The Royal Scots Cap Badge

How do I know if I have the right size bag for my pipes?

by Andrew Burgess
(Casper, Wyoming, USA)


I have a set of Mccallum pipes on a small bag. It feels like I am using more air than the bag has to play with with. Do I need to move up to an extended small bag or a medium to solve this problem? I play with another piper who has the same pipes with a medium bag, he doesn't seem to be working nearley as hard as me to play. I change many colors of red an purple and he doesnt change at all. We have both been playing for about 2 years now. I have checked the bag and pipes for leaks and have found none.

I would appreciate any advice you have to offer.

Comments for How do I know if I have the right size bag for my pipes?

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Feb 21, 2012
bag size
by: Kent

The amount of air you are using to keep the instrument going would be the same no matter how big the bag is. The man criteria for choosing a big size would be the comfort of the player. Taller or longer armed players may be more comfortable with the arm position given by a larger bag. Either way, the amount of are going out the drones & chanter will be a constant, no matter the size of the bag. Aside from making sure your bagpipe is airtight, I would check to make sure the drone reeds are set to take a minimal amount of air. You might consider using drone tone enhancers to minimize the amount of air taken by the drones. The Shepherd tone enhancers work well for me.

Feb 19, 2012
How do I know if I have the right size bag ---
by: Bill Robertson

Hello Andrew,
The first thought that came to me is that you should check the inside diameter of your blow-piece that should be close to 8-9 mm, or if you have bent the mouthpiece it can tend to constrict your blowing/aipressure and give the feeling of a leaking back or reeds that are too strong when they are not.
The smaller bag should still allow a reasonable good piper to play alright.
Try playing just a drone or two with the chanter stopped to find out how you can maintain good air pressure etc. If that is OK then test the chanter reed that might be too strong.
A bag cover that is too tight can also give a leaking etc., bag with its constriction. Regards, Bill

Feb 19, 2012
Right Size Bag
by: Miolchu

I am not confident that your bag size explains why you have to work so hard. I would suspect that the problem is keeping it inflated while you are playing as a lot of air is going out to your drones. You did't say in your post whether or not you used valves or a drying system. Since you live in Wyoming, you might try sending an email to Henderson Ltd in Michigan or to Oliver Seeler at his Universe of bagpipes website. A set of K-valves or something on the lines of Ash plugs might prove helpful.

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