~ Universe of Bagpipes ~
Plus $10.00 S&H via USPS Priority Mail
Leather and Synthetic - the Best of Both
This seemingly simple item is as essential as are the pipes and reeds,
and a leaking or ill-fitting bag can be a source of many woes for a piper.
Once upon a very long time ago, someone tied a simple reed pipe - probably a one-piece tube looking much like a stretched cane drone reed with fingerholes burned into it, and a blowpipe, perhaps made of another reed, or maybe a bird's wing bone, into a bag of some sort, thus inventing the ancestral bagpipe. We don't know exactly what the inventor might have used for a bag, but it was likely an animal bladder (bladders having been used as containers for a long time). Over the centuries the simple bladder-pipe (still found in some cultures) gave way to larger bagpipes, many employing multiple drones and/or chanters, for which bladders did not provide an adequate air reservoir. Bags for these larger bagpipes were commonly made of a whole animal skin, cured and tanned, with or without fur, usually tied off towards the rear, with the forelegs and neck providing convenient tie-in points for the drones, blowpipe and chanter (melody pipe). Whole skins are relatively easy to deal with, requiring no sewing or sealing of seams, and are widely used to this day throughout Eastern and Southern Europe and beyond.
It is generally only the Western European bagpipes, as seen from the Middle Ages on, that employ bags fabricated from flat pieces of hide. The advantage of this is that the leather can be prepared much more thoroughly than when using whole skins, and the bag can be made to exactly the desired shape and size. The disadvantage is that there's a long seam involved that must be made airtight, and must be kept that way - any air leaks at all in a bagpipe bag greatly increase the effort required by the piper.
As we discuss elsewhere, such plain hide (leather) bags, if properly made of specially tanned leather, have served pipers well for many centuries and continue to do so. But keeping a hide bag airtight can be a chore, and maintenance in the form of a process called "seasoning," with a gooey concoction, is an occasional necessity. Furthermore, this same process that keeps a hide bag airtight also tends to make it somewhat waterproof, meaning that moisture ends up trapped inside, where it can cause both short and long-term problems.
Synthetic replacements for leather have been tried over the years, the obvious one being rubber. Some Italian and Spanish pipes are commonly found with rubber bags, but the problem is again moisture. The inside of a rubber bag quickly turns into a sauna, with nasty effects on the reeds and eventually on the wood of the pipes. A rubber bag is about as useful as a rubber or plastic raincoat in a hot climate - the inside is soon a soggy mess.
A few years ago bags were developed using high-tech synthetic materials that are airtight but "breathe" so moisture can escape. These have become very popular especially for the Great Highland Bagpipe. The most common of these materials is Gore-Tex, familiar as an outdoor garment material. These bags also incorporate some other things that can make the piper's life easier. Most synthetic GHB bags have integral flexible grommets that seal the bag to the various stocks of the bagpipe ("stocks" are the short tubes that are fixed in the bag and receive the drones, blowpipe and chanter).
An optional feature on many synthetic bags is a large airtight zipper that allows access into the bag interior. This can be handy for a number of reasons, a principle one being that it allows the installation and servicing of various accessories that control moisture and/or air pressure. It's also much easier to retrieve a reed that's fallen into the bag through a zipper.
The "feel" of the bag sometimes affects established pipers when switching from a leather to a synthetic bag. There really isn't much practical difference, but just as wearing a leather jacket feels different than a lightweight synthetic one even if both provide the same amount of warmth, the bags do have a distinctly different feel. A piper who learned on one type will need to adjust to the other, and a common thing that we hear from long-time pipers is that they just don't like the suddenly looser, more flexible feel of a synthetic bag. A further complaint sometimes heard is that a synthetic bag doesn't stay put under the arm as easily as leather, that it tends to slither around under the bag cover. The Bannatyne bag addresses these issues by being made of a lamination, with the synthetic on the inside and leather on the outside. The result is a hybrid bag that performs like a synthetic bag but feels like a traditional leather bag, and requires no special maintainance. The best of both worlds, in other words. A zipper is standard on the Bannatyne Hybrid bag.
The Bannatyne bag is supplied with a removeable internal tube-type water trap.
These bags are available in four sizes, with the recommendation, as with other GHB bags, being to use the "medium" (also called "regular") size unless there is a specific reason for choosing a different size. The bag is also available in left-hand configuration.
All Bannatyne bags are made to the highest quality standards and are manufactured in Scotland by one of the original developers of synthetic bagpipe bags. Aside from the Hybrid model, Bannatyne also produces straight synthetic bags with and without zippers, in various sizes. We stock these as well as the Hybrid and will be happy to quote prices on request.
For those needing traditional leather or other specialized bags, we stock or can provide all of the major brands (Canmore with and without zippers, Gannaway and L & M traditional hide bags, Ross cannister-system bags and others). We also can arrange for bags, both hide and full-skin, to be made to order for non-Highland Western and Eastern European pipes, or to accommodate other special needs. Please enquire.
Please feel free to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (707) 937-1626 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Pacific Coast time (GMT minus 7- 8 hours), seven days per week. We suggest you do so if you have any questions and especially if you have any doubt about the suitability for you of your intended purchase. We're anxious that you get what you need, and we're not interested in selling you something you don't need!
We can accept payment in many different ways from just about anywhere in the world:
Credit Cards: We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards by three methods:
Other Payment Methods: We cheerfully accept personal checks, money orders, wire transfers, bank drafts, cash and so on. Let us know your preferences (or problems) and we'll work with you.
The prices on this site are in U.S. dollars and are current. We never issue surprises in this regard. There is no fine print about fluctuating currency exchange rates or such. You may find some lower posted prices elsewhere, but you will also find dealers who don't update their sites, and/or who add qualifiers to their stated prices, and/or who do not actually stock what they sell, and/or who provide little if any real customer service. Not here.
We can offer modest discounts on quantity purchases of some items - feel free to inquire.
We stock what we sell. Occasionally there are unpredictable runs on items, and/or short re-supply delays. If an item is going to be out of stock for more than a few days you will find a notice to that effect at the top of this box. Fine bagpipes and bagpipe accessories are made in small lots by meticulous craftspeople, not mass-produced & warehoused, and buying them should not be viewed like zipping down to the 7-Eleven for a six-pack. Feel free to ask us to reserve items for you, even if you're not quite ready to order - it will help us, and avoid a possible delay for you.
Domestic (US) Shipping: We usually ship the next business day after an order is received. We normally ship by U.S. Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation, except for small items such as reeds and CDs which are normally shipped First Class. Standard shipping costs are listed with each item's price. We do not attempt to profit on shipping and charge no "handling" fees or such. Our packages are insured by a private company (DSI Insurance) so no signature is required on delivery of most packages. (This also means packages can be left if no one is home - a good thing for most people, but if that might be a problem please let us know.) Priority Mail has been very reliable and fast, taking three days or less to cross the country. If faster shipping is required we can provide Express Mail (two days from here to most US locations) or Federal Express - but be aware that these services are pricey. If you are ordering more than one item, please contact us for shipping costs, which will be less than the total of the respective amounts. We guarantee delivery and in the very rare event of a lost or damaged shipment, we send a replacement first and worry about the insurance etc. later. We ship to APO and other military addresses at no extra charge.
International Shipping: If you're not in the US or at a US military address, please email us for shipping options and costs. We ship something overseas just about every day, so we can offer advice based on experience. We send most medium-size packages (practice chanter outfits, electronic pipes, Kitchen Pipes, etc.) by postal Global Priority Mail, which costs only very slightly more than ordinary airmail and is safe and fast.
We stand by everything we offer, as do the manufacturers and our suppliers. We sell only properly made, high-quality items in the first place, so problems are altogether rare. In the unlikely event of any difficulties, you will be dealing with us on an immediate and personal level. If necessary, we will deal with the maker or distributor of the item on your behalf - we are a major customer of most of them, and have a bit of clout. We (and the makers of the items we sell) are keenly interested in maintaining our hard-won reputations for quality and excellent service, and we do whatever it takes to keep our customers happy!
From 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific Coast time (GMT minus 7 - 8 hours), seven days per week.
To Order by Email:
We try to answer all email within a few hours - rarely, a day at most. If you don't hear from us, something's wrong - try giving us a phone call.
To Order by Mail:
please send your payment to:
Universe of Bagpipes
P.O. Box 447
Albion, California 95410
Please make your check or money order payable to Oliver Seeler.
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Go to your PayPal account and initiate payment to email@example.com
Always feel free to ask questions and thanks for your interest!