If you were like most bagpipers during the St. Patrick’s holiday, you spent a lot of time blowing your instrument. In spite of having a moisture control system, your bagpipes are probably water logged at this point. I tried tuning a fellow bagpipers drones over the weekend and thought I was going to split the wood.
That means it’s time to do a “hard reset”. The first thing that you should do is find a place where no one or thing is going to touch your pipes while they are out of the case. I have an extra table top that I use. Take your pipes apart. You don’t need to remove the cords. Take all of the reeds out of their seats and put a chanter cap on your chanter reed. Unzip the bag and remove the moisture control system. (It probably needs to be cleaned anyway.) If you use a bottle water trap, it probably needs a bleach bath. Leave everything exposed overnight with the bag unzipped.
When you return to them in the morning or after work, you’ll need to check all of your hemp joints. I use waxed hemp on the sealed joints which go into the stocks. I want them to be “hand tight” . If your hemp moves on the spindles, then you need to remove the hemp and rewrap it. When doing the drone slides, I personally mix regular hemp and wax hemp together as I wind it on the spindle. I want my drone slides to be finger tight so that I can fine tune them with one hand. While you’re at it, make sure that you check and see if your cords are tight. You might keep a bag of wire ties in your kit.
I have found that if I perform this operation after a long play like a wedding, parade, or any other lengthy event, my pipes are ready to go for the next performance. If you’re worried about getting the “bagpipe lung disease” doing this on a regular basis will make sure that you’re never a statistic!
Make sure that you have all of the tools needed to maintain your bagpipe!