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 1890s Duncan MacDougall, ebony, ivory – NOW POSTED
~Robertson, full silver, hallmarked 1952 – NOW POSTED

 

 

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

 

  • Duncan MacDougall, circa 1890

    SOLD – This Duncan MacDougall set came to me from New Zealand, where it had been played over the past 40 years by prominent NZ piper Murray Mansfield and his father Ian. New Zealand was a popular destination for MacDougalls in the latter part of the 19th century.

    The pipes are ebony, mounted in ivory, some of which may be marine ivory, likely walrus. The pipes were stripped, revealing no cracks. All pieces appear to be original except for the blowpipe, which is a replica mounted in premium imitation ivory.

    Duncan MacDougall was of course a near-mythical pipemaker who made pipes from 1857 until his death in 1898. This set almost certainly comes from his Aberfeldy period.

    With my Canning reeds the pipes were immediately steady. They displayed a full, rich sound with a particularly fulsome bass.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks and stocks only
    CAD $7,850 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 $8,595  plus shipping

  • Robertson, full silver, hallmarked 1952

    SOLD – James Robertson made pipes in Edinburgh from around 1908 until his death in 1948. The company continued until 1964, producing pipes of equal or superior quality as when their founder ran the show.  The manufacturing and tonal consistency of their pipes through more than 50 years of operation was remarkable.

    This spectacular set was made and hallmarked in 1952. It came to me crack-free needing only a strip and refinish. All pieces are original except for the mouthpiece, which is modern nickel.

    The pipe was robust and steady on my shoulder: the usual exceptional Robertson sound.

    Full silver Robertsons are rare and this is a superb example of some of the company’s best work.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks and stocks only
    CAD $10,500 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 $11,200  plus shipping

  • Center, circa 1880, ebony, ivory

    This set came to me as an Alex Glen, but has since been identified as John Center in Edinburgh, likely made in the 10 years around 1880. It is made of ebony, with ivory mounts.

    The set was in excellent condition, requiring only a cleaning on the lathe, and invisible whipping a crack in the blowpipe stock.  The blowpipe is a replica with a holly mount.  The chanter shown in the photo does not match the pipes, though it came with them. It is an old Henderson chanter.

    The pipes played with a rich, mellow steadiness. They are not a robust pipe, but a sweet one with lots of character.

    You can hear Matt MacIsaac playing these pipes in studio conditions by clicking here.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks and stocks only
    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 $4,995  plus shipping

  • MacDougall/Center, circa 1890s, ebony, ivory

    This set likely dates from the 1890s or a little later. It is made in ebony and full mounted in ivory. It was purchased as a Duncan MacDougall, but since that time has been identified as possibly being Gavin MacDougall, possibly John Center.

    At some point fairly recently the set was stripped and refinished by Dunbar Bagpipes. One of the tenor tops had been broken and subsequently lost, so a replica piece was made in African blackwood, with premium imitation ivory mounts that match the set extremely well. The blowpipe had also been lost. A replica has been made with a nicely matching holly mount. The set is priced accordingly.

    The pipes played with a seamless and steady tone, with an excellent chanter blend.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks and stocks 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

  • Henderson, circa 1920, full ivory

    SOLD – 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 $2,950 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 $3,695  plus shipping

  • Chisholm (Robertson), circa 1940, African blackwood, nickel, imitation ivory

    The company “Chisholm and Hunters” or just plain “John Chisholm” was listed as a bagpipe maker from 1901 until 1949, according to Jeannie Campbell’s expert book “Highland Bagpipe Makers.” The company carried sundry non-piping-related items as well, and quite likely bought pipes from other makers. Vintage expert Ringo Bowen believes, on the strength of a former Robertson employee, that many of the early Chisholm sets were made by Lawrie, and later sets by the James Robertson company. This set falls into the latter category, and is in fact one of the sets pictured on Ringo’s Bagpipe Museum “John Chisholm” page.

    Likely made by either James Robertson himself or James Martin — perhaps Robertson’s best turner — the set displays some differences from Robertson sets, but the wood projecting mounts, the stocks and the tapered tuning chamber externals display a distinctly Robertson flavour. The instrument is beautifully turned.

    Any doubts about the make evaporated when I played the drones with my own Canning reeds. They were robust, seamless and steady very much like scores of Robertson’s I’ve played.

    The pipes are in great shape. The ferrules are nickel and the caps are what appears to be imitation ivory. The imitation ivory may not be original. The blowstick stock had a small crack that was been repaired. There is one rice-grain sized chip on the bead on the plastic bass ring cap.

    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

  • Lawries, circa 1930, nickel and ivory

    This is a classic late 1920s-1930 Lawrie set distinguished by large beads on the ivory projecting mounts.

    The set was in very good condition, and a complete strip revealed no cracks. The set was refinished, and fissures in the ivory bass ring and the blowstick projecting mount were filled and stabilized.  The blowpipe stock is a poly replica with the original mount. The tapered nickel mounts are in mint condition.

    The set played with a rich, steady sound that locked nicely. The tenors tune a touch low.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,450 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 $4,195  plus shipping

  • McCallum, 2009, full-silver

    Not exactly a vintage offering, this set came into the shop for a very good price, and is being listed here at an equally good price.

    The silver pattern is zoomorphic.  The blowpipe had been lined in brass to compensate for a crack that has been subsequently repaired but it was still visible. So we made a replica blowpipe, polypenco-lined, using the same mount.  The rest of the pipes are in like-new shape. They had one elderly owner, and it looks like they weren’t played much.  There is a silver plaque with the pipes, and if your name happens to be Justice William H. Stewart, the pipes will be perfect for you!  If that’s not your name, the shield slides right off the stock.

    They play with a solid, steady tone, not quite as voluminous as the MacRae models, but bold and vibrant.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $5,350 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 $6,095  plus shipping

  • David Glen, circa 1895, ebony & cocuswood, nickel, ivory caps

    SOLD – David Glen worked in the pipemaking business with his father Alexander beginning in his teens. Alexander was the brother of Thomas MacBean Glen, whose mid-19th-century pipemaking firm would eventually become J&R Glen.  Alexander’s shop became David Glen in 1873 when Alex died and David took over at the age of 23. Those were the two Glen firms operating in Edinburgh in the latter part of the century.

    David’s firm would produce a remarkable body of work before his death in 1916. David Glen would also become the most prolific publisher of pipe music in the history of the instrument.

    This is is a typical low-end David Glen offering:  button mounts, nickel ferrules and stylized ivory caps in a mix of cocuswood and ebony.  The set was in excellent shape on acquisition. A short crack in the bass mid-joint needed invisible whipping.  There are a couple of small dings in the wood, but nothing obvious. The finish is excellent.

    David Glen’s pipes play with a rich, steady, relatively quiet sound.  The are a great piobaireachd pipe and great for anyone not wishing an overpowering drone sound.

    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