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The Dunbar Millennium 2000 Practice Chanter
Kitchen Pipe with Dunbar "Extra-Long Millennium 2000" Practice Chanter
Made in Canada
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During the past 400 years or so, makers of bagpipes in the British Isles as well as in Continental Europe have sometimes diverged from building the familiar large, powerful pipes that are typified today by the Great Highland Bagpipe and have also created a wide variety of small, gentle-sounding pipes. These can be grouped under the overall term smallpipes. Some, like the French Musette, are highly complex while others, for example early Northumbrian Smallpipes, are quite simple. In general, they are intended as indoor instruments and have sweet, low-pitched tone.
Aside from building the classic smallpipes such as the French Musette, Northumbrian Smallpipes, Scottish Smallpipes and so on, modern makers have followed their predecessors’ habits of striking off in their own directions, with varying results. Some makers, such as John Walsh and R.T. Shepherd, have been very successful, building beautiful and popular (though not inexpensive) instruments. Others, attempting to produce & market cheap "parlor pipes" using semi-skilled labor have infested us with evil-sounding wall-hangers.
A rather obvious concept in this direction is to create a smallpipe using an ordinary Highland practice chanter together with one or more drones. A huge advantage of this approach is that the practice chanter can be used by itself, conventionally, or it can be plugged into the pipe in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, the pipe maker is freed from the complications of constructing a chanter, as these are readily available from many firms.
This approach has been taken many times by professional and amateur makers, but the results either haven't been generally available in any quantity or at a reasonable price, or they have been rather crude, using lengths of off-the-shelf metal or plastic tubing for the drones and, sometimes, unsuitable materials for the bags.
Recently, a Canadian company has addressed this issue, with excellent results. Using "Delrin" (also called Polypenco - a machinable structural synthetic well established as an excellent material for bagpipes by high-end pipe makers such as J.Dunbar Ltd., among others) and modern manufacturing techniques, this maker has overcome the problem of matching high quality with low price. The resulting bagpipe, marketed under the trade name "Kitchen Pipe," is now widely available from bagpipe suppliers.
Overall, the "Kitchen Pipe" as issued by the Canadian maker and as sold elsewhere is a nice enough instrument. However, it comes from the maker with a serviceable but undistinguished chanter (made by another firm overseas) that just isn't in the same class as the Dunbar.
Because nobody really needs two practice chanters, and because we (and a whole lot of others) have found the J. Dunbar Ltd. Millennium 2000 practice chanter to be so outstanding at its regular job, we undertook to see if it would be possible to upgrade the Kitchen Pipe to incorporate this fine instrument. By luck the sizes of the stocks of the Kitchen Pipe and the corresponding two halves of the Dunbar match - the Dunbar chanter and Dunbar blowpipe plug right into the pipe. We make one modification to the blowpipe airway, to allow for the passage of the extra volume of air required by the bag and the drones. This does not affect the performance of the Dunbar when used by itself as a practice chanter. Not only does the Dunbar sound better than the standard chanter in the pipe, but it is an excellent choice as a practice chanter for any piper and will be the only practice chanter needed for a lifetime of piping.
So, we arranged with the maker to supply us with the Kitchen Pipe without the chanter. Thus we are able to provide the Kitchen Pipe fitted with the J. Dunbar Millennium 2000 practice chanter. We are also able to provide our customers who have previously purchased this practice chanter from us with just the parts they need, at substantial savings.
If you are considering the Kitchen Pipe as your first entry into piping, you will need a tutorial to begin working with the practice chanter. We offer the long-established standard, the College of Piping "Green Book" with audio CD, or the first three volumes (with three accompanying audio CDs) of the outstanding John Cairns "Bagpipe Solutions" series. For guidance, please see our extensive description of both of these tutorials beginning here. If you have further questions about which tutorial will best suit your needs, feel free to contact us.
Note: It should be clear from the above description that it is the upgraded chanter of this pipe, as provided through us here at The Universe of Bagpipes, that is made by J. Dunbar Ltd. - the rest of the pipe is made by an independent Canadian maker. J. Dunbar Ltd. has nothing to do directly with the instrument, other than that they have no objection to our use of their excellent chanter in this upgrade.
The construction of the Kitchen Pipe follows more or less conventional smallpipe practice. The Kitchen Pipe has two drones, a tenor and a bass, coming from a common stock. These are very well made, with decorative turning and with conventional tuning joints. All of the parts are machined with no cheap moldings anywhere, and all of the parts are made for the pipe, with no clunky attempts to use off-the-shelf plumbing bits or such. The practice chanter's top half serves nicely as the blowpipe. The blowpipe stock ( "stocks" are the short tubes, tied into the bag, into which the various pipes themselves plug) incorporates a short part that carries the necessary flap-valve that keeps air from moving back to the player. (Bagpipes usually have this valve built into the blowpipe itself - practice chanters don't need them.) |
Joints are hemped, with the conventional unwaxed yellow variety, and are thus easily adjusted. The Dunbar chanter employs o-rings rather than hemp.
The drones and reeds are mounted on a common boss (C) and plug into the stock (A), which is tied into the leather bag. The tenor drone (D) has one sliding joint (E), while the bass drone (F) has two (G & H). The tuning pins (I), on which the sliding joints mount, are fitted with teflon tape at their ends, which provides a good seal and smooth movement while tuning and is easily adjusted or renewed as needed. Unlike a Highland pipe but in keeping with common practice for many smallpipes, the drone reeds (B) are of the double-bladed type - just like the reed of a Highland chanter or practice chanter. In fact, the drone reeds of the Kitchen Pipe are practice chanter reeds; thus all three reeds are the same, which has obvious advantages. Furthermore, while the Kitchen Pipe is provided with high-quality synthetic reeds made by John Walsh, almost any brand will work. As anyone who has ever owned a non-Highland bagpipe knows, having replacement reeds readily available is extremely important.
UPDATE, JANUARY 2010: The bag, heretofore leather, is now a high-grade synthetic made especially for the Kitchen Pipe by one of the leading bagpipe bag makers in the UK (Bannatyne). This is a distinct upgrade and the change has been made with no increase in price! (That is due to a general rise in price of quality leather, a corresponding decrease in the price of synthetics, and a reduction in labor costs.)
The pipe is supplied with a nice padded black nylon zippered soft carrying case. Just as with a Great Highland Bagpipe, the top two bass drone sections are removed from the pipe to stow it in its case.
Included Carrying Case
1-foot ruler for scale
Cover Colors: The bag covers are velveteen and are usually black or dark blue. If you have a special need for a particular color, please contact us. Be aware that bagpipe covers are very simple structures that can be quickly made by anyone who can run a sewing machine - so if you want a pink shag-rug cover or flaming dragons or such, get yourself the cloth and use the provided cover as a pattern.
Note: October, 2007: We've now been offering these upgraded Kitchen Pipes for about five years, and have placed several hundred sets in the hands of both beginning and established pipers. The feedback we've gotten is most enthusiastic. We get occasional questions about the "musicality" of these pipes. The Kitchen Pipe, though small and inexpensive, is not at all a toy. This is a real bagpipe and a fine musical instrument, with a rich sound which while not loud has a firm and dignified presence. It may be hard to imagine this, given the not-very-exciting sound of a practice chanter by itself. But the magic of bagpipes lies in what happens to the sound with the addition of drones - as listening to a Great Highland Bagpipe chanter played by itself without drones demonstrates dramatically.
Kitchen Pipes are on almost always on hand, available for immediate shipment.
(If we run out, we always have more on the way.)
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