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Northumbrian Pipes

‘Because He Was A Bonny Lad’ played on Northumbrian Smallpipes

Here’s a quick tune on a set I finished last year.

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Northumbrian Pipemaker – Repairs to a Robert Reid Set

Robert Reid Set

I recently had the privilege to work on a set made by Robert Reid.  Robert Reid (1784–1837) is widely acknowledged as the creator of the modern form of the Northumbrian Smallpipes.   About 75 of his sets are known.  Most of these are kept in collections and only a handful are played.



Repairs to key spring and block completed

This set needed some repairs as the old repair to the C# key block had failed and the low E key spring had broken.


R Reid stamped on the Drone Stock


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Northumbrian Pipes Refurbishment

Replacing Artificial Ivory on Northumbrian Smallpipes

Northumbrian Smallpipes Ivory Replacement

It’s now illegal in the UK to buy or sell most items containing ivory.  Many historical set of Northumbrian Smallpipes were made with ivory end caps and fittings, and increasingly I’m being asked to replace these with artificial ivory.  Here’s a set of Northumbrian Smallpipes I’ve just finished work on.  The replacement parts can be seen fitted and in place with the original ivory parts on the table.

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Northumbrian Pipes Chanter

Four Key Northumbrian Smallpipes Chanter

Northumbrian Small Pipes Four Key Chanter

One of the earliest tune books for the Northumbrian Smallpipes, the Peacock Manuscript first published in 1800, refers to “A Compleat Drawing of J.PEACOCK’S New Invented Pipe Chanter with the addition of Four Keys”.

Recently, I was asked to make one of these Northumbrian Smallpipes chanters.  Few have been made as they were quickly superseded by the seven key Northumbrian Smallpipes chanter.  However, they are lovely smallpipes chanters and are a joy to play.

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Northumbrian Pipes and Border Pipes Bellows

Bellows for Border Pipes are traditionally a bit larger than bellows for Northumbrian Smallpipes.  Border Pipes use a little more air, so a larger supply helps the player with this.  I’ve recently made a set for my border pipes and here are some pictures-

Border Pipes Bellows

Pipes Bellows with Curved Cheeks

Pipe Bellows and Fittings

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Northumbrian Pipes – Reed Making Video

Lots of people are interested in making chanter reeds and every reed maker has a slightly different way of doing it.  I’ve made a series of YouTube three videos showing my current method.  Here’s part one.

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Northumbrian Pipes Maker – Dealing with Smelly Old Leather!

ABBS, or Armpitted and Boxed Bellows Syndrome –   you know, the rancid smell that’s takes over the room when you get an old set of bellows which have been shut in a box for decades.  Getting rid of the awful smell can be a real problem.  Leather doesn’t like being washed.  Too much water and cleaning chemicals can damage or ruin it.

I gave this set a light clean with a soap, then nourished the leather with dubbin mixed with a few drops of scented oil.  If the problem persists, a few drops of scented oil dripped in through the bellows inlet can do the trick.

People will queue up to sit next to you as you emit pleasant odours as you play!

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