Wednesday

Finding my Bagpipes

I have written before about starting my bagpipe lessons on the practice chanter. After a year of playing I knew that bagpipes, kilts, and sporrans were in my life to stay.

A year of playing the chanter is quite normal. You never, ever want to just race out and buy a set of pipes after your first chanter lesson. Starting on the chanter helps you learn the notes and all of the embellishments like D throws, grips and doublings. Once you've got the notes down your on your way to learning tunes like Scots Wha Hae (my first tune!) and Amazing Grace (my second tune!).

Even though a year is a long time, I guarantee you that I needed every minute of it. Switching to the real thing requires more then just learning the notes and a few tunes, you also have to be really confident in your playing.
Once I was ready for the real thing, my pipe major borrowed a few sets of pipes from pipe stores he frequented (they wanted our business afterall), and we spent a night listening to him play each one. Although you might not think it, each set of bagpipe sounds different. Even bagpipes from the same maker can sound different.

The bagpipes that I chose really and truly seemed to pick me. The sound just hit me and I knew I had to have them. I know it seems strange to say, but they had a subtle mellow sound to them. The other pipes sounded big and bold, but my soon to be pipes sounded cleaner and sharper somehow. Or maybe I just had some strange existensial moment with my bagpipes, like I said, I think they chose me.

When myself and a few others were choosing our pipes, my pipe major was pushing for Kron bagpipes. Several other pipers in the band had them and liked them, and they were kind of hte next big brand when it comes to premier bagpipes. In fact, some people were able to get a really good deal on actual Kron bagpipes on e-bay. I was freaked out about buying something like this on e-bay. And, in general, most of the bagpipes that you see for sale on e-bay are pure crap. A while ago I found this great posting on youtube from this Scottish guy ranting about how so many people are being ripped off by sellers claiming to be selling real Scottish bagpipes on e-bay. This video is totally worth watching just for the Scottish brogue, but the video has real value if you are looking at bagpipes on e-bay:

And in this video he actually shows you a crap set of pipes he bought on e-bay just to prove his point:

This guy's so awesome!

The guys in my band that bought e-bay pipes were very careful to ensure that they were buying actual Kron pipes. And, the price matched. A lot of the poor quality bagpipes advertised on e-bay are less then $200. A good set of pipes is going to cost you upwards of $1,000.

The pipes I bought are Kintail bagpipes.

Their site goes so far as tell you how they hand-craft each set of pipes. They have quite a nice history on their company as well. They are made in Glasgow and one of my dear wishes is to go back to Glasgow and visit where my bagpipes were born.

Pipe on!

4 comments:

Rosehaven Cottage said...

Very cool post! I never knew this about bagpipes even though I love bagpipe music. Now I know so much more after reading what you wrote. Thank you! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Anonymous said...

Another very interesting and very educational post, thank you! And the old guy is definetely awesome. Well, I am the usual anonymous, I think I should perhaps get me a name...

Piping Girl said...

Thanks for stopping by Rosehaven, I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Piping Girl said...

Anonymous, it's good to hear from you again. I assume that all the anonymous posts are from you, and you should indeed get a name. Do you have a blog?? I'd love to stop by it sometime.

 
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