The long hours of practice and competition can make the average bagpiper take his or her instrument for granted. All pipers have their regular maintenance routine to keep their pipes in top shape, but think about it, you’ve taken your stand up and down the bumpy roads to the games in trains, planes, and automobiles. You’ve carried them around the field and played in all kinds of weather—not to mention the dust! It’s time to take some extra effort to make sure your instrument has held up. Pipers can be as active in the winter as they are at other times of year but things do slow down in the fall and winter months, so take the time to give your instrument some tender loving care. Here are eight things to check off on a slow weekend and remedy for the coming months.
CHECK YOUR BAG FOR AIR LEAKAGE. Remove all the parts of your pipe save the blowstick and cork the stocks. Inﬂate the bag fully and apply “playing-strength” pressure with your arm for several seconds. Blow into the bag again. If you can inﬂate the bag any, you’ve probably got a small leak somewhere. Use your pipehacking skills and ﬁnd it.
EXAMINE THE OUTER SURFACE OF YOUR DRONES FOR CRACKS OR DAMAGE. While the drones are apart, carefully examine each piece. Check the wood for hairline ﬁssures, chips or other early signs of damage. Long term, even the smallest chip or crack can become a major problem down the road. Time for repairs.
CLEAN THE OUTER SURFACE OF YOUR DRONES AND MOUNTS. Things get dirty just being outdoors. Use a soft cloth and small amount of mild dish soap to wash the outside of your instrument. Apply a light coat of almond oil to the outer surface.
SWAB OUT YOUR DRONES. You would be surprised how much can build up on the insides of your drones. Dust, moisture, weather all conspire to collect build up on the inside bore of your drones. Use your drone brush or pull a swab through the bores with a small amount of almond or bore oil to clean away any unwanted dust and debris. If you are an advocate of oiling your drones, now would be a good time.
CHECK ALL THE CONNECTION POINTS WHERE ANY “FOREIGN” OBJECTS ATTACH. All the points where the various gadgets—such as water traps, moisture systems, and the like—attach to your pipes can collect gunk and just get plain dirty—or worse, wear out quickly. Take these items apart and clean them.
CHECK THE SEAL ON ALL HEMPED JOINTS. Normal use will wear out the hemp and wax on all of your joints and loosen the seal. Check for any part that requires a fresh wrap.
RETIE YOUR CORDS. Normal use can loosen the ties on your drone cords and have your drones ﬂopping around on your shoulder. Cut the plastic cable ties that bind your cords and replace them. All that time in the sun and elements can have adverse affects on your nice silk drone cords. Check for wear and wash or replace the cords if necessary.
WASH YOUR BAG COVER. All that squeezing under a sweaty arm during the summer months can take its toll on even the most durable fabric. You wouldn’t wear the shirt you play in for three months straight without washing it, so take off that bag cover and give it a cleaning.