A customer calls me and is a little distraught. ""I've only had my pipes for 18 months and I found a crack"" he says.
Let me just say that any good reputable bagpipe maker is going to use the best blackwood available in the market place to put in his/her instruments. I honestly believe that the company that made these pipes did just that. Now, 4000 miles can make a difference in climatic conditions. The maker guaranteed this product for a year. Most of them do just that. Just because one section has a crack doesn't mean the whole set is bad. It's almost like buying a car. It's great when it's brand new, however over a period of time, you might have to replace something. Most of the time with bagpipes, its bags, reeds and hemp. All good bagpipe makers can make a replacement part. Most of the parts would be under $100.00 to replace, so it's not going to kill anyone to replace that part.
Let's talk about insuring against cracks:
1) Don't leave your pipes anywhere you wouldn't leave your dog.
2) If you get your pipes wet, take them apart and let them dry out slowly.
3) Don't be impatient and use a hair drying to speed up the process.
4) Buy a good case and use it.
If you get a crack, you need to determine whether it affects the function of the pipes or whether its just cosmetic. The worst case scenario is that it is a functional crack and has to be repaired or replaced. A repair, is conservatively around $50.00 US and a replacement in most cases depending on the part is less than $100.00 US.
These are the realities of owning a wooden instrument. Don't panic, call and get information and then respond."
Gary Guth is a professional bagpiper with over 45 years of playing experience and has been teaching bagpipes full time for the last 20 years. He has written "Bagpipes For Beginners", "the Bagpipe Hymnal", and " A Piper's Christmas".