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Welcome to Begg Bagpipes


                           ------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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                                          Newsletter - March 2011

Dear Piping Enthusiast,


There have been certain negative comments circulating in some quarters that quality skins are no longer available and so "you should try bags made of different materials".  I just want to re-assure you, that although our normal running stock of 400+ completed bags is fast approaching zero, we do have large quantities of raw skins whose quality is as good as we have ever seen. We are at full production to meet demand and whilst you may not be able to walk into the shop and walk out with a finished bag as is the case, we will turn round any orders post-haste.

On another note, we had a great report in from one of the first subscribers to our Newsletter. Dr Keith Souter is a man of many talents and we are pleased to publish his report at the bottom of the page. We were also pleased to receive a signed copy of his latest Hebridean novel. We will report on the novel when one of us can find the time to read it - busy, busy, busy making bags and pipes.


Yours aye, James C Begg





If you are in the Glasgow area in March, two events are taking place and are well worth attending. The first is the important Uist and Barra Solo Piping competition taking place at the College of Piping on March 12th and this is followed by the Lomond and Clyde Invitational Band competition at the Radisson Hotel on March 19th. Tickets for the latter event can be obtained from www.tickets-scotland.com


We have recently taken a fresh look at the pricing of our DVDs and Cds and it is clear that many people for this type of product will purchase it from the cheapest source, like Amazon or similar. Check out our new offers and you will now find them to be highly competitive - pricing includes delivery worldwide and VAT is not applicable outside the European Union.


Begg Bagpipes were pleased to support the Junior Competition held at the National Piping Centre on February the 11th. There was a great turn-out with the overall winners and stars of the future being: 

Junior Winner: Scott Wood
Novice Winner: Brighde Chaimbeul
Chanter Champion: John Dick

Congratulations to all who took part.




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

 I is for Innovation, Internet and Intuition

Piping has changed in many ways with new products but has it really? I personally don't think it has too much -yes, we have kitchen piping as its ungainly called - why demean a different approach by calling it kitchen piping? A better name might be jazz piping when there is a lot of improvisation. This form was so ably demonstrated by the brilliant Gordon Duncan, now sadly deceased at a young age and a great loss to the Piping world. Piobaireachd is termed classical and whilst I don't particularly like some styles of modern piping, we do need Innovation - the input over the last 20 years or so has been very healthy. We only have to look at the explosion of cds,dvds and books as an example - I well remember when you had 6 books and 6 tapes - Scots Guards and P/M D MacLeod books being the best known and tapes like Piper in the Knave. A younger generation is certainly inspiring piping. I occasionally was asked about 15 years ago or so whether piping was still a living art and at that time I think it had a rather uncertain future. People often were surprised and almost disappointed that I was not older with a grey beard and wearing a kilt all the time - these days I am sadly getting ever closer to this caricature!! However, my fears were fortunately unfounded and with input from abroad and with the ease of travel, the Scottish scene has been re-invigorated and made us look at our laurels. The Piping Centre and the College of Piping in Glasgow have had an encouraging effect whether it is through more public awareness, tuition and the promotion of the art in all its forms. We seem to have a situation where piping is regarded in better esteem due to the explosion of pipes playing with other musicians via groups and orchestras. It perhaps is open to question whether this is the way to go but it certainly has brought in bigger audiences and attention from what may previously have been a fringe position occupied by a specialist, clique of participants. Innovation has been rife which has helped make life easier to teach piping. I for one also find it easier to sell pipes as you can set a new set up quickly. However, whilst we can achieve instant action there is a down side in that what sounds good instantly may not sound good further down the line -short term gains off-set by long term difficulties in that many people don't really have a clue as to what a bagpipe could or should sound like. Innovation will continue for sure. However in the last 10 years or so, it has been one new product after another and it will undoubtedly exhaust itself in time. It of course will be the buying public who dictate what to buy and what is on the shelf for future pipers i.e. if no-one buys an item, it soon disappears which can be a great loss as in some cases. An example of this would be cane practice chanter reeds being eliminated due to the introduction of synthetic reeds. The number of pipers is very small -it's not a huge market and so it doesn't take much for the market to go put of kilter. The Internet has been a great tool and has enabled everyone to have a global reach. It's far from perfect as can be seen by some sites but on the whole it's a useful item. Our online site is very successful and with it having been one of the first piping sites to have been established, it has given us a great window to the world. So my Intuition is that piping is in good fettle but it needs to be nurtured closely. We need to be cautious about big business interests and people with various agendas. It could unravel very quickly as nearly happened with the advent of synthetic items but fortunately we have managed to save the traditional items. Here's to more Innovation since without it we risk going backwards, but hey - let's be careful and make sure we protect our rich heritage for future generations.


Technical Academy - Practice Chanter- the forgotten tool


Love them or loath them a good practice chanter is essential. I would advise standard size as in my opinion it gives better comfort as well as potentially better clarity. It also can deliver precision with the gracing and generally is a far more concise tool. Long chanters have their place if for example you have large hands but it appears a bit ungainly. If you look at the long chanter, it actually has same spacing as a standard. Counter sunk holes are also a fad and I don't think of much real benefit. I supply chanters with countersinking holes - the holes are only mild just like the swan necks I supply in bags. Some people in the piping world seem to exaggerate what is useful. If you can't feel the normal size holes, then the chanter is not vibrating and you are doing something wrong. Our standard wooden practice chanters are great, even if I say so myself -sweet and mellow! If you own one, remember it may need to be oiled occasionally and this is particularly true of  the top section as moisture can cause it to crack but undoubtedly this is the one to buy. Lots of other makers use plastic tops for two reasons - cost and the avoidance of cracking. However, don't compromise if what you are looking for is a far better sound and an instrument that looks terrific. To support this edition of the Technical Academy, check out our special offer for online orders in March.



Online Special Offers -James Begg hand crafted practice chanter


This traditional all African Blackwood chanter standard size  has been reduced from 72.26 to 58 (plus vat within the EU) for the month of March only. Don't miss out on this "Mad March" offer. Click on the link.                                         




Dear Bill,

I thought you might be interested in hearing about my series of crime novels featuring Inspector Torquil McKinnon of the Hebridean Constabulary. He plays the pipes and is known to his friends as 'Piper'. He and his friends and colleagues are now pretty well developed over three novels. FLOTSAM AND JETSAM is the fourth in the series. It came out on 31st December. They are all published by Robert Hale. The first three are:

The Gathering Murders

Deathly Wind

Murder Solstice


They are written in the cosy style of crime fiction and I think they might appeal to pipers. My website tells you about me and the books are all there  www.keithsouter.co.uk And my blog, named after the newspaper that features in the novels is

THE WEST UIST CHRONICLE I write these under my pen-name of Keith Moray.

Best wishes

Dr Keith Souter


Keith is a keen piper and loves the sound of the pipes - this is what inspired him to write his novels. He was taught by a friend who played in the Irish Guards, and prior to commencing his writings, he gets out a set of Begg Bagpipes to put himself into the correct mindset.


Keith, this is a brilliant story and I look forward to reading your books. Thanks and all the best, Bill


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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