J. Dunbar Bagpipe Maker Ltd.

Why Should I Buy a Dunbar Blackwood Bagpipe?

The answer is quite simple

Quality!!!!

Everything about our bagpipes speaks of quality. There are no short-cuts and no compromises.

Quality Materials

The wood for our bagpipes arrives at the shop as a solid block. Years of experience has taught us that not all ABW is suitable for our bagpipes. Despite what others may claim, there is a significant difference in the quality of ABW and only the best is good enough for Dunbar bagpipes. We pay premium prices for premium Music Grade wood but even this doesn't mean that every piece makes it into our bagpipe. During the boring or turning processes flaws and other imperfections may become apparent. The piece is immediately taken out of production. Other makers sometimes fill worm holes or disguise issues. Not at Dunbar Bagpipes! Wood with issues goes into the scrap box. We don't play games with our instruments or our customers.

ABW blocks arrive with both ends waxed. This helps prevent the piece from cracking during the initial drying period. Our first operation is to bore the block and rough-turn it round. The wood is stacked and stored on the shelf for a period of at least twelve months. This allows each piece to dry further and cure. This process is critical in stabilizing the wood. Many makers take short-cuts here. We do a considerable amount of repair work and retro-fits on other makes of bagpipes. We see the results of makers using unseasoned "green" wood. Dunbar refuses to hasten the aging process or otherwise compromise on the quality of our wood.

Once the curing process is complete (yes, you can tell by its look and feel), we re-bore the part to bring it back into spec. (As I mentioned, the wood will move as it dries during this twelve-month period). Once we're satisfied the wood is ready to work, we rough turn the piece into the final profile on a template lathe. The wood is stored for another 3 - 4 weeks. Our storage procedure is somewhat secret and ensures that each piece is perfectly straight and that each bore is perfectly round.

When the piece is finally ready to be finished, our turners receive the part with a finished-bore / rough-profile state. They hand-turn the part down to its final profile and apply complimenting beading and combing.

Our imitation ivory product has been carefully researched. Not only does it have the same creamy look of natural ivory but it is also very durable. It is not easily chipped like material used by some of our competitors. We believe that it's the best imitation ivory material in the world and that it will stand up to the scrutiny of even the most discerning consumer.

Quality Sound

Jack Dunbar, our founder, worked for Henderson Bagpipes, where he apprenticed in the 1930's. When Jack immigrated to Canada, he had the knowledge of Henderson specs and tooling. His decision was to make his bagpipes in the Henderson tradition, with a few minor tweaks thanks to the knowledgeable input of The Captain, Ken Eller. Dunbar Bagpipes have the same great sound as the traditional Henderson bagpipe.

Our Elite chanters are gaining favour everywhere. They were used exclusively in St. Catharines Braemar Pipe Band and won two North American Championships in 2004. The Elite is easy to reed and delivers excellent sound up and down the chanter. It is also extremely stable making it a smart choice for bands.

Quality Behavior

Not enough is understood about quality behavior. Our bagpipes accept a wide range of reeds without issue. Unlike many of the bagpipes that are made today our bagpipes tune where it is supposed to tune without radical adjustments to reeds or other modifications. They lock in easily and remain steady. Dunbar bagpipes have been played by outstanding pipers in outstanding bands for the past twenty years. They are favoured among those who know and understand quality behavior.

Quality Workmanship

Our procedures and employees have been in place for years. Jack himself taught most of our employees the skills he perfected while making bagpipes so many years ago in Scotland. All mounts, whether they are imitation ivory, nickel, stainless, etc. are securely threaded into place. We have a wealth of experience not only in making one of the best bagpipes on the planet, but also in repairing and restoring sets from around the world and across the ages.

We know bagpipes!

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