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.

~1865 Alexander Glen, ebony, full ivory
~silver and ivory Sinclairs, hallmarked 1968
-cocuswood Glens, ivory projecting mounts, brass tuning slides, circa 1890
~cocuswood Glens, nickel, button mounts, circa 1920s – NOW POSTED
~cocuswood Glens, nickel, button mounts, circa 1890s – NOW POSTED
~Lawries, circa 1940, blackwood, full ivory – NOW POSTED
~half-size J&R Glen, circa 1920, blackwood, full ivory – NOW POSTED

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

 

  • 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 $4,150 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 $4,895  plus shipping

  • David Glen, circa 1890, cocuswood, nickel ferrules, ivory caps

    This lovely old David Glen set is thought to date to around 1890. It is made of cocuswood with button mounts, nickel ferrules and ivory caps.

    It had undergone a refurbishment and refinishing before I acquired it and it remains in excellent condition. The blowpipe stock has had a brass lining inserted into it to stop a small crack that was also sealed.

    David Glen made pipes in Edinburgh from the time his father Alex died in 1873 until David’s death in 1916. Cocuswood appears to have been his favoured wood. His pipes are known for their less robust but rich and buzzy tone that promotes great chanter blend. They are highly air efficient.

    This set played rock steady with my current set of Canning drone reeds.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,550 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 $4,295  plus shipping

  • J & R Glen, circa 1900, cocuswood, nickel ferrules and rings

    This set came to me as a David Glen, but with some help from one of my trusted vintage experts we’ve determined it is in fact J & R Glen.  John and Robert Glen were the sons of Thomas Glen, the first pipemaker in the Glen family, brother of Alex, uncle of David. Made of cocuswood and with button mounts and nickel ferrules and rings, these pipes are thought to date to 1900 or a few years later.

    Unlike David Glen pipes, J & R sets play a bit more robustly, though the richness and chanter blend they produce is a joy. This set was steady and lively with my current Canning drone reeds.

    These pipes had already undergone a refurbishment when I acquired them. I discovered a small crack in the blowstick stock, which has been invisible whipped.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,650 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 $4,395  plus shipping

  • J & R Glen half-size set, circa 1900-1930, African blackwood, full ivory mounts

    SOLD – This is a true half-sized set, not one of the more common three-quarter (more like 7/8th) sized sets we often see. In the past, these have been given to children to play. More commonly today they are set up to go in Bb to play with other instruments or by itself.  This set appears to be from J & R Glen, as stamped on the chanter. The vintage was more difficult to determine and could range anywhere between 1900 and 1930

    This set is being sold as it came to me and is priced appropriately.  The instrument is in good condition but for a couple of chips in one ferrule (visible in the photos). The hide bag is tight, the original chanter has been reeded, and a box of cane drone reeds as well as a brand new and appropriately sized set of Ezeedrone reeds are included. I have not played the set-up instrument.

    The set comes with what may well be the original wooden box, including original key.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown
    CAD $1,250 plus shipping

     

  • Grainger and Campbell, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1969-70

    The Grainger and Campbell pipemaking company operated in Glasgow beginning in 1946. In 1952 they took over the premises and machinery from the defunct Duncan MacRae firm. They made bagpipes of excellent quality until the company closed in 1989.

    This silver and ivory Grainger and Campbell set is hallmarked 1969-70 on every piece. The pipes were originally selected by Donald MacLeod — part owner of the Grainger firm along with John MacFadyen — for the late Geoff Neigh, brother of the more famous Ed, and a good friend of mine. I well remember Geoff playing this set in the old Guelph Pipe Band in the 1970s.

    The set is in superb condition, requiring a good polishing on the lathe, and the reaffixing of a couple of the mounts. The blowstick stock had a hairline crack near the mount that has been invisible whipped. The original Grainger chanter is still with the pipes. These chanters played very well in their day, though they would be low-pitched in today’s piping world. The set also has its original silver and ivory mouthpiece.

    Interestingly, the set has had modifications made to it by the late John Kidd.  John believed that square edges in the bores created turbulence that affected the steadiness of pipes detrimentally. He rounded off the tops of the tuning pins and tapered the bottoms of the stocks to ease the flow of air. A surprising number of sets of pipes are around that show John’s work.  Geoff Neigh swore by the modifications, saying that the pipes had never been steadier than after the Kidd treatment.

    As expected, the drones on this set were full and very steady, locking into tune nicely with my Canning drone reeds.

    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 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 $2,750 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 $3,450  plus shipping

  • Robertson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1952-53

    SOLD – This James Robertson set came to me in beautiful condition, but for a worn finish. The pipes were stripped, checked for cracks (none), and refinished.

    Silver and ivory Robertsons are not uncommon, but those with each piece hallmarked are rare. The hallmarks on this set state 1952-53.

    James Robertson’s company was just about the most consistent pipemaker I know: high manufacturing standards, and a full, steady tone through decades and decades of pipemaking, even after James passed in 1948.

    This set played beautifully with my set of Canning drone reeds.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $7,150 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 $7,995  plus shipping

  • Henderson, circa 1915, ebony & blackwood, full ivory

    SOLD – This gorgeous set of Hendersons came to me covered with a thick coat of inky material and varnish. I had no idea what kind of wood they were. Once stripped though, they were revealed to be a gorgeous Henderson bagpipe with African blackwood stocks and ebony drones. The profiles and mix of woods suggest a manufacturing period between 1910 and 1920. During the transition to blackwood, makers commonly mixed woods. This particular one is a clever mix, since blackwood is a more resilient wood and better suited to stocks than is ebony.

    Hairline cracks were repaired in the blowpipe stock and chanter stock as well as one tenor stock. The bagpipe was refinished. There are a few spider lines in the ivory, and some yellowing on two of the stock ferrules.

    The drones played as I expected they would, with the classic, bold and seamless Henderson sound becoming apparent as I pulled the middle tenor into tune and the pipes locked.

    Play these on any stage in the world, or enjoy them in your own piping room.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $4,550 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 $5,295  plus shipping

  • Henderson, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1915-16

    SOLD
    These don’t come around very often.

    This great old set of Hendersons came to me as is. I knew the previous owner, what he thought of these pipes and how well he took care of them.  They are a gem.

    I recall that he had the pipes refurbished at some point in the not-too-distant past, so after a polish on the lathe they looked pristine. I think the blowstick stock and chanter stock have had some excellent invisible whipping done on them, but it’s hard to be certain.

    A few spider lines on the ivory projecting mounts and the 1915-16 hallmark attest to the age of these pipes.

    Unlike some Hendersons from this era, the cord guides aren’t stamped with the maker’s name, nor does the silver show the PH (Peter Henderson) maker’s name. But between myself and Ron Bowen — who is the foremost Henderson expert I know — we are confident that these are Hendersons.

    The pipes played beautifully when tried by myself and another professional piper, each using our own reeds.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $8,250 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 $8,995  plus shipping