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.

~circa 1920s Robertson, blackwood projecting mounts, nickel ferrules, casein caps – NOW POSTED
~circa 1890 Duncan MacDougall, full ivory
~circa 1910 Lawries, wood projecting mounts, nickel ferrules, ivory caps

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

  • Henderson, 1931, African blackwood, ivory, engraved silver slides hallmarked

    SOLD – The silver slides hallmarked 1931 suggest an exact year of manufacture for this Henderson set. The lovely, aged amber appearance of the ivory, the general profiles of the pieces and the fact that the silver maker’s mark is PH, for Peter Henderson, all suggest that the slides are original to the pipes and the pipes were made in 1931-32.

    The pipes came with a section of one tenor top that was missing three combed sections. This combing was subsequently added by Dunbar Bagpipes. The work is slightly visible up close to the piece. The chanter stock was cracked, but has since been invisible whipped and should give no more problems. It would appear that the blowstick stock ferrule, if not the whole stock, is a replacement. The ferrule on the stock appears to be catalin, but a pretty reasonable match to the rest of the set. The chanter is a Henderson, but not original to the set.

    These played like classic Hendersons, bold, steady and seamless, and came into tune quickly with my Canning drone reeds.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only, original chanter
    CAD $4,850 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 $5,525  plus shipping

  • Robertson, circa 1930s, African blackwood, nickel, casein

    The double scribe lines in the middle of the ferrules tell us right away that this is a Robertson bagpipe from the 1920s. Other features such as the wood projecting mount shapes, the square profiles of the upper pieces and the casein ring caps complete the Robertson identification.

    The set needed no repairs, only a polish on the lathe. The blowpipe came with a copper insert, suggesting it may have cracked at some time, but no crack is visible.

    The casein is in excellent shape — not chalky and mottled as is usual. It looks as though it has been skimmed and polished on a lathe, renewing its original patina. The chanter appears original to the set, though the casein sole has not been skimmed.

    The pipes played well, the tenors tuning lower than usual. The drones locked in nicely with my Canning reeds, and displayed typical Robertson steadiness and richness.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only, original chanter
    CAD $4,250 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 $4,925  plus shipping

  • William Sinclair, circa 1960s, full ivory

    The William Sinclair and Son company of Leith will go down in history as one of the leading pipemakers of their day. The company began making pipes around 1930, but appears to have closed down as of 2019 with the death of the last Sinclair son, a third-generation pipemaker.

    This set is made in blackwood, mounted in full ivory, and was likely made in the 1960s.

    The pipes have been stripped and refinished in the usual oil/wax finish preferred on this site. Two small hairline cracks were found under two ferrules, and these have been sealed.

    This set played very steadily and with a bright, resonant tone.

    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 $4,395  plus shipping

  • Robertson, circa 1950s, full ivory

    The quality and consistency of Robertson pipes is legendary, and this Robertson set lines up with other 1950s Robertsons as a fine example of instruments made when George Kilgour and James Martin manned the shop.

    The set has been well used over its 70 or so years of life, but cleaned up well with a strip and refinish. The chanter stock ferrule has been replaced by a faux ivory substitute that is extremely convincing. The bass drone bushing has been lost, and has been replaced with one made of moose antler, visible in the caps photograph below. The wood parts were all crack free. The combing is well worn in spots.

    The stock bores are tapered, a practice that was quite common in the Robertson shop at this time. The tapered stocks are designed to reduce air turbulence within the stocks.

    The previous owner had the tuning slides corked very nicely, and with a touch of cork grease the tuning action is excellent. The stock joints are all hemped.

    These pipes played in typical Robertson fashion with a robust, seamless sound and great steadiness.

    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 $4,395  plus shipping

  • Circa 1940 Lawries, African blackwood, full ivory

    Profiles suggest manufacture of this Lawrie set around 1940 or a little earlier.

    The pipes came to me from Fife, where they had lain unplayed for some years. Stripping the finish revealed cracks in three drone stocks and one tenor top just above the ferrule. These have been sealed and invisible whipped and will cause no more trouble. The blowpipe looks like it came from a Henderson set and the combing and beading match well. The pipes were refinished and came out showing the beautiful African blackwood grain.

    They came into tune quickly and held nicely with my Canning drone reeds.  They retain characteristics of classic Lawries, with a robust sound and superb steadiness.

    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