The instrument-maker

Swedish bagpipes

The Swedish bagpipes

The Swedish bagpipes, which is distinguishable by its warm, soft sound, has got many friends throughout the whole world.

My reconstruction of the so called ”Västerdala” pipes is a mixture of the ten preserved instruments we have in the country (there not one is similar to another!). Furthermore my studies of related bagpipes from the continent have been of great benefit.

The Swedish bagpipes is a so called clarinet-instrument, as the sound is produced through a single reed which sits on a cylindrically drilled chanter. Traditionally it is a mouth blown instrument with one short drone (high tuned) which is identical to the lowest tone on the chanter (6 fingering). There is also a single reed in the drone, as in almost all drones.

I build pipes in three different keys: C/F, D/G and E/A. The mouth blown has one or two drones, if more are desired then I recommend "The northern uillean pipes" ,
the bellow blown Swedish bagpipes with three drones.

Northern uillean pipes

or the modern Swedish bagpipes

While I was busy reconstructing and getting to know the Swedish bagpipes, I thought a great deal about further development of this wonderful instrument. The idea was to focus more on the musicians` requirements and also on the practicality of the bagpipes than on being "historically correct".

I started by increasing the range (including semi-tone intervals) and made bagpipes in different keys, but I wanted more:

  • more tuneable drones each one with separate valves for switching on or off
  • a more reliable instrument with better tuning stability
  • a sound  concert instrument with many possibilities
  • at the same time keeping the typically genuine, warm "Swedish" sound

But it is not always so easy to have control over the single reeds. Besides which, if one has more than two, it can be hard work. Satisfactory plastic reeds which sound approximately like genuine reeds, have not, up to now, been produced.
The solution is a bellow blown instrument instead of mouth blown, that way one avoids all moisture, which is the biggest villain for all wind instruments.

The model is built (like all of my instruments) in different designs and different types of wood with normally three optional drones,
but otherwise with the same chanter as for the  Swedish bagpipes,
C/F, D/G och E/A.
Fingering & range E/A
Fingering & range D/G
Fingering & rang C/F

Northern uillean pipes