~ The Universe of Bagpipes ~
a web site written, constructed, owned and operated by Oliver Seeler

~ The Universe of Bagpipes ~

This site is written, constructed, owned and operated by Oliver Seeler.

Eeeek! Child abuse!xxxxxxxxxxxxxx55 on 5.5.99

Oliver Seeler with his first pipe, at age 4, and 51 years later.

Bagpipes are not new to Oliver. He began playing a Spanish Gaita around 1970, inspired by members of the well-remembered West Coast early music group The Golden Toad and in particular its bagpipe specialist, the late Robert Thomas.

Mendocino coast, early 1970'sxxxxxxxxxxxxxxbusking, San Francisco, 1973

Above, left, Oliver, circa 1972, playing his first bagpipe near his home on the coast of Northern California; above, right, busking in San Francisco, 1973 - thankfully the fashionable bell-bottoms of the pants are not visible. The bagpipe in both of these photos is a Portugese-made gaita in Ash, cow-horn and brass.

In those days non-Scottish bagpipes were rare indeed and Oliver, who had experience with machine and wood lathes and with musical instrument repairs, soon began building bagpipes - something he has continued to do off and on over the years. At first he thought to try to make a living at this, but at that time, in the early 1970s, it seemed that the only people who were really interested in finely-made instruments tended to be more or less, ah, financially challenged and he was unwilling to enter into the drudgery of mass-producing inexpensive bagpipes.

A bagpipe by Oliver Seeler, circa 1973

Above is one of Oliver's bagpipes, circa 1973 and still in daily use, patterned internally after a Spanish Gaita Gallega and with considerable external esthetic modification. The materials are Brazillian rosewood, copper and ram's horn. This bagpipe is fitted throughout with o-ring seals; while makers of some other woodwinds were using o-rings at this time, this may be their first application in bagpipes. Below is a detail of the tenor drone, with the o-rings indicated.

Gaita tenor drone with o-rings by Oliver Seeler, circa 1973

Here are two more of Oliver's bagpipes: Below on the left is a Northumbrian Smallpipe, shown here as it was exhibited circa 1975 in a show of ivory work at the San Francisco Maritime Museum. This bagpipe & bellows is in Brazillian Rosewood, sterling silver and ivory. The leather is mule. The other klunky-looking bagpipe in the photo is not by Oliver.

NSP on exhibitxxSurdelina

Above, right, is a work in progress, a copy of a Calabrian (Italian) Surdelina, in Osage Orange. This very dense American hardwood is bright yellow when first worked, but soon changes to a rich honey brown. This pipe is patterned after an original brought to the U.S. in the very early 1900s by an immigrant shepherd.

Below is a view into Oliver's workshop.

Oliver's workshop, 1999

One day, sometime in the very early 1970s, while busking with his Spanish pipes in San Francisco, Oliver walked into an Irish pub to re-wet his whistle and there sat an equally young man with a most outlandish-looking musical contraption on his lap - Sean Folsom and his Irish Uilleann bagpipe.
A young Sean Folsom, early 1970s
Mutual astonishment - even Highland pipes were a rare sight then and there -soon gave way to a friendship that is now approaching its fourth decade. Between that time and today, Sean has assembled the remarkable collection of bagpipes which is presently centrally featured on this site, and that was the inspiration for it and for the CD Bagpipes of the World, which Oliver produced and edited. In late 1998 Oliver, already two years earlier having launched his much-visited Sir Francis Drake web site, began work on this site. Opened in early 1999, the Universe of Bagpipes has grown with the addition of many features to become the largest and perhaps most-visited site focused on world bagpipes.

Oliver plans to continue this expansion as time and resources allow with additions of practical and historical interest, including things like reed-making instructions, plans for bagpipe construction, reports of interest from piping events around the world and so on. It is hoped that this web site and the CD album will accelerate the already healthy revival of these fabulous instruments, and that this web site, together with the CD or alone, will become a standard reference and educational resource on the fascinating subject of bagpipes. That this goal is being realized is perhaps indicated by the many major web directories, along with organizations such as the BBC and Britannica, that now refer bagpipe queries here.

Oliver Seeler lives with his wife Julie, a painter, and (when he's back home) his son Michael (along with various animals domestic and wild), on Albion Ridge, half a mile from the nearest pavement, in Mendocino County, California (on the coast, about 100 miles as the crow flies north of San Francisco). Aside from his involvement with bagpipes, he has traded in books and antiques, built patent prototypes and such on commission in his workshop, found some success as a writer of non-fiction, and has been active "on-line" since 1980. He was also deeply involved in the the Fire and Rescue Service for over three and a half decades, having been a member of the Albion - Little River Volunteer Fire Department (the only local emergency service) from 1975 until his retirement in 2011, so for 36 years (and two days), serving as an EMT for over twenty years, as Chief from 2000 to 2007, and in a variety of other ranks at various times, including Captain, Assistant Chief, Training Officer, Safety Officer, Medical Officer, Ass't Fire Marshal and of course throughout, Firefighter.

The Universe of Bagpipes Main Page
Front Page:
Universe of Bagpipes
our unique CD ~ Sean Folsom and 30 different bagpipes
About The CD Album:
Bagpipes of the World
browse this site quickly and at liesure, off-line
Now Again Available:
This Site On CD-ROM
a link to our email, bagpipes@hotpipes.com
Email Link:
Comments & Questions

The entire contents of this web site except where specifically otherwise noted are copyright 1998-2014 by Oliver Seeler,