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A Short Guide to Gibson Ceilidh Pipes

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Before You Play

Your pipes have been set up and tested by us. Before you play check that the reeds are securely installed as they may have come loose during shipment.


Ceilidh pipes (pronounced Kay-lee) are much easier to blow than Highland pipes and it will take a bit of practice in order to achieve the ideal pressure.

Blowpipe Valve

The valve will have to be replaced eventually. Smaller valves made specifically for Ceilidh pipes are available.


Both hide and synthetic bags do not need seasoning due to the light pressure required for playing Ceilidh pipes.

Care of Your Drones

Like any other bagpipe, Ceilidh pipes should not be exposed to extremes of temperature. Examples of this would be leaving them in a car on a summer's day or letting them dry out in the winter months. Less than 40% humidity is the danger zone and left uncared for in this climate your drones could develop cracks. We strongly suggest that you invest in case humidifier.


The outside of the drones can be rubbed down with oil. We recommend Highland Pride Pipe Guard oil, as it does not contain wax or silicones. Oiling lightly once or twice during the minter months should be sufficient to protect your drones. You can apply oil to the bores with a narrow brush.


We do not recommend the use of waxed hemp on Ceilidh pipe tuning pins. The pins are very easily broken due to over-hemping. We find that 100% cotton thread is perfect for hemping the tuning pins as it is easier to apply a very fine amount at a time. Broken tuning pins are not covered by the warranty.


The large stock, which accommodates the drones, is called a common stock. In order to gain access to the reeds it is best to remove the whole unit rather than each individual drone. This will help prevent damaging the reeds. Regular practice chanter reeds are not recommended for use in the Ceilidh pipes. We only recommend reeds manufactured by Gibson Bagpipes. These have been specifically designed to operate at the required pitch and pressure. The reeds are relatively simple to work with. Each reed is identified as C = Chanter, B = Bass, T = Tenor and BR = Baritone.


Unlike Highland pipes you will not need to "strike in" the Ceilidh drones. Just blow them up. If, on doing this you get a squeak from one of the drones simply apply a little more pressure. Take care not to over-blow. Test Low A with High A for a good octave. We do not advise that you make any adjustments to the reeds until you are certain that you are blowing steadily and at the correct pressure. If you have difficulty finding the optimum pressure we recommend under-blowing until you hear the chanter "gurgle". The required pressure will then be achieved by increasing pressure very slightly until the chanter sounds proper. This may take some practice.

Chanter Reeds

The reeds will need some time to settle in. If your chanter reed squeals or is harsh sounding sand lightly on the top half of the blade. Two strokes on each side will be fine. Test the reed in the pipes and repeat sanding if needed. Use 320 - wet/dry sandpaper.

Tenor Drone Reed

This reed should be slightly stronger than the Bass and Baritone. However, it should not growl or squeal. This means it is too strong. As with the chanter reed this can be remedied by sanding. Do this a little at a time and test in the pipes after each adjustment. If you find the drone fluctuates the reed is probably too weak and should be replaced.

Baritone Drone Reed

The baritone drone requires the weakest reed and can be manipulated in the same way as the tenor reed.

Bass Drone Reed

If you find your bass drone unsteady it is probably to weak. This can be remedied by snipping about a thumbnails width off the top of the blade. This will make your bass drone tune higher but it should now be stronger and steadier. If it is now too strong try some light sanding.


Ceilidh pipes can be tuned in more or less the same way as highland pipes. The baritone drone produces the note E. It is the fifth note above your concert A. Once your tenor and bass are tuned just bring the baritone in until it sounds right. It will take time for your ear to tune in to the pitch of the baritone drone. Take time to practice blowing your pipes steadily. If you cannot blow a steady tone tuning will be impossible. Make sure that you are blowing steadily before making any adjustments to the reeds. These pipes are very easy to over blow.


Unlike Highland pipes your Ceilidh pipes are in the key of A. This means that your A should be the same as that on a piano. Your low A being at the third octave. The Low A should be 440Hz. The chanter scale differs from a major A scale because it has a flattened 7th (High G). The pipe scale is made up of one full octave with the 7th flattened plus one note below (Low G). Your notes from lowest to highest are as follows: LowG LowA B C# (# = sharp) D E F# HighG HighA

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