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Military Bagpipes

Bill replies to the question, “standards of typical military bagpipes.”

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Military Bagpipes

A question was recently asked of Bill about Military Bagpipes. Please see the question and Bill's response below.


What are the standards of typical military bagpipes?

Are there characteristics unique from most?

Assuming the British Army issues pipes, what do they issue?

I'm in the US military and a beginning piper and would like to maintain the heritage.

Bill's Answer:

Hello M...,

In answer to your request about British army issue of military bagpipes etc., I can only tell you what happened in my time some good years ago.

In the 1950's each battalion of the Scottish regiments both Highland and Lowland including the Scots Guards and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards had Army issue bagpipes of a certain amount only of about six and later I think about eleven.

The ones issued around my time were Starck of London that were good yet very plain imitation ivory (even then) on the good African Blackwood. They were obviously the cheapest issue of a reasonably good quality. There is no Army traditional make of pipes, or for that matter regimental either.

In our case and most likely with other battalions we had our preferred make of chanter (Hardie) and used that instead of the issue ones, at the regiment's expense. Of course, many like myself, had their own pipes, sometimes with silver and ivory mounts etc., as I had, and very good quality. In addition there were other good basic sets from the past still in our store of the Pipes and Drums for issue as necessary. I would think that today the British Army issue would be from a good manufacturer in Britain.

You may ask for more information from the Army School of Piping and Highland Drumming in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I suggest that you aim for a good reputable make of the Highland bagpipe either with full imitation ivory mounts, or more expensive silver and ivory. I would recommend the full imitation ivory mounts as a good basic set of pipes. The difference in quality of sound should not vary from one model to another, although the more expensive sets might have more careful scrutiny etc., at the workshop/factory.

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