Dunn/Reid smallpipes: refurbishment part 1

Here’s a very interesting set of pipes that came to me last year. It’s a hybrid set; a 9 keyed James Reid chanter (~1830’s) coupled with a much earlier set (1780’s) of John Dunn drones that almost certainly started life as part of a simple unkeyed set.

There are some interesting engravings on the drone sliders and also on the original stocks (of which more later). I’ve traced the set back through the 1900’s and back in to the 1800’s; this is the set of pipes illustrated in the painting which is currently on display at the Bagpipe Museum in Morpeth. The set played in the painting includes an early blackwood Reid chanter and Reid bellows. This chanter & drones became separated and formed part of another set in the early 1970’s and the drones were paired at that point with the current chanter. The chanter itself has been heavily played, snapped and long since repaired; unfortunately at some point the silver key pins have been replaced with copper wire which will prove difficult to extract.

I’ve been considering what approach to take to take with them – they’ll never be an everyday instrument but it will be great to bring such a significant set back in to full playing order. I’ll start by fitting everything to a new bag and getting the drones playing with a contemporary chanter – this should be completed shortly. Once this is done I can take a long slow look at the chanter to work out how to effect a repair that will hold the two halves together with minimal interference on the musical qualities.