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Welcome to Begg Bagpipes


                           ------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
                                            click on the banner for our home page


                                          Newsletter - February 2011

Dear Piping Enthusiast,


Well that's the festivities over for another year and I hope you had a guid Hogmanay and Burns Night. It is now down to the serious business of preparing for another season of solo and band competitions and of course the all important work of getting your pipes into their optimum condition. If you need any help or advice on this topic, we are always willing to assist so give us a call, an email or pop into the shop.

Good luck for the new season.


Yours Aye,

James C Begg




James had the pleasure of meeting with a journalist from Japan,  Tomoko Minamizaki who was introduced by that Piping Legend, Willie Cochrane. Tomoko sent us a copy of the article which appeared in Japan and it is all about Begg Bagpipes and the craftsmanship involved in making pipes and bags - well that's what we think the article says!










The oldest known Highland bagpipe chanter in existence has been returned to Scotland after more than 200 years in Canada.

James was kindly asked along to a National Piping Centre dinner to celebrate the repatriation of the Iain Dall MacKay chanter. It originally belonged to 17th century composer Iain Dall MacKay, whose grandson took it with him when he emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1805. Since then, it has been handed down through the family for eight generations. The MacKay Sinclair family recently decided to return it to Scotland in respect of its significance to musical history, and have donated it to National Museums of Scotland. The chanter is on show at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, where a part of the museum's piping collection is displayed. Experts said that the chanter is one of the world's oldest dateable relics of the Highland bagpipe tradition and is key to the understanding of that history. Though it is considered the "golden age" of Gaelic piping, few instruments survive from the 17th century, so the chanter will become the most historically important item in the collection. Iain Dall MacKay (1656-1754) was born at Talladale, Loch Maree and was known as "The Blind Piper of Gairloch".

He composed many pieces and travelled the country composing songs of praise to clan chieftains such as Lord Reay and Macdonald of Sleat. Dr Hugh Cheape, formerly a curator at National Museums Scotland and a student of bagpipe history, said: "Iain Dall MacKay is still considered one of the greatest ever writers of Piobaireachd and to think that these timeless pieces of music were possibly composed and played on this very chanter will be awe-inspiring for fans of the tradition."

Photo: Harris MacLennan from the NYPB holding the Chanter, along with Roddy MacLeod, Hugh Cheape and Barnaby Brown.


A-Z of Piping - a Personal View by James C. Begg

  H is for Hand Made in Scotland

Hand made in Scotland is not something these days you hear that often. Glasgow and Scotland were once famous for heavy engineering, ships etc but times change and things evolve. Tourism and high-tech are now the buzz words. So I'm proud to say as a Scotsman that I think it's great I can say that the items I make are all hand produced and made in Scotland-Bagpipes and Pipe Bags. Some of the raw materials can be from overseas but the manufacture is all Clyde-based and Clyde-built - I hope I follow closely in the tradition of quality and excellence with which such great icons of the past like the liner QE2 were associated. There was even a recent tribunal case where a well known company was fined 4,500 for putting made in Scotland labels on goods when in fact they were made abroad. The fine may not have been too severe but reputations are important as well as pride no matter who you are. Whilst everywhere you turn seems to be China this and China that, we have to be careful not to forget the gems we have locally. Our core business is of course pipe bags but I suspect a lot of people may not realise we produce our own bagpipe range in house, all made by hand as are the bags. This also allows us to do repairs and bespoke pipes. So you can request all individual parts -size wise etc and all easily done within a short period of time. The fact they are bespoke does not necessarily make them overly expensive -almost quite the opposite-individually crafted for years of use as it used to be in the past. So H is for Hand Made, with lots of hard work and honesty thrown in.


The 2010 Begg Bagpipes Competition for Fanatics



Well, as we told you in the previous newsletter, the winner of the 2010 competition for fanatics travelled all the way specially from the South of England to pick up his trophy in Glasgow. The photograph shows James Begg presenting Tom Curd with a hand made Begg practice chanter specially mounted on a unique, bespoke and engraved stand. Congratulations once again to Tom, and with pipers like him around, we can be sure piping will go from strength to strength.



Technical Academy -Moisture traps/water traps


Moisture from your breath as you blow in, is a big problem for pipers. Too much and the pipes stop -too little and full tone is not reached as the pipes need an optimum amount of moisture to produce the correct sound. Most pipers have too much moisture as the main issue. However, if you are in dry warm countries in say Africa or the Middle East, we don't want moisture traps as the opposite occurs -they are too dry. SFU for instance use ice cubes in Vancouver but have to adapt when they come to Scotland. It's something you have to know as to what suits you best. We have various types of traps:

  1.  A tube trap which is the most common -helps keep moisture away from the chanter reed in particular.
  2. A tube with a split stock -allows you to remove the tube and clean it - some people leave it out overnight so it does not rub the bag and decay it.
  3. We also now have a split stock tube with a canister for added moisture control.
  4. Our own in-built trap that sits in the stock and is unobtrusive but needs fitting in our shop.
  5. The popular moose valve -easy to fit yourself and same as 4. but with a built-in valve.
  6. There is also the MacMillan trap - more or less the same idea as in 5. and a bit harder to fit.
  7. In synthetic bags, there is a various array of gadgets -perhaps too many to mention -v3 system -auchiltibuie etc.
  8. The best option is actually to have no trap at all but few have that. Anything you insert, especially the multi-hose style, will restrict your air supply potentially causing your reeds to be too dry.

Another alternative is to have 2 sets of pipes if you are playing for hours on end, and don't forget that the best bag to have is sheepskin since it is a great absorber of moisture. At the end of the day, "one size doesn't fit all" so you need to find what works best for you.


Online Special Offers -


Warnock Bagpipe Chanter Reed - arguably the best chanter reed on the market - reduced to an amazing 7.00 plus vat, which is significantly cheaper than other supply sources. Grab yourself a bargain whilst stocks last. Click on the image.












If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from
wherever you live, we'd be pleased to hear from you. mailto:bill@beggbagpipes.com



Begg Bagpipes
202B Bath Street | Glasgow, STRATHCLYDE G2 4HF
This email was sent to: wgbegg@hotmail.com


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