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.

~1950s Robertson, full ivory

 

 

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

  • Lawrie, circa 1905, ebony, full ivory

    This Lawrie set is thought to date to 1905, give or take a few years. The fact that it is ebony supports the early date. The set is mounted in full ivory.

    The pipes were stripped and a number of cracks and hairlines were found. These have all been invisible whipped and will give no more trouble. The blowstick stock is a poly-lined replica in blackwood with a mount that matches almost perfectly. The tuning chambers were evened up and the set was refinished.  The tuning slides were nickel and not in very good shape. These have been replaced by Sterling silver slides, hallmarked 2016. The odd tiny chip in the ivory, including a pea sized chip in one tenor ferrule, is pretty typical of a pipe of this age.

    The pipes played like a dream. Not quite as robust as blackwood, old ebony offers a steadiness and refinement of sound quite specific to that wood. These pipes locked in at first tuning and needed no touching up in the 10 minutes I played them. It was an inspired sound.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,950 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 $5,695  plus shipping

  • Henderson, circa 1920, full ivory

    This is a Henderson bagpipe from the 1920s with two major alterations and two minor ones. One tenor drone bottom is not a Henderon but a Lawrie in imitation ivory from the 1930s. The bottom joint is a modern replica with the original mounts. The Chanter stock, blowpipe and blowpipe stock are replacement pieces mounted in imitation ivory. The  blowpipe and stock are polypenco-lined.

    One odd feature about this set is that the two tenor top ferrules are quite different, yet the wood pieces are absolutely identical.

    These pipes played very well for me with the robust, steady and seamless sound characteristic of Henderson bagpipes of this period.

    The pipes are priced with the above-mentioned compromises in mind.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,150 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 $3,895  plus shipping

  • Unknown Edinburgh bagpipe, circa 1890s, ebony, nickel, ivory

    It can be difficult to determine the make and age of button-mount pipes because projecting mounts are such an important visual identifier.  This set came to me with no known maker, but a distinctly Edinburgh appearance.  Guesses as to maker have included Hutcheon, J&R Glen, and possibly Thow, but this may just remain a mystery set.

    The pipes are ebony, with nickel ferrules and ivory rings. Being ebony, we had the pipes stripped, and being ebony, there were some hairline cracks to be invisible whipped. The blowstick and blowstick stock are poly-lined replacements. The pipes have been refinished.

    The pipes played nicely:  extremely steady with what you would call a mellow sound in the Glen tradition: not robust, but rich.

    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

  • Alexander or J&R Glen circa 1860, cocuswood drones, bone, ivory, imitation ivory

    SOLD – This bagpipe came to me as an Alexander Glen, circa 1870. Alexander Glen was one of the seminal Edinburgh pipemakers of the mid-1800s, brother of Thomas MacBean Glen, another iconic Edinburgh maker, and father of David, who would take the business into the 20th century. They were part of a school of pipemakers that favoured very delicately turned instruments with narrow profiles and mounts. This set fits nicely into the Edinburgh school.

    Alex Glen made pipes from 1833 until his death in 1872, when the company passed to David. John and Robert Glen ( J&R) were sons of Thomas MacBean Glen. They began making pipes in their father’s business the years around 1860. This set is thought to date from around this time. My consultations with the foremost Glen expert I know, Andreas Virnich-Hartmann, suggest that this is an early J&R Glen set, and not ruling out Thomas himself.

    The instrument appears to have undergone a series of repairs over the years, with some of the original bone mounts being replaced as they were lost. Some of the replacement mounts are celluloid, some may be ivory, but suffice to say they are all excellent ivory substitutes. So while there are small inconsistencies in the mounts, the overall look and patina are quite attractive. The stocks are replacements in their entirety, mounted in very convincing imitation ivory. One hairline crack on a tenor top was discovered at the photo stage (see if you can find it) and has now been invisible whipped. The instrument has been stripped and refinished recently.

    The tone of the drones with my Canning reeds was bold. The drones locked and there was a good blend with the chanter.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only, original chanter
    CAD $4,350 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 $5,025  plus shipping

  • Hutcheon (suspected), circa 1890, cocuswood, nickel, ivory rings

    SOLD – This is a make we haven’t had on the site before. The pipes came to me as J&R Glen, but a quick examination dispelled that notion. The closest maker I and my vintage cronies could come up with was James Hutcheon, who made pipes in Edinburgh from 1887 to 1913.  However, Hutcheon is also noted for adorning mounts with a band of three narrow scribe lines, rather than two. This set has two. These pipes came with what may be the original chanter, but with no sole and no maker stamp. So determining a maker is pretty much educated guesswork. A small ridge in the ivory rings is also unique.

    The pipes are quite lovely, in cocuswood, ivory and nickel. They played much like a David Glen bagpipe — subdued, but rich. The tenors tune a bit low, but were steady as well. The set comes with an extra bottom bass joint that appears to be cocuswood, but could be blackwood. The bass is much more robust and buzzy with this joint, whereas the original maintains the more restrained sound of the drones.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only, original chanter
    CAD $3,850 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 $4,525  plus shipping