G, D but enquire for other pitches.
Materials: plum, apple, steamed pear; cowhide bag.
See Price List.

Flemish Pipes
These pipes also use the same acoustic systems as the border pipes. Externally they are  based on  a close study of the pipes depicted by Pieter  Bruegal the Elder (1525-1569) in his painting ‘Peasant Dance’ in the Kunsthistoriche Museum, Vienna. Pear-shaped bag.
Pitches:  G, D but enquire for other pitches.

Materials: plumwood, cowhide bag.
See Price List.

Bellows

All the pipes can be supplied either mouth-blown or bellows-blown, except for Pastoral pipes which are only suitable for bellows.
Construction: the boards are of cherry, with inlay filling the stitch-line. The front board carries padded leather under the elbow. The belt is attached to the rear board via a shaped piece which carries at the front a tapered outlet socket and at the rear the inlet valve, which is thus protected from blocking by clothes. Where the belt is attached it is covered with padded leather. Let us know if your waist measurement is larger than about 38”/96cm. 
With this system, the blowpipe attached to the pipes connects to the bellows through a leather-covered flexible tube terminating at the bellows end in a tapered spigot which is a push fit in the bellows socket. A suitable adaptor can be supplied for pipes already fitted with a conventional short wooden blowpipe.
See Price List.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Bagpipes