Smallpipes and Border pipes / Article


Smallpipes and Border pipes

About the Smallpipes and Border pipes
The Border pipes are a related instrument with similar construction to the GHB, but powered with a bellows and with the drones in a common stock and sometimes a baritone or alto drone tuned to the fifth of the chanter. It is usually manufactured in the key of A, rather than the GHB's Bb, and the volume is approximately equal to other common folk instruments, so it is often used by pipers wishing to play with folk groups or in informal sessions.


The Scottish smallpipes, although historically extant, essentially died out by the early 20th century in Scotland. In the early 1980s, Colin Ross and other makers developed a modern smallpipe that is internally derived from the Northumbrian smallpipe, but is played using GHB fingering. It became popular due to its attractive tone and is often a piper's second instrument.



Mouth blown versions of both of these are made by various makers, but due to the delicate nature of the reeds, they are not always successful. A common compromise is to use plastic reeds, which work effectively but do not produce the same tone quality as cane reeds. Most pipers prefer to make their own cane reeds, making it more personal.
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