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 1940 Lawries, celluloid mounts, nickel slides.

 

 

Vintage Pipes Currently Available

  • Boosey & Hawkes, circa 1960, nickel, imitation ivory

    Boosey & Hawkes was a woodwind instrument maker in London who took over the Starck shop when it closed in the mid-1950s. The firm made pipes but they also had other makers make their pipes, mostly Lawrie and Starck.

    This set is in excellent condition, although the original stocks were lost and have now been replaced by stocks from a different set. The blowpipe has been lined with brass. These pipes played very well with my reeds: steady, full, and very much in the Naill tradition.

    This set provides good tonal quality for an affordable price.

    Email me about this set.

    As shown, sticks only
    CAD $1,750 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 $2, 495  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 $3,050 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 $4,095  plus shipping

  • Starck, circa 1930s, ivory, engraved German silver

    SOLD – 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 $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 $4,095  plus shipping

  • R. G. Lawrie, silver and ivory, hallmarked 1959

    SOLD – 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 $5,025 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 $5,795  plus shipping