Bagpipe T.L.C.

Your instrument wants you. The long hours of practice and competition can make the average piper take his or her instrument for granted. All pipers have their regular maintenance routine to keep their pipes in top shape, but think about it, you’ve taken your stand up and down the bumpy roads to the games in cars, airplanes, and buses. You’ve carried it around all over the field and played it in all kinds of weather. It’s time to take some extra effort to make sure your instrument has held up. Pipers can be as active in the winter as they are at other times of year. But things do slow down in the winter months, so take the time to give your instrument a Valentine and some tender loving care.

Check your bag for air leakage

Remove all the parts of your pipe save the blowstick and cork the stocks. Inflate the bag fully and apply “playing-strength” pressure with your arm for several seconds. Blow into the bag again. If you can inflate the bag any, you’ve probably got a small leak somewhere. Use your detective skills and find it.

Examine the outer surface of your drones for cracks or damage

While the drones are apart, carefully examine each piece. Check the wood for hairline fissures, chips or other early signs of damage. Long term, even the smallest chip or crack can become a major problem down the road.

Clean the outer surface of your drones and mounts

Things get dirty just being outdoors. Use a soft cloth and mild dish soap to wash the outside of your instrument.

Check all the connection points where any “foreign” objects attach

All the points where the various gadgets—such as water traps, moisture systems, and the like—attach to your pipes can collect gunk and just get plain dirty. Take these items apart and clean them.

Check the seal on all hemped joints

Normal use will wear out the hemp and wax on all of your joints and loosen the seal. Check for any part that requires a fresh wrap.

Retie your cords

Normal use can loosen the ties on your drone cords and have your drones flopping around on your shoulder. Cut the hemp or plastic that binds your cords and retie. Check for wear on the cords and replace them if necessary.

Wash your bag cover

All that squeezing under a sweaty arm during the summer months can take its toll on even the most durable fabric. You wouldn’t wear the shirt you play in for three months straight without washing it, so take off that bag cover and give it a cleaning.

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