Updated: Sep 22, 2020
All of our wood is Air dried only, kiln drying can burn off some of the natural oils which are so very important in musical instrument use.
The wood is selected by color and figure and divided into sets to air dry. It will be rough turned and pre-bored and allowed to dry further. Although 3 months or so may pass before you receive your pipes, work was started on the wood used in them as much as two years prior!
MacLellan bagpipes was first company in the modern era to look at woods other than African Blackwood, such as Cocobolo, Mopane, Burmese Blackwood and recently Royal Mexican Ebony Before the Great War in 1914, it was not unusual to find some of the best sounding bagpipes made from woods other than Blackwood or Ebony. Cocus wood from Jamaica & Brazilian kingwood were used regularly. After that war, the woods from German East Africa, now Tanzania, became widely available.
African Blackwood, Burmese Blackwood & Cocobolo come from the Dalbergia family
(Leguminosae) of Exotic hardwoods. These woods are now on the CITES list of endangered hardwoods, and so carry certain restrictions on their use and availability. Royal Mexican Ebony and Mopane are not on that list and are more readily available and do not bear the restrictions imposed by the CITES listing.
The Cocobolo sound is rich and mellow. The wood is slightly less dense than African Blackwood, which allows the drone to absorb some of the higher sound frequencies. This damps or removes some of the harshness & "buzziness" which some synthetic reeds can produce. The result is warm and full.
MacLellan Cocobolo Drones produce the room filling envelope of harmonics which can embrace the player and their audience...
All African Blackwood and Cocobolo sets will come with necessary CITES paperwork.
The Mopane drones are bright and similar in character to the Blackwood sound, they are a light brown color.
The Royal Mexican Ebony drone is rich and bright with exceptional harmonics, lending power and richness to the chanter. The color is rich dark brown, very much like the classic Cocus wood bagpipes of the early 20th Century.
Mopane and Burmese Blackwood are available by special order only, please call to discuss pipes made from these woods.
As modern makers use more and more computerized machinery, finding an instrument of unique character becomes almost impossible. Our bagpipes have always been especially distinct, from the trend setting use of alternate woods and unusual materials for projecting mounts, to custom metalwork on ferrules and tuning slides. We have been using Cocobolo, Mopane, African Blackwood and other exotic woods for over 25 years now.