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.
~Atherton MD, MacDougall bores, full imitation ivory, 2009
~Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1959-61
~circa 1920 Henderson, full ivory, plain silver slides

 

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

  • Alexander Glen circa 1860, ebony, marine ivory

    SOLD – This set came through the shop in 2018 and found its way back to me, as many sets do after some years of use. The description below was written then. The photos are new and the pipes were tested anew.

    “Alexander Glen began making pipes in Edinburgh around 1835 and continued until his death in 1873. His son David was perhaps the most famous Glen in this pipemaking dynasty that spanned more than 120 years, but Alex set the original standard for craftsmanship.

    “This remarkable set came to me almost complete, lacking only its blowpipe. The wood is ebony and the mounts are marine ivory — walrus — which was used widely in pipemaking during the 19th century. The pipes display the narrow profiles and mounts typical of Edinburgh pipemakers during this period.

    Alexander Glen with son David in their Edinburgh shop around 1870.

    “Unfortunately, the blowpipe stock and one tenor stock were cracked badly enough that it was best to make blackwood replicas. The blowpipe and blowpipe stock are poly-lined, with the projecting mount on the blowstick coming from an orphan tenor bottom in my collection that matched very well. A number of hairline cracks in the drone pieces were invisible whipped and will not recur. It would appear that one of the tenor bushings may have been replaced at some point in the distant past. The pipes have been completely refinished (2018).”

    The tone was sonorous, rich and steady, slightly fuller in sound than son David’s pipes.

    This is a lovely piece of antique history as well as a superb musical instrument.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only, original chanter
    CAD $5,150 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 $5,895  plus shipping

  • Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890, ebony, marine ivroy

    SOLD – Lovely MacDougalls like these come up periodically, and I’m always pleased when they do, because they are all good. It’s difficult to date Duncan MacDougall’s pipes from this period, but 10 years on either side of 1890 is probably accurate.  The three wide cord guides, the distinctive ferrules and the elegant projecting mounts combine to make this a classic example of Duncan’s work.

    The set came to me with some damage, almost all of it reparable. The only replacement pieces are the blowstick and blowstick stock. The stock is a poly-lined replacement with original mount; the blowstick is an old Glen with a Glen parrot’s beak mount and a copper sleeve in the bore. It’s a good match for the pipes. One stock ferrule has a crack that has been sealed and is visible in the photos. Being ebony of substantial age, there were a number of hairline and ‘beginner’ cracks in the sticks. We take no chances with ebony and these have been sealed and invisible whipped. One tenor projecting mount is not flush to the wood. Unfortunately even my reliable refurbishers at Dunbar Bagpipes could not get that mount loose, and that’s saying something. So the small gap visible in the pics is a permanent fixture.

    The pipes were completely stripped and refinished and the tuning chambers were evened out.

    The pipes played much like my own MacDougalls. They locked in with my Canning drone reeds and played me a seamless wall of sound for the 20 minutes I played them.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only, original chanter
    CAD $7,450 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 $8,150  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

  • Starck, circa 1930, German silver and ivory

    This bagpipe was presented to me as a Glen instrument because the J & R Glen name was engraved on the chanter sole (visible in the picture below). However, the deeply cut beads on the wood are the most distinctive feature on pipes made by the Henry Starck company. Henry Starck, a German woodwind maker living in London, was convinced by William Ross, the Queen’s Piper, to make bagpipes for him. And what a bagpipe he made from the late 1880s onward! Early Starcks are superbly made and very toneful.

    It would appear that at some point this set had the engraved German silver caps and slides added, almost certainly by the J & R Glen company, given their stamp (but no hallmark) on the chanter sole.

    All pieces appear to be original, but for the mouthpiece sleeve, which is a match for the thistle engraving but is actually hallmarked silver. The chanter is a J & R Glen, which must have been acquired along with the engraving. The chanter sole is detached from the chanter and can be installed on any modern chanter.

    The pipes came crack free and in great shape, requiring only a clean-and-polish on the lathe.  They were robust and rock steady on my shoulder, with a great chanter blend.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,650 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 $5,395  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

    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

    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