bagpiper FAQs

Bagpiper FAQs

Answers to questions I’m often asked by people hiring me as their bagpiper:

How much is a bagpiper?

See my prices to hire a bagpiper for different occasions. Prices include wearing the ceremonial Piper’s No.1 Full Highland Dress is included.

A good piper – how do I know?

Just as with any other musicians, there can be a vast difference in the standard of different pipers. A simple benchmark of a good piper is one who has performed in a Grade I pipe band, or in solo bagpipe competitions and has had success against the very best. To get to this level requires talent, dedication, and a love for the instrument. Quite simply, a “Journeyman” piper does not get here.

A good piper takes pride in the uniform and will have a perfectly tuned bagpipe, which even to the untrained ear will be instantly recognisable as being a class above the rest. Importantly, the piper’s experience ensures that the bagpipe will be perfectly tuned in minimal time regardless of weather conditions or lack of rehearsal facilities, which is the norm when performing at an event.

When hiring a journeyman piper, in addition to having to listen to poor playing and an out of tune instrument, there’s a risk that the bagpipe will malfunction, causing the piper to stop and cause an embarrassing break in the proceedings.

The Highland Bagpipe is a complex instrument and requires a high level of skill and experience to maintain it. It cannot be left under the bed for weeks and played again after being left for a lengthy period of time. A good piper can simply assemble the bagpipe and perform straight away with minimal time spent tuning. This is only because the piper practices frequently and has the skill to setup and maintain the instrument properly. Similarly, the piper’s uniform also requires regular cleaning and care and maintenance of various items in order for the piper to look tip-top in your photographs. Your piper should wear the ceremonial Piper’s No.1 Full Highland Dress as standard, and not the far less spectacular Day Dress.

Jump to my Uniform Tour for more details of my uniform, and look at Why book me?

What does a bagpiper wear?

I wear three styles of piping attire:Piper’s No.1 Full Highland Dress: This includes the long piper’s plaid, horse hair sporran, piper’s dirk, crossbelt and spats. This is usually worn with the large Pipers’s Feather Bonnet made from ostrich feather.Day Dress: Kilt, Argyll jacket, 5-button waistcoat, Ghillie Brogues and a Glengarry hatPrince Charlie Outfit : Much like Day Dress, but with the lower cut Prince Charlie jacket and waistcoat, and a dress shirt with bow tie.

I always wear the Piper’s No.1 Full Highland Dress at weddings and most other events. At funerals, where I wear Day Dress. I charge no extra to wear Full Highland Dress. Others pipers often charge extra.

See my Uniform Tour for full details and pictures.

Why book me?

No doubt you’ll have seen websites belonging to various pipers and entertainment agencies popping up when you’ve been searching for a piper. Many of these pipers are very good, and unfortunately, some not so. Please jump to Why book me? to find out more.

Can I hear you play?

Please hear My Recordings to hear me playing Highland Pipes and Scottish Small Pipes, and see videos of me playing. Unfortunately it’s difficult to see me perform at somebody else’s event unless you happen to be there.

Do you travel abroad?

Yes, I have played at numerous weddings around Europe, the Canaries, and Angola in Southern Africa. I have also played at corporate events in Turkey, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. I have never found it too difficult to get anywhere from Edinburgh.

Can you Address the Haggis?

Yes, when performing at a Burns Supper or a Scottish evening, I will normally pipe in the Haggis and perform an entertaining ‘Address to the Haggis’. This can save you looking for a Toast Master.
Please jump to Burns Supper Bagpiper for full details of what I can do at your Burns Supper.

Can you play for Highland Dancers?

Yes, frequently! A piper with a troop of Highland Dancers makes for a great show for visitors to Scotland. I can play for most Highland Dances such as the Fling, the Sword Dance, Ghillie Callum and the Flora.

Can a piper play in poor weather?

Absolutely! One of the benefits of living in Scotland is that I’m entirely used to playing in any weather, often four seasons in one day. In any case I will be nice and warm in my No.1 Full Highland Dress!

Can you play people from one venue to another?

Yes, this is a great way to take you or your guests who may not not know the city, from their hotel to a restaurant, for example. I will often play a wedding party from the Ceremony to the Reception venue if it’s within 1.5 miles.

Can I meet you before?

If you wish to meet to discuss the order of playing for your wedding, for example, I’m more than happy to meet you in advance if you’re in Edinburgh and my schedule permits. I’m also happy to schedule a Zoom call.