Because our pipes are individually made to order we can offer many options on combinations of materials to suit the piper’s own tastes. The majority of our border pipes have been made in the mopane/boxwood/gold, and our smallpipes in blackwood/art. ivory/nickel, however this is just the way it has happened. All combinations are available for all the pipes we make. We chose to work with these two hardwoods because of their outstanding tonal and physical properties. Mopane is a beautiful honey brown wood from the south of Africa which is almost as dense as African blackwood and and their growing ranges overlap. One feature of mopane is that unlike blackwood it does not darken to the same extent, so that whereas blackwood, which has a fine golden grain when first turned, later becomes completely black, mopane darkens a little but the attractive grain feature remains. There is no significant difference in sound beween blackwood and mopane, a small change in the reed will have much more effect than any difference in the wood.
The picture below shows these two options on tenor drones. On the left fully mounted blackwood smallpipe drone with mounts and sleeves, and next standard smallpipes drone. On the right standard, and fully mounted with sleeves, border pipe drones in mopane and boxwood. Normally we use metal ferrules on the lighter smallpipe drones where strength to size ratio is important, and wooden ferrules on border pipe drones where the sizes are larger and overall weight of the drones is a more important consideration.
We have used boxwood mounts with blackwood for many years and this combination with gold plated ferrules and sleeves looks most attractive and has become quite popular.Also for some time we have used satin bloodwood for mounts, ferrules and end caps in combination with blackwood and nickel plated ferrules and sleeves. The wood has a rich dark red colour unlike cocobolo or purple heart. Both boxwood and bloodwood must be treated carefully during construction, they are both hydroscopic so we treat them with a penetrating oil to protect the wood. Fortunately we have a good supply of box and bloodwood which has been seasoned for many years. Pictures of these wood combinations are shown elsewhere - see border pipes.
We supply a choice of navy blue, dark green, and black velvet covers as standard with our pipes. Other colours are usually available. We can also supply McLeod tartan covers with our pipes ( the owner's mother's maiden name) . If you want another tartan and can supply the material we are happy to have a cover made up to your requirements.
A number of our customers have removed the velvet cover from their pipes, possibly because they appreciate the feel of the suade on the hide bags we use, or for some other reason to do with taste or fashion (Ours is not to judge why!). We now supply heavier weight dark brown and black calf hide bags tied in with matching twine. The colour of both bags compliments the mopane/boxwood/ gold sets and the blackwood/boxwood or bloodwood sets of pipes as shown here with border pipes. There is no price difference whether you choose the velvet cover or the calf hide bag.
We have redesigned our drone switch so it is easier to make, and are now able to offer this option at a lower price. Many pipers feel that a drone switch is an unneccesary addition because the drones will turn off with a tap on the end anyway, and are individually selected this way in the normal process of tuning. However, particularly in a folk group situation, it can be an advantage to be able to turn all the drones on or off quickly, for example when accompanying a song or playing a tune in G where the A drones are not always welcome. Shown below gold plated drone switch with blackwood/boxwood border pipes, nickel plated drone switches to match the pipes are also available.