The Bagpipe Pages

The great Highland bagpipe is one type of bagpipe among a multitude of various instruments. The only things they have in common are that the pipes are supplied by air via some kind of bag made of hide or synthetic materials and that the sound is initially produced by a reed double or single beating or a mixture of these. Otherwise there are small quiet low-pressure pipes, for instance the Swedish bagpipe with origins in Dalecarlia, and there are big voluminous high-pressure pipes, such as the Scottish Highland pipe. Various types of indigenous bagpipes can be found all over Europa and in Asia and of course today pipes of various kinds are also played in parts of America, Australia and Africa.

Mats d – bagpipe
Bagpipe, R.G. Hardie 1976

The set of pipes played by Mats d

These pipes were made in 1976 for me by the famous firm R.G. Hardie & Co. in Glasgow in Renfrew Street. It is made of African blackwood fully mounted with chased Sterling silver, thistle design (see picture below). The outside design is Hardie, but the bores have the dimensions of Henderson (Hardie owned the Henderson design at the time). Consequently the sound of the drones is more of a Henderson sound. I always use cane drone reeds as I think cane produces the best sound. Most of the time I use drone reeds made by Hepburn. I always use elk tanned hide bags for stable moisture control and comfortable playing.

ROS – Rolf of Sweden

It was the Swedish expert pipe maker Rolf Littorin at Onsala who found out that the bores differed from the outside design. Rolf gently refurbished the pipes in the late 1990s. He also put silver hemp stoppers on the tuning pins and a solid silver bulb on the blowpipe as the original ivory items had cracked (see picture below).

I am also playing a blackwood pipe chanter made by Rolf Littorin. This is an excellent solo chanter pitched at about 473 Hz with reeds especially made by James Troy of Canada for The Murray Pipes & Drums. This chanter is a bit flat compared to many modern chanters but it has a very rich sound that blends well with the drones.

Read more about Rolf Littorin and his products here: Rolf of Sweden

Detail drone
Detail of drone, ferrule and tuning pin with thistle design

Detail silver bulb
Mouthpiece with solid silver bulb
© Mats d Hermansson 2008
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