MacLellan Bagpipe Customer's Comments.
This is Thomas Lockwood, I’m sure you would recall building my son’s pipes which were finished late in the year 2009. I think it was October or November. At first he couldn’t even keep the bag inflated but that all changed and when he went to school at Iowa State, he had a lot on his plate but also had a teacher there that helped him to learn how to play.
I’m not sure if you knew that his grandfather died before seeing the pipes you built but it was actually as a present from Tearlach/Charles to his grandson that they were commissioned.
I am a believer in quality instruments and that anyone who learns on a quality instrument will enjoy learning much more because of that quality. That said, I just want to thank you once again for building my son’s pipes. They are the finest quality pipes, built by the best pipe builder in the world. You are second to none and I will always be indebted to you for this reason. It happens all too often that one puts their trust in people and then wishes they had never done so and that is another reason I thank you. You are obviously a man of high standards of honesty and workmanship.
I could go on and on but in closing, I just have to say that if this ends up on your customer comment page, I hope I can help any prospective customer find peace of mind. I have been rewarded for my trust in you Roddy.
For those of you who demand the finest in materials and workmanship, you need not look further than MacLellan Bagpipes. The Great Highland Bagpipes are what Roddy MacLellan can build better than anyone in the world. You will end up thanking him over and over again as the years go by. And you’ll realize just how great MacLellan products are as they stand up to the test of time. Take good care of them, they are worth the effort.
Sincerely satisfied customer, Thomas Arthur Lockwood firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contact me please feel free to give my email address to anyone who has questions that I mightbe able to answer about my son’s wonderful pipes and thank you again.
From: William McK. [Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2011 5:05 AM
To: Roderick MacLellan
Subject: Re: your pipes
Just wanted to say thank you!
I've had some time to play around with the Bb chanter you exchanged for me and the sound is great; it is what I was looking for I think. The Warnock reeds you sent were also bang on 466 for both A's with hardly any adjustment, just some tape on D, C, and B- something I simply cannot say for the Shepherd 'Orchestral' that I also own which seems more finicky even with a Shepherd reed. I have had some trouble with the E a bit, it seems to waiver or be slightly flat when none of the others do, but I think it can be settled with more time in or with additional reeds. The drones as well are even more outstanding while higher on the pins! These Rocket reeds I ordered specifically for your drones are like rolling thunder. It is simply amazing the rooms this stand are filling. I've had people take steps back because they are so loud and enveloping, but I absolutely love it!
I've been playing for a couple of years now and my instructor enjoyed the lower pitch and so have I (he even made a comment about the large tuning range of the tenors and how incredibly matched they are). It's more enjoyable to play every day and in general it's just a pleasure to me now being more pleasing to my ear. Honestly, the lower pitch isn't really all that much lower in another universe as people think, it's just that everything is richer and not as in your ear so to speak. And the darker sound really lends itself to Piobeachaird.
But anyway, I'm just thrilled that as a perfectionist and an engineer of sorts that things are starting to come together and connect with me thanks to your artistry and knowhow. I didn't know what my second set of pipes were going to be, I just knew I wanted something different than my McCallum's were delivering. I have Jim McGillivray's website to thank for showing the Gael which led me back to MacLellan Bagpipes, and Ringo Bowen for being such a great guy to write back and forth with and giving me an honest opinion when it counted most.
I have been meaning to send you a "thank you". Your service was amazing. Your work was amazing. And the pipes look amazing. Those are my friends Paul's pipes for his 50th birthday and they will bring him great memories for years to come. He went NUTS when he saw the work. Hope your doing well and thank you again!
I received my new Full Silver Pipes for my 30th Birthday and I have to say that you and my wife are very sneaky, I never knew a thing about it. I have them set up now and I’m blown away by your workmanship. The Silver Work is immaculate. I played the set you made for me whilst I was Pipe Major of WAPOL and was impressed by the quality then, but my new set takes the cake…
The tonal quality is hypnotic and the ease of setting up the drones and balancing them together is a credit to your accuracy and care in the process. I am at the moment playing Crozier Cane reeds with the Ross Bag Set up, but for this year at the Worlds I will be changing to Hide and Cane… I will be interested to hear the difference of this set up.
I will send you a sound file of both set-ups for you to assess for yourself.
Again thanks for the surprise; it certainly numbed the pain of turning 30…
Australia Highlanders Pipe Band
Ex - Pipe Major WAPOL
Hi Roddy, missed you at the Metro cup this year. Just wanted to say that one of my students is playing a set of your pipes, Mike Flynn from here in Halifax and they sound superb, notably, the bass drone. So, good job on that one.Seems like the business is going well, good luck with it and keep up the good workCheersBruceBruce Gandy
Almost nine years ago I got my Millenium pipes(#36). A few years ago I
developed back problems, so have not played for almost four years. Last week
I again looked at the pipe case and decided to try once again to play, and
hope that my back would take the effort.
It took a minute to get them struck in, and had to train myself to get the
tuning just right, but suddenly the drones settled into that beautiful
resonant hum that I have always loved about these pipes.
I have standing offers to trade for old Henderson pipes, and as I play
these, every day I am reminded why I bought these pipes.
Off to play again, but thank you for such great sound.
I have found your pipes and chanters to be an outstanding asset to my
band, Lyon College. The pipes have the deep rich harmonics of the older
sets, easy to tune and rock steady. The chanters have been no problem
since the day we purchased them, producing a bright clear sound from top
to bottom. I would not hesitate in recommending any of your instruments to
anyone. I play them myself.
Jimmy Bell, Director
Scottish Heritage Program
I took an extra long lunch today to make sure that I'd be able to sign for the pipes (I missed them yesterday) and set them up to play. The first section I unpacked was the bass stock and couldn't tell much of the type of combing, but noticed the Victorian engraving and liked it immediately. Then I unpacked a tenor top section and saw the flat combing and was elated because I secretly have been hoping you'd opt for the smoothness no beads. I think it shows the voluptuous curves of your drone profiles best, and who doesn't like a zoftig figure? I then noticed that the tops are Celtic engraved which I think is very cool. I've never seen anyone mix and mach before and I think it's the best of both worlds. It took me a while to get to a middle joint and when I saw the hourglass waist and the beauty of the mounts I actually stopped and audibly said, "holy shit!" They are stunning!! I knew I wouldn't have the time to set up the chanter so I tied the drones into my bag and used an existing chanter and stalk and struck them in. I'm happy that both sets of Rockets I have work well, but one set works superb. They tune exactly where they should without any headache.... and they sound better than any pipe I've heard. I couldn't believe the tone of them off my shoulder and needed to record myself to believe what was going on. I sound like I'm ready for the Clasp. Well, I don't, but my pipes are worthy of such accomplishments. Look up torture in the dictionary and it should read, "owning a brand new set of MacLellan pipes and not being able to play them for more than 15 minutes." It was the best 15 minutes of playing I've had in a decade-- so easy to tune and so full and rich. It is impossible for me to explain the sound to people because I contradict myself, for instance, by saying they are mellow and have a big sound. The bottom line is this, they sound exactly how I hoped they would in my wildest dreams. Perfectly matched, perfectly balanced, and perfectly voluminous. Why all other bagpipe craftsmen don't buy your pipes and try to copy them is beyond me but I'm glad they don't because that would even the playing field too much. I could go on and on, and I want to, but I'm due for another 15 minute session and I know you are busy and probably don't have time for lengthy emails. Thank you so much for your input and ideas on my new pipes and for doing such a fantastic job. Keep up the good work, and take care. Cheers,
I just thought I'd pass on along of the comments I've received from fellow pipers and a couple judges concerning the look/tone of my pipes:
"Beautiful pipes. I've never seen such a set. And they sound better than they look!"
"Best drones I've heard all day. Rich bass sound and perfectly integrated with the chanter."
"Your pipes look and sound amazing. May I give them a try?" (here I hand them over and to allow him a blow on them).
"Bold yet smooth sounding drones, with very good bass presence.
Blended perfectly with the well-tuned chanter."
I just thought I'd pass those along to you as I thought you'd like to know. I bought one of your new lower-pitched (475) ABW solo chanters from a local vendor and I think it really enhances what was already an excellent sound (note I was using that particular chanter when I received that last comment). I think it's great you're trying to bring the pitch down a little bit. I'm using a Colin MacLellan easy in the chanter.
Best wishes to your business in the face of this economic crisis and don't stop crafting your quality instruments!!!
The pipes arrived safe and sound, look wonderful. The finish really shows the grain, nice contrast between the Cocobolo, Satinwood and the brass. My wife teaches violin lessons at home so I could not wind them up right away but I did get a brief moment to do a quick test.
Chanter is perfectly in tune, no tape! Drones mellow, easy to set in tune, nice blend with the chanter.
I will send a more detailed note when I have some more time with them.
Big contrast to the set of Graingers I was using, chanter was full of tape.
In our "instant on" society, quality is absolutely worth the wait....
I just wanted to let you know that Dylan’s pipes arrived last night…………..and oh my gosh…………and they are just SO beautiful!
Your craftsmanship is simply beyond belief! We absolutely LOVE them. And, honestly, all we’ve done so far is unwrap and "peak" at each piece, then re-wrap them, because Dylan is at his Grandma’s for a brief holiday (after his school got out on Thursday). When we called him to tell him that his MacLellan’s had arrived……….he squealed with delight and wanted to come home immediately to see them!
Roddy……..I can’t tell you how happy we are……….we just can’t wait to get them "up and running"! I’ll keep you posted on how all that goes……but wanted to let you know how grateful we are to you…….
The pipes arrived on Wednesday this week, right on time. Unfortunately for me, I was out of town on a fishing trip, and so didn'tsee them arrive first hand! Needless to say, I cut my trip short a day and made straight for my office to pick them up. I brought themhome and unboxed them... WOW! Absolutely beautiful! I think I made the right choice of your Antique Edition in blackwood, with theimitation horn and beaded nickel accents. If they sound as good as they look I will definately be the envy of all my bandmates! Can't wait to start breaking them in! The profile of the drones are like nothing I've seen before. Definately not your "cookie cutter" profile you see on most all the other sets out there. Makes me almost want to put away my vintage Henderson's right now, just on looks alone!
I'll keep you informed of my breaking in progress. Thanks, Roddy, these are a keeper!
I received the pipes. I have to say that they are absolutely magnificent. Above and beyond any of my expectations.
My pipes arrived today and looking at them brought tears to my eyes. Your a master at your craft and I appreciate the fantastic job you did. It was well worth the cost and time to get this set from you.
Hi Roddy, the pipes are magical. The drones produce a full, surround sound that is like floating in the clear blue water of the Bahamas. I just got a box of Warnock's wide chanter reeds, and they really suit the chanter nicely. It
scales perfectly without any tape, with a full top hand and strong bottom hand. It fits the hands perfectly. This last summer I struggled with an old Naill Chanter, and still received good comments on the quality of my
sound. Jack Lee judged my piobaireachd in Enumclaw, outside Seattle, and wrote "beautiful pipes set up beautifully." Playing cane drone reeds of my own manufacture, with an inverted bass, I have never had a set of drones warm up and lock on as quickly as these. And I am used to playing pre-WWILawries. After fifteen minutes of warming up I know I can play a whole piobaireachd, or two, without having to worry about the drones going off. I have had to worry about the Naill chanter changing even after 30 minutes of playing (changing the whole time), so this new combination of wide Warnock and your chanter will make my efforts worry-free. Every games I played at this last summer people came up to ask if they could take a close look at the silver on my millennium edition. They all are amazed at the detailed beauty of the silver. The most common comment I get is,"I've never seen silver like that, not even on the old pipes." A hundred years from now pipers will search for MacLellan pipes the way old MacDougalls, Lawries and Hendersons are sought after today. As far as I am concerned you are our generation's Antonio Stradivarius of the Highland pipe.
The pipes arrived a little more than an hour ago. Words fail me. "Stunningly beautiful" come close though. I have not even blown into them yet, took my time putting them all together and putting them into band uniform. If they sound half as good as they look, I'll be more than pleased, and I'm sure they'll sound better! [I'm actually waiting for the weather to cool off just a bit!]
Anyway, bottom line, delighted with the pipes! Will make some actual noise later on.....
Just wanted to touch bases with you on the one week birthday of my pipes. They are absolutely fantastic. Every day the sound gets better. I’m still in the process of tweaking the drone reeds but every day I think that they couldn’t possibly get any better, they up and get better on me. I just can’t say enough! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thanks again for my dream pipes!
Doug Slauson, P.E.
Just a quick email regarding the Antique edition cocobolo pipes you made for me and which I picked up from Jim McGillivray in April. After two months I think I can safely say that I am thrilled with this instrument.
Musically, the drones are everything I had expected they would be. They tune consistently, undertone well and lock in solidly when I'm playing.
And they have a marvelous timbre which I can only describe as rich and striving -- it always seems to be reaching towards something. I love
the chanter as well. Feels great in my hands. My fine tuning skills
are not the greatest, but when that chanter gets well balanced, look out. Especially the high A and the B! Makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
On the design side -- what can I say? One of the reasons people choose MacLellan is because of the distinctive design and quality workmanship.
Mine do not disappoint. The colour and grain of the cocobolo is a perfect counterpoint to the simplicity of the drone profiles and combing. There's something about that grain, and the variation in it, that makes them look more natural, more handcrafted, than blackwood. A real pleasure to look. Quick question -- why no cocobolo chanters?
Thanks again, and keep up the great work!
Got the pipe today and clearly this instrument was worth the wait. This really is the most beautiful-looking pipe I've ever seen, and some of the finest workmanship I've seen from your shop. I'm really pleased and flattered that you would've gone to such obvious trouble with this instrument. It really does take my breath away to look at. But the sound is even better than the appearance. I quickly set your pipe up, popped in the drone reeds from my 1910 Hendersons and the sound from your drones was awesome -- rich, warm, clear as a bell, and after maybe 5 minutes of playing and tuning the drones locked in for almost 20 solid minutes of playing. I had to force myself to put them down, realizing that they are a new pipe and require a gentle break-in period!
I will be very proud to play this pipe, and already believe that I will have to lay aside my Hendersons.
Thank you for your great work.
Grade 1 Solo Piper, Eastern US Pipe Band Association
Piper, Oran Mor Pipe Band"
I have been playing your set of antique pipes for a few months now, and I have followed your guidelines regarding the breaking in procedure almost "religiously". This takes some self discipline I must say! In the process, I have had the opportunity to test a variety of drone reeds, and made a few observations about the tone they produce in your instrument. As you know, tone preference is a very subjective and personal topic to discuss ... Furthermore, in addition to the individual "tonal characteristics" of a particular make of reeds, the way they are adjusted and set in the pipes have a significant effect on sound. Nevertheless, as a result of a few weeks of experimentation, I have identified my personal “penchant”, with all the partiality that this implies!
Before going any further, I must emphasize that I'm not a pro... just an avid enthusiast who happens to love bagpipes and pipe music, is serious about studying both ceol beag and ceol mor, and is lucky enough to own a few outstanding sets.
I have tried the following reeds, both as complete sets as well as using combinations of bass and tenors of different brands: Ezeedrones regular, Ezeedrone inverted, Cannings, Kinnairds, Balance Tone, Hendersons, SteadyTones, Nova Canes, Shepherd SM90, Selbies, Croziers (carbon) and Omegas. Overall, this represents a reasonably wide sample. I must say that your pipes sound good with pretty much all reeds... However, in my opinion, the optimal blend of volume, richness of tone, and harmonics is obtained with NovaCane tenor and Crozier (carbon) bass reeds. The combination of Balance Tone tenors and Crozier (carbon) bass reeds is a close second in my book, although the tenors tend to be somewhat "buzzier" and sound louder. Your drones really have a full sound, and the bass is outstanding. The blend is seamless. I also really like your chanter: the scale and pitch are perfect, and it has a very good projection. With its slightly thicker design for the upper hand, it feels like "older" chanters, which personally I think is great. I have also received extremely positive comments about your pipes by my piobaireachd teacher, Pipe Major William Gilmour, who studied at the Edinburgh Castle under PM John MacLellan, and was the senior PM of the Canadian Armed Forces for many years.
I have already commented about the superb craftsmanship and aesthetics of your silver mounted antique model, so I will not repeat myself here, other than to say that these pipes are both unique and stunning.
Well, as you can see, I really like these pipes and I'm extremely satisfied!
Thanks again for crafting such a fine instrument.
Ottawa, CanadaHi Roddy-
I just wanted to take a minute and thank you so much for your craftsmanship of this beautiful set of bagpipes. I have been patiently working with them a little bit daily and am very impressed with every aspect of their quality. They are truly a work of art that I will treasure for a lifetime.Best wishes,Christopher Dutton
Roddy,I was piping at funeral today at Arlington National Cemetery. I thought of you as I was piping since since I was facing the MacLellan Gate at the cemetery. I'm not sure of its significance, but it made me think I should send you an email expressing how much I appreciate the quality of the work you put into these pipes. Mine is the standard style drones with the Marine Corps emblems on the ferrules, with a Mameluke sword and flag on the slides with imitation ivory mounts, for which I took delivery this spring. I could not be more pleased with them. They are truly beautiful in both sound and appearance. I have have received nothing but positive comments from judges and fellow pipers. To my surprise, the tone continues to get even better. I am currently running eeze drone reeds in the tenors and a Chris Apps cane reed in the Bass. In your blackwood chanter I have some names reed I pulled out of a pile. I am looking forward to playing these pipes for the rest of my life.Thank you and Merry Christmas,Garrett McKenzie
Roddy, the pipes arrived safely today. Stunning! Over the past six months, I've occasionally questioned my choices of all silver and flat combing. No longer. They're beautiful. The cocobolo has a beautiful grain to it. Got cords on this evening and assembled them, not nearly as heavy as I thought they'd be. Test ran a half dozen reeds in the bass, think I'll be starting out with Rockets, but after six months or so will probably do some more experimenting. The chanter's got some changes from the one I currently have, a little thicker neck, nice scale with that Apps reed. Thanks Roddy, I'll try to send a sound file after they break in. Cheers.
What an awesome Christmas present. I got the pipes the day after Christmas and couldn't wait to open the box. My jaw hit the floor. What incredible artwork. I can't wait to show them off at my next practice. The wait was totally worth it. I also want to drop you a lil hello and how are you from Maggie O'Brian. She met you while back in New York. We are in the same pipeband together...The John Ford Highland Pipeband. Thanks again for all your hard work....the next step is to play them at practice. Have a great new year.
Peter T. Perry
Dear Roddy,Wednesday evening John delivered my new MacLellan pipes. I've never seen a more beautiful set of Highland pipes!!! They far exceeded my high expectations. The contrasting colors of the cocobolo with your silver work is simply stunning. I greatly enjoy the details such as wooden drone cap bushes and the ferrules which wrap around the bottoms of the drone sections. Pictures of these details on your website would be advantageous to prospective buyers.I've already taken the pipes for some "test drives" and they sound great too.I look forward to many years of pleasurable piping with my new pipes.John CunninghamSeattle, WA
I've given the pipes a good play-in, and I have to say, your pipes are a good
several notches above the rest.
The drones are the first thing I want to mention. While the vast majority
of new pipes give off tolerable tones, yours have what I'd call "an
atmosphere"; when they're all tuned up (which is a whole heck of a lot
easier to do than on many pipes) the tone fills the room with a warmth, if
you will, as opposed to the usual rattling buzz you get off most modern
Tuning them is also a joy in itself. My last set of pipes, and a set of
McCallum's I'd borrowed from someone for short while, never sounded quite
right to me, like there were always other little undertones (for lack of a
better word), and rattles that made tuning a little annoying. I honestly
enjoy tuning yours because they're so easy to get into tune. When you get
them in tune, that's all there is to it; no little mysterious buzzes or
other reason to contort your face in a vain effort to figure out what's
The bass drone is wonderful! Instead of that cheap, clicky rattle you get
off a lot of pipes, your bass drone has an amazing, deep, purely toneful
sound to it, and mixed with the two tenors. Excellent!
I love the chanter! Being able to play such a low pitch (A) really is an
experience unto itself, and it really sounds a nice rich tone off. The tone
and tuning really plays well with an electric guitar, blending quite well
with the guitar.
All in all, I think some other makers should apply for some lessons from
you. Great job on the pipes!
I received my pipes last Wednesday and they are everything I had hoped for. They are absolutely beautiful – eye candy for sure. The sound is something you have to experience to believe – big, bold yet sweet drones and the ABW solo chanter compliments wonderfully. I don’t know if God sings, but if he does, I’m pretty sure he would sound like these pipes.
I took them over to my tutor at my last lesson and had him try them. He struck them in and tuned the drones and his eyes got real big. His impression was that the sound was totally enveloping. Strong with no hint of harshness or buzz from the synthetic drone reeds I had in there (Wygent Synthe-Drone). Best that he ever heard. This is from a guy with over 30 year’s experience and plays old Henderson’s.
I received the bagpipes on Thursday. They are amazing. You would think they were much more than a standard edition. I do not believe that we could have done any better than what you have given us. I hope that I can one day play near the ability of your work. Practice continues and I will let you know about our first public performance. We have a few other guys starting and will be ready to order a set some time next year. Thanks again.
I really enjoyed stopping by the shop . It was great to meet you .
The B flat blackwood chanter is fantastic . I just love that blackwood sound . Have a great holiday season .
thanks , J.V. Hudson
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