For centuries, the idea was to play wet with both the bag and reeds being moist. Someone decided, however, that if we could keep the reeds dry and stable that the tuning would also remain stable longer. They were right! Above are a variety of moisture control systems manufactured by different bagpipe makers. I personally have used most of them and can give you an opinion on them. However, the last thing that I want to do is confuse you. First of all, not everyone needs a moisture control system. You would need one if you play all of the time and, as a result, your bag is dripping wet. I am such a wet blower that even with one of these moisture control systems I literally have to dry out my pipes with a towel after playing for 30 minutes at a wedding. I tried most of these products over a period of time. They are all good products, however, you may determine that one in particular is your favorite. Again, I think that the best product for you is the one that your Pipe Major or instructor recommends.
I don’t have personal experience with the “Highland Reeds” product. However, I have sold many of those based on a teacher’s recommendation. The next product is the Gibson “Quick Release Water Trap”. This is a product that I used for some time. It was a good product when it first hit the market and has been improved recently with the introduction of a shammy plug inserted into the end of the tube. Before, as the moisture expanded, it leaked into the bag. With the new plug, there is minimal leakage. The product uses a “split stock” meaning that by grabbing the ferrule and pulling it away from the stock, you are able to remove the tube with out unzipping the bag. That means that your bag zipper will last longer. While I personally have never used the Ross Canister System, I have sold many of these again based on a Pipe Major/teacher recommendation. In this system, the canisters are filled with “kitty litter” and need to be changed on a regular basis. It is installed inside of the bag with tubes running from all of the stocks except the blow stick stock. You blow the hot wet air into the bag and it is “dried” before it gets to the reeds. Personally, I think this is a bulky product and it needs a special case to accommodate its size.
Currently, my favorite moisture control system is the new Gibson Universal MCS. This product is installed at the bottom of the blow stick stock. The canister has a rolled up shammy inside that does the job like no other. I can literally get 4 hours of playing out of this product before I have to change the shammy. As I play a lot, I make it a habit to change the shammy once per week. At that time, I put the whole thing in a bleach bath to clean it up and insert the spare shammy into it while the first one dries for next week’s installation. Thank you, Jerry Gibson. He has produced an excellent product!