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The generic name for the plastic called delrin (in the US)
or polypenco (in the UK.) It is used for any turned plastic bagpipe part
except art. ivory ones.
|Botanical name Dalbergia
melanoxylon. The best and most commonly used wood by far for making
bagpipes and woodwind instruments. It grows in East Africa. It varies
widely in color, from brown or purple to very dark brown, and can be
heavily streaked or of uniform color.
||An early plastic resin, invented in
1907. It is a combination of carbolic acid and formaldehyde. See
catalin. More information
|Specifically, the larger drone that
sits next to the piper's head. In general, any part that has to do with
the bass, e.g. "a set of drone reeds is two tenors and a bass."
|A narrow convex shape formed on a
part. Beads are found on projecting mounts and often where ferrules and
ring caps meet wood. They are also usually found between the combs on the
wood, as in combing & beading.
||The shape in the bore at the top of
the three top joints. It is shaped like an upside down bell, getting wider
as it rises to the top. It ends with the bush.
|A common term for cobbler's
||Short for African
blackwood. This term has also been used misleadingly to imply African
blowpipe or blow pipe
|The part of the bagpipe that sticks
out of the blow pipe stock, and to which the
mouthpiece is attached. The piper blows through it to fill the bag.
||Another name for the blowpipe.
||The long hole through the center of
each piece of the bagpipe.
||The mount, whether projecting or
button, that is at the bottom of the blowpipe, tenor bottom, and bass
bottom joints. They butt up against the stock ferrules.
||The bulbous shape at the end of a
thin length. There are bulbs at the top of pipe and practice
chanters, and at the bottom of mouthpieces.
||A fitment at the top of the top
joints that closes off the bell. Through the center of it is a hole that
is close to the size of the top's bore.
||A small mount, as opposed to the
larger projecting mounts, which flares out
only to the diameter of the ferrule it is opposite.
||Short for ring
cap. Also, the most common name for the closed part of a ferrule (bass
and tenor) on a half or full set of silver (i.e the part around the hole
where the tuning pin is inserted.)
||Carnauba is a vegetable fat
obtained from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree called the “Tree of
Life” (Copernica cerifera). One of its most interesting
properties is that it swells and closes its pores when exposed to water.
Carnauba is the hardest natural wax and has lustrous composition.
||A trade name for
Bakelite, or phenolic resin. Catalin is the term
used in piping, and it was used extensively as an artificial ivory until the
mid seventies or so. It smells very nasty when turned, and some kinds turned
dark orange after time.
|An old-fashioned valve at the end
of the blowpipe. It is made from leather, and is
shaped like a round stingray. Part of the blowpipe tenon
is scraped away, and the tail of the valve is clamped against the tenon
when it is wrapped by hemp.
||A gooey, sticky mixture of wax and
tar. It is rubbed into the hemp. Then the hemp is wrapped around the tenon
in neat rows. The wax helps the hemp stick to the tenon, and also protects
the hemp against rotting by moisture.
||Cocus was the premier choice of
woodwind makers (including bagpipe makers) for hundreds of years. Its cost
now prohibits popular use. Initially yellowish green to brownish olive in
color, it reddens and darkens with age and handling. It is found in
Jamaica and Cuba. Its botanical name is Brya ebenus, and is also
called Jamaican ebony.
|One of the series of small grooves
in each wood part of the bagpipe (except the pipe chanter.) It is usually
bracketed by beads, but is almost always at each end
of the series of combs and beads. The combing tool usually has between six
and nine teeth, and thus cuts that many grooves. Different makers use
different sized combing tools. Measuring the combs is one way to help
identify the maker of an old set of pipes.
combing & beading
|The series of combs and beads cut
into a drone or stock section. It is one of the most distinctive things
about the look of a Highland bagpipe. Examination of the combing &
beading can yield clues to the skill and artistry of the maker.
|That part of the top joint which
prevents the cords from moving. It is an integral part of the wood, and
forms a canyon around and through which the two cords pass. The cords are
fastened together at each side of the holders.
cords & tassels
|The objects used to tie the three
drones together, allowing them to stand up against the piper's shoulder.
|1. n. The object used to
plug the end of a bore. Usually this object is a
rubber bung. An actual cork is not suitable for an airtight seal. 2.
v. The action taken to plug the end of a bore. This
definition is much more common than #4, but is sometimes confused with
that definition. 3. n. The material used as an alternative to hemp
to seal the tenons when they are inserted into the
bores. 4. v. The action taken to apply the cork to the tenons.
|1. v. To put bungs into the
empty stocks to test the bag for leaks. Four corks occupy the drone and
pipe chanter stocks, and the blowpipe is used to fill the bag. 2. v.
To put bungs into the bushes to prevent the drones from sounding. This is
an imperfect method of making a bagpipe take less air, and is usually used
for beginners. 3. v. To apply cork to the tenons as an alternative
to hemp. 4. n. The state of the tenons after the application of
cork, e.g. "The corking was too loose after my friend borrowed my
||The tuning chamber.
||The botanical name for African
blackwood, also called mpingo.
|A trade name for acetal.
||Specifically, Gaboon ebony was
used primarily in the 19th century and early 20th century by bagpipe
makers. African blackwood has taken its place as the premier choice of
bagpipe makers. Its botanical name is Diospyros mespiliformis. It
is jet black in color, and grows in west Africa. There are other cheaper
and inferior ebonies.
(equilibrium moisture content)
||The point at which wood is stable
and in equilibrium with the humidity of its surroundings (it is no longer
gaining or losing moisture).
|A fitment at the end of a bore to
prevent splitting when a hemped tenon is inserted into the bore. The hemp
on the tenon pushes outward in all directions, and
the ferrule counteracts the pressure.
||The pattern produced on a board
surface by prominent rays or deviation from regular grain. The figure is
often, though incorrectly, referred to as grain.
||Any accessory such as a mount or
ferrule fitted to a wood part of the pipe.
|A style of mounting a bagpipe. The
same material is used on the ferrules, projecting
mounts, and ring caps. For example, full
silver is a very high-end full mounted pipe, and art. ivory a cheap one.
combed & beaded
|The condition of a bagpipe when
every wood part except the pipe chanter has an
uninterrupted series of combs and beads along most of its length. Those
sections of each part that are long sweeps are combed and beaded.
Ferrules, mounts, tenons, and cord holders are never
combed & beaded, nor are the tuning pins.
||A style of mounting a bagpipe. Two
different materials are used, and on half mounted pipes the ferrules
and projecting mounts are always different
materials. For example, silver and ivory is a very high-end half mounted
pipe, and nickel or stainless and art. ivory a cheap one.
||A group of symbols stamped on
precious metals in Britain. The hallmark indicates that the object has
been assayed, i.e. tested to verify purity not less than the legal
standard indicated by the particular mark. For example, sterling
silver is 92.5% silver. A hallmark usually consists of the sponsor's
mark (usually the smith), the standard mark (denoting the metal content
e.g. sterling), the assay office mark (or "town mark" - where
the metal was assayed), and the date letter (what year the metal was
||A botanical group of trees with
broad leaves. This word does not refer to the hardness of the wood.
||That part of a lathe
that transfers the power to spin the work.
||The dead inner core of a tree. In
most species, darker and denser than the sapwood. Heartwood is very
desirable, and considered the best portion of the tree.
|1 n. The thread used to join
two parts together. It is wrapped around the tenons to make a pressure
fit. Good hemp is made of linen. 2 v. The act of applying hemp.
||A piece of ivory or plastic that
is fitted onto the end of the tuning pin. It is used when a tuning
slide is installed, and is a prerequisite for contemporary quality
making. The reason it is needed is that the pin must be turned to a
smaller diameter than normal (i.e. than it would be without the slide),
and so more hemp than usual is required. This means the small diameter at
the top of the pin, without the stop, would allow hemp to come cascading
off when the top or middle joint was pulled off the pin. Also, the small
diameter means a thin wall thickness at the top of the pin. The hemp stop
strengthens the top, and acts as a ferrule. This
double duty makes hemp stops essential on quality pipes. They must be
threaded, of course.
||The opaque, creamy white, hard,
fine-grained, modified dentine that composes the upper incisor teeth
(tusks) of an elephant, walrus, mammoth, or mastodon. Ivory is composed of
curved layers of dentine alternating in shade, and intersecting one
another. The resulting lozenge-shaped structure is elastic and finely
grained. It is one of the most beautiful and expensive materials for
||Basically, a machine that fashions
work by making the work turn on an axis. The cutting is done by a tool
that is not rotating. On wood lathes the wood usually turns between the headstock
and the tailstock. The turner holds the tool by hand and moves it to cut
various shapes on the wood. On metal lathes the work (whatever material is
being fashioned) turns and the tool is held rigid whilst the operator
moves the tool using hand wheels. Lathes are very versatile, come in a
myriad of styles, and some contradict the above definitions. Wood can be
cut in any metal lathe and soft metals can usually be cut on wood lathes.
|The part on the top of the blowpipe
that goes into the mouth. It is blown into, which channels air through the
blowpipe, valve, stock, and into the bag. It is usually threaded at the
bottom to screw onto the top of the blowpipe.
|The part at the bottom of the
mouthpiece that bulges out. On our fancy
mouthpieces, it is the ivory or art. ivory part beneath the mouth
|On our fancy
mouthpieces, the part that goes in the mouth. It screws into the top
of the bulb, and clamps the mouth tube into position.
|On our fancy
mouthpieces, the silver tube that is sandwiched between the tip and
the bulb. Fancy practice chanters can also have a mouth tube.
||An old-fashioned synthetic resin
used as a binder for various materials. When binding canvas, it is
bakelite (after its inventor.) When made without filler, it is called
catalin. Catalin was used
by bagpipe makers as artificial ivory. It is the stuff that turns orange.
||A rare wood from Africa that ranges
in color from dark orange to shocking pink. It produces a very rich and
completely different tone from African blackwood. The botanical name is Berchemia
||The part of the bagpipe upon which
the melody is played. It is the part that points down, and upon which
the hands are placed. The piper holds it in front, and covers or uncovers
various holes that are drilled in a straight line down the front (with one
in back), thereby making different notes.
|A trade name for acetal.
practice (or practise) chanter
|The pipe used for actually
learning to play the bagpipe. It has no bag, but the hardest part of
learning the bagpipes, the fingering, is identical on the two instruments.
This means one can practice on the small, convenient practice chanter and
improve one's playing without touching the cumbersome pipe. A teacher and
pupil can demonstrate and show the fruits of practice quickly and
efficiently. Then those fruits can be savored on the bagpipe.
|The gracefully shaped pieces on
the bottom joints, blowpipe, and bass middle joint. They are usually made
of ivory or art. ivory (sometimes silver), and almost always show a marked
contrast of color with the wood. They jut out radially from a ferrule
(every ferrule, in fact, except the pipe chanter stock ferrule), then
sweep back in toward the wood. Most of the length of the tuning pins
separates the top projecting mounts from the ferrule above. The bottom
projecting mounts should always touch the stock
||An acute taper cut into the bottom
of the drone bottom joint bores and the top of the pipe and practice
chanter bores. This allows the piper to insert a reed into the piece and
get a snug fit. The acuteness of the taper prevents the properly seated
reed from moving. Addition or removal of hemp on a reed determines how far
up the bore the reed can go.
|The object at the very top of each
drone. It is usually ivory , art. ivory, or silver. It contrasts in color
with the wood. Its purpose is mostly decorative, but it does help to
counteract any possible outward pressure by the bush.
On a well made pipe, this is very unlikely. It is sometimes also called
||The outer, younger portion of a
tree, usually distinguishable from the heartwood
by its lighter color. Years ago, it was quite common to see sapwood
(incorrectly referred to as "bark") on the exterior profiles of
bagpipes. In those days the makers cut and sorted the wood from logs. The
sapwood is the result of a maker using all the wood that he could.
||The plate like object at the bottom
of a pipe or practice chanter. Soles used to be ubiquitous, but their use
has fallen away. On pipe chanters they are generally about 2 7/8" in
diameter, and 1/2" in thickness. The end is flush with the bottom of
the chanter. They are made of ivory, art. ivory, or metal.
|The two holes drilled near the
bottom on each side of the pipe chanter. Sound holes must be used when a
conical bore ends with no bell. If no sound holes are present under those
circumstances, the lowest note will always have an unacceptably different
tone from the rest of the notes. This can be demonstrated by covering the
sound holes on a pipe chanter and sounding low G. The note (ignore the
ridiculously low pitch) will be a very disagreeable bray.
||An alloy of fine silver and
copper. It consists of 925 parts fine silver and 75 parts copper per
thousand parts. Fine silver (unalloyed silver), is the whitest and has the
greatest luster of all metals. With a melting point of 1761 degrees
Fahrenheit, silver is one of the most ductile and malleable metals, making
it ideal for jewelry making. Because fine silver is so soft the copper
must be added to increase its durability. Other metals can be used, but
copper has been found to give the silver the necessary durability without
affecting its ductility and malleability.
|Each of the five pieces of the pipe
that gets tied into the bag is a stock.
||A bore that is larger at
one end than at the other. The pipe chanter
has a tapered bore.
||That part of any piece which gets hemped.
The hemped tenon has a pressure fit to the piece to which it should be
attached. Except on the pipe chanter and practice chanter, the tenon
always has a mount adjacent to it. The mount provides a "stop"
past which the piece sliding over the tenon can't go.
|Specifically, one of the smaller
drones that extend away from the bass and the piper's
head. More generally, any part that has to do with a tenor, e.g. "a
set of drone reeds is a bass and two tenors ."
joint or top
||The top piece of each drone. It
has a tuning chamber at the bottom part of the bore
and a bell at the top. The shape at the top is always
considerably larger (about 2" dia.) than just below (about 7/8"
dia.). The shape sweeps up to the top from the cord holders. The diameter
is larger at the top in order to accommodate the bell.
|The bottom bore of the tops and
the bass middle joint. It is a counter bore (i.e. a larger bore than the
main bore), and starts at the ferrule. Generally it
is 1/8" longer then the length of the tuning pin that is to be
inserted into it. In any case, the two bass and two tenor tuning chambers
should be the same respective lengths. The tuning pin is never inserted
all the way so the mount meets the ferrule. It is inserted part way, and
thanks to the hemp on the tenon portion of the pin, a snug but moveable
fit is achieved. The top or middle joint is then moved up or down to tune
the drone. Moving up (lengthening) flattens the pitch, moving down
||The straight, slender part at the
top of the bottoms and bass middle joint, extending up from the top mount.
|1 n. A sleeve, usually
silver and always metal, put over the tuning pin for the sake of
decoration. It extends from the top mount up to the bottom part of the
hemp. 2. n. A sleeve, usually brass or nickel silver, that
is inserted into the tuning chamber as a permanent fixture. The more
skillful makers held it in place with glue and a wedge. This practice was
common over a century ago, but was abandoned almost universally.
|A venturi is simply a device which
provides a way to convert high-pressure, low velocity air to low-pressure,
high velocity air. In the context of the chanter stock, the bag provides
the high-pressure, low velocity air and the stock serves to increase the
velocity of the air moving past the chanter reed. Since the reed's total
flow area is much smaller than the stock's restriction, the effect of the
venturi on an easy reed will be minimal since the easy reed requires
little air to make it vibrate. The venturi chanter stock will have a
measurable effect if the piper plays heavy reeds. Submitted by Mark
|A device to prevent large amounts
of breath moisture from getting into the bag. Our design combines
efficiency with ease of use. On it, a reservoir at the bottom of the blow
stock juts into the bag. This catches most of the moisture, and allows the
piper to empty the trap by merely removing the blowpipe and upending the
stock. Another design has a long tube that stretches from the blow stock
to the back of the bag. These are very cumbersome, uncomfortable, and
difficult to empty. The traditional design is a cork stuck into the bottom
of the blow stock with a tube through it. The end of the tube is not flush
with the end of the cork. the space between the tube and stock bore walls
catches some moisture.