New two drone Great Pipes

Maple two drone medeival great pipe

Maple two drone medeival great pipe

I’ve just finished a set of two drone medieval great pipes in ‘A’ for Al of Istanpitta.  The set was made with Curly Maple and has Water Buffalo and Olive wood mounts with inlay decoration.  The end of the drones are capped with Texas Ebony.  Texas Ebony is an extremely hard wood so it works great as an end cap that might get knocked around a little.  For Al’s set I wanted something extra special so I added a second style of inlay to decorate the drones and I created a split texture effect on the mounts by using two types of materials.  This set was finished with hardening oils and can be maintained easily with the occasional wipe from a polishing oil.

Each drone is made with three sections and when fully extended plays in ‘A’ and ‘E’.  If the drones are pushed down and shortened they can produce ‘B’ and ‘F’.  This is done with no additional manipulation to the reed. If both middle sections of the drones are removed, connecting the top and bottom joints, they will play up a forth and produce ‘D’ and ‘A’.  A common configuration for the pipes is to play the Bass in A with the Baritone in E.  A more contemoary sound can be derived by playing the Bass in ‘A’ and removing the middle section of the Tenor to play in ‘A’ and octave above the bass.



  1. David W. Irish  •  Jan 14, 2009 @4:47 pm


    I’m interested in your medieval pipes. A couple of quesitons — what Keys can you make them in? I’d be interested in keys other than A.

    I’d also like to know if you can do different types of fingering, such as open fingering, like on a recorder.

  2. admin  •  Jan 14, 2009 @5:46 pm

    So far I am only making them in A. I have plans to make other keys available in the future.

    The fingering can be made to suite the player with either modern Highland pipe fingering or open fingering available the most common. With highland fingering the available scale is G, A, B, c, c#, d, e, f, f#, g, g#, a with ‘A’ being the tonic note and the scale set up in mixolydian. An open finger scale would need to be tuned to the desired mode. If the mode uses a “major” scale then you could use cross fingering to flatten the third and sixth notes (c# and f#) to get a major scale. The typical German Medieval bagpipe fingering is open with a minor third, major sixth, and major 7th but they are set up to give you a minor 7th and 6th with cross-fingering .

    That’s a seriously brief run down but I hope you get the idea! Just ask if you have any more questions.

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