Tips • News • Products • And a Tune!
A week or so back, 2018 World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery had their first big practice of 2019, and they released some video of the the band playing. The sound and playing were great in the short clips. It was everything you'd come to expect from the multiple-World's-winning ensemble. How do they do that?
They do that because both individuals and the group are practicing consistently and looking after minute details of maintenance, sound and music. Sure, the band has great leadership, years of experience at the top, and the choice of the best band musicians from across the UK and beyond, but a defining element of any great team or player is the hard work they are prepared to do to "make it happen."
J. Reid Maxwell named his drum tutorial "No Shortcuts," and it's a very apt name for anything to do with piping, drumming and pipe bands. When teaching young pipers I often steal Reid's point and ask young players. "What is the shortcut to great taorluaths (or anything)?" The answer I'm looking for is, "There is no shortcut, I just have to work for it."
Field Marshal Montgomery know that if they have great sound and music in January,it will be even better in May, and also they'll have the confidence in that to deliver it under pressure. Now is (past) time to look after the details. Get the hemping and slides just right, and maintain them that way. Make sure bag and reeds are efficient and have the right moisture levels for optimal sound. Change that chanter tape regularly, and get rid of that peaky and oh-so-comfortable chanter reed. Look after the minute details in the music. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. There are no shortcuts.
At Reelpipes.com, we have over 50 years experience, including Grade 1 bands across 5 decades, from the 1970s to 2019. We have products and services that can help you achieve the improvements you want over the winter ahead. Feel free to email or call to discuss your needs.
People sometimes refer to the 19th century as "The Golden Age of Bagpipe Making." Donald MacDonald, the MacDougalls, Peter Henderson, Thow, Centre, MacRae, Glen...lots of great makers and pipers today still paying top dollar to acquire the sets. Currently though, there are many excellent instruments on the go that compare well with the best of the older generations. The top players are often playing new sets of pipes: Duncan MacRae, McCallum, (modern) Henderon, Strathmore, Naill, Lee, and more. The machinery is better, the measurements are better, and although the wood is a little harder to come by, and maybe not aged as well, the standard of modern sound is better than ever.
Need a new set of pipes? We have sets in stock, sets on order, and access to the best makers in the World today.
Jordan Bailie is one of the World's leading tenor drummers, with many band and solo championships to his credit. Jordan's tenor sticks are being played by a number of top corps, including his own "Inveraray and Distict Pipe Band." We have these tenor sticks in a few colours. Get in touch if you'd be interested in a band set.
Early reports have been favourable. Top players are finding them, light, well-balanced, and easy to play, with a great sound on the drum. And here's some great news: these sticks are much better priced that others on the market. Great look, feel and sound with a cracking price—what's not to like?
We have quite a few excellent books for the piobaireachd enthusiast, including books from: P-M Donald MacLeod, M.B.E., Captain John A. MacLellan, M.B.E., Andrew Wright, Archibald Campbell (Kilberry Book), James Campbell ("Sidelights to Kilberry"). We also have "The Piper's Meeting" which is a newer collection of tunes transcribed from the Campbell Canntaireachd by Dr. Jack Taylor and Partick Molard.
Michael Grey's new collection is here and of course we have everything from classic "Scots Guards" collections to Terry Tully, Fred Morrison, Gordon Duncan, Bruce Gandy et al.
The Bagpipeskin Hedgehog is an excellent, backpack-style pipe case that features comfort padding, excellent storage, a rain cover, and many extras. It has good space inside, holds the pipes securely while being carried, and delivers premium options at a reasonable price.
The Hedgehog is built with hard-board structure, is excellent for storage and protection with 10mm of high-density and supportive foam.
The case has durable outer materials, featuring strong fabric, mostly used in suitcases. There are two carrying handles, one on the top and one on the side. The length of backpack strap can be adjusted & hidden.
The inside features include a bag pocket in the front panel. Easily access pockets on both sides fit for spare reeds, hemp, tuner and accessories etc. The drone velcro strap fix the pipes during transport. Soft fabric used for inside avoid scratches to the bagpipe and other accessories.
• NEW FEATURES : Small pocket on the strap. You can store you key, cards etc inside the strap pocket. Extra padding in lower area to carry more comfortable. Brush-holder : Hook and holder for your drone brush. You can place you drone brush and take off quickly and tidy.
Free separate pocket, chanter tube and rain cover inside the case. Outer dimensions in inches: 28" x 11" x 8".
Reelpipes.com special introductory price- $129
For years, we've used handmade flashcards to help people learn notes, note values and movements, and over the last year we've developed a custom set of Piper's Flash Cards to serve a s a fun learning tool for individuals and groups. Each set comes with 100 cards,covering all the notes, note values, and movements. Theses are great for learning and preparing for piping exams, and they can be used a few different ways.
We have a great stock of practice chanters: the plain black in child, regular and large sizes, as well as coloured chanters, traditional chanters and some fancy, high-end chanters with machine-engraved mounts and blackwood bottoms. We carry tutor books, drums stick and pads.
The 2018 Glenfiddich Championship featured an historic father/son combo of renowned Gold Medallist Bruce Gandy and his son, Alex Gandy. Alex won the Silver Star for Former Winners MSR at Inverness this year, and thus earned a berth in piping's most prestigious event, alongside Bruce, who has appeared in the event many times.
Both Alex and Bruce are playing the Gandy chanter, which is a McCallum solo chanter made to their specifications, and it's been a very successful year for them and other top pipers choosing to play the chanter. We often have them in stock, both in the poly and Blackwood versions.
Designed by professional piper Jori Chisholm, this is the world’s first digital chanter cap with two-way humidity control technology.
Stabilize your tone and tuning. Protect your reed from changing weather conditions. Get a consistently great sound every time you play. Anywhere in the world. Save money and hassle with reeds that last 3 to 4 times longer. Play more. Tune less.
The Tone Protector has been an instant winner in this environment, and I’ve found my solo pipes to almost not need tuning. They stay stable for long periods of time, and—best of all—they come out of the case pretty much ready to play...
This product was used by many of the top players and bands in Scotland this past summer. The response has been amazing, and the product is living up to its hype.
WINTER USE: If you live in a cold, dry area in winter (or anytime, I guess!) then it pays to have extra moisture bags on hand to keep your reeds in the best condition. They are inexpensive and replacing them is a better solution that adding water.
We have a large stock of bags in various sizes by James Begg (sheepskin, cowhide), Bannatyne (most sizes in stock) and Canmore, i hybrid hide/synth which is a great bag, and the one used by Fred Morrison.
• Bellows Pipes Bag - this special bag was designed by Reelpipes.com and made by James Begg for smallpipes and reelpipes. (sizes available: small, regular)
Drumsticks by Steven McWhirter, Jim Kilpatrick (KP2) and Stephen Creighton!
The legendary Alex Duthart's Collection (2 books) has not always been easy to get, but we're making it as easy as possible! These are books that every serious Highland snare drummer needs to own, study and play.
We also have starter kits for snare drummers, with an excellent pair of drum sticks and a practice pad.
• G1 Platinum - This reed is favoured by many bands in all grades for the quality and consistency they deliver, and they go well in a variety of chanters.
• Chesney - The majority of Grade 1 prizewinning bands play Chesney reeds [Inveraray, Field Marshal, SLOT...] and they do so because they really are good. In our experience, they may be a little harder to manage in dry/high climates, but deliver a broad rich sound when managed well.
• Melvin - Adrian Melvin turned his years of top Grade 1 experience into making chanter and drone reeds, and his reeds are being played by ScottishPower Pipe Band, who have had a superb season. A recent re-tooling/design has made the reeds easier to blow, with the same great sound.
• Troy and MacLellan - JWT Reedmakers and Colin MacLellan both make excellent reeds suitable for solo and band, and you'll find that many of the world's top soloists are playing one or the other.. Need a great piobaireach high G? Look no further.
• DRONE REEDS - Ezeedrone, Selbie, Henderson and Canning drone reeds ready to go! We have sets of Ryan Canning's new "Blue" drone reeds, which perform better under moist condition.
Here's another old tune, this one attributed to Robert Burns. This one I transposed from The Songs of Scotland, Volume I (1877) and it's a lovely little air for pipers of all abilities.
Rehearsals are well underway for the City of Regina and Conservatory pipe bands, and we're trying hard to apply the "no shortcuts" advice to our own playing. The Mid-Winter Celtic Festival is a week away, and we have players coming in for a tune and a catch up, so it should be a great weekend. The Conservatory Pipe Band launched quite a few new pipers and drummers at the Regina Burns Dinner this past week, so that was fun.
The Saskatchewan Highland Gathering and Celtic Festival for 2019 is getting organized, and we're looking forward to seeing a strong contest in all grades. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Games. Interested in a session for your band? Get in touch.