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

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 Newsletter February 2021


Dear Piping Enthusiast,


Welcome to a new year of Begg Bagpipes newsletters - the number 1 (I hope!) for chat and repartee in a typical Glaswegian manner.

Here we are nearly a year down the line since the piping world and the broader world ground to a halt. This time last year was the last live piping event which was held by the Uist and Barra Association- their 74th annual event. It actually seems like yesterday when it was their 60th. I still have the commemorative whisky glass but I go back well before their 60th. It's a great day out with solid piping and friendships rekindled. I'm always glad that I got out my scratcher (weegie term for bed) in time to attend. These are the times that we all greatly miss. It's such a shame in particular for the younger players and listeners who are fired up and ready to go and absorb as I did in the day but now sadly missing out. What a frustration and loss of impetuous for the young guns especially and very detrimental to their advancement. The upside I guess is that there is plenty of time to practice.

On a personal note, I have been busy keeping fit with walks and more. Apart from canal walks, I had a nice trip round Burncrook reservoir north of Milngavie - pronounced Milguy for some strange reason. It's a somewhat posh area in Glasgow next to the even posher one of Bearsden.  It was a nice 2 1/2 hr canter with snow all round on the hills but firm underfoot. As you can see in the pic, it's a nice setting for a tune like the mist covered mountains or similar. Next time I may take my pipes and give it a go.


Reflecting on the year past, the first quarter was hectic with many of the bands planning ahead with the thought of the competitive season that wasn't to be. We supplied over 100 bags in January alone with good numbers to follow in February and March and know the rest. We just about kept our head above water as players took the opportunity during lockdown to examine and refresh their instruments and if you didn't do it last year, now is the time to do it. After all your practice during the past year, you need your instrument in tip top condition to do yourself justice and if you need any help in this regard, please do get in touch on any aspect of the Great Highland Bagpipe - you can be sure to receive impartial advice without any charge or obligation.


Yours aye,

James C. Begg

Piping Perfection


I am pleased to report on the progress of my friend Roddy MacLeod since he left the National Piping Centre. Undoubtedly one of the stand-out pipers of his generation, Roddy has built upon his playing and teaching credentials with a move into the design and manufacture of bagpipes, in conjunction with David Naill and Co. This is a natural extension following the success of the RJM chanter and his new website is well worth checking out.We wish Roddy all the very best with this new venture. (Photo of Roddy by Derek Maxwell)                                                  


I've recently hit/smashed/crept up to 60 years young and purchased a Shepherd small pipe combination set in A and D. I'm hoping to learn a few tunes from Stuart Sampson's new download book The Parkgrove Collection. I will review it shortly for you but it is bound to be really good.

I know Stuart is a big fan of the  late  Bob Shepherd's instruments so hopefully it will be a fitting tribute to Bob to play Stuart's new tunes on the Shepherd small pipes. Click through to the Shepherd web site where you can find Stuart playing a lament to the great reed maker - a most fitting tribute.                                                                                                                                                   

Special Offer.


Take a look at James' video, live from his workshop in Kirkintilloch, by clicking on the photo of piper Richie McCaw and his brilliant All Blacks - yes - Richie is a piper as well.

New Zealand Bags - Limited edition at £135 (plus vat in UK only) and free postage worldwide.

Click here to go straight to the NZ offer on the website.

Field Report - from Tennessee, USA

One of the very first subscribers to our newsletter was Vince Ayub of the Nashville Pipes and Drums. Like other customers around the world, Vince ties in many of our bags both for himself and others and he sent us this interesting report on his Piper's Winch. If he lived near Kirkintilloch, I am sure we would offer him a job at Begg Bagpipes!

Here is a photo of my Piper’s Winch. I do have a bell punch I use on cow hide but I prefer to use this copper fitting that I have sharpened for the task. Brian Yates of Inverness taught me how to tie a bag in back in 2006. I have since adopted some of my own ideas including the use of a Constrictor Knot. I like the constrictor knot as it locks in place without having to spin and pull the cord around the stock. That spinning action can weaken the skin leaving a possible point of failure. I have done a few emergency tying in at the games for members of other bands. Pipers I have never met before but have heard of me. Every such moon shaped cut I have seen I can attribute it to an improper tying in. Lucky for them I am able to pull the skin up the stock enough to anchor onto. I finished tying in two Begg bags this past week. 

Here is a straight neck bag tied in for my friend Wyatt a left hand player. This by far is the tightest bag yet. What you see is the bag after I tied it on and blew it up the night before. 12 hours later it needed a half of a puff to get back to full. The bag and Moose valve are in a great state of readiness. Wyatt should be playing at the next Worlds and I hope I can go - I look forward to meeting you there.



Life member of Knoxville Pipes and Drums, currently playing with the Nashville Pipes and Drums


Thanks a lot Vince and see you at the Worlds, I hope. Please also pop into our workshop in Kirkintilloch and you can tie in some bags while you are there!



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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