Dunbar's New World-Class Synthetic Great Highland Bagpipe Chanter
Oliver Seeler's
~ Universe of Bagpipes ~

Now Available Directly From The Universe of Bagpipes:

The "Elite"
A World-Class Synthetic Great Highland Bagpipe Chanter
by J. Dunbar Ltd.

Only $165.00 U.S.

Plus $8.00 S&H via USPS Priority Mail

Dunbar's new world-class chanter
J. Dunbar Ltd, of Canada, Great Highland Bagpipe Chanter

If you need a new chanter for your pipes,
consider this outstanding instrument.

The bagpipes of the Canadian firm J. Dunbar Ltd. have long been considered excellent instruments by the piping community. The "P" series synthetic pipes (described extensively on this site) have earned the respect of pipers everywhere, not only for their unequalled durability and price-to-performance ratio, but as first-class instruments regardless of cost.

Dunbar bagpipes are normally supplied with a chanter made by the firm. This may seem obvious - after all, the chanter is central to the instrument and so one might assume that a pipe by so-and-so would be fitted with a chanter by the same maker. However, this is often not the case. There are numerous pipe makers who build drones and the rest of the pipes, except the chanters. Furthermore, many experienced pipers find themselves preferring the sound of one maker's drones and another's chanter. Many pipers use more than one chanter, switching to accommodate different musical or environmental demands.

A Great Highland Bagpipe chanter is a radical example of the class of instrument typified by the oboe - that is, it has a conical (tapered) bore and is driven by a double-bladed reed. As you know, it is an extremely powerful instrument. It is also extremely sensitive to minute changes of dimension. Simple enough at first glance, there is a whole lot more going on in the construction of a Highland chanter than meets the eye. The location, shape and undercutting of the large finger-holes in the thin, tapered walls is critical. The bore may incorporate varying degrees of taper along its length. Minute changes in the length and diameter of the throat, just below the reed-seat, can have dramatic effects on performance. Even the external dimensions come into play, because the wall thicknesses at the finger-holes affect acoustic characteristics.

So, bagpipe chanters, though they look simple enough at first glance, are in fact extraordinarily complex devices and though two chanters may look very much the same, their sound and playing characteristics may differ widely. Like a violin, a given chanter might sound dusky or bright, weak or strong, smooth or raw and so on. Any halfway decent lathe operator can produce a set of playable drones - the various parts are straightforward and while some procedures, such as creating the long cylindrical bores, are not easy they involve straightforward techniques. But a chanter is another matter altogether.

The most glaring failures in chanter construction are seen in the bagpipe-like objects made overseas in near slave-labor conditions, hawked in large numbers on eBay and by dealers who should stick to things they understand (harps, drums, whatever). (As I point out elsewhere, these "bagpipes" are what they are not necessarily because of lack of skill or ability of the makers, but because of the demands of cheapskate, unscrupulous exporters, importers and retailers). While with much fussing the drones of some of these unfortunate instruments can be made to work acceptably, the chanters are almost always hopeless.

It is also common to find an older or antique set of pipes without a chanter, or with a replacement chanter by another maker. Such a pipe isn't really considered to be compromised or missing anything; while it's nice to own the original chanter issued with an antique pipe it is much more important to have one that works well. So a set of, say, Hendersons (a famous antique brand) is not particularly diminished, in most eyes, by the lack of an original chanter, and the prevailing attitude is that over time it is normal for chanters to come and go on a given pipe.

Older wooden chanters sometimes are unsuitable for particular sorts of playing, or have become unstable. Wood is not static, and very slight dimensional changes due to age, environmental exposure, and use can negatively affect the performance of a chanter, much more so than is generally the case with drones, which, if anything, might actually improve with age. Older chanters also may have been made to play in a lower pitch than is used today - another reason why they're often replaced.

Materials: Wood and Synthetics

Elsewhere in these pages I discuss the acoustic differences between wood and synthetic materials in regard to wind instruments; in short, the sound of most wind instruments, including bagpipe drones, is almost entirely a function of the bore configuration and internal surface finish - not of the material of which they are made.

However, in a powerful wind instrument having thin walls, such as a Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) chanter, certain components of the sound energy are transmitted through the material itself. While relatively small, these components do affect the overall sound of the instrument. African blackwood and other very dense, stiff hardwoods have long been used for GHB chanters because these woods yield a crisper, brighter sound than softer varieties.

Synthetic GHB chanters made of normally formulated materials, (including Delrin) are usually not quite as crisp-sounding as is a fine hardwood chanter. However, while redesigning their chanter Dunbar also addressed this issue. Working with the manufacturer of the synthetics, they developed a special formulation of Delrin that is closer acoustically to the hardwoods. The new formulation actually chips, rather than curls, under a knife-blade. The result contributes to the bright sound of this new chanter.

J. Dunbar Ltd. enlisted the help of a number of world-class pipers, including Jim McGillivray, Ringo (Ron) Bowen (Niagara Regional Police Pipe Band) and Lindsay Kirkwood (former 78th Frasier, current Peel Regional Police) during the redesign of their already fine chanter. The new chanter, called the "Elite," thus represents an enormous aggregate of experience of both pipers and pipe-makers.

The new design is also available in Blackwood - please enquire for price and availability.

We've provided a number of these chanters (in both Delrin and Blackwood) since they were first issued, for use on existing pipes. We've also issued a significant number with Dunbar pipes, with which they now come as standard equipment. In that time, we've not heard anything but positive reports about this fine chanter, and we are confident enough of its excellence that we will cheerfully refund the purchase price, and shipping costs, to anyone who buys one and doesn't like it. If you're looking for a new chanter for your old pipe, you can't go wrong with this one.

(Note: We also stock the "Elite II" which differs only in being pitched a bit higher, should you have a specific need for such a chanter.)


J. Dunbar Ltd. Delrin (Poly) "Elite" Great Highland Bagpipe Chanter

US $165.00 plus $8.00 S&H

(Priority Mail - domestic U.S.)

Stock Status:

We have this chanter (and the Elite II) in stock unless otherwise noted here.


Contact & Queries:

Please feel free to contact us by email at bagpipes@hotpipes.com 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:
  • 1. By telephone: This is the least complicated method and provides you the immediate opportunity to review the details of your order with us;

  • 2. By email: We suggest splitting the information between two messages for security (not that we've ever had any problems). We will need:

    • the card number & expiration date;
    • the name and billing address associated with the card;
    • the shipping address if that's different than the above.

  • 3. On Line: We have a secure shopping-cart system on line through which you may use your credit card directly for purchases of most (but not all) items. Please pay attention to the instructions within this system regarding payment for shipping costs. Click on the credit card logos near the the bottom of this page to access this system.

    Note: This secure system is administered by PayPal. You do not need to have (or need to establish) a PayPal account to use it. While free for you, the fees at our end are rather high, so we prefer, if it's not inconvenient for you, either of the first two methods above (both of which also provide direct contact with us, which can be helpful in making sure you are getting what you want and need.) International customers, please contact us for special instructions regarding shipping costs before using this system.

PayPal: We accept payments from the US and internationally directly through PayPal , which we have been using for years with zero problems. Our PayPal account is under bagpipes@hotpipes.com. Expect an email acknowledgement from us in addition to the automatic one from PayPal. If you prefer (or if you aren't so familiar with PayPal) we can send you a "request for payment" through the PayPal system.

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!

To Order by Telephone:

(707) 937-1626

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:

Oliver Seeler
Universe of Bagpipes
P.O. Box 447
Albion, California 95410

Please make your check or money order payable to Oliver Seeler.

To Order On Line by Credit Card:

Click on the above logo

To Order Using:

Go to your PayPal account and initiate payment to bagpipes@hotpipes.com

Always feel free to ask questions and thanks for your interest!

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