July 7, 2022

The first question of bagpipe maintenance is: “Is my bag airtight?”

This is a question you should quite literally ask yourself as you pick your pipes up out of the case.

If it’s been a while since you’ve played OR if you have any reason to suspect your bag may not be 100% airtight, do the following test:

  1. Cork up all of the stocks, with the exception of the blowpipe.
  2. Blow your bag up as tight as humanly possible.
  3. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. After 30 seconds, you should not be able to blow more air into the bag.

Simple, right? As long as you can’t get more air in, you now know that logically, this bag holds air!

If you aren’t tight…

If it is leaking, do the following in order (while the bag is still mostly taut with air):

  1. Put your ear to the flapper to ensure there is no hissing (indicating leaking air).
  2. Semi-vigorously twist your stocks to ensure a tight tie-in. (Grommeted bags – is there any indication your grommets are giving out?)
  3. Listen/touch along seams of your bag for any holes or obvious leaks.
  4. Ensure there are not any cracks in any stocks.
  5. Ensure zipper has been recently lubricated (if applicable).
  6. Hide bag players now consider seasoning, especially if the bag doesn’t have its optimal gooey coating on the inside.

About the Author

Andrew is a prolific practitioner of the bagpipe, active at the highest level of pipe bands, solo competition, teaching, and creative endeavors for the past 20 years. He was 2017 & 2019 World Champion with Inveraray and District Pipe Band, 2017 Winner of the USA Silver Medal for Piobaireachd, 2008–2013 Pipe Major of Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band, multi-prize winner of Silver Medals at Oban and Inverness, and the 2004 B-Grade Winner Strathspey/Reel at Oban. 

Andrew published his debut and award-winning book, Finding Bagpipe Freedom, in 2021. He's also an Accredited Bagpipe Teacher and Examiner (Scottish Qualifications Authority) and holds a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University.

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