Northumbrian Smallpipes Tutor

John Liestman's Tutor is now available as a PDF download - in return for a donation of at least 12 GBP to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Please contact us if you require more information, or for download instructions if you have already made your donation to the charity.

Northumbrian Smallpipes

These are a small bellows-blown bagpipe with a sweet, mellow tone. The simplest type has a keyless chanter and three drones, a pattern dating back to the early eighteenth century. The keyless chanter is obviously rather limited, although a surprisingly large number of tunes are available. Almost all the sets we make are fitted with keys. The basic modern instrument has seven keys on the chanter and four drones. This instrument can play music written in G, D, A minor and E minor. The commonest version of the pipes, most widely played, actually transposes the music down one tone, and is referred to as an F set. Concert pitch G sets are becoming more popular, particularly for playing with other instrumentalists.

We make two patterns of instrument. The 'Standard' sets are of an attractive design, with minimum decoration, developed to provide a robust and very playable instrument at a competitive price. Each drone on these sets plays a choice of two notes, selected by moving the sliding part in or out. In addition, there is a rotary valve (a 'tuning bead') to provide a further note on the bass G drone. This level of flexibility is sometimes referred to as 'complex drones'.

Our 'Mounted ' sets are more elaborately decorated, in the traditional pattern associated with the nineteenth century maker Reid. Here, drone flexibility is provided by the use of a total of five tuning beads. There is a large amount of decorative work on these sets, which is reflected in their higher price. The difference between these two patterns of instrument is purely visual. The same attention to detail goes into every instrument we make, including reeding and tuning.

See our YouTube channel.

List of articles in category Northumbrian Smallpipes
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Photos, Northumbrian Smallpipes

Richard & Anita Evans

Makers of Northumbrian and Scottish Smallpipes