Better Bagpipes - a better way to learn!

Where do you start when you want to learn to play bagpipes?

  • Firstly, let's emphasise that you start with a Practice Chanter and a "Tutor Book"
  • Secondly, you are a LONG way off from needing a set of pipes - more on that later
  • We recommend that you purchase a good quality practice chanter from a reputable manufacturer such as McCallum Bagpipes. Please don't be tempted to buy "El Cheapo" on E-Bay which is probably made in the Middle East somewhere.
  • Thirdly, it is essential that you have an instructor. There are three main ways to go about this. - Local instructor face to face; Local Pipe-Band who will give instruction; Skype lessons with a good instructor if you have no-one locally. You can also do online courses but best to have some instruction from time to time as mentioned above.

Practice Chanters

These come in three different sizes as follows :

  • Small - e.g. McCallums PC1   Ideal for kids up to about 10/11 years old with small fingers
  • Regular - e.g. McCallums PC2 - most people use this size and it is generally accepted as easy to finger.
           PC1                 PC2                    PC4

                                                     [Not to scale]

  • Long - e.g. McCallums PC4 - this is the same finger spacing as a bagpipe chanter and a lot of people graduate on to it having gained some experience

Chanters are also available in a variety of colours and with different mounts and are, of course, more expensive.

Below are the McCallums Long Techno chanters and the McCallums PC3 [Regular Size] which has imitation ivory mounts.


To complicate matters there are a variety of electronic chanters available but let's leave that subject until later!

Tutor Books

There are many on the market, some old, some new, some good and some better.

Experience has taught us that the best one to use is the National Piping Centre "Highland Bagpipe Tutor Book"


This Tutor Book was compiled by Roddy MacLeod MBE and others who assisted and takes you through the piping journey step by step starting with how to hold the chanter, where to place your fingers, how to play the scale.

It then progresses through basic music rudiments, some simple tunes and then on to tunes with gracenotes and doublings, these being added very gradually so as to not "overwhelm" the student.