Pipehacker Project: The Handy Reed Humidifier


pipehacker_humidifier_7bBagpipes, and the accessories that go along with them, have changed little over the last 100 years or more. The way we set up and care for our instruments today is nearly the same as what G.S. MacLennan did back in his heyday. But there are a few additions to the modern bagpipe setup that have slipped their way in to become a standard part of the tradition—and vastly improved the piper’s life in the process.

If you’ve been playing Highland bagpipes at all, it’s likely you’ve got a “chanter cap” or, what is essentially a “mock stock” to put over the reed when you pack away your instrument. These items are a boon to the longevity and performance of your chanter reed. An even bigger boon to chanter reed performance is the chanter cap–humidifier combination that many pipers swear by. Keeping a good reed moisture-free using something like the Chanter Cap Reed Dryer is OK for preservation, but not so much for active playing. It is actually a good thing to have some amount of moisture in the reed to keep it performing consistently. The dry-wet-dry cycle a chanter reed typically goes through will do more to degrade a reed over time than any amount of moisture the reed is exposed to. Keeping the reed slightly humidified at a level that prevents radical changes can actually extend the lifetime performance of a solid reed. Here is a handy DIY chanter cap and reed humidifier combination that should keep your good reeds staying good for a long while. Read More




Found! Early Copy of Donald MacLeod’s Piobaireachd Album


pipehacker_piobandpancakes_2015Some time before PM Donald MacLeod’s seminal piobaireachd album “Positively Piobaireachd” become known, “wee Donald” tested the piping market with this early release “Piobaireachd & Pancakes,” an album of original piobaireachd inspired by Donald’s affection for a hearty pile of flapjacks. Donald developed his liking for johnnycakes on one of his many trips to the USA. It was said that only a small number of copies were pressed, sat unsold and moldering in several Glasgow record shops, and then gathered up and burned in a Hogmanay bonfire on the outskirts of Stornaway. Donald MacLeod must be smiling down upon us all for this lone copy was discovered in a long abandoned bed & breakfast on Long Island, NY as the building was being cleared for demolition. Some of the older locals remember “that little Scottish man” who used to stay over from time to time. They say the owner used to play the strangest bagpipe music ever for guests each morning. Guests stopped coming eventually for some unknown reason, but everyone agreed that the inn did make the most delicious pancakes.



Pipehacker Project: Rebuild and Resurrect a Practice Chanter Reed

Friday, June 24, 2011

Never chuck a good reed. Wait. Did I say that already once before? Well, it’s true, and if you’ve been at this bagpipes thing for any length of…


The Salvaged Wood Smallpipe

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fellow bagpipe addict and pipehacker-in-training Johnny L. stopped by for a visit recently and he is the first recipient of the “Pipehacker DIYB award.” OK, I made that…


Pipehacker Tip: The DIY Pipe Bag Seasoning Funnel

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bagpipe bag seasoning is messy stuff. The wide mouth opening of your modern container of Airtight makes it an easy matter to make a clean pour into your…


Pipehacker Project: The Reed Capsule

Friday, March 11, 2011

Even though you now has a portable reed case (as well as minty fresh breath) you still have need to store, transport, or otherwise protect your chanter and…


Pipehacker Project: The Personal Reed Case

Friday, February 4, 2011

An enterprising bagpiper can accumulate a large number of chanter reeds over time. But once you find those choice bits of cane, what do you do with them?…


Pipehacker Tip: Bagpipe Bag Hole Punch

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For those new to the hide bag tie-in, it has always been necessary to measure out and place the spots where your stocks will insert. A quarter-sized hole is then cut into the leather and the stock pushed through. The trick is always to get as round a hole as possible. The more perfectly circular the hole, the less likely it will be to tear when you push your stock through. The only way to do this well is to have an ideally sized “punch” to stamp out that hole.


Pipehacker Project: The DIY Blowstick Valve

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are there any pipers left who remember the days of leather blowstick flapper valves? The little circles of old bag leather that dried up and had to be gnawed back to life in order to function? No? Well, once upon a time pipers had to make their own flapper valves to tie on to their blowpipes.


Pipehacker Project: The Black Art of Black Wax

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in the day, the gooey black bits of “cobbler’s wax” were oftentimes a melted mess in a piper’s maintenance kit awaiting their next turn at a strand of hemp. What is simply globs of pine resin and pitch (otherwise known by the scientific name “soot”), the stuff was crumbly, sticky, and infuriating at the same time but has always been ideal for sticking that first wrap of hemp on your pipe tenons. But what do you do when your chunk of black wax has crumbled to nothing?

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