Frequently Asked Questions

(and answers)

--- Bob Dunsire's Bagpipe Web Directory
During a typical day I receive a lot (50+) email messages related to piping, or the Bagpipe Web Directory.  While many email messages contain new or updated URL information for me,  nearly every day there are a few of the following questions. 

This page will probably never be complete, over time I will add to this, as appropriate.

(NOTE;) This is Bob's original FAQ and has not been changed since his death.


How can I learn to play the bagpipes?

How long will it take me to learn to play the bagpipes?

How or where can I find a piping teacher?

How or where can I find a paper for an upcoming event, like a wedding, a party, or...? 

How much do bagpipes cost?

Where can I buy a bagpipe?

How can I get my web site listed in the Bagpipe Web Directory?

Why did you create the Bagpipe Web Directory?

Why are there so many pages in the Bagpipe Web Directory?

(Added 6/01) What are you doing to the Directory Home page?

Do you have a question for the bagpipe web directory FAQ? (Please send it to me)


How can I learn to play the bagpipes?

Many people do not understand or like the first part of this answer -  you must find a teacher!     It is not possible to learn to play the bagpipes without hands-on instruction from a qualified teacher.  The problem is therefore first to find a teacher.  Take a look at the section of this FAQ specifically related to finding a piping teacher.

There is good news however, it is not too expensive to get started.  You will not need to purchase a full set of bagpipes in  the  beginning.  Most likely you'll be asked him to purchase a tutor book,  something like the College of Piping green book typically about $15 in the United States.  And you'll purchase a practice chanter typically  $50 to $75 dollars (or more).

I have created a web page (it has become quite large) specifically related to the teaching of  children or youngsters. Most of the content also applies to adults so I suggest this might also be a reference for you:
Teaching  the Young Piper web page.  

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How long will it take me to learn to play the bagpipes?

The simple to the question: It varies

Now an attempt to give you a real answer:
With reasonable practice (that is to say 15-30 minutes or so each day) the potential piper will usually be ready to move from the practice chanter onto a set of pipes some time between six and twelve months after starting lessons. It is, however,  not uncommon for one to take over a year to be ready to graduate to the bagpipes.

It is  not uncommon for it to take as long as six months or more from starting on the bagpipes to actually playing a full set of the pipes (the chanter and all three drones at one time).

When first on the bagpipes the student will usually start with a single drone or a couple of drones or just the chanter. Getting all three drones and the chanter going at the same time and having reasonable control of instrument, is the most enjoyable challenge I think, but this can often take six months or more.

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Where or how can I find a bagpipe teacher?

Here are a few relatively simple ways of finding a teacher.

First and easiest would be to contact a local piper, a friend or an acquaintance, someone that you know. Most pipers know other pipers and if a piper is not a teacher, they usually do know of pipers who are teachers.

If you still need help, next step could be to locate a local pipe band. Most pipe bands offer instruction or some pipers in the band will be able to help you locate a piping teacher. Finding a local pipe band is relatively simple; A local Highland games or gathering commonly has pipe bands attending. Your local Scottish supply store probably knows of pipe bands in your area. Perhaps your local pipe band has a web site, check the Bagpipe Bands section of the Bagpipe Web Directory.

There are a number of web sites that identifies teachers for pipers and drummers. Take a look at the Teachers section in the Bagpipe Web Directory.

Your local Scottish supply store can probably help direct you to a piping teacher. Check the yellow pages or the Commercial sections of the Bagpipe Web Directory.

And finally, there is always the most popular piping related site on the net 
The bobdunsire.com Forums
Bagpipers from all over the world  regularly contribute and read  message in this newsgroup. A wild and crazy place at times, but also a source of valuable information and contacts related to bagpipes.

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How or where can I find a paper for an upcoming event, like a wedding, a party, or...? 

First, take a   look at the answer to the question of finding a bagpipe teacher.  Most of those steps can be followed, could be followed, when you're searching for a bagpiper for a performance.

In addition, many bagpipers have web pages, take a look at the Personal Pages section in the Bagpipe Web Directory.

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How much do bagpipes cost?

As with most musical instruments there is a wide variety of quality, and that to some extent determines the price of instruments.

A beginning or starter set of new pipes, fully adequate as an instrument, made of   African blackwood, typically are priced from about $800 US Dollars.

Very reasonable used sets of pipes can be purchased for about the same $800 or so - but a BIG word of caution here - have a trusted advisor work with you if you are considering a purchase of used (or even non name brand) pipes.

There are two common alternatives to African blackwood bagpipes:
- One is an instrument made from a type of plastic; these are quite durable and and very reasonable, usually in the $600 or so range.(Dunbar)
- Another alternative are pipes made rosewood or a variety of unidentified woods. These should be avoided all costs - really! If you see a set of bagpipes priced in the $50 to $300 range, or so, beware. These are  commonly absolute junk, often made in Pakistan, and often  presented as a genuine Scottish instrument.

Again - I think key   to  purchasing bagpipe is to have a trusted friend or acquaintance assist you in the purchase. Many people buy bad  instruments because they don't have the appropriate experience or knowledge.

At the high end, the instrument can cost in excess of $10,000. These instruments may not actually be any better than the 1500 dollar instrument but they will usually be very ornate and very beautiful, or very old. 

Common ongoing expense of piping:
Sheep skin bag, $200 or so, lasts six to 24 months, or 
Hide bag, $75 to $150, last from two years to ten years or more.
Black wood chanter $300-$500,  last from  five years to forever,
Reeds for the drone $10.00 each,  last six months to longer, or
Synthetic drone reeds,   typically are in the $80-$125 (for a set) range,   and they should last forever (?).
Chanter reeds,  $10,  last 1 to 6 months. (but usually need a small handful of them at any one time)

And lessons - as often as once a week, $20-$35 USD per hour.

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Where can I buy a bagpipe?

Looking for a new set of bagpipes?  Go to the Commercial sections of the Bagpipe Web Directory.

Looking for an older, used, or vintage set of bagpipes?  There is a great deal of potential risk involved in the purchase of old or vintage bagpipes, that is the bad news.   The good news is that some of the vintage bagpipes our very special instruments, and some used bagpipes are relative bargains.

I suggest that you take advantage of the knowledge of some trusted person as an adviser if you are contemplating the purchase of a used set of bagpipes.

Sources of used bagpipes include:
- piping supply stores (the same places you go for a new  pipes),
- the bagpipe newsgroup (rec.music.makers.bagpipe) were often you'll find messages posted by people  trying to sell  bagpipes.
- the many Internet auction sites are also fairly popular places to find a set of bagpipes, but beware, without physical inspection you are  taking a great risk.  
- pipe bands often have members selling pipes, or the members may know of people selling pipes.  

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Why are there so many web pages in the bagpipe web directory?

One goal of mine has been to keep each of the web pages within the directory fast to load. Part of this is accomplished by using minimal graphics, part of it is accomplished by having a target of maximum page size (in the case of the directory 40K total - text and included graphics).

This web site started with something like a dozen links. It now (March 2001) has more than 2500 links. As the number of links has grown so has the need, to split off somewhat logically connected links into their own pages.

Growth continues, and reorganizations will continue.  This is part of the 'fun'.. staying in touch with the ever expanding number of piping related web sites out "there".

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How can I get my web site listed in the bagpipe web directory?

Just send me an email. My goal is simply  to list all piping related web sites. 
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Please suggest a section of the directory for your link.

If the link is for a band please tell me what grade and what location. 

If the link is for some other type of piping web site please let me know where you think I should list the link.

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Why did you create the Bagpipe Web Directory?

I love piping, I am comfortable with computers, I am comfortable with the Internet, I enjoy creating web pages, and I have spare time.

Over a period of months, while I was playing on the Net, I would spend some time each day just searching for piping related web sites.  As I did this I found there was nothing even close to what I thought a Bagpipe Web Directory could be; there were commercial sites, there were some excellent link list sites, but there were problems in my view with each.  Some had relatively few links, some had lots of links, but many were out of date, or invalid.

There was no single place, or even a good dozen places where one could go for piping links, it was actually a fair bit of work to find many piping links.. so.. I thought I could help.  I started my Directory, with about 100 links in the beginning. 

Because I hated finding links that were out of date, I felt links should be current and valid, so I add a link checked date to each link in the Directory so viewers know that the checking is done regularly.

I also do maintenance on the Directory each day, in this fashion I try to be responsive, and current - more attributes that I felt a Directory should have.

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What are you doing to the Directory Home page?

A part of my motivation to create web pages was my desire to figure out 'how to' do things that I found interesting or attractive in other web pages.  Now that this Directory has become so large (and popular) I am trying to make the home page of the Directory as easy and as efficient to use as possible. To this end, some fun and interesting (to me at least) web 'things' are done on the Home Page.  

Compatibility from browser to browser is a challenge because the support offered by each web browser for these features (Java, Javascript, CSS, drop down menus, expanding menus, etc.. ) differs a bit - and yes, that is not 'supposed to' happen.

I do test on multiple systems (we have an interesting network at home) and with multiple browsers (MSIE - 4, 5, 5.5, 6; Netscape  - 4.7 & 6; Opera 5; Mozilla; and AOL - 5 & 6), but  I know I'll miss things (oops).   In fact, each system, configuration,  software, hardware, and even the monitor, is a bit unique, and this means there will be problems that I can't anticipate, or emulate.

Please let me know if you see problems (this is actually fun for me)
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Copyright 1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001- 2002 - 2003 - 2004 Bob Dunsire