Northumbrian Pipes Maker – Keyless Set Drawings

Northumbrian Pipes – Making a Keyless Set


Northumbrian Pipes

Northumbrian Pipes – Keyless Chanter Sketches

I’m delighted to have been commissioned to make a Keyless set of Northumbrian Pipes.  Most sets now have 7 Keys and 4 Drones.  This set will be different.  The ‘original’ Northumbrian Small Pipes were beautifully crafted with a keyless Chanter which played 8 notes.  Pitched in Pipers’ G (F+20 cents), the 3 drones were tuned to Gdg with no need to change key.  Being keyless, the chanters are slim and elegant, and the three drones complement the simplicity to form a delicate and beautiful set of pipes.

Northumbrian Pipes

Northumbrian Pipes – Keyless Chanter Sketches

My first job is to sketch out some design options.  To accentuate the simplicity of the instrument we’ve decided on slim, clean lines which emphasis the wood, with simple end caps and mounts to provide a subtle contrast.

End caps and mounts are often made from Blackwood or imitation ivory, but we’re going to use Tagua Nut for this set.  Also known as Vegetable Ivory, it was extensively used for small carvings and making buttons but modern materials have largely taken over now.

In keeping with a ‘basic’ and simple design, metalwork will be subtle to allow the beauty of the wood to be most prominent.

For more information about buying your own bespoke set of Northumbrian Pipes contact me at

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