Bagpipes & Bellows
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I have a certain amount of experience in close tolerance wood turning  and occasionally made a couple of different types of bellows-blown bagpipes. The process of making them is actually more akin to the work performed by a machinist on a metal lathe and that is the type of lathe  primarily used in their manufacture. My pipes and I were lucky enough to be chosen to be in the 1999 coffee table book entitled "Hearts and Hands-Musical Instrument Makers of America." I usually have a set or two in stock. 

I also specialize in the making of bellows used to any of the different bellows-driven bagpipes out there. I also offer reed gouges that I personally sharpen to the high standard of my carving chisels. I also offer cherry wood shooting blocks and a real nice uilleann bagpipe common stock for those interested in putting together their own set.

 

Click here for Bellows Prices

Click here for Bellows Testimonials

Click here for Bellows Arm Strap Adjustment

Click here for Uilleann Common Stock

Click here for Rowsome bellows restoration

Click here for Belt Buckle and Belts

Click here for Scottish Smallpipes

Click here for Reed Making Tools

Click here for Arundo Donax in Southern Maine

 

Irish uilleann bagpipe bellows

These large-capacity bellows will handle any type of bagpipe.  

 

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First 3 pictures show the front, side & back views of my large capacity, uilleann bagpipe  bellows. The next picture depicts both ends of the flexible connecting hose. All bellows come with two of these connecting hoses. The second to the last picture is of the jeweler's bronze sleeve guard. Beneath it is the brass valve flange and black Delrin valve holder. The last picture is of the hand cast jeweler's bronze name/hinge plate. All of the features pictured above are unique to my bellows. Please see detailed description below. I make these bellows from components that are made in America.

 

Smaller size and capacity bellows

These bellows are slightly smaller in overall size and air capacity than their larger brothers. However,  construction methods, materials and  quality are exactly the same. They are for you uilleann pipers who prefer a smaller size bellows, and are the best bellows on the market for both Scottish and Northumbrian smallpipes.

 

Bellows construction and material. 

Pads, straps & buckles

The pads are made from a black, woven man made fleece that is primarily used for saddle and harness padding applications. It is an exceptionally durable material. The elbow pad has three separate parts: fleece on the front, an inner cushion and a 4 oz leather back. The body pad is a two part construction with fleece on the body side backed with 4 oz leather. These pads keep your hip, rib and elbow bones protected from the hard wooden clappers. They are soft but very strong and durable and will soon conform to your body's shape. Pads can be vacuumed and fluffed up with a stiff wire brush after extended use and they wear forever.  

The 3/4" wide arm strap, 1" wide body belt and 2" wide hinge are made out of soft, exceptionally strong nylon webbing that is very nearly indestructible. It never stains shirts and is washable. All buckles are nylon, light weight and strong. Like the fleece and belting, they also  come out of the horse harness industry. 

 Valve assembly

The valve assembly has three principal components and is designed to be air tight and maintenance free. The valve flap is durable silicone rubber and attached to the black Delrin holder with two small brass escutcheon pins. 

The valve/clapper connection is made through a two piece, hand made brass flange. The cylindrical part of the flange extends down into the clapper's valve hole and the flat part of the flange extends out on the face of the clapper. Softened beeswax is used under the flat and cylindrical parts of the flange as bedding to assures a fit that is not affected by the wooden clapper's slight seasonal movement. This arrangement makes for a valve system free of air leaks. All wood moves and valve holes bored into wooden clappers will always become somewhat oblong over time. The same thing happens with wooden valve holders and that means sooner or later you have a poor valve holder to hole fit and air leaks.  My custom made brass flange always stays uniformly round and it's inner sealing surface smooth. The valve flap holder is made from bullet proof Delrin and it's dimensions never change so the components never get a chance to leak. 

Gusset and glue

Two coats of Barge brand contact cement coat each surface that will be glued to another and it provides a flexible, airtight and nearly indestructible barrier. I have never had a gusset of this type leak and it never needs seasoning.  

The leather gusset  is two layers thick. The inside layer is sturdy 4oz. airtight leather that is glued to itself at the narrow hinge end with a 2  1/4" long overlap. The outer layer of 1 1/2 oz. black, lightweight garment leather is then glued over the inner gusset - rough side to rough side so its smooth side faces out. This is the part of the gusset you see. The garment leather ends also  meet at the narrow hinge part of the assembly and are glued in an overlapping fashion and staggered with the inner gusset overlap. When finished, there is a total of nearly 7" of glued, staggered overlapping leather at the hinge end of this gusset! No leaks there are possible. 

The assembled gusset is pneumatically stapled to the edges of both clappers. Another piece of thin garment leather is glued onto each clapper face and down over the stapled edge of the gusset. Brass escutcheon pins are driven into slightly smaller pilot holes that are pre-drilled between the closely spaced gusset staples. 

Wood 

The clappers are made from carefully chosen, clear, straight-grain, defect-free, flat-sawn domestic cherry. I use this wood for its density, stability and mechanical holding properties. I spend a lot of time and effort making sure that the wood's grain runs horizontally, or parallel with the clapper's width to insure clapper strength.  

Hose

The black leather cover air hose is detachable for easy storage and its length is adjustable to suit your body type. It is made out of 4 mm wall, red latex rubber and is flexible enough to easily conform to the shape of your body and will not kink.  A plastic PVC fitting (female) has been forced into one end of the hose and permanently glued to it.  On the other end is a male PVC fitting with its outside end wound with waxed hemp for insertion into the copper pipe silver soldered into the cast jeweler's bronze exit pipe plate. It is adjustable for length using by forcing off the gray end with your thumbs and cutting the hose using sharp scissors. Remember, winter is coming so measure the length while-wearing winter clothes. Call if you have questions.

Sleeve guard

The round, hand cast jeweler's bronze sleeve guard was designed by me, copyrighted in 1991 and is unique to these bellows. It has a heart motif around the outside edge, and it will keep your shirt sleeve from being sucked into and clogging the valve hole while playing. The fancy hinge name/date plate is also my design and cast out of jeweler's bronze as is the back exit pipe plate. These are hand cast in Maine using the lost wax method.  

Why they are important

Bellows are at least one half of any set of bellows driven-bagpipe. They will work without the pipes but the pipes are useless without them. My bellows will power your bagpipes with more comfort and efficiency than the bellows that you now own. A tendency to over-blow will be noticed at first, but this will soon disappear as you get use to the increased volume and efficiency. Your right shoulder will be working less and thus be less prone to fatigue and the shoulder ailments we all suffer as age catches up with us. After a short time, you should be playing in a much more relaxed fashion and having more fun with the music.

Guarantee

I guarantee all of my work against failure due to workmanship and material. This guarantee extends to the original owner only and has no time limit. Naturally this excludes acts of God (kids, dogs, hurricanes & etc.), extremes in temperature and humidity and acts of craziness or negligence by the owner. This includes maintenance on or adjustments to these bellows, which are not specifically, recommend by the maker. Repairs or modifications done to these bellows by persons other than myself or those appointed by me will void any expressed or implied guarantee. Never season the inside of these bellows with anything! I consider each bellows I make a once in a lifetime purchase. 

Questions?

If you have any questions concerning any product I make, you should be aware that I am a very easy person to get in touch with. If I am not in my shop then the answering machine will be on and I will call you back as soon as I get in. Emails are answered promptly.  I try to have these bellows in stock so wait time is minimal. The end of your bagpipe's blowpipe may need slight modification to fit the PVC fitting on the end of the flexible hose. This I will do that at no charge if you send it to me with your payment. Generally, your bellows are shipped no later than the day after I get your payment. Overall dimensions are: 11" long X 6 1/2" wide X about 5" thick when new. The pads do compress slightly over time. 

  easy job of adjusting the arm strap.      

 

Bellows Prices

All prices are subject to change without notice. Please contact me for  availability. I do try to keep a number of bellows in stock at all times. 

Uilleann or Scottish smallpipe bellows sold in my shop -  $600.00
Price does not include include 5 1/2% Maine sales tax.

Shipping on all  bellows within continental USA .              $620.00  
Payment by Pay Pal, bank check or money order -                                    

Domestic shipping via Priority Mail takes about 3 business days. An adult signature will be required. Insurance and delivery confirmation included in the price. 

International bellows sales using PayPal only.                  $650.00

Shipping via Priority International Mail takes about 7 to 10 business days. Insurance and  delivery confirmation included in the price.      

Architectural Woodcarving LLC
Michael A. Dow
27 Pudding Lane
York, Maine 03909
Phone/fax: 207-363-7924
madow@maine.rr.com

 

How to adjust the bellows arm strap

 

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1 - Always start with two loops - small, buckle loop and larger, pumping arm loop. 

2 - Pumping arm through the large loop.

3 - Pull the small, buckle loop to make the large loop snug.

4 - Keeping big loop snug, pinch brass keeper on strap end.

5 - Pull brass keeper toward hinge end of bellows. The buckle rotates to keep nylon strap snug against pumping arm while large loop slack is taken up.

 

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6 - Arm strap as snug as you want against pumping arm.

7 - Done playing? Pinch loose end of nylon strap and push back making small loop in center of buckle.

8 - Finger in small, buckle loop and pull out to give some slack.

9 - Pull large, arm loop and extract arm leaving two loops - small buckle loop and larger arm loop. See #1 above. 

10 - 2017 - Following a great tip from a piper who purchased my bellows and slightly modified them, I have added a "D" ring to the small loop. So, for newer bellows, #7 should read: "Done playing? Pull the "D" ring in the small loop and trapped by the center of the buckle and pull."

 

Bellows Testimonials

" I needed a large-capacity bellows that would be a comfortable, dependable, efficient workhorse that would stand up to excessive wear and tear. The bellows Mike made for me is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship which is all of these things plus some. You simply cannot do better than a Mike Dow bellows."

Jerry O'Sullivan - 2000

*

"I have tried the bellows and am very pleased with them. They really are excellent - what a difference to the other set I had. Very nice and responsive. Thanks again."

Peter L. - 2001

*

"I bought a set of smallpipe bellows from you last year, and was and remain absolutely delighted with their performance!  Seriously: your bellows has brought lovely light to the dark day of my past bellows experience! It's incredibly comfortable to hold and play, and it's beautiful to look at, to boot. Thanks again."

Thomas M. - 2001

*

"I am delighted! I received your beautifully crafted bellows yesterday
and was up until 1a.m. playing. I'm sure my apartment neighbors will
have something to say. I must say, the craftsmanship is superb. I
noticed the many little things, for example, how you have your screw
slots positioned at the same finished angle. Nice attention to detail.

The ease of use of your bellows is exactly as you mentioned. I had a
bit of over blowing but I soon adjusted and my playing became, dare I
say, effortless.

Thank you for your skill and pride in workmanship. You are forcing me
now to order a new set of pipes to properly dress the bellows up. I
will not trim the connector hose until then for fear I cut it too short.

Thank you again. I intend to have many years of enjoyment from them.
All the Best."

Edmund Toney - 2001

*

I am pleased to report that after 4 years your bellows are still performing wonderfully. I receive many inquiries about them and always direct the people your way. Thank you for your excellent craftsmanship. 

Edmund Toney - 2004

*

"I haven't yet had a chance to thank you for the bellows. Nice work! Excellent! I can't describe to you how much easier it is to play the border pipes, now that I have an appropriately- sized set of bellows. 

I bought one of Michael Dow's bellows about 2 weeks ago, the big (uilleann) size. Its craftsmanship is excellent: from the quality of the leather itself, to the cheeks, to the sheepskin pads, to the nice bronze guard for the inlet! Wonderful! And, who knows why I like it so much, the blowpipe connector is a nice solid copper. These are WORKHORSE bellows, and the craftsmanship alone is worth the admission price.

But do they make a difference? A resounding YES! I've been playing bellows-blown pipes for 7 years (or more), starting with Saps, moving into borders and also into the UP. The border pipes is where I notice the biggest difference. Once I got the Dow bellows hooked into the borders, WOW, what a difference! Michael mentions a period of adjustment to the new bellows . . . no adjustment necessary! It was like an instant lung transplant! Not only does it take much less effort to fill the bag, it seems to take some of the work off the bag arm, making rock-solid tone almost trivial. Of course, I've been at it for a while, but it's about the biggest improvement in my technique I've noticed in a long time.

Short version: don't underestimate the need for large capacity in your bellows. I thought I'd share my experiences with the group, since Michael's bellows aren't dirt cheap, and if you didn't know how much easier they make playing (especially the border pipes!), you might not even consider them. If you do look into them, remember that I got the uilleann pipe size (the big bellows).
Thanks again."

Stuart Hall - 2001 

*

"I received the (uilleann) bellows yesterday. They are great! I just need the rest of my set going as well as these bellows. They are the best made bellows I have played. I'm very happy with them.  If you ever start making sets of uilleann pipes, put my name down for a set. Regards,"

Emmett Gill
Ramón, Galway, Ireland - 2001

*

"The pipes have arrived in great condition. They are beautiful and the tone is great. Your workmanship will be played and enjoyed for years to come. 
Thank you"

Harry Nichols - 2001

*

"My bellows arrived and we're having a great time getting to know each other! First of all, it's beautiful - a real work of art! I love the padding under the arm strap and the sheepskin on the underside! So as soon as I get the pressure difference resolved and finish adjusting my chanter reed (the drone reeds are doing very well), we should make lovely music together. Thanks so much for getting it to me so quickly!"

Ann M. Watson, Chairman
Scottish Festival & Celtic Gathering - 2002

*

"Thanks for your greeting. I am using the bellows every day and they are great. I use them for my border pipes, which were difficult to play before, at  least for me, even after I sealed the leak in the maker's bellows. I am also starting to learn Us. For my Day penny chanter, your bellows is so efficient that you  virtually never pump it completely. Thanks, Michael."


  Emir Chernofsky - 2002

*

  "Michael Dow's bellows are supreme! "I'm quite delighted with Michael Dow's bellows. They are better than one can imagine in many ways. They are a work of art...expertly crafted with great attention to detail and are very aesthetically pleasing. They are also quite comfortable to use. The bellows are the most airtight I've ever played. As a result of this and their size, it is quite easy to keep up with the airflow demands of the full set of pipes. I highly recommend the purchase and find them to be well worth the investment. Best part of it is that Michael is a true gentleman to do business with."


Dr. Lewis Blevins
Nashville, TN - 2002

*

"When my fingers finally thawed (from moving 2002/3 snow) I strapped them on and they are for lack of a better word, luscious. They make a wonderful connection for a set of pipes which have soul and on into the player. Cheers for coming up with a way to make a symbiotic relationship and connection between piper and pipes. Got them fitted to both the uilleann and the Sloan smalls I have. Thank you. It's helping me get into the attitude of wanting to pick up my pipes to play instead of cranking on rigid and or leaking bellows. Cheers mate!"


Chris Pinchbeck
Rockland, Maine - 2003

*

"The bellows have arrived and they are great! What a difference they make, they can really power these pipes and make it much more relaxing to pipe the tunes. I am very pleased with them and thank you much. I don't understand why I didn't do this earlier. Thanks again"


Ed Harrison, 
Tailors, South Carolina - 2003

*

"Finally got my hands on the things yesterday - very happy indeed. They make a completely different instrument of the pipes. Make it much easier to bash regulators too, so I can make any passing guitar/bouzouki/mandolin player's life completely miserable. The long term health benefits will be good too - as well as saving my back, the duty means I won't be drinking for the rest of the month ;) Cheers Mike"


Cormac Cannon
Limerick, Ireland - 2003

*

"About 4 or 5 years ago I was taking piping lessons from Al Purcell (R.I.P.), and I ordered one of your uilleann bellows after seeing the one he had gotten from you. Shortly thereafter, I went through a divorce and had to sell my set of uilleann pipes. Unfortunately, the bellows went with the set I sold. I am now able to get back into piping somewhat, and I remembered that your bellows was far superior to the one I had with the original set. Now that I can get back to the pipes I wanted the comfort and playability of a Michael Dow bellows once again. Once someone experiences one of your uilleann bellows, the others just don't measure up. They sell themselves."

Greg Gunner
Riga, Michigan - 2003

*

" Thanks for the follow up! The bellows are wonderful! I can't get over how well-designed it is. It is such a pleasure and comfortable to play!"

 Dan McNamara 
Kearny, New Jersey - 2004

*

"I've been putting your bellows through it's paces for several weeks with mixed reviews. Good news -- smooth, powerful, no-effort pressure flowing through my chanter and drones. Bad news -- no more excuse for playing badly. Good news -- great to have the bellows in the car when I have a flat tire. A few pumps and I'm back on the road."

Jim Reilly
Cross River, New York - 
2004

*

"Hello Mike!
I just wanted to tell you how very pleased I am with the bellows you sent me! They are most beautiful and very functional (the two often, but not always, go hand in hand!) - the clever plastic locks on the straps was greatly admired on the last session I was in.

In a month I'll travel abroad - Germany, England and then the Willie Clancy week in Milltown Malay, Ireland - and the pipes will be with me wherever I go. Have a great summer, and THANK YOU for being such a skilled craftsman as well as a real pleasure doing business with! Sincerely,

 Stefan Karat
 Saltsjöbaden, Sweden - 2004

*

"I got it this morning and all I can say is WOW! I don't have my border pipes yet, but it makes the Smallpipes effortless. I can already see an improvement in my playing. I have blown a lot of my money on less than useful piping gadgets over the years, but this is definitely money well spent. Thanks!"

Patrick MacLeod
Atlanta, Georgia - 2004

*

"Hi Michael -
Thank you for such a speedy delivery! I just got the chisel today. I probably will start working on reed making after the holidays; I look forward to it and thank you very much for your help.

I also send you very best wishes from this little Island for a happy holiday season and healthy new year!  Best,"

Ann Wallace
Martha's Vineyard - 2004

*

"Michael - got the bellows and they are magnificent. Like a new set of lungs!
 Thanks!"


Dennis Herbert
Chalfont,  PA - 2004

*

"thank Michael! they really do make a huge difference! regards"

bill accent
philadelphia, pa - 2004

*

"Michael,
I got them yesterday. They are great! I played with them for several hours yesterday, and it was so much easier. I would agree with all the comments on your website. Thanks!"

Peter Walker, 
Hyde Park, New York - 2005

*

"Like one of your other customers, I just took receipt of my second set of Dow bellows, having foolishly sold my first set off with a set of Smallpipes. Your bellows have really spoiled me. I will just never be able to go back to wee puny girlie bellows ever again!"

Name Withheld (at piper's request) to Protect Commentator from Grievous Bodily Harm 
2005

*

"Michael- the Smallpipes bellows arrived, and the pipes were singing in short order. Your bellows extra capacity and efficiency made playing easier immediately, and they are beautiful to look at to boot. 
Thanks again, and hope all is well with you.
Regards, "

John Levelly
2005

*

"Michael, your bellows arrived yesterday. I am indeed a lucky fellow to have a wife who would buy me such a wonder gift. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy them and what a difference it is to use them on my small pipe and border pipe. I have never before really enjoyed my border pipe much because it just seemed such a weak imitation of my highland pipe. I had to play such weak squeaky reeds. Your bellows are so efficient and comfortable. They now make playing my border pipe look like fun, and I now think I can set up an old set of Laurie reel pipe to use with them too. I look forward to a long time of pleasure with my bellows pipes because of you and my wife. Your bellows are a delight to use and to look at."

We wish you well and hope you can continue in your creative life for years to come,

All the best from both Mary and I" 

Ed Lindsey
2005

*

"Hi Michael, 
The bellows arrived last week and have been put to the test. They are really lovely. Definitely a worthwhile investment. The craftsmanship is superlative and they are very comfortable to boot. I can finally play with short sleeves without pinching and discomfort. Now, if it would only get warm enough to wear short sleeves, I'll be in shape. I really like the extra volume; I find it easy to control and helps to focus my attention on the subtleties of controlling the bag more. It's great, really great!"

Matt Willen
Elizabethtown, PA 
2006

*

"Hello, 

Just a quick note. My name is John McCarthy. I’m the guy who, in July drove up from Boston and purchased a set of your uilleann bellows. THANK YOU!! The bellows are great and air tight! I instantly noticed the improvement over my other bellows. They make my pipes more fun to play. The 2 day process of ordering and then having them available for pick-up wasn’t too shabby either! Thanks again. 

All the best, "

John M
2006

*

"Yes, received the blowpipe no problem and everything is working BEAUTIFULLY - good grief, your bellows is the greatest!  My playing is infinitely better because of it.  Thank you so much for all your help as well!  I'll definitely try and get a recording out to you sometime - currently working on a couple of projects.  Talk to you soon! "

Ben Jaber
 
Los Angeles , CA   
2006

*

"Bellows arrived safe and sound yesterday evening, no customs interception!  They work beautifully.  I will probably shorten the blowpipe by about an inch.   Other than that, I'm delighted.  If anyone over here is looking for good bellows, I will send them your way."

David Power
Co. Waterford, Ireland
2008

*

"When I first got your bellows, I noticed they looked much nicer than my other bellows. Workmanship is very functional and clean.  When I started to pump air, I quickly found out I hardly needed to pump to fill the bag. I soon noticed I was not even paying attention to pumping the bellows, as the bag was full with much less work than with my old bellows.  I have been able to pay more attention to my chanter work than worrying about the bag and bellows.
These look good and perform much more than I had hoped for. I would highly recommend these to any player out there. Thanks very much!

Cheers! Make a million!"

Peter Allen
APO England
2008

*

Alternate bellows playing position 

 

Once upon a time, Northumbrian piper Dick Hensold had a very bad bellows shoulder and being a person of great determination and creativity, he found a work-around. He sat on a stool, kicked off both shoes and used his feet to push a bellows that was made to inflate a rubber raft.  A long hose ran from the bellows to the blowpipe and his music sounded great, as usual. This happened beck when the Pipers' Gathering was in the North Hero Village Hall. 

I recently sold a bellows to a piper in England and he sent me the two pictures with the explanation below. By the time he gets his half set his thigh muscles should be ready!

"The reason I did this was my shoulder was not feeling to good from arthritis or bursitis. Hell, it just hurt. It rains here a lot and that does not help. I was looking for ways to make things more comfortable and started experimenting with different positions of the bags and bellows. I even went from a lefty to a righty for holding the chanter. When I put the bellows between the knees, it took all the stress off my arms. I found I was able to concentrate more on the fingering than keeping the bag full. Keeping the bag full with the legs seemed more of a natural motion than with the arm. My arm no longer ached after a practicing."

 

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*

"Hello Michael,

The blowpipe was waiting for me with the mail today I have made a couple of trims to the hose length but everything is airtight.  It feels great to have the pipes back in proper working order.  Overall the bellows have lived up to their reputation but I am equally impressed with the speed and efficiency of your service for both the original bellows and the refitting of the blowpipe. Thank you,"

Colin Everett
New Bedford, MA
2008

*

"Dear Michael,

 The bellows arrived and I am quite pleased with them.  They are better than any other bellows I've ever used and my playing has improved immediately, especially working between the two octaves.  The hose is shorter than the bellows I had been using, so it may take a while to adjust to the new length (I suppose I could replace the hose with a longer one?).  In any event, thank you for an excellent product and courteous, prompt service."

Dan Humphries
Glen Burnie, MD
2008

*

"Hi Michael,

And happy new year.  Hope you and your family had a great holidays.

Just wanted to let you know I love the new bellows. I had my first proper go
on them yesterday, first at home and then out at a session.  Once I got used
to the significantly increased airflow I was away and flying.  Quite a
remarkable difference, especially noticeable when playing the full set with
drones and regs all going.  Easy action.  Comfortable. Beautiful to look at.
I couldn't be more pleased with them.
Thanks so much."
Rick Lines London, England 2008
*
 

mike,

well buddy i knew it would be good, but i am blown away   i played for a couple hours last night  and the ease and grace of your bellows made me smile   my drones sound so different  no buzzy bees with bad wing beats  just this beautiful even hum  man i am a happy dude   i am playing at a gathering this weekend  and will spread the word  i hope to get you a few more orders   thank  you again  i love the look and the feel  it is nice to see real craftsmanship here's to you  mike   thanks   you rock"

John Marrs
Nederland, Colorado
 2009

*

"Hi Mr. Dow,

I received your bellows, and wish to add my name to the list of those who have expressed accolades about them.  They have transformed the way my pipes sound.  Thank you so much.  I wish you good health and every happiness.
Yours,"

Arthur Cholakis
Rockaway Beach, New York
2009

*

"Michael,

I received the bellows on Saturday. They are a tremendous improvement over the bellows that came with the pipes. The larger volume makes it much more comfortable to play. Thank you for the quick shipping."

Paul Harren 
Mystic, Connecticut
2009

*

"I just got the bellows. Beautiful work! I just played my pipes, and I think the bellows will work wonderfully and painlessly. The new valve is a "miracle". I have always noticed a little leak, but couldn't pinpoint it. Problem solved. The hose length is perfect. I'm at maximum winter-weight and it fits just fine."

Charles E. Heckler
Rochester, NY 
20108
*

"Hi Michael

Got the bellows today. They're a great job, very impressive!  I can tell how 
powerful they are, just what I wanted so thanks a million. I write a testimonial 
for your site once my pipes are up and running. All the best."

Brendan Ring 
Caylus, France
2010

*

Michael,

I got the bellows today, Tuesday, October 26 (2010). I am very pleased, as you knew I would be. I still have a problem with that little bony nub on the inside of my elbow. I'm putting up firewood and can't give it any rest or time to heal. Plus, it constantly gets bumped on the wood splitter.

I think that starting off with the elbow not all frigged up, I'd have no problem. Still, your padding makes a vast difference...I could barely play my old bellows at all, it hurt so much. Again, your bellows are superb. They make it so much easier for me to play. Thanks again for all your good efforts and fine work.

Tom Seymour
Waldo, Maine

*

October 28, 2010
Michael,

By gorry, I don't remember ever dealing with anyone so helpful and agreeable. I agree to be your "pad test pilot."

I'll surely let you know how the pad works and I look forward to using it.

Thank you, Michael.

Tom Seymour
Waldo, Maine

*

November 8, 2010
Michael,

Well, I wrote and sent in a piece for a magazine...a day's work for me. And then I used the balance of the afternoon for playing pipes. I did a good 3 hours.

When I began, the nub wasn't too bad, but still sore to the touch. Now, after 3 hours, it is a little more sore. So here's my take on it.

I can live with the pad the way it is...it doesn't aggravate the condition by an awful lot, just a little. I suspect that a greater distance from the bottom would help, however.

So that's my report to you...from your official pad-test pilot.

Tom Seymour
Waldo, Maine

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November 13, 2010
Michael,

I got the new pad Friday afternoon (November 12) and played for over an hour that evening. My elbow was very sore to begin, too, since I had been out with a scythe (no choice there) on some tall grass and that aggravated heck out of it. I wound up my session without any additional pain and didn't feel any while playing. In fact, I got most of "The Haunted House" down, a new tune for me.

Anyway, I think you have found the panacea. I also compared the other pad and saw that the new one allows far more padding before hitting "hardpan," which I already did on the other one.

I just don't see how you can do any better than this present incarnation.

Thank you for letting me be your tester for this.

Tom Seymour
Waldo, Maine

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November 14, 2010
Michael,

I played for a good stretch today, too, and it looks like you have nailed it. If anyone with tennis elbow (or whatever the heck makes that thing hurt so) orders a bellows, now you have a way to supply them with the perfect accompaniment to your fine product.

Thanks again, and I wish you the best.

Tom Seymour
Waldo, Maine

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They look and feel great, though this is a new technique that will take some getting used to.

I realized that my Hamon polymer sackpipa used the same mold for the blowpipe stock and drone stock to save costs, so I just reversed the two, and the blowpipe mouthpiece tapered perfectly into the bellows hose.  It reached a bit too far, so I had to angle it down a bit, but overall pretty workable.  I was able to do a bit of practicing balancing out the bag and bellows pressure, and even with minimal practice I feel I'm getting the hang of it.

So really pleased thus far, and will be taking these bellows with me to the Upper Potomac gathering next month.

Matthew Boris
Arlington VA, 
2011

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Hi Michael,

The bellows arrived before the lunched and I just try it. My first impression is "WHAAA !!" A second lung !!
The bellows work very well, the look and the finish is very great. A bellow for the life.

All the best, 

Jacky Beaucé
Aucey la Plaine, France 
2011

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Well the bellows arrived yesterday afternoon. I opened them up this morning and they are awesome. thanks! Beautifully constructed! Now the challenge is to live up to the instrument. No more excuses about fussing with the parts...  

Sean Brady
Ontario, Canada 
2011

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Decided to take the time and figure out the shoulder holster style strap you sent, and since I had assistance I could have the other person tighten it up on me while I was playing and get it perfect. I REALLY REALLY REALLY like it!! Very secure, the bellows didn't move at all, and I found out how much of my playing was struggling rather than actual playing. It's a little tricky to get in and out of (I feel like I'm wiggling into a climbing harness LOL) but it's worth the time.

Anyway, love it. Solves the bellows slipping issue more than adequately, and for someone who has neck and shoulder issues like me, it's VERY comfortable.

All the best,

Jackie Lewis 
Georgia, Vermont 
2011

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Mike,

I met you at the Pipers Gathering and got a set of bellows form you.  I have been so busy since I got back (painting the house etc.) that I didn't get around  to ordering a new blow pipe to fit them from Bruce until a couple of weeks ago.

I just got the blow pipe from Bruce and hooked up your bellows and they are just great!  They have a very positive feel and the larger size is a big help. I like the more flexible bellows pipe, and also the heavy arm padding.  I was in an accident and have a very sensitive elbow, and the heavy padding works great.  Thank for a great set of bellows!

Greg Latta
Frostburg, Maryland 
2011

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Hi Michael,

The bellows just arrived safely here in Brazil today and I must say it’s gorgeous!!! It’s really amazing how I'm dealing better with the drones, as they are steady, now that the air flow is more continuous (much easier to control). Definitely my piping playing will improve. Congratulations and thank you for your kindness!

All the very best,


Alex Navar
Copacabana
Rio de janeiro, Brazil 
2011

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Hi Michael, 

Received my bellows on the 29/12/11. Fantastic, very comfortable and more air. Will give them a good work out in the next few days.

I have played them a fair bit today. As before I have found them very comfortable on my arm and waist. They do pump more air and I am finding my drones and regulators more stable than before. The second octave is also easier to reach with the extra reservoir of air. Another plus is that the position and size of the bellows seem to make it easier to play my regs. All in all a better and ergonomic bellows. 

Many thanks. 

Shawn Thomson
 Sydney, Australia 
2011

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Michael, 

The bellows arrived yesterday and hooked right up to my set no problem. The difference was immediate. I am much more comfortable playing and no longer “chasing air”

Thanks.

Michael Cantillon
Forest Hills, NY
 2012

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I got the bellows yesterday. Very nice. Everything fits together nicely. I had a nice bellows before but I still felt I was struggling to make enough air. I remembered playing one of yours at that tionol and that it had more volume. I think it's going to work for me. I can play more notes on a cycle and that makes it easier.

Steve Allerton
Key West, Florida 
2012

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Michael:
 
Bellows and belt made it just fine.  Love both and I'm sure I'll get many, many years of use.
 
Thanks and Regards,
 

David Barber
APO, England 
2012

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Michael,

Bellows arrived thanks. Lovely big bellows and very well made. I'm only having to pump at half the rate I did with my old set. Can't believe I struggled with my old bellows for so long, yours are brilliant.

Thanks again. Regards.

Neill Connor
West Midlands, UK 
2013

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Mike,

Just got the bellows!! What a beauty! I can't get over how soft the pads are! I absolutely love the straps and the sleeve guard.  The straps are very easy to adjust and make getting in and out of the pipes really easy. The sleeve guard is just brilliant! The action on the bellows is very smooth and consistant. Everything feels so sturdy - I am very pleased! Can't wait to get off work and give it a whirl! Can't believe how quickly it came.

All the best!

Adam Modares
Bloomington, MN 
2013

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Hi Mike,

Got the bellows today. Actually they tried to deliver it yesterday but I was gone.
 
They look great.  They are very comfortable as well.  More comfortable than the other two bellows that I have.  I did the bag inflate test.   It took 3 1/2 pumps to fill the bag.  That is a 1/2 pump better than my best and 1 pump better than the worst.  The hinge seemed to hold the paddles in good position.  One of the other bellows has a leather lace holding the two paddles at the hinge and the paddles squirm around some while pumping.  The other has a leather hinge that squirms a bit but yours keeps those paddles moving squarely in the hinge.  I like that.

So thanks for the bellows.


Bob Keenan 
Portland, OR 
Bobkeenan Photography
 http://www.bobkeenanphoto.com
2013

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"WOW! 'Tis a handsome piece of craftsmanship, sleek and elegant, much greater volume / capacity than expected, and STRONG!!!! You could pump up the Hindenburg with such a machine!  Thanks to my new bellows, I am back on the road again. The lapse of my 36-year-old original bellows must have been creeping up on me for a long time.  The reeds and tone now benefit greatly from the strong, steady airstream.  I also appreciate the extra capacity (estimated ~40% over my original). I may have to exchange an anemic middle drone reed for a strong singer. The bellows is not only quiet and super-functional, but an elegant work of art in black leather and ornate brass. This piper found Michael communicative and responsive to pipers’ questions, easy to work with, his shipment is extremely expeditious, and his wares arrive responsibly packed, as well.  

 Séamus (James) Dunning
Atlanta, GA 
2013

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Got 'em, Mike. Lovely work! Much appreciated. Cheers!

Jim McGillivray 
McGillivray Piping Inc.
15800 Yonge Street
Aurora, Ontario
L4G 3H7 Canada
905-727-5553
jimmcg@piping.on.ca
 
2014

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Having fun playing which I can now do twice as long with half the effort. Wish I had them starting. Great job! Thanks.

 John K. Burchill
Salina, Kansas 
2014

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Hi Michael,

After having the bellows for a couple of weeks and putting them through the paces at regular sessions they've lived up to my expectations and much much more. You really thought of every detail in construction and the increased efficiency of the bellows has enabled me to add a level of control to my playing that I didn't have before. 5 stars all around. Thanks so much Mike!

Daniel Jalonski
Worcester, Massachusetts
2014
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Hi Michael,

Greetings from me and my elbow,  I have now taken delivery of the bellows and have been giving them a workout for most of the afternoon and they really are fantastic bellows. I agree entirely with all the comments people have made on your web-site and beyond. They do everything I had hoped for and more. An incredibly efficient bellows, my weary old elbow is immensely grateful to you as is the rest of me the rest of me.

Thank you most kindly. All the very best to you. 

David Wright
Barwon Downs
Victoria, Australia
2014

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Hi Michael

The bellows finally arrived today, very happy with them, definitely no leaks.
Thanks so much Michael, the bellows should really help me to get back to some good playing.

Kind regards.

Jack Brennan
Bellevue Heights
South Australia,  Australia
2014

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Hi how are you Michael, I got the bellows 19th may ....and I can telling you it's fantastic, extremely effective and beautiful piece, an art opera and also looks great with my full set. I'm sending you a photo. Thank you again and congratulations for your art. I'll recommend strongly among my piper friends.

Luis de la Cerda 
São José Dos Pinhais, Brazil
2015

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Hello Michael,

Your amazing powerhouse of a bellows arrived at my doorstep at noon today and 10 minutes later I had it in action.
The connectors work perfectly and the smooth action of your bellows makes piping even more of a delight than before.
Your attention to detail, the elegance of all your fittings, and the choice of leather and wood are absolutely Top Class!
Come closer to Christmas and I will hoist a glass of rum and eggnog to your good health and luck.
            

All the Best!
John (one happy piper) Wood
London, England
2016

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Hi Michael, 

Yes sir -- I got them Friday. I was able to setup the bellows adapter with the Banton pieces, so life was easy.  I had a chance to play the bellows and, WOW! Just like you said, super improvement, everything is instantly more in-tune and more steady. Love it. Thank you!!

Mark Douglas
PEI, Canada
2016

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Greetings, Michael!  

The bellows are a dream. I even played the border pipes in a concert Saturday night for the first time in public in almost ten years. Now I realize how I hard I had had to work previously with a faulty bellows. 

In fact, I am so inspired by now being able to play everyday with considerably more ease that I thought it might be worthwhile to find an instructor who is well versed in border piping. Might you have any suggestions? I would be willing to travel pretty much anywhere in the northeast to do this. 

James D. Hicks
http://jamesdhicks.com/bio.html
Bernardsville, NJ
2016

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Hi Michael. 

They have arrived safe and sound! I finally had a good chance to try them last night and they are fantastic. I've previously had bad bursitis in my right shoulder and have recently had shoulder surgery (acromioplasty) a few months ago. My old bellows were really not helping in this regard and required lots of pumping to keep my pipes going. The new bellows are brilliant and so efficient, requiring far less work. After all my shoulder problems, it looks like now I'll finally be able to play properly again. 

Thank you!

Tom Stafford
Parkside, South Australia, Australia
2017

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The bellows are absolutely fantastic. Every single detail has been paid attention to and they function incredibly. I attached them to a set a border pipes that were difficult to play and can’t believe the difference they make. 
Thanks very much Mike! 

Dave Burns 
Billerica, Massachusetts 
2017

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I took delivery of my bellows today Monday that is a day ahead of your optimistic schedule. Holy cow, that was fabulously quick!!! I am still in a state of disbelief that they (USPS) offered that kind of super quick service for the same money. And over the weekend too!! 

(Sent from York Maine on Friday Morning and arrived in Lockerbie Scotland the next Monday! Sent by Priority Mail Express International Mail) 

I am absolutely delighted with both their appearance and efficiency. Thank you for your amazing service.

Scott Wylie
Lockerbie, Scotland
2017

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I had heard for years about how great Dow bellows were from many pipers, and had admired the beauty and craftsmanship. After a recent recommendation by an accomplished Uilleann piper whom I admire and respect I finally took the plunge. Michael has been a delight to work with. He shipped the bellows on a Saturday and I received them on Monday! Theses bellows are everything I had heard and more. A joy to play, comfortable and really reduces the work on my shoulder and elbow! My only regret is not ordering them sooner! Regards,

 Rick Hall
https://fourleafpeat.com/
Knoxville, Tennessee 
2017

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Hi Michael, 

Can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the bellows. They have met and exceeded my expectations. Some old injuries to my wrists and shoulder have made playing with the bellows from my original practise set more difficult to maintain. After reading the info on your website, I was pretty certain from your descriptions that your bellows would make a significant change in my mechanics. Sure enough, these bellows are absolutely fun to play and have been perfect in the tension relief they provide. And of course, they are beautiful to look at and to strap on. I suppose I'll have to find another set of pipes on a par with my bellows. Thanks again for the fine workmanship. 

Tim Patterson
 Lynchburg, Virginia
2017

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Howdy! 

Love the bellows. My right arm isn't flapping in the air anymore gasping for breath trying to keep my pipes going. I play border pipes with a contra bass so my smallpipe bellows can't keep up (blame the contra). This is also gonna allow me to tighten down my chanter reed to get a more balanced drone sound, and hopefully a "bigger" drone sound. Right engine for the body. 

Glenn E. Bailey III
Santamonica, California
2017

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Click Here For Bellows Prices

 

Rowsome bellows restoration

 

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The first 7 pictures deal with the various and seemingly endless leaks any old bellows will have. Unless there are cracks in the clappers, those leaks can be found in either the blowpipe, gusset and/or valve.
The blowpipe leaked at its attachment point with the back clapper and at the boxwood end.
The leather part of the gusset was pretty good but the naugahide use to line it cracked in numerous places and leaked. Glue failure was also noted. 
The last picture shows the new double leather gusset ready to go.

 

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A new valve flap was made three layers thick out of two pieces of leather - one thin and the other thick. Note the pre-bent tail. After tying in, an appropriate size ball bearing was used to deliver the "dish" message to the leather and help keep it there. It is the inside radius of the valve holder that seals and not its flat face. 
On picture 4 and 5 please note the 4 small holes surrounding the larger bellows hose hole. Clear evidence that another method of attaching the hose to the inside clapper was initially used. The last picture shows the new plate and brass tube exit the 4 holes seem to indicate. More on this below. 

 

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The first 2 pictures show how the old, leaky hose was lined with stiff but thin plastic sheeting. The end was pushed through the large exit hole in the inside clapper and stapled to the hole sides. A tapered  boxwood tube was (not shown) was pushed into the hose end and nailed to the clapper hole sides to keep it from being pulled out. 
Picture 3. The thin sheet plastic hose liner cracked and collapsed at some point and a stint made out of stiff, more modern hose was inserted into the hose. The hose itself was airtight because it was two layers thick and held together with contact cement.  
Picture 4, 5 and 6 depicts a repaired and modified boxwood end, the new rubber hose attached to it, the leather sheath and finally the fully assembled hose. With this method of delivering air from bellows to bag, the hose can be detached from the bellows curing dreaded "hose erection" which makes packing more difficult and causes unnecessary bends and crimps in the hose when in the case.  

 

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The clapper edges show that these bellows previously had at least 1 new gusset and probably 2. The wood was "fastener sick" and provided no solid wood for more gusset fasteners. 
Picture 2 shows the 3/4" slot I cut in the edge.
Pictures 3 through 6 shows the method of marking, cutting and fitting and gluing the spline.
The excess spline was trimmed off leaving new wood to accept the new fasteners.   

 

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The first picture depicts the outside clapper valve hole. All holes in wood will, over time, go from round to somewhat oval. After some slight lapping to make as round as possible, I glued a bit of sheet cork to the hole edge. This will absorb any differences in the clapper hole and the valve holder sealing cylinder circumferences. 
Finished bellows restoration using original gusset cover. 
Note the spelling William Rowsome used on the name stamp. "Rousome." 

 

 

Scottish Smallpipes

I currently have two sets of Scottish smallpipes for sale and they look similar to the set you see directly below. Others sets are less fancy and consequently less expensive. The are pictured further down on the page. All sets are made from select, hard and very stable American honey mesquite. This type of mesquite the fancy sets is figured and commonly referred to as "burl eye" mesquite and it is exceptionally handsome. 

The fancy sets are mounted with mineralized bone - the hardest, most dense and most interesting animal product I have ever use. The bone on the fancy sets are is slightly off-white in color with small, dark flecks. A very handsome material! 

All drone tuning sections are lined with thin wall brass tubing for uniform and effortless tuning.  

The two other sets are less fancy with handsome, straight grain mesquite and wood mounts. No bone mounts with these but everything else is the same. They come with one of my Ssp bellows, MacHarg gooseneck, "no season" bag, blanket wrap and case. A less expensive alternative to the fancy sets that sounds and plays the same.  

The chanter plays in the key of "A" and is "voiced" to the tenor drone singing in "A." That is "A" as in "A 440" or concert "A" and it is voiced (the act of tuning the individual notes) at 16" of water column pressure. I include this technical stuff for those of you so inclined. Suffice to say, they play at a very comfortable pressure and all the chanter's notes are concordant to the drones. The base drone is in "A" an octave below the tenor and the baritone drone sings the chanter's "D" note. Each drone has it's own fancy bronze stop pin and the common stock has three holes for storage of the same.                              

My smallpipe come ready to play with everything you will need. More expensive sets include the pictured bag cover and sleeves are made from a nice quality, light green twill. The chanter's  detachable stock (or "split stock" as some call it) has an end cap and the famous "Walker bar" over the end which prevents reed damage from curious fingers and other odd accidents. A wool wrapping blanket is provided to cushion movement while traveling. All come with a sturdy case with plenty of room for music and other accessories.  

Price in my shop - cash, bank check or money order          $2,800
Payment via Pay Pal                                                             $2,900

Shipping is extra via Priority Mail for domestic orders and International Priority Mail for foreign orders. Sturdy packing and insurance are included.

Guarantee

I guarantee all of my work against failure due to workmanship and material. This guarantee extends to the original owner only and has no time limit. Naturally this excludes acts of God (kids, dogs, hurricanes & etc.), extremes in temperature and/or humidity and acts of craziness or negligence by the owner. This includes maintenance on or adjustments which are not specifically, recommend by the maker. Repairs or modifications done without my consultation by persons other than myself or those appointed by me will void any expressed or implied guarantee.

 

 

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I have one elegant set currently available. The first picture details the ferruled ends of unfinished drone top and mid section pieces showing the brass lining and chamfered ends. 
Completed drone tops (tuning sections) and mid sections. The mounts on both sets is of the hardest and most beautiful material I have ever used - mineralized jaw bone. This material is bone (not tusk or tooth) and so is 100% compliant with all current CITES law. Please see full product description below. 
Completed drone bottoms (standing" sections) with bone mounts. 
Assembled blowpipe with its stock.
Blow pipe and stock exploded view showing the bullet proof "Little Mac" bag valve that I use on all sets. 
These are the fanciest smallpipes I make and they take many, many hours to manufacture. 

 

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Two completed sets without bag. 
Two sets of drone tops and mid sections.
Chanter top and drone bottoms in their stock with bag cover. 
This is how the complete set comes. 
Pipes and bellows wrapped up snug in their blanket in their case.
Two different views of the detachable chanter stock. This allows the chanter to be removed from the bag for storage without exposing the reed. The bar across the top (known affectionately as (the "Walker Bar") prevents reed damage.  
Piper George Monohan with his new smallpipes in my shop in October, 2010.

 

The two sets below feature fancy turning but do not have bone mounts and a few other amenities. They are less expensive than the sets above but sound the same and are built with the same attention to detail that goes into all of my work.  

 

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I currently have two sets for for sale that look like these 9 pictures. They are both made from American honey mesquite, a domestic hardwood of superior stability I pioneered using for bagpipes in the early 1990's. 
Picture two & three highlight their fancy turning.
Picture four highlights the Little Mac valve I have always used on all of my bagpipes. It always works and there is no maintenance. 
The last picture shows the swan neck bag made by Michael MacHarg out of 4 oz, air tight leather. Very supportive allowing for easier playing.    

 

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The first three pictures show my detachable chanter stock. Called a "split stock" by some makers, I developed this feature years ago to allow for the removal of the chanter from the bag without exposing the reed. The small bar soldered across its opening prevents reed damage. The large internal diameter allows for the reed to have plenty of shoulder room to facilitate reed removal, adjustment and re-inserting into the detachable stock with much less risk of breaking a corner. Usually the death knell for chanter reeds. This larger I.D. for the chanter reed's home was an innovation I made and have used from the very beginning of my pipemaking. Bitter experience repairing other maker's pipes and reeds gave me the idea and direction.    
The third and forth picture show the darker, more fancy mesquite used for the ornamental ring and chanter soul.  
The last picture points to the inside chamfer on all holes to facilitate incretion of the tuning pin without fraying the hemp. Another of my early innovations not found on other pipes at that time.    

 

The fancy turned smallpipes featured above are made with the same care and attention to detail as my more expensive smallpipes. They have the same drone configuration and differ only in appearance, not quality, tone or ease of playing. They do not have the brass lined tuning slides and bone mounts. The wood is of superior quality but not the burl eye mesquite in the more expensive sets. The reeds and valve is the same. They do not come with a bag cover or covers for the chanter and bass drone tuning section. The detachable stock does not have an end cap. The kit comes with a case, blanket wrap and one of my regular Ssp bellows. They are a pleasure to play and exhibit the same attention to detail as all of my work. 

Price in my shop - cash, bank check or money order          $1,900
Payment via Pay Pal                                                             $1,980

Shipping is extra via Priority Mail for domestic orders and International Priority Mail for foreign orders. Sturdy packing and insurance are included in the shipping costs. Exact shipping price is dependent on where they are shipped to.  Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions. 
 

 

I have always looked upon music as an art form and the instruments that man has devised to make music are objects of art. So you have an artisan instrument maker who makes the art object (musical instrument)  which, in turn, is used by another artist (musician) to make another art form - music.  An interesting and wholesome circle. 

If you find yourself being curious about alternative bagpipe forms then you may want to consider checking out another interesting web site and the event it is devoted to.

The Pipers' Gathering: www.pipersgathering.org 

 

Smallpipe Testimonials

 

I played last night at a Christmas party.  There were about 50 people and we met in a clubhouse built into the back rooms of an actual, operating boat-works in Greenport, NY...  The pipes sounded sweet and everyone love them.  No one had ever seen Scottish small pipes before and everyone remarked how great it was to listen to piping that is not loud and intrusive. 

I just finished playing your small pipes about 5 minutes ago.  I still can't get over how much fun they are to play.  I've been adding a bunch of new strathspeys, reels and jigs to my repertoire.  It is just such a pleasure to play good, complex tunes on these pipes.

George Monohan
Southold, NY
2010

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Dear Mike,

I have been playing a set of your Scottish small pipes for about four years now and thought I would drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoy them. They are utterly reliable; I know that anytime I take them out of the case they will play.  No messing about adjusting reeds, summer or winter they strike up in pitch, and with cane reeds that is not easy to achieve.  Congratulations on your reed making skills.

The finger spacing on the chanter is very comfortable and I can easily play for a couple of hours without any strain whatsoever.  The absolute air tightness of the bag and bellows must also be a factor in this.

Thanks for a great set of pipes!

Richard Shuttleworth
2013

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Michael,

Pipes arrived tonight, and the pictures do not do them justice. They are gorgeous!! I love them!!! The set is beautiful, and I am thrilled that I purchased the set from you!! 

Thanks again! 

Daniel McNamara
Kearny, NJ
2017

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Hello Michael!

The replacement bellows hose arrived this afternoon!  That was fast!  It is PERFECT.  I already tried it in my smallpipes, of course, I'll cut it back some, but it's ok longer.  I am so so so happy I'll be able to play at our dear family friend's funeral next week! Thank you again for the part!!! 

As you know, I have been playing your smallpipes since 1996, and the quality & sound are still outstanding over 20 years later.  Fine craftsmanship, attention to detail, the pipes are absolutely perfect in every way.  When I'm playing, these smallpipes feel like an extension of myself, they are so natural and nearly effortless. Your smallpipes practically play themselves!  When I'm asked how I get my smallpipes tuned so well, I like to say that you tuned them in 1996 and they stayed tuned that way!  The sound is bright & clear! 

Thank you, Michael, for perfecting the art of creating heirloom Scottish Smallpipes! 

Warmly, 

Linda (Thompson ) Stout 
(former piper with the Worcester Kilties)
 Winslow, Maine
2017

 

Belt Buckle and Belt

 

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For a long time I have been wondering what my bellow valve sleeve guard rosette would look like as a belt buckle. This past winter I finally got the time to make it up and get it cast. Just like the sleeve guard, the buckle it is hand cast from jeweler's bronze in Brunswick, Maine.

The belts are all 1 1/4" wide and made from 8 - 9 oz. (around an 1/8" or 3 mm thick) English bridle leather made from American hides. This leather is used for English and western tack and belts. The front side has a beautiful lustrous finish and the back has a smooth finish. Available in two colors - chestnut brown and black. All edges are slightly rounded and dyed black. 

The buckles are 1 3/4" in diameter and attached to the belts by two brass Chicago screws. That means you can take the buckle off the belt without cutting anything. Rivets are permanent and snaps come loose. 

Size - You need to give me your accurate waist size. Please measure it and be accurate. I am not going to take it back because you thought you are smaller than you really are! Typically, the end of the belt is around 7 or 8 inches longer than the hole I punch for the measurement you give me plus a few holes on either side. Belt lengths are limited. 

 

Belt Buckle and Belt Prices

All prices are subject to change without notice. I try to keep these in stock at all times. 

Belt Buckle and Belt sold in my shop -                              $60.00
Buckle alone -                                                                    $40.00
Price includes 5% Maine sales tax.

Shipping out of Maine but within continental USA and Canada. 

Belt & Buckle payment by bank check, money order or Pay Pal - $65.00
Buckle alone payment by bank check, money order or Pay Pal  -  $47.00

Domestic shipping via Priority Mail. Delivery confirmation and insurance included in the price. Takes about 3 business days. For Canada, shipping may take a day or two longer due to customs.

Architectural Woodcarving LLC
Michael A. Dow
27 Pudding Lane
York, Maine 03909
Phone/fax: 207-363-7924
madow@maine.rr.com

 

 

 

Shooting Block 

These cherry shooting blocks are made by me and are 5 3/8" long x 1 3/8" wide and have the arc of a 1" diameter circle uniformly milled along their length. They have been made long enough for either uilleann or smallpipe reed slips. The chisel stop is made out of 1/4" Delrin and can be turned 180 degrees in both directions to provide four stop surfaces. It is held on with two long brass wood screws to provide for easy change. The bottom is surfaced with sheet cork as is the table edge stop. The cork helps keep the block from shifting on the table when in use and also prevents scratching. They look too good to use and should last a lifetime. Tung oil finish. 

 

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Shooting Block Price

Domestic Price includes shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.A.  

Domestic payment by bank check or money order -   $50
Domestic payment by PayPal -                                     $52

Architectural Woodcarving LLC
Michael A. Dow
27 Pudding Lane
York, Maine 03909
Phone/fax: 207-363-7924
madow@maine.rr.com

 

 

Uilleann Pipe Common Stock 

These common stocks are made out  of American Honey Mesquite. I make Scottish Smallpipes out of this material because it is more stable than any other domestic wood. Mesquite common stocks I have made have never shrunk enough during dry, Northeast winters to throw off their ferrules. 

The switch shaft is solid 3/16" brass rod. Although the pictures do not show it, that rod runs snugly up through a piece of brass tubing pressed down into the center hole. This gives a very nice, smooth on/off motion and the fit is so uniformly snug, there is little if any air leakage.   

On the other end, the valve is made out of a faucet washer with a bit of leather glued onto the flat face. It seats against a 1/2" diameter X 1 1/4" long piece of brass tubing that has been sunk into a counter bored hole. The traverse holes that feed the drones are cut through the tube after it is in place. As you can see, this tube sticks up proud of the end of the stock by about 1mm and provides a very positive seat for the valve. 

 

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I stole both of these ideas off the stock of my 1933, Patrick Hennely "D" set. Hennelly, like every other pipemaker I have known, liked to experiment. One way or the other, both are good ideas.   

I incorporated another worthy idea from that Hennely set. The hole for the tenor drone is 7/16" diameter. Holes this small can sometimes be a pain in the neck to the reed that has to fit down in them. The reed can hit the side of the hole if it is not very straight in it's seat. Also, if weight is added to the end of the tongue, this can sometimes hit as well. This problem was solved by making the 7/16" hole only as long as the pin on the drone. The rest of the hole was bored out to 1/2" diameter. A 3/16" hole was gun drilled as a pilot for each of the five and the holes bored with a piloted countersink or piloted end mill as they are sometimes called.   

 

Domestic Price includes shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.A.  

Domestic payment by bank check or money order -  $400 
Domestic payment by PayPal -                                    $415
Foreign payment by PayPal. Includes shipping.         $475

Architectural Woodcarving LLC
Michael A. Dow
27 Pudding Lane
York, Maine 03909
Phone/fax: 207-363-7924
madow@maine.rr.com

 

Uilleann Pipe Bass Drone in the key of "B"

It was a long winter (2004-5) on the Southern Maine coast and I used part of it to complete two bass drones for two half set both for Bill Thomas "B" chanters. One is mounted in moose antler for piper Tom Wilsbach from Portland, Maine and the other was for myself.  

Other than the material used for the mounts, the bass drones have another interesting feature: they are, in the words of pipemaker Bruce Childress, "serviceable." That is to say that both the tuning and standing portions of each drone can be completely taken apart and put back together. The pictures are of the tusk mounted drone and show how.  

 

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Standing part of the bass drone almost completely taken apart. The right bend could be unthreaded from the short, straight piece.
Three views of the bend section assembled. 

 

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Standing part of the bass drone completely assembled. What is not shown here is the internal thread on the end of the blackwood reed and tuning pin turning.  Look at the first picture in the first row above. The threads are on the inside of the left ends of the two, blackwood turnings on the very bottom of that picture. The outside end was first wrapped with two layers of Kevlar thread that was then soaked with thin super glue. This acts as a thin but very strong ferrule and prevent the end from cracking when taping and tightening. These two turned pieces are slid up into the two brass tubes and screwed into the threads at the end of each brass bend at the end of the tube. A single 080 brass machine screw secures the blackwood from rotating in the only direction it can.

 

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The bass drone's tuning section from completely taken apart to fully assembled. The small, brass brace that connects the two ends of the bend prevents the ornamental tusk piece from breaking. It should be noted here that all wooden and tusk pieces that fit directly over metal tubing are reamed to fit loosely on the tubing to accommodate seasonal dimension change. 
The completed Bass drone is pictured below. 

 

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Testimonial from Tom

From the Irish uilleann bagpipe chat list

Many if not most on this (uilleann pipe) list are Yanks; for those who are not, this post was inspired by the recent American Thanksgiving holiday. The holiday's purpose is self-evident, and its celebration includes a huge harvest feast often accompanied by some thoughts on "what I am most thankful for this year."

Very high on my list this year are my new drones for a B set, made by Mr. Michael Dow of York, ME, with whom I have been playing tunes and swapping lies now for a good ten years. Michael has some photos and details on these drones and the similar set he made for himself on his website (www.archcarving.com), but I have to say loudly and publicly that these hummers are outstanding. If you had kittens that purred in three octaves, that would give you an idea of their sound: not overwhelming in volume, but perfectly blended. And the workmanship is of the highest order. Thanks, Michael, for this wonderful set! My hat's off to you.

Tom Wilsbach, Portland, ME - November 11, 2005

 

Arundo Donax in Southern Maine

Here are a couple of pictures from the past. By 1992 I had managed to get some Arundo Donax to grow in my garden and these pictures show those plants. The top of my fingers are about 8' above the ground so the plants were 12' or 13' tall. Naturally, it took a few years to get them this high, although I do not remember how many. I do know that we had a very cold winter and the frost went pretty deep and killed them. The interesting part is that I live in Southern Maine, maybe 2 miles from the coast. So, with more mulch these plants might be growing today. I still have some cane from these plants but none was quite large enough to make into reeds.  Maybe it's time to try again.   

 

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