John Goff – the Cascadia Piper, a second-generation bagpiper has performed at hundreds of weddings, funerals, celebrations and parties. As a competitive bagpiper since 1984, John has won numerous awards at band and solo competitions. Follow his blog for the unique resources and ideas.
I’ve been playing Naill chanters (and bagpipes, though I’m currently playing vintage Henderson’s) since the late ’80s and have always had good luck with them. I currently use G1 platinum reeds and they seem to match up pretty well with the Naill chanters. I’ve asked around to see other’s opinions and for the most part have been told that the chanter would tune lower than my band chanters since bands are normally pitched higher than solo competitors. Switching between my band chanter and solo chanter, the bagpipes tune pretty much the same on the pins of my drones which means they are the same tuning. They both sound good so I’m guessing that Naills have always been pitched a little high.It would be interesting to see all makes and models of chanter’s to get a side by side comparison.
The correct bagpipe bag size is crucial, sizing has been a major factor for comfort, control, quality of playing but a little thought through notion is stock placement. Reading through PM John MacLellan’s “Pipers’ Handbook” he discusses the placement of the drones in one particular spot on the bag (folding the bag in half, ensuring the welt of the bag at the center stock end is placed to the welt at the top rear of the bag; mark the centre stock at the fold, bass stock is 3″ down and 1″ forward, and the second tenor is placed 3 inches from the center stock but only 1/2″ back) but is this one size fits all mentality going to work. I’m 5’10” with 35″ arm length which makes a medium sized Begg sheep hide perfect but I’m betting pulling the stocks a little back on the bag is going to make a major difference in comfort and control. I currently play a Gannaway hide bag that feels as if my left thumb wants to go through the chanter. The bag always seems to be in a perfect position down my arm a bit, not being firmly placed under my armpit. The bag I used before was a Ross hybrid large which had the grommets which I’ll now shy away from since that doesn’t allow any different placement of the stocks. I’ll be getting a Begg bag or equivalent and look forward to seeing how the pipes feel. As always, the bagpipes are a source of experimentation in order to get the perfect fit. Every piper has a different physique so it’s understandable that there is going to be a need for aspects of the pipes to be adjusted so that one can get an instrument that fits well for the long haul. Also, for an extensive review of all the major bag manufacturers, Andrew Lenz’s page is an amazing source for this: http://www.bagpipejourney.com/articles/bag-measurements.shtml