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------Est. 1980 Piping Perfection------

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December 2021


Dear Piping Enthusiast,


My order book is bulging again as the bands get up to speed after a 2 year enforced hiatus and my thanks go to Alness Academy, Police Scotland Fife, The City of Angels Pipe Band from Los Angeles and others. It’s full steam ahead for 2022 although both the newsletter editor and I have had our own wobbles recently with enforced stays in our local hospitals. However, we both seem to be recovering and back into the swing of things. I did manage to catch the Scotland Denmark football at Hampden Park and with that great result in front of a capacity crowd, we may well qualify for the World Cup Finals in Qatar. My son and I enjoyed the game and with his girlfriend being Danish, he bought a combined Scotland Denmark scarf - he knows which side his pastry is buttered on!

One note of disappointment was the complete absence of any pipe bands. I well remember days bygone when we had at least 12 bands marching up and down on the hallowed turf before the game and at half time - and sometimes 20 bands, all in full regalia with feather bonnets swinging in the wind. What a sight it was and a common occurrence – I have as many appearances at Hampden as Kenny Dalglish!

Cop 26 was interesting and fortunately no trouble. Actually it was quite the reverse and the protesters were well behaved - and I think that ultimately those who were protesting are on same side as the delegates that attended from around the world. It certainly put Glasgow on the map – see the Field Report below.



Yours aye,

James C. Begg

Piping Perfection



New books that are just out include “I Piped that she might dance” by Iain Macdonald of Saskatchewan, Canada whilst Jeannie Campbell’s mammoth book is straight forwardly called “Pipe Bands”.

Iain’s book is an insight into the life of Angus Mackay, the first Queen’s Piper where he tries to set straight the slightly maligned history of Angus and his so called delusional incarceration towards the climax of his life.



Jeannie’s book is as it says on the cover. It includes some great pictures of bands and depending on your age, you will recognise recent history but it does go way back in time to the start of pipe bands. It’s a massive work and quite a sizeable book. I'm not sure I've seen a thicker piping book other than bound volumes. Both are excellent pieces of work by these authors and quite different from the norm.



 If you are interested, you can purchase either book from the National Piping Centre on this link

Xmas is coming.

As Xmas is approaching, it’s a great time to invest in a gift of a lovely wooden practice chanter. We have some just off the lathe - gorgeous blackwood with all its shades of the mpingo tree. It comes with a blackwood top not a synthetic one. A reed is included but why not order a few more at the same time. 10% off the price on the website - go ahead and order and James will deduct the 10% at his end.


Toy pipes another option for the young up and coming player. It’s good to play along with dad or mum as they can march along. They do make a sound but it is intended as fun or as a souvenir.

 Practice pipes perhaps are a better option for playing quietly indoors and we have electronic chanters too.

Order soon as they are not always in stock, particularly items on the electronic side.


 Field Report 1 - COP26 Glasgow


COP 26 was a big event in Glasgow. It seemed to go smoothly with little trouble and we had 10,000 “polis” on duty who are now all expert at poker and I-Spy. I felt quite involved as I was hosting friends from Manchester who were heavily involved with JCB’s new hydrogen diggers and Wright Bus from Northern Ireland with their hydrogen powered buses. I was invited to visit the green zone on the banks of the Clyde which was very interesting and gave an insight as to what the future may hold. It made me pause and think about my own business and its relevance to the environment and conservation. In our pipes and chanters, we use blackwood which fortunately now seems more protected than in the past. The trees now can regenerate and continue to survive. Ivory seems to be under much stricter control through CITES and that is hugely welcomed. In general terms, most items in bagpipes do self degrade over time and hence I am here to replenish used items. Since I am a proponent of bags made with natural skins being the best solution for pipers everywhere, almost all of my components will self degrade – hemp, skin, twine etc.  I am not so sure about synthetic chanters, bags and reeds although we as an industry are a drop in the ocean compared to what the Chinese, Indians and others are up to. I just hope after my earlier comments about the hospital that I'm not biodegradable just yet!  We all have been alerted to the climate issue and we need to do our bit, no matter how small.

 Field Report 2 - The 15th Queen's Piper.                               

My friend Iain MacDonald, whose book is mentioned above, also sent me a link to a BBC programme featuring P/M Scott Methven. This is a really terrific short clip and well worth watching.

Click here



Field Report 3 - Music Matters

Music Matters is a stalwart of BBC Radio 3 and I caught a broadcast recently.

Included in this lofty high brow programme was a 15 minute piece on piping and it focused on the Glenfiddich Championship. Canadian Jack Lee who won the event this year was the main contributor along with that raconteur and renowned player Bob Worrall. Piper and radio presenter Gary West completed the line-up as the subject broadened out into Scottish culture and women in piping. Jack was on great form and eloquently provided clever and clear responses to what was some rather banal questioning. The interviewer rather moved from one random subject to another and it all seemed a bit disjointed.

I met Jack many years back in Lauders Bar in Glasgow along with Alan Bevan, the future Simon Fraser P/M at the time. Lauders is a bit of a Glasgow institution dating back to the 19th century. They must have been over for the Glenfiddich and had time to spare. We had a good chat and we recounted Jack’s uncle Jack Ironside, who was a colossus in Washington State as a bagpipe retailer, outfitter and P/M of the Seattle Pipe Band. The Lee dynasty is now almost verging on Macrimmon status and no doubt the sons of Jack and Terry will take up the mantle and their children too. Who knows!

Bob Worral, another Canadian, was next up and spoke with aplomb and eloquence. I suppose it was a 15 minute snap shot and interesting to hear Jack say he does not attend for the prize but more to tone up his playing and maintain a standard – but hey, I’m sure winning helped too. 

Jack has been in the top tier of piping for some 40 years and obviously loves the challenge - but also enjoys the fun of dressing up as Santa and playing down the street for charity with the band. What a guy!

It is reassuring that piping has such masterly players and spokesmen. Here's the clip and it's at 12.18.



If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from wherever you live, or if you would like to comment on any articles or issues, we'd be pleased to hear from you. Email to




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