"What Is Hemp?"

"What Is Hemp?"


Hemp is the thread that is used to used to make bagpipe joints airtight and sealed while still allowing them to slide against each other.

Traditionally, hemp, also known as industrial hemp, was a thread or cord made from the fibers of the Cannabis sativa plant. Since hemp fibers are good at absorbing moisture, they usually would be coated in beeswax or cobblers wax, a mixture of beeswax and resin.

Modern hemp is usually made out of cotton or linen fibers. It generally comes in three spool forms for Highland bagpipers: plain yellow, waxed yellow, and waxed black. Plain yellow and waxed yellow hemp are made of cotton fibers spun into a thin string. Waxed black hemp is made of linen fibers, slightly thicker than the cotton. Both waxed varieties of hemp are coated in paraffin wax.

The two types of yellow hemp are good at absorbing moisture and tend to swell when exposed to it. Black hemp does not absorb as much moisture and the heavy paraffin coating creates a harder, slightly sticky surface.

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David Lairson David has been playing the bagpipes for over 20 years. He is an instructor and soloist with the Palm Beach Pipes & Drums and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band. David is active in the Florida competition circuit, and when he is not practicing or playing he works as a computer technician. He currently lives in sunny South Florida.