Ross Canister System and Pipe Bag
This Ross system provides Excellent Moisture Control. The moisture amount can be adjusted to suit your needs for both the drone reeds and the chanter reed. If drone plugs are used, they must be fitted before installing the drone hoses. If they require adjustment, the process becomes more time consuming since the hoses must be disconnected and reinstalled after each system test.
The basic installation steps are simple. The system is a well thought out design and a complete instruction booklet is included. The pictures and text are very helpful. The hoses and canisters are also color coded. The zipper must be lubricated with a special waterproof grease which is included. The Pipes will require a larger case for storage due to the bulk of the canister and the hoses. Additional care must be taken not to crimp the hoses during storage periods. Caution must be used during installation to NOT over tighten the clamps which could possibly crack the stocks. Make sure the clamps are only tight enough to keep the bag airtight. The clamps are a little bulky and can snag the bag cover or possibly scratch an adjacent wood component. The system without drone plugs can be more difficult to strike in or cut off. Proper practice can overcome this problem.
The system works very well. There is a Limited Warranty for 6-12 months - bags can be returned to Ross for repair. (Keep in mind you will be without a bag if you have to send one to Australia for repair. The system makes for a heavier set of pipes. Not essentially needed for beginners. The Ross Sytem is currently the most expensive system to purchase. The relatively high cost of the Ross bag does not insure extended bag life.
Canmore Pipe Bag
Canmore is made from a special "Gortex" material. The bag is designed to be airtight, while letting moisture pass through. Very simple installation for the drone and blowpipe stocks, however, the chanter stock must be tied on. It is also possible to tape the chanter in place to protect the bag with additional tape and an automotive type clamp could be used. Caution must be used during installation to NOT over tighten the clamp which could possibly crack the stock. The zipper version is slightly easier to install, since the swan neck shape is closer to the diameter of the chanter stock and there is not as much extra bag material. This shape also makes for a better chanter placement and more comfortable feel than the non zipper model. Special rubber sealing tape is included which is a little tricky to use. The bag feels a little "spongy" compared to hide. This makes for a more difficult strike in and cut off. This will require some additional practice. The bag has been well proven and has an excellent track record. Good solid performance. The zipper must be kept lubricated with special waterproof grease, which is included. The bags are backed up with a 2 year full warranty. A tube type watertrap may be required in damp conditions. The zipper version is included in the standard set up for Shepherd Bagpipes. At Henderson's, we use the Canmore Zipper as our standard for most sets. Canmore pipe bags do not include a step by step installation instructions. Seems to wear well and provides a fairly long bag life.
Bannatyne Synthetic Pipe Bag
Like Canmore, these bag allow moisture o pass through. Probably one of the easiest bags to install. Special collars seal to the stocks. Tape can be used to insure the system is airtight, but in most cases is not necessary. The chanter stock can be clamped or tied on. The zipper must be kept lubricated. Waterproof grease and one clamp is provided Well designed for a comfortable feel which is stiffer than Canmore and closer to hide. Bannatyne bags come with a choice of a tube type water trap or the newly designed water trap sleeve. This is a spring assembly with a nylon sleeve that wraps around an absorbent sleeve. Bannatyne bags are the suggested default pipe bag for all McCallum bagpipes. One year warranty.
Bannatyne Combination Hide/Synthetic Pipe Bag
Just as easy to install as the synthetic bag. All the same attributes - plus more of a hide bag feel, very solid. Hide exterior, synthetic interior. For those that want the traditional feel of a hide bag, plus the lower maintenance and greater hygiene and of a synthetic, the Bannatyne Hide Synthetic may be the answer. Special collars seal to the stocks. Tape can be used to insure the system is airtight, but in most cases is not necessary. The chanter stock can be clamped or tied on. The zipper must be kept lubricated. Waterproof grease and one clamp is provided. Easier "strike ins" and "cut offs".
Shepherd Hide Bag
Similar to Bannatyne - except the system is currently designed as a synthetic zipper bag inside with a separate hide outside shell. The amount of moisture can easily be monitored by examining the water bottle . Only the inner synthetic bag is airtight. The Shepherd Bag includes a tube type water trap. Since there is a cavity between the inner and outer layers the playing temperature is more constant and perceived by Shepherd to be an improvement over some of the other combination bags. Good stiff feel. The Shepherd bag has gone through a series of design changes to improve quality. As a company, Shepherd Bagpipes, has made the decision to only offer full Synthetic or Synthetic/Hide combination pipe bags for their pipes. Easier "strike ins" and "cut offs".
Hide Pipe Bag
The Standard cowhide bag is still a viable option for pipers. Hide was the only type of bag for hundreds of years. The proliferation of synthetic bags, zippers and a host of add-on accessories for the bagpipes, has made using a hide bag a real matter of choice. There are still very valid reasons for choosing a hide bag. They are excellent bags under most circumstances. When playing for extended periods or if used in extremely moist climates, a blowpipe stock watertrap or tube type watertrap is recommended. The hide bags are stiff, comfortable and available in a variety of sizes. Since the holes for the stocks are generally cut in, the bags can be custom fit for any individual. Pipers come in all shapes and sizes, so the ability to position the drone stocks and blowpipe stock out side of the normal positions can be extremely valuable. Comfort is a key factor when playing the pipes, so a hide bag may be the right choice for you. A hide bag is more difficult to install, and requires some practice to get the stocks tied in correctly. If you have never tied a bag on, you may want to send your stocks to a dealer to have this one for you. We suggest visiting a bagpipe dealer if any special requirements are needed o the bag can be properly "fitted". Easier "strike ins" and "cut offs". Hide bags also need to be periodically "seasoned". This is done to keep the bag supple and airtight. We suggest Hardie's Airtight Seasoning.
Sheepskin Pipe Bag
Often called the "Cadillac" of bags, sheepskin is the choice of many top solo players and pipe bands. It has all the characteristics of a cowhide bag - but it is more supple, and allows moisture to pass through more quickly. It dries out so quickly it requires frequent playing to keep the system at the proper moisture level. Sheepskin bags are really geared to the professional player or anyone who devotes a great deal of time to playing. Like the cowhide bag they come in different sizes and can be fitted and tied in to suit ones size and needs. They are comfortable and responsive. In addition, many player feel sheepskin bags provide the best tone. The drawbacks to the sheepskin bag are they are costly, difficult to tie in and have a relatively short lifespan.