Solo event discussions

Does Silver Improve the sound?

Makes it Better
Makes it Worse
No votes
It's the wood not the mounts, it's just for bling value.
User avatar
By Robo
What do you think?
I am undecided considering all the factors, but a great many top pipers play silver mounted pipes.
There are the notable exceptions such as JDH, Al Hanning, Stew, Greg Wilson and occaisionally Hawkie when he is playing his Tuesday Bagpipes.
Is it for tone or vanity?
User avatar
By George
Bling Value
and it makes it easier galavanting around the countries from the Ivory persepctive and alot more complicated from the 7kg carry on persepctive
Robo I think it is more to do with the quality of the wood but having said that Stu Eastons new set look and sound absolutely magnificent. I might be a bit of a vain bast..d but I am thinking seriously of selling much loved Sinclairs to get one of these bright new shiny jobs.
And probably will regret it but looks are..............


Lance T
User avatar
By Ellery Jnr
Sets with silver on them are generally of a higher quality, I mean why put silver on a set of pakistani beer crates. So if its silver mounted , very genrally speaking its probably going to be a sweeter sounding instrument. Of couse there will always be exceptions !
User avatar
By Dave
I very much doubt that silver mounts make the instrument sound sweeter or better at all. A good set of pipes is a good set of pipes - the amount of silver on them really just adds to their value - as does their heritage/quality of combing/condition etc.

George has already pointed out good and bad aspects of silver when travelling abroad. Another problem I have noticed with some full silver mounts is on cold days, condensation can build up inside the drones underneath the silver. Also, I am sure the coldness of the silver will have an effect on the drone pitch and cause instability - much like direct harsh sunlight rapidly raises drone pitch.

I'd still love to own a nice set of silver mounted pipes though :D
By John Broadwell
Silver makes no difference per se to the sound a set of pipes makes, as mentioned before silver and ivory were only generally used on the better quality sets coming out of the workshop. Thus the better sounding sets were SI mounted.

Full silver sets are considerably heavier compared to full imitation ivory mounted sets. Not a consideration for a solo player but on a long competiton day or band parade!?!?!

I believe the combination of silver and ivory mounted on African Blackwood pipes is the most aesthetically and intrinsically pleasing material combination, even though the sound is not affected directly by these decorative materials.

LT, why would you consider moving on a good old set of Sinclairs for a modern shiny job? Sinclairs are a very high quality pipe, easy to reed and have quick locking, rock steady drones. I'd stick with an old used pipe anytime over a new job. Older pipes seem (subjective I know) to have a more refined tone and more subtle harmonic depths, a new pipe will have a slightly less smooth tone until it too has been played regulary for 25 years. Don't aks me the physics of this phenomenon, though I can hazard a guess.


John B
User avatar
By Glyn_Mo
I don't think having silver on the drones makes burger all difference as there are enough great sounding sets of pipes from various makers out there without any silver on them. I suppose it's feasible that only pipes made out of the best wood would have silver put on them (although not in the case of McCallums apparently).

I've never had a chanter with a silver sole (Robo does! :mrgreen:). However, I have heard people say they reckon a silver sole adds a bit of brightness?

...Need to add another question to the poll, asking whether people who think silver makes no difference, actually have any silver on their pipes or not. Possibility for bias here!
John B I totally agree with what you are saying, Sinclair drones are very easy to set up and have a wonderful rich tone. I remember when Jack Phillips refurbished them he said that he had never struck such extremely hard African blackwood and said that it was rare to find these days. I have played these pipes for a long time and I just thought I would try some thing new my choice is probably either Strathmore or McCallums but I havent made a firm decision yet.


Lance T
User avatar
By Robo
It is interesting.
I tend to agree with the concensus that the better quality wood was reserved for the silver pipes. (More expensive)
It is the wood that makes the most difference.
MacDougalls were the obvious exception, funnily enough most guys I know with the old digerydougalls have had problems with cracks forming. (Something to do with the part of the wood used and how it was too hard and not flexible enough.)
Glynn Mo you cheeky so-and-so the silver sole is on a practice chanter.
I have played silver sets in the past but never struck the ultimate for me.
I have heard the "Magic Flutes" and I know exactly where they are and they are silver mounted. (Can't get my paws on them sadly)
I have noticed in the band that the guys with silver mounts have more problems with moisture when the temperature changes.
I think I sense another poll in the same vein about types of pipes.
User avatar
By dunedin_drummer
One day, our chrome drum hardware will be replaced with Silver! Until then though, we will rely on the bling of the sparkle wrapped drums!
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