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Instrument Fundamentals

Continuously build and tweak your bagpipe sound from the ground up.

Objectively, we all know that all things of quality are built on a strong, high-quality, well though-out foundation. Bagpipe sound is no different. The foundation of an excellent bagpipe is excellent, fool-proof instrument setup. The bagpipe has to be assembled and maintained properly. From there (and only once this first step is tended to), the question is - what skills and other elements will produce the best possible quality of sound? Once you have produced the quality of sound you want, then (and only then) you can fine-tune your bagpipe to bring it all together.

At the Dojo, our three main Instrument Quality fundamentals are put together in our figurative "Bagpipe Tree of Sound." Explore the tree below.

Bagpipe Maintenance

Bagpipe maintenance is the root of the bagpipe tree of sound. If the instrument isn't holding air and operating efficiently, there is no way that Tonal Quality or Tuning can be achieved. At the Dojo, bagpipe maintenance begins inside the bag, and works its way outward, doubling checking that there are no parts of the bagpipe that are leaking or taking too much air. Bagpipe maintenance and efficiency, in other words, is the process of making sure absolutely no air is wasted whatsoever.

Click here to learn the fundamentals of good Bagpipe Maintenance.

Tonal Quality

Many pipers around the world, including a shocking number of "top" pipers, assume that, after putting together a well-maintained bagpipe, the next step is to tune it. This could not be further from the truth! The next step must be to develop a great bagpipe sound, otherwise known at a great "tone." Tone is produced by blowing the optimal amount of pressure into your pipes in order to hit the "sweet spot" of your chanter reed. No degree of tuning will make up for a bagpipe that is not pleasing to the ear.

Click here to learn the fundamentals of good Tonal Quality


Obviously, tuning is a major part of getting a good sound on your pipes. However, tuning is impossible without first having tended to the first two big steps in the bagpipe tree of sound. Tuning, to use the metaphor again, requires the foundation built by good Maintenance and Tonal Quality.

The next thing to stress about tuning is that only a small part of tuning relies on the quality of your "ear." At the Dojo, we stress that logic and strategy are the biggest components to tuning your instrument, not a magic ability to hear whether or not it's in tune.

Click here to learn the fundamentals of good Bagpipe Tuning.