Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Band Pipes: 1950’s Henderson’s + Colin Kyo chanter

We’ve had a couple of posts recently using my Henderson’s but they weren’t in the normal confines of my usual recording spots so we’re back to normal in this post with my oldest set of pipes. Feeling a bit nostalgic so we start off with some reels, the first one I learned off an Irish fiddle player on the smallpipes, the second I’ve known forever but had to change versions to match said Irish fiddle player, third is a tune I got out of an Irish fiddle book before I ever knew it was a pipe tune, and fourth is the closer to the band medley (go figure my fingers would fumble on the last tune!).

Dinky Dorian’s, Dick Gossip’s, Sleepy Maggie, and Dancing Feet

Then we’ve got the band’s new 6/8 march set. I’m still sight reading this one off the page.

Frank Thomson, Angus MacKinnon, and Ellenor

Last, we’ve got some more Irish stuff because I was in an Irish mood.

King of Laois and The Big Yin

Finally, a shout out to Murray Huggins of Colin Kyo bagpipes. He is the man. We’ve been playing his chanters in the band for several years now. Everybody loves them. Small holes that are close together with lovely tone. We’re not for volume, not that we’re aiming for quiet, but these chanters get the job done. Our philosophy is play a chanter that is comfortable with reeds that are comfortable to blow. Some bands have gone to big band chanters and I’ve noticed as of late I can barely hear their drones. This is localized to Texas, note, but I feel by using just a “regular” chanter we maintain a good chanter/drone volume balance. Our goal is to have fun, not blow our ears or guts out.

If you’re one who wonders: old L&M bag, Husk chanter reed, Naill spec Rocket drone reeds, Gibson tube trap.

Are they really Robertson’s? IDing a set of bagpipes.

Alrighty, are these really Robertson’s?

Screams NO!

1. Bushings are totally off. Robertson’s bushing are raised but very short and are flat. These are raised but a little large and they are curved the whole way.

Left 1950 Robertson’s, right these pipes:

Order reversed:

2. Everything is rounded. The bottom of the bells aren’t square and the flare off the shoulders if fairly round.

3. Unique turning styles. Button mount doesn’t match any other button mount Robertson on Island Bagpipe, Jim McGillivray, or Ringo Bowen‘s website and the flat combing is a new one on me (the styling, not the concept).

4. Robertson only used casein and ivory, that I know of. Both stay white. Old casein looks like chalk and ivory looks like ivory. This stuff has turned yellow. It isn’t celluloid (no single line grain), certainly not ivory (no schreger lines), and not casein (because it turned yellow and it isn’t chalky). Jim McGillivray has Robertson using casein into the 1940’s so why doesn’t this set have casein? It looks like the plastic Hardie was famous for.

Screams YES!

1. Rounded stock bottoms (chanter stock obviously a replacement).

2. Mismatched tenor stock heights.

1920 ebony (not so much just a little, though Dave says his 1920’s have mismatched tenor stock heights):

1950 blackwood (oh yeah):

3. Double scribe lines on the bass below the shoulder. See pic of rounded shoulder above.

4. Bass tunes high on both pins (yes, top pin should always be high).

5. Bore specs are identical to that provided by Dunbar regarding their 1930’s replica save for the bass bottom bore on these which is 0.02″ smaller in diameter. So, they work great with Canning’s!

6. These pictures come from Craig Farley who purchased the sister set to the one featured so far in this post from the same vendor, both claimed to have been purchased in 1947. The varied materials of the ringcaps and bushings is interesting, but most interesting is the presence of a few pieces made of casein. Either the catalin (yellow stuff) was a retrofit to broken casein mounts or they were a mix from the get go (not likely I don’t think?). Especially since the bass bushing looks totally different. So, proof that both sets might have been originally mounted in casein.

Verdict: Maybe not 1947 Robertson’s? I’m going to make up some stuff now.

Not casein, yellow plastic imitation ivory coupled with a smaller bass bottom bore tells me late Robertson, maybe 1960’s? By that time Hardie is definitely using imitation ivory that will turn yellow and he’s also popularizing smaller bass bottom bores. James Robertson is also long dead so aesthetics well out the window. So turned in the Robertson shop using their long boring bits, but maybe turned by someone from another pipe maker’s firm. But, I just made that up. TOTALLY.

Verdict: I think they’re 1947 Robertson’s retrofitted with catalin at some point to replace broken casein ringcaps and bushings.

What do you think?

Lastly we have some very rough, informal audio recorded in a very live room with my new Blue Mikey Digital plugged into my iPhone 4, but trimmed and normalized in Audacity and exported as .wav so no “resolution” was lost to compression once edited. The tune is the same: first part of Deer Forest.

Canning’s – carbon fiber bass

Kinnaird – low pitch bass (even still tuned highest on the bottom pin!)

Rocket – Robertson spec

From the recordings alone, it’s hard to give a good preference. I think I would order them, favorite first, as 1. Rocket 2. Canning 3. Kinnaird because of 1. tone 2. balance between bass and tenor.