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.

~1910 Henderson, full ivory, hallmarked plain silver slides — NOW POSTED
~circa 1930s Lawrie, imitation ivory mounts
~circa 1955 Boosey & Hawkes (made by Starck), imitation ivory
~circa 1890s cocuswood Henry Starck

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

  • Henderson, 1910, ebony, hallmarked Sterling silver slides

    This unusual Henderson set came to me with Sterling silver slides hallmarked PH 1910. The pipes are ebony.  All pieces are original except for the blowpipe, which is a Lawrie, and a good match for the set.

    In typical fashion for ebony, the pipes had some minor hairline cracking under the ferrules. These are not officially “cracks”, but they can become cracks, so we invisible whip all of these under the ferrules.

    One tenor drone was tuning quite low and had a problematic double tone. After careful measurements by Rick Pettigrew at Dunbar Bagpipes, it was determined the tuning chamber in the tenor top was slightly larger than optimal — perhaps a previous refurb had over-bored the joint in an effort to even out the tuning chamber. A blackwood sleeve was made and installed into that bore to make it identical to the other tenor.

    The finished pipes played absolutely beautifully with my Kinnaird Edge drone reeds. They locked into tune immediately and displayed the classic rich, seamless and robust sound you would expect from an old Henderson set in ebony. Quite remarkable steadiness, and great blend with the chanter, and superb work by Dunbar Bagpipes.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $5,250 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 $5,995  plus shipping

  • Robertson, circa 1930, 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 $4,450 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 $5,195  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 $4,450 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 $5,195  plus shipping

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

    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 $4,025 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 $4,795  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 $6,225 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 $6,995  plus shipping

  • R. G. Hardie, hand-engraved silver and ivory, hallmarked 1956

    This set was sold on this set some years ago and has returned as the owner wished to upgrade to another set. The photos were taken at the time of the first sale.  Unfortunately, the mouthpiece in the photographs was lost, so the set will be sold with a plain, plastic mouthpiece. The set also had its original lacquer finish stripped and replaced with a natural oil/wax finish.

    Bob Hardie was a lovely, quiet, modest man and an icon of 20th-century piping. He was a leading soloist in the 1940s and 1950s, and his band, Muirhead and Sons Ltd., won five straight World Pipe Band Championships in the 1960s. In 1950 he and John Weatherston founded one of the most successful bagpipe making companies of the time. The company continued until 2005, though Bob died in 1990.

    This Hardie bagpipe was made in 1956. It is mounted in hand-engraved Sterling silver and ivory. All parts including the chanter are original except the mouthpiece bulb, as mentioned above

    Hardies were renown for using well seasoned, high quality wood. Even after more than 60 years, all pieces in this set are straight and true. The set has been refinished.

    The drones are mellow, steady and easy to reed. The chanter is flatter pitched and a little more difficult to reed becasue of its age, but the Hardie chanter was the chanter for both top bands and soloists during the 1950s and ’60s.

    This is the one of the loveliest early Hardies I have seen.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,450 plus shipping

    Set up to play set up to play by Jim McGillivray with Ross or Bannatyne bag, Aurora JM or MCC2 McCallum poly chanter, 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, add CAD $175.)
    CAD $5,175  plus shipping