Pipemaking, reedmaking & maintanence. Expert pipemakers are eager to answer your questions


Postby Seth » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:54 pm

I've noticed that English pipemakers tend to make bags with the shiny side on the outside versus most others who go with the suede side on he outside. Is their a reason for this? I've always made my bags with the suede side on the outside but I always use leather that does not require any seasoning but is airtight by itself. I have a Ross and a Burleigh set here that have bags with the shiny" almost oily looking now" side out and a Liestman set ( local maker from my state that I've known for years) with a suede on the outside bag which doesn't appear to have ever been seasoned.

I guess for those using bag covers it really doesn't matter but I'm curious as to this practice which seems to be an English approach.

Cheers, Seth
Seth Hamon
Maker of Swedish, Irish, & Scottish bagpipes
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Re: Pipebags

Postby pipemakermike » Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:28 am

Hi Seth
All of my pipe bags have been flesh side in. I think that this is because I have been exposed only to traditional NSP bags. Most of mine were sewn by a friend who was a professional leather worker (now sadly dead) and his recommendation was to use 1.5mm panel hide which he sewed on his very powerful machines after gluing the seam with that famous leather glue "Stiksotite" and cleaning off any excess using the special solvent "Cumsoff" We always had a laugh about these names. These bags needed significant sealing and were/are never perfectly airtight. The very first bag I made used bark tanned calf hide from a traditional tannery in Cornwall and that bag was airtight with no sealent and is still as good as the day it was made. During the School pipe project I was sent a couple of bags to use for the prototypes and they were quite interesting. They were traditional NSP flesh side in pipe bags but the inside of the leather had been coated with a rubber solution. It looked to me like a thin layer of copydex with the stickyness dealt with by a dusting of very fine powder possibly unsented talcum powder. These bags were very airtight and non oily.
The bags we used for the schoolpipe project were made in Australia from a gortex type material folded and glued. These have proved very satisfactory and are universally airtight.
I am hoping this year to finish a traditional 16 keyed set I started some 10 years ago and I am toying with the idea of purchasing a Jackie Boyce bag as I hear good things about them.
I seem to remember from the dim and distance past being told that some European bagpipe bags were sewn flesh side inside then turned inside out by pulling them through the neck of the bag. I never had the courage to try that.
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Re: Pipebags

Postby GrahamRB » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:12 pm

Hi Mike/Seth
Jackie will make them suede in or out, I prefer the latter because of the 'grip' and the fact there are no suede fragments loose in the bag to foul reeds. I suspect that suede in bags would need a dressing to minimise that problem. I have the impression that suede in is a Northumbrian thing ;)

I've had a several bags from Jackie, literally tie in and forget :D His service is second to none.
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Re: Pipebags

Postby RobSay » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:45 am

I've been thinking about this one and I can't recall a specific instruction or reason why all the bags I've played are flesh side in. (I've had one Dave Shaw set through with suede out)

I've used Jackies bags for years and recently made several with his recipe. Given the absolute air-tightness of the leather and good stitching, I've never had to seal the leather so that's not been a concern

This leather simply makes the most playable bags; every other set of pipes I have ever played would be improved by changing the bag;
* leather is ~1.3mm thick - which is on the thin side compared to that described in public & other sources (C&B, CR, MN) and thinner I think this is certainly a factor as the 'suede out' bags I have seen have tended to be thicker and heavier.
* suede side on this leather does produce some 'fluff' when brushed; suede side in means it does not need to be stabilised behind brushing the loose stuff off.
* producing a 'suede out' bag would mean sourcing different leather as the suede side is not what I would consider fully 'finished'. I think a finished suede would cost more.

The suede side does deform more than the skin side - which does mean that means tieing in stocks against suede is easier; I wouldn't regard this as a design choice tho' as you should be able tie in against the skin without issue.

As well as air-tightness & shape - there is a very subtle musical quality to a bag (lay your hand on a bag as someone else plays the instrument - you can feel it vibrate ). Putting a cover on masks the effect and I've no idea if suede out would change this as I've not made one in that form.

I'm open to the concept of suede out - but I guess I've no motivation to switch. I'd need to play one that works better than what I have & can produce - or find a cost effective source of leather with a pre-finished suede of similar non-permeability.

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