I have been a pipes fan for a very long time and when I was twelve years old I joined the Scottish pipeband in the town I lived, but switched to Irish pipes in later years. In 1979 I moved to Britain to start working with Irish pipemaker Alan Ginsberg in North Wales. After four years I set up on my own, and I have been making pipes ever since, either full- or part time, depending on the situation. After a slowdown of several years due to the pursuit of timber from sustainably managed forests, I have returned to making pipes on a more active basis. I can offer practice sets, half sets, ¾ and full sets in D and C in a range of options. Please contact me for information of prices, waiting times, etc.
Irish pipes or uilleann pipes are part of the bagpipes family. As such they consist of a number of pipes and a bag and, as they are bellows-blown, a pair of bellows. Irish pipes come in different forms: practice (or starter) sets, half sets, ¾ sets, and full sets. The standard parts of the instrument are:
- A bag to act as wind reservoir
- A pair of bellows to blow them up
- A chanter (melody pipe) to play the melody
- A set of three drones. Drones are bourdon pipes (a tenor, baritone, and bass drone tuned to the bottom note of the chanter over three octaves) to provide the continuous underlying sound. They have a switch to turn them off and on.
- Regulators - closed melody pipes with keys that can be played to give a melodic or rhythmical accompaniment to the melody.
Bagpipes are reed instruments. The Irish pipes have one reed for each pipe: double reeds for the chanter and regulators and single reeds for the drones.
The most common form of the complete instrument is the full set with three drones and three regulators, however some pipers want additional features and pipe makers may like experimenting. As a result we can find sets with a larger number of drones or shuttle drones rather than standard ones; one (or even two) extra regulators; an extended bass regulator; and even double chanters (although these are not much used).
The modern pipes are in the standard pitch of D or concert pitch. This pitch makes it easy to play with other instruments. Other pitches – flat pitches – are in Csharp; C; B; and Bflat. Flat sets (as they are called) have a less bright and softer tone than the concert sets and are preferred by some pipers.
The following combinations are available (in D or C):
A practice set consists of:
A half set consists of:
- a practice set
- mainstock with 3 drones
Three Quarter Set
A three-quarter set consists of:
- a half set
- tenor regulator
- baritone regulator
A full set consists of:
- three-quarter set
- bass regulator
Pipes are quite tricky instruments to come to grips with and, for this reason, it makes sense to take it easy and start with a practice set with only the chanter (the melody pipe) or with a half set which also has drones. Because the drones can be switched off, the beginning piper can start with mastering the chanter and, after that, the drones do not pose much of a challenge. Regulators can be added without problems at a later stage.