Vintage Bagpipes

Scroll down to see vintage pipes available.

There is something in the mystery of the old instruments that captivates and motivates us. Is the old wood really better? Did the old makers know something we don’t? Do musical instruments improve with age? Why do so many great players play vintage pipes? Who was the greatest maker of all time?

Jim McGillivray playing an ebony and ivory set of circa 1850s pipes thought to be made by Duncan MacDougall’s father, John. Photo by Paul Mosey.

These questions and others continue to occupy the thoughts of vintage bagpipe aficionados. I take pride in acquiring great old pipes. I take great care in their refurbishment and in playing them to determine their musical worth.  I also go to great lengths to make sure vintage bagpipe buyers know exactly what they are getting in terms of make, quality and any repairs that have been undertaken.

If you’re looking for an old instrument, I hope you’ll trust me to help you. If you’re not looking for an old set, check out my new offerings or just take the time to enjoy the photos and descriptions of bagpipe history below.

If you have an old set you would like to part with, please email me.

Coming Soon or Currently in Refurbishment

Watch this space for instruments on their way to the vintage page.

~1920s Lawrie, engraved silver and imitation ivory — SOLD
~circa 1920s Lawrie, nickel and ivory — NOW POSTED
~full-silver Sinclair, hallmarked 1966 — NOW POSTED

 

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

  • Full-silver William Sinclair & Son, hallmarked 1966

    This stunning set came from an estate sale where it had never been played. It was originally purchased by a gentlemen who had never had a lesson and who, it would appear, never played them either. The pipes came to me without a mark on the wood or silver. The finish you see in the photos is the original, unblemished finish. This is essentially a brand new, 1966 full-silver Sinclair bagpipe.

    This brief history comes from a letter to the Sinclair company from the owner and the return letter from Alistair Sinclair, both included with the pipes. The owner makes it clear that he always wanted a bagpipe but knows nothing about how to play. He asks for instructions. The reply offers basic blowing instruction, a tutor book, a practice chanter and a tin of seasoning.  There is no further correspondence.

    The pipes come with the original Sinclair chanter and matching silver sole as well as the original, good-as-new case with the Sinclair stamp on the inside of the lid.

    The pipes required the re-affixing of many of the mounts, a polish, a shortening of the blowstick, rehemping and oiling.

    They played like a dream. I played Sinclair pipes for 10 years at the height of my competitive career and loved the full, bright sound of the drones.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $7,850 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $8, 595  plus shipping

  • Lawries, circa 1920, nickel, ivory mounts

    SOLD – This set had only one owner, who brought the pipes with him when he emigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland to the Canadian midwest in 1920 when he was 20.

    The pipes are R. G. Lawrie, and the appearance, plus the above evidence, date the set from the years around 1920. The pipes are mounted in ivory and nickel — tapered ferrules, as Lawrie was wont to do.

    The blowstick and blowstick stock were beyond repair and have been replaced with poly-lined, blackwood replicas.  One tenor top had a small crack. Unfortunately, due to thin wood at that point in the drone, it had to be externally rather than internally whipped, and this is visible in the photos. The pipes have been stripped and refinished and since they haven’t been played since the 1980s, extra care has been taken in oiling.

    Tonally, these pipes are typical Lawrie from this era:  extremely robust and very steady, locking in nicely with my current set of Canning drone reeds.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,250 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $3, 995  plus shipping

  • Atherton MD, MacDougall bores, 2009, nickel, imitation ivory

    This Dave Atherton MD was made in 2009 or a little before. Dave Atherton models his MacDougall reproduction after a set of brilliant 1870s cocuswood Duncan MacDougall pipes that had been owned by Roddy MacDonald from Wilmington, Delaware. The craftsmanship and tone of these pipes as a modern-made instrument are beyond compare.

    This set is in mint condition but for one chip on one projecting mount. The chip has been glued nicely back in place and the repair is almost invisible. The blowstick and blowstick stock are polypenco.

    As an aside, this set was played in seven winning bands across four grades at the North American Championship in Maxville and was played in an army pipe band in recent years during tours of Vimy, Dieppe, Juno Beach, and the battlefields of the Italian campaign.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,295 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $3,995  plus shipping

  • Boosey & Hawkes, circa 1960, nickel, imitation ivory

    Boosey & Hawkes was a woodwind instrument maker in London who took over the Starck shop when it closed in the mid-1950s. The firm made pipes but they also had other makers make their pipes, mostly Lawrie and Starck.

    This set is in excellent condition, although the original stocks were lost and have now been replaced by stocks from a different set. The blowpipe has been lined with brass. These pipes played very well with my reeds: steady, full, and very much in the Naill tradition.

    This set provides good tonal quality for an affordable price.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $1,750 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $2, 495  plus shipping

  • Robertson, circa 1930s/40s, polished casein, engraved nickel

    This is a rare Robertson set with non-ivory (casein) mounts that have been polished and have not deteriorated into a gray, chalky material. The engraved nickel mounts were added at some point in the recent past.

    The set had some hairline cracks in a couple of pieces that have been invisible whipped so that they would not spread. The stocks don’t appear to be original to the set. The are extremely well made, are almost certainly Starck stocks. All match but for the blowpipe stock, which also is a recent replacement. The blowstick itself was missing, so a polypenco replica was made and a matching casein mount found and installed. At least a couple of drone pieces could be Brazilwood, a wood frequently used by James Robertson. The casein shows numerous spider lines but all mounts are solid.

    The set locked into tune immediately with my Kinnaird Edge drone reeds, and the sound was robust and steady within seconds. In terms of manufacturing standards and sound, Robertson was the most consistent maker I know of through the entire life of the company; materials may differ, but the quality of work and sound is always exemplary.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,350 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,395  plus shipping

  • Starck, circa 1930s, ivory, engraved German silver

    The Starck firm began business in the early 19th century as a woodwind maker. In 1889, Henry Starck was convinced by William Ross, the Queen’s piper, to make bagpipes. The firm made absolutely superb instruments, and many of the pre-1950s sets are as good as those of any other maker.

    This set is thought to date into the 1930s. It is blackwood, mounted in full ivory, and has engraved German silver slides. German silver is the name given to a widely used alloy of the time similar to today’s nickel.

    The pipes are in excellent condition and required invisible whipping only along a hairline crack in the blowstick. The finish needed only polishing and appears to be original. There are some small, filled cracks in the ivory mount of the blowpipe stock.

    I tested this set along with two sets of Hendersons and was impressed by the fact that it was easily as good as the Hendersons in terms of steadiness, richness, blend, volume and proper tuning positions. This is a superb set of pipes.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,750 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $4,495  plus shipping

  • Lawries, circa 1915, ebony, imitation ivory ferrules, caps

    SOLD – This set came to me with the imitation ivory mounts added. The stocks are replica Lawrie stocks, except for the chanter stock, with came from a different set and is mounted in holly. The blowpipe is also a replica.

    The drones are all original, and the projecting mounts are ebony or African blackwood. Some hairline cracks have been repaired pro-actively to prevent later troubles. When these pictures were taken I had lost the chanter stock and took the photos with a replacement. The original has since been found — it had rolled off the worktable and into a Kleenex box on the end table….

    Tonally this set is extraordinary: very full, very steady, and with superb chanter blend. This ivory-free set would sound great on any stage.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,025 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $3,795  plus shipping

  • R. G. Lawrie, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1959

    This lovely silver and ivory Lawrie set is hallmarked with RGL and the 1959 symbol on every piece. Every piece is original except for the mouthpiece bulb. Ivory mouthpiece bulbs rarely service, though the engraved silver sleeve is original.

    This set was made at a time when the shapes of the Lawrie bells had departed somewhat from the original design — much more square rather than the rectangular shape on top of a sloping fountain. When I acquired this set from a well known professional player, the drones were fairly flat in pitch and tuned low on the tuning pins. However, this was a fairly simple fix with a couple of bore adjustments by Dunbar Bagpipes and the drones now tune in their proper positions.

    It’s a typically robust Lawrie sound:  bold, rich and steady.  This is a beautiful instrument for someone in the market for a great combination of tone and aesthetics.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $5,025 plus shipping

    Set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, polypenco chanter of choice, Ezeedrone drone reeds, Highland Gear bag cover, plain coloured silk drone cords, plastic chanter cap. (To add Ross or Bannatyne Canister system and Ross valve/watertrap, add CAD $165) (For an African Blackwood chanter instead of polypenco, request add-on price.)
    CAD $5,795  plus shipping