I'm going to start off by saying that if you don't play the bagpipe or are just starting to play don't buy a set! The first thing that you should own is a Practice Chanter and a book. You should also hire a teacher to teach you how to play with technique. The Great Highland Bagpipe is all about rhythm and technique. People who only play by ear, well, they stink.
As there are many components to a set of pipes, the absolute best set of pipes that you can buy are a set prescribed by your mentor. I personally have a preference of pipe maker, bag, reeds, tools and case. Your teacher might have a different set of specifications based on what he uses and knows. You want your pipes to contain products that your teacher/pipe major/mentor know how to manipulate to get the best performance.
The bagpipe makers that I have listed on my web site are the top bagpipe makers in the world. My business represents all of these makers. If you ask my opinion, my favorite at this time of my life is Dunfion which is why they are listed first. The others are in alphabetical order. They're all good brands. The question is this: What bagpipe does your teacher/mentor/pipe major play? How does he have it set up. What would he tell you to buy? Those are the most important questions that you should be asking. When you do buy bagpipes, they should be made by Scottish craftsmen whether here or the UK. They would all be minimum of African Blackwood. India and Pakistan were at one time British Colonies. The Pakistanis' actually made pipes for the British Army and still make bagpipes. Their pipes are made in most cases of Rosewood, Sheeshamwood or Cocuswood which are porous woods. When you blow hot wet air into porous wood it expands compromising the tuning of the instrument.
I also sell a variety of bags, reeds and tools to complete your bagpipe kit. Again, these products should be purchased based on a recommendation from your mentor.
One final thought. Having a Mentor in the bagpipe world will save you time, money and aggravation is this endeavor. Don't be cheap! You should be able to pull this out of the box in about 2 to 5 years. At that point you can enjoy playing solo or with groups for the rest of your life!
If you'd like to buy a bagpipe, the first thing that you should do is sit down with your mentor. If you'd like to buy it from me, fill out the form on the bottom of the bagpipe page. When I receive it, I will price up a complete bagpipe kit with your specific items. Complete bagpipe kits come set up with cords & cover of your choice in a case. When you receive it, it will be ready to play.
If you are a Bagpipe Teach, Pipe Major or Mentor, you might be interested in our Affiliate Program.
Not getting help on a purchase this so important will leave you with an instrument that may be unplayable. If you have to replace all of the components to make it work, you should have spent more money to start with. Always start with 3 things: a practice chanter, method and teacher. After that you'll enjoy years of playing a great instrument.
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".