Practice Chanters

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Many pipers play their practice chanters more than they play their pipes. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it is a fact.

Yet all too often pipers accept a level of tuning and tonal quality with their practice chanters that they would never tolerate with their pipes.

I am a stickler for practice chanters that are in tune and tuneful. With this in mind, I have settled on practice chanters made by two companies.

John Walsh, is a fantastic piper who won the World Pipe Band Championship as Pipe Sergeant of the 78th Fraser Highlanders in 1987 and who now lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

MacCallum Bagpipes of Kilmarnock, Scotland, is the the leading bagpipe maker in the world today.

John Walsh Practice Chanters

John Walsh polypenco practice chanters are among the best quality and value in the business. Once you become accustomed to the watertrap in John’s chanters you’ll never want to be without one. To empty the watertrap, you simply turn the chanter upside down, though I also recommend that after a long playing session you take the top off the chanter to let the reed dry out thoroughly overnight.

John Walsh polypenco practice chanters, from left to right, “Long,” “Regular” and “Child’s” size.

John’s polypenco practice chanters are very affordable, bright, and in tune with proper reed placement in the reedseat. 

John threads all of his reedseats so the reeds don’t fall out, and installs a watertrap in every practice chanter except the child’s size, which is too small to accept one. I recommend a John Walsh practice chanter reed in John’s chanters. Each chanter comes with one.

I carry John’s practice chanter reeds and have played one myself for decades. Every practice chanter comes with a reed. You can buy John’s practice chanters from the shopping cart below.

Should you decide you would like a practice chanter in African blackwood, you can check out the offerings from McCallum Bagpipes, below.

McCallum Practice Chanters

The McCallum PC7/FN (short) and PC9/FN (long) blackwood practice chanters fully mounted with engraved nickel.

The ‘long’ chanter has the same spacing as a pipe chanter. The traditional, regular length is shorter, and now more suited to people with small hands.

Some players like their chanters in blackwood. I’ve selected the engraved nickel chanters made in African blackwood by McCallum Bagpipes to fill this niche. They are top-drawer in terms of functionality and style.

McCallum is the leading pipemaker in the world today and their chanters and bagpipes are extremely popular.

These chanters are offered in “regular” or “long,” sizes, long being equivalent to the spacing on a pipe chanter, and two engraving patterns: Thistle and Celtic.  The chanters are rich, in tune, and a pleasure to play. You can feel the vibration on your fingers as you play.

Because of the propensity for blackwood chanter tops to crack, McCallum makes all of their chanters with a polypenco top.

You can buy these chanters from the shopping cart below.

  • $105.00
    John Walsh Long Polypenco Practice Chanter with Watertrap

    This is my best-selling practice chanter. All plastic, it is bright, perfectly in tune, and has long finger spacing to match that of a pipe chanter. It has a watertrap, a threaded reedseat, and is eminently affordable. This is a great starter model before you move on to wood. Or you may play this chanter for the rest of your piping life! To empty the watertrap you just turn the chanter upside down.

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  • $90.00
    John Walsh Regular Length Polypenco Practice Chanter with Watertrap

    This is a traditional practice chanter design: a slightly shorter chanter with short finger spacing, the way all practice chanters were made prior to the 1970s. Some people like to buy these for younger children and then graduate up to the longer version once they grow.  Some people like them because they are a little more comfortable to play while resting the end on a table. Again, it has a watertrap and a threaded reedseat. To empty the watertrap you just turn the chanter upside down.

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  • $85.00
    Child’s Polypenco Practice Chanter

    For the very young piping enthusiast – children in the 6-9 age group – here is a chanter with the same finger hole spacing as the regular, but with a shorter top. Unfortunately, the chanter top is too short to accommodate a watertrap.

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  • $229.00
    McCallum PC7 – ‘Regular’ Length African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Celtic engraved ferrule, imitation ivory sole

    McCallum makes African blackwood practice chanters that are lovely both to look at and to play. This PC7 is ‘regular’ length (shorter than the pipe chanter hole spacing). The ferrule is nickel with a Celtic pattern, and the sole is imitation ivory. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $229.00
    McCallum PC7 – ‘Regular’ Length African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Thistle engraved ferrule, imitation ivory sole

    McCallum makes African blackwood practice chanters that are lovely both to look at and to play. This PC7 is ‘regular’ length (shorter than the pipe chanter hole spacing). The ferrule is nickel with a Thistle pattern, and the sole is imitation ivory. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $259.00
    McCallum PC9 – ‘Long’ African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Celtic engraved ferrule, imitation ivory sole

    This McCallum PC7 is ‘long’ spacing — the same as the pipe chanter. The ferrule is nickel with a Celtic pattern, and the sole is imitation ivory. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $259.00
    McCallum PC9 – ‘Long’ African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Thistle engraved ferrule, imitation ivory sole

    This McCallum PC7 is ‘long’ spacing — the same as the pipe chanter. The ferrule is nickel with a Thistle pattern, and the sole is imitation ivory. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $285.00
    McCallum PC7/FN – ‘Regular’ Length Deluxe African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Celtic Pattern

    McCallum makes African blackwood practice chanters that are lovely both to look at and to play. This PC7/FN is ‘regular’ length (shorter than the pipe chanter hole spacing) with a Celtic engraving pattern, which you can view closely by clicking on the image at left. The ferrule, bowl, sole and bottom of the mouthpiece are all engraved nickel. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $285.00
    McCallum PC7/FN – ‘Regular’ Length Deluxe African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Thistle Pattern

    McCallum makes African blackwood practice chanters that are lovely both to look at and to play. This PC7/FN is ‘regular’ length (shorter than the pipe chanter hole spacing) with a Thistle engraving pattern, which you can view closely by clicking on the image at left. The ferrule, bowl, sole and bottom of the mouthpiece are all engraved nickel. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $320.00
    McCallum PC9/FN – ‘Long’ Deluxe African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Celtic Pattern

    McCallum makes African blackwood practice chanters that are lovely both to look at and to play. This PC9/FN is ‘long’ (same hole spacing as the pipe chanter) with a Celtic engraving pattern, which you can view closely by clicking on the image at left. The ferrule, bowl, sole and bottom of the mouthpiece are all engraved nickel. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $320.00
    McCallum PC9/FN – ‘Long’ Deluxe African Blackwood Practice Chanter, Thistle Pattern

    McCallum makes African blackwood practice chanters that are lovely both to look at and to play. This PC9/FN is a ‘long’ (same hole spacing as the pipe chanter) with a Thistle engraving pattern, which you can view closely by clicking on the image at left. The ferrule, bowl, sole and bottom of the mouthpiece are all engraved nickel. The practice chanter top is plastic to prevent cracking due to moisture.

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  • $228.50
    Complete Tutor Package with Poly Chanter

    Start with everything you need in this complete tutor starter package:  The College of Piping “Green Book”, the National Piping Centre Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book, and Rhythmic Fingerwork, along with a John Walsh long polypenco practice chanter. (Regular price CAD $243.50)

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  • $160.50
    National Piping Centre Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book with Polypenco Practice Chanter

    You can get your piping career started pretty inexpensively with this combo beginner pack that includes the National Piping Centre Highland Bagpipe Tutor and a John Walsh Long polypenco practice chanter. (Regular price CAD $168)

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  • $136.50
    College of Piping “Green Book” Tutor with Polypenco Practice Chanter

    You can get your piping career started even less expensively with this combo beginner pack of the Green Book and a long John Walsh polypenco practice chanter. (Regular price CAD $141.50)

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  • $195.50
    College of Piping “Green Book,” National Piping Centre Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book with Polypenco Practice Chanter

    Add a John Walsh Long polypenco practice chanter to these two classic tutors and save some cash. (Regular price CAD $202.50)

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