A way of Thinking

The philosophy of owning, playing, dealing with and looking after a set of bellows blown pipes of any description is a different thing entirely from the ways which have been learned for mouth blown highland pipes. The revival of the The Scottish Bellows Blown pipes has made a huge impact on piping from many points of view but a way of thinking so natural to Uillean and Northumbrian Pipers for example is sadly lacking in many cases.

A. Reeds.

These should be thought of as – “for life” if possible.

They should be looked after and treasured and if this is carried out with care then they will still be serving you for decades if not for a life time. Every chanter reed produces a different tuning and especially in the case of border and reel pipes it is impossible to just send a reed out. The chanter must be returned so that the reed can be fitted, matched and tuned to the chanter.

There is no concept of just sending out a few chanter reeds with the hope that one will work. This is not how it is with bellows blown pipes.

One very wise man once said that there are two things a man should never lend to anyone. The first is your wife and the second is your chain saw. Allow me to add a third.

Please please please don’t lend your pipes to anyone under any circumstances. No good ever comes of it.

B. Maintenance.

There is very little maintenance with bellows blown pipes but what there is is vital.

1. Airtightness. Never use a water based seasoning. If a dressing is needed at all then neatsfoot oil should be used either on its own or mixed with melted beeswax in a proportion of four parts oil to one of beeswax.

1. Joints. Never suck or bite hemp to swell it if a joint is loose. Use cotton thread to add to the hemp until the joint is once again at a perfect tension.


C. General Rules

1. Never mouth blow bellows blown pipes.

D. Oiling and Polishing.

1. For ebony, almond, boxwood and yew it is a wonderful practice to regularly oil the pipes with raw linseed oil.

2. Its also nice for us as pipe makers to see that pipes are treasured and an indication of this is that the ferrules are kept polished. Its so easy to give the silver a wipe with a silver polishing cloth once a week.

There will in the fullness of  time be pages on this web site dedicated to every aspect of pipe maintenance.


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