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 2000 refurbished, rereeded Ian Kinnear D Scottish smallpipe (no bellows) – NOW POSTED

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

 

  • William Sinclair, circa 1960s, full ivory

    The William Sinclair and Son company of Leith will go down in history as one of the leading pipemakers of their day. The company began making pipes around 1930, but appears to have closed down as of 2019 with the death of the last Sinclair son, a third-generation pipemaker.

    This set is made in blackwood, mounted in full ivory, and was likely made in the 1960s.

    The pipes have been stripped and refinished in the usual oil/wax finish preferred on this site. Two small hairline cracks were found under two ferrules, and these have been sealed.

    This set played very steadily and with a bright, resonant tone.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,950 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 $4,595  plus shipping

  • Scottish smallpipe in D, Ian Kinnear, circa 2000

    Smallpipes of various kinds come up here periodically, but this is the first Ian Kinnear set we’ve had.  I acquired the set in unplayable condition some time ago and immediately sent it to Ian Kinnear for a refurb. He polished the pipes and reaffixed mounts, put a new bag on and reeded up the set from scratch. They are going beautifully now and look like they were just made. It was Ian who suggested the year of manufacture.

    There is no bellows with this set, but there is a brand new black bag cover.  The ivorine top on the big drone has at some point been broken, but it has been re-glued and polished and is barely noticeable.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, no bellows
    CAD $1,450 plus shipping

     

  • Circa 1890 David Glen, cocuswood, ivory, nickel

    This elegant David Glen set was likely made in the years around 1890. The sticks are slightly heavier that later David Glen pipes.

    The set is made of lovely dark Caribbean cocuswood, with ivory projecting mounts and nickel ferrules. The tuning chambers are lined with brass, not an uncommon practice with several pipemakers during the latter half of the 19th century. A long crack was visible running upward from the ferrule on the bass mid-joint. This has been sealed, though its shadow is still visible. The rest of the pipe is immaculate after a strip-and-refinish. The set comes with a David Glen chanter, though there is no guarantee that it is original to the pipes.

    David Glen made pipes from 1873 until his death in 1916. While the tone of most of his pipes might be described as very rich and subdued, this set has a fuller tone, though equally rich and wonderfully steady.

    This set locked into a groove very quickly and stayed there with my set of Canning reeds.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks 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

  • Robertson, circa 1950s, full ivory

    The quality and consistency of Robertson pipes is legendary, and this Robertson set lines up with other 1950s Robertsons as a fine example of instruments made when George Kilgour and James Martin manned the shop.

    The set has been well used over its 70 or so years of life, but cleaned up well with a strip and refinish. The chanter stock ferrule has been replaced by a faux ivory substitute that is extremely convincing. The bass drone bushing has been lost, and has been replaced with one made of moose antler, visible in the caps photograph below. The wood parts were all crack free. The combing is well worn in spots.

    The stock bores are tapered, a practice that was quite common in the Robertson shop at this time. The tapered stocks are designed to reduce air turbulence within the stocks.

    The previous owner had the tuning slides corked very nicely, and with a touch of cork grease the tuning action is excellent. The stock joints are all hemped.

    These pipes played in typical Robertson fashion with a robust, seamless sound and great steadiness.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $3,950 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 $4,595  plus shipping

  • 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 $3,950 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 $4,695  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

  • 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