Leading Scottish makers of Border pipes and Scottish Smallpipes, Garvie Bagpipes have built up an enviable reputation over the years, particularly with the younger generation of professional pipers in Scotland, for the tone of their pipes and the quality of their craftsmanship.
Nigel Richard started making border pipes in 1987 and founded Garvie Bagpipes in 1998 . We have remained a small craft based business. We generally make four different sets of pipes in a month and each set of pipes receives our separate attention and, because we offer a wide variety of choice of specification, they can be a completely individual instruments. We do not use copy lathes or computer controlled lathes to mass produce pipes to a fixed design.
We are widely acknowledged to be among the very few makers to have been responsible during the 1980s’ and since for the development of the modern Border pipe. When we started the Border pipes around were not generally reliable instruments, and we have worked hard over many years to put that right. As a result of our work, and the work of two or three other makers, these pipes have become established to the extent that they are now popular instruments for solo playing, folk groups, and traditional music sessions. There is no doubt that with Border pipes and Scottish smallpipes, when it comes to the finer aspects of design, and setting up, experience counts.
However we make other sets of pipes also, and have never stopped developing new pipes and new ideas. The "Garvie Session pipes" we launched in 2003 are now well established, and early in 2011 we brought out or "Reel" or 3/4 pipes in A, see the entry under pipes.
There are differing views on this. For many years the individual makers have made bellows pipes to order, and some makers have had long waiting times - in the case of certain Uillean pipe makers this can be 8 years and more! Some pipemakers have said that it is "Worth waiting for the best", this may be true but clearly nobody is going to wait for ever however much they want a particular set of pipes. On the other hand bellows pipes that have been available "Off the shelf" in the past were not generally perceived to have had a great reputation. This does not mean that it can’t be done, but obviously a instrument maker cannot offer a wide variety of choice and immediate delivery at the same time without stockpiling many different instruments. We do not want our customers to wait years for their pipes, we would rather make more pipes! We do have some flexibility in our capacity to make pipes but this is limited because we are determined to maintain our standards of craftsmanship. We now aim to offer to make standard sets of Border pipes (With a choice of materials) within 3 months, this we believe is a worthwhile time to wait for an individual set of pipes. For other instruments the waiting time will depend on our capacity and the complexity of the instrument.
Nigel Richard Trained in musical instrument repair at Stevenson College from 1985 to 1987, and started making bagpipes in 1987. He served on the committee of the Lowland and Border Pipers' Society for many years and retired a few years ago after being Chairman for three years. He is also a musician (Main instrument cittern) and outside his interest in Scottish traditional music he has been studying Indian classical music for fourteen years. He is a founder member of the band India Alba.
Iain MacLeod, has been with Garvie Bagpipes for 6 years. His main work is in bellows making, and he also does a fair amount of turning. Iain is one of Scotland's finest traditional musicians and played in the band Shooglenifty for many years. He currently divides his time between Edinburgh and northern Spain where he is busy developing his next musical project.
Formerly with Garvie Bagpipes:- Alan Waldron who had been with us for many years has established his own business mainly focussing on GHB and repairs at his new shop in Stirling - www.stirlingbagpipes.com Alan has proved himself as a skilled craftsman and I highly recommend his work.