Bagpipe Cleaning Information
Just as the soldier pays strict attention to the care and cleaning of his rifle so should the good piper never neglect his instrument in order to obtain the best results from it.
Great care is essential in removing the pipe chanter from the stock as this is the most delicate & fragile part of the instrument as well as the most important. So, when removing the chanter, grip it by the head & turn to the right or clockwise. The hands should be kept close together, one on the stock & the other on the head or bulb of the chanter, should the pipe chanter become stuck in the stock allow the hemp to dry. If the hemped joints need re-hemped make sure that rosin is applied to the first layer of hemp to ensure a good grip on the wood, from our own experience we find that a double strand of hemp is more satisfactory to enable an even coverage. On the outer layer of hemp a thin application of paraffin wax (rubbed on from a candle) should be applied occasionally to help lubricate and waterproof the joint. Alternatively, a layer of PTFE (Plumber's tape) can be applied covering all the yellow hemp.
If you are in hot, dry conditions woodwind oil can be applied to the inside of the drones using a "pull-through", this should not be over done as the oil tends to attract dust. Over oiling will flatten the pitch of the instrument until it has completely dried in. It can also cause a certain amount of condensation. The great advantage of the use of the oil is that it helps prevent the pipes from cracking & also keeps them clean & hygienic. Incidently, never use an oil or fat which contains salt.
The outside of the pipe can be maintained using a good quality beeswax based furniture cream applied using a lint-free cloth and a soft brush used to clean the combing. Regular daily playing is the best treatment for any bagpipes to keep them in tip top condition & after use the best treatment is to dry the wet parts with a cloth & use the "pull through" to dry out the inner bores, dryness and heat will affect your pipes more than dampness.
The skin pipe bag should be seasoned regularly, the stocks and blowpipe being kept free of the preservative & here again we point out that daily use will keep your bag soft. May we point out here that one of the most frequent causes of leakage is the shrinkage of the pipe bag around the stocks & particularly around the blowpipe entry, having the stocks retied and the bag seasoned will obviate this complaint. No set period can be laid down for this work as it is influenced by the amount of wetness from each piper.
In regard to dressing: there is many mixtures each with its own claim as the best but a good seasoning should put a good film on the leather & should not seep through the pores and get on the cover and the uniform. Rub it well into the bag with a circular motion and work it well into the seams especially. Do not forget to clean the bag of moisture at regular intervals.
Put the drone reeds in straight & see that they fit snugly. Never have wobbly reeds especially in the case of the drone reed seat, as, owing to the length of the reed it is liable to touch the side of the stock and cause irregular sounds. Hold your pipe chanter reed NOT by the cane but by the hemp. Press this into the chanter seat & see it is straight. Pay strict attention to this detail.
Polish the mounts regularly if of silver or metal & keep up the sparkling appearance of the wood by the use of a beeswax based furniture wax.
In regard to the appearance of african blackwood it may surprise, many pipers to know that the wood is very rarely black. The colour is usually a red-brown & will only turn to black after some time. Good pipes are made from the heart and the manufacturer leaves the wood in the natural colour as he is proud of his selection of wood. Sinclair pipes are supplied only in the natural wood colour and no dyes whatsoever are used.
Copyright Wm Sinclair & Son © 1906 --
Pipers be wise, Sinclairise!