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John Dennis's Product Reviews

  • Ross Bag The BEST Synthetic Bag!, February 7th, 2013
    After trying several different synthetic pipe bags, both hybrid and non-hybrid, finally selecting the new Ross suede pipe bag has made my playing so much more enjoyable and consistent. I have 3 of these on each of my sets of pipes, and find them the most comfortable pipe bag yet. What is even more significant to me is the moisture control ability. I play without a cannister but with moose valves, and the suede material lets some moisture pass. Being a wet blower, the reeds stay dry. The bag also has a sheepskin feel and vibrates well. What a fantastic find for me and many others in my band.
  • Kinnaird Carbon Fibre Drone Reeds Great sounding, reliable reeds!, February 7th, 2013
    Having played so many different types of synthetic drone reeds over the past decade, I finally decided in the summer of 2012 to give the Kinnairds a try. Truthfully, I have not looked back. I have three sets in use right now, and find my strike ins and cutoffs never better. They are easy to adjust and set up and provide a great cane like tone. I find they work best in wide bore drones, but with the ability to order the lower pitched bass, even narrow bore drones can benefit.
  • MacPhee Chanter Reeds Great solo or band reed, February 7th, 2013
    Our band was looking for a new reed, after having some issues with another brand and how it handled moisture and dryness. The McPhee reeds worked even better than expected in our band McCallum chanters. Great volume, very consistent, and easy to alter.
  • Moose Valve No turning back now-my only valve!, February 7th, 2013
    I was initially concerned about the Moose valve and how I thought it may induce cracking in the blowpipe stock. but I know just remove it after each play and swab out the blowpipe as per before. These valves are amazing. So airtight, non-restrictive, and as a water trap, simply amazing. No cannister for me!
  • Technopipes by Fagerstrom Fun tool for silent practice, February 7th, 2013
    I just picked up one of these from Rob at Kinnairds. I had one of the original models years back, but was blown away by this new model with its drones, adjustable pitch, and different sounds. If you live in an apartment, travel a lot, have small children etc., this will add hours to your practice. Great product!
  • Plain Yellow Hemp Better than waxed hemp anyday!, February 7th, 2013
    I really prefer using the unwaxed hemp but running the strands through beeswax, giving the same properties but much thinner and easier to use and adjust. I have often, in a hurry or quick repair for a band member, combined waxed and unwaxed yellow hemp while hemp a joint, which works well too. Underused and underrated must for your pipe box.
  • Kinnaird Evolution Drone Reeds Even better than the original, September 7th, 2013
    I just finished setting up the new Evolution reeds in my Dunbar blackwood bagpipe, and I am so impressed with the design and sound produced. The tenors in particular are brighter sounding, and with the bass reed, my drones filled the room. Big, bold, easy to set and adjust....these are great reeds. Going to have to order a second set for my Kron's. Fantastic plug and play reeds that handle moisture well, and make cut offs so easy. Way to go Rob!
  • Dunbar P3 Bagpipes Great Poly Set with Henderson Tone, September 7th, 2013
    The P3 bagpipe is one that has been in my home forever. As a first set, it was indestructible, easy to reed, and great sounding. Big, bold Henderson tone with no worries of cracking. It now is my foul weather set that again leaves no worries but also does not sacrifice sound quality. I find the drones work really well with Kinnaird or Canning drone reeds. Make sure you have a good moisture control method however. Moisture can build up on the plastic walls of the drones. Greater starter or all around weather bagpipe!
  • McCallum Blowpipe BP2 Great wide bore blowpipe for button mounts, September 7th, 2013
    I have a 1910 Glen bagpipe that I wanted to find a poly blowpipe, wide bore that would closely match the button mount style. These blowpipe are just the ticket. Beaded but with a small mount, wide bore, you have no worries of cracking, and the bore pushes air to the bag in larger amounts, allowing you to reshape your blowing/squeezing. Perfect match for my set, and well crafted.
  • G1 Platinum Chanter Reeds My favourite reed!, September 8th, 2013
    Purchased a half dozen of these reeds from Rob, and I am amazed at the quality of manufacture and sound I am receiving with the reeds. Matched perfectly for my solo and band chanters, the reed gives great volume and are easy to adjust. Well worth the funds. Going great in my McCallum, Shepherd, and Kron chanters.
  • Drone Stoppers Must have for sporran, September 9th, 2013
    For me and my band, I make sure every piper has a set in his/her sporran for parades and gigs. Why? Should someone have a drone reed fall in to their bag, the quick fix is to plug the drone. Trouble tuning a drone, or a reed misbehaving? Plug the drone prior to your parade or performance. An ounce of prevention here. This is required for my bandmates!
  • Air Tight Seasoning Still the best!, September 9th, 2013
    After trying several maker's seasoning, this still remains the best seasoning on the market. The new plastic package is much easier and practical for use than the old metal tin, and we find in our band that the seasoning lasts for 6-9 months. Do yourself a favour and season twice a year to help with maintaining air efficiency.
  • Bagpiper Case Best case on the Market!, September 9th, 2013
    I received a Bagpiper Case from Rob in the spring, and I have never been happier. The case is sturdy, roomy, well made, and provides a good looking, secure mode of transportation for the pipes. I like that you can choose a backpack or shoulder carrying position, and the material and stitching is great quality. The best on the market.
  • Double Ended Brush Must have for your Case!, September 9th, 2013
    The two ended brush is fantastic. Small enough to fit comfortably in any case, it allows for swabbing drones easily. Larger end for stocks and bass mid-section, tenor tops and bass top. Smaller end for tuning chambers and blowpipe. Now you have no excuse for not swabbing out moisture built up from playing. Moisture sitting on wood is bad news!
  • Laces and Tassels Safety in a bag for gigs!, September 9th, 2013
    I have in my pipe case a set of extra ghillie laces and tassels should I break one on parade or at a solo performance/gig. I do this now only after having the misfortune of a lace giving out while on parade. Now I make sure, as I have made others in my band do, to have a set in the case. Peace of mind for a small price.
  • McCallum AB4 Blackwood Victorian Bagpipes Great sound and look!, September 13th, 2013
    Last year, on behalf of two pipers in our band, I purchased a set of AB4's, blackwood mounts, one with celtic engraving, the other in this lovely pattern. The quality of manufacture and sound is superb, the service and support excellent, and the pipes are easy to reed and play. The Victorian engraving is very attractive, and the new alloy is threaded and does not tarnish, which was an issue with older McCallum pipes. With mounts and ferrules now threaded, the pipe is a great purchase for any player.
  • Cords Silk-the only way to go!, September 13th, 2013
    By far the best material for pipe cords, silk is hardy, handles moisture well, looks nicer than wool with the sheen coating, and does not stain as easily as wool. Couple these with pull ties for ease of tie in and adjustment. After a couple of weeks from the first tie in, revisit the cords to see if they are as tight as first tied on, and remove or reposition the cord pull ties. Great way to dress up a bagpipe.
  • Rob Crabtree - The Piper's Journey CD A must have CD, September 13th, 2013
    This offering from Rob is such a soulful collection of music. With pipes, whistles, drums....it takes you to Scotland and lets you relax and enjoy Celtic music at its finest. Very relaxing and meditative. Great contrast to my regular listening of pipeband cd's and Word Championship compilations.
  • Simon Fraser University - Down Under CD My favourite SFU recording, September 13th, 2013
    From the moment you fire up this cd, you will be hypnotized. This was the first cd I purchased from SFU, and fell in love with "Blue Cloud" and so many other tunes. The sound and recording quality is outstanding. So much fun to listen to, and still play this cd often on my ipd while I'm at the gym.
  • When Pipers Play DVD History lesson for the Piper, September 13th, 2013
    Such a great video for any piper to view. I have owned this video for over a decade, and have loaned it to almost every member of my band, who in turn went and bought their own copy. New pipers seem to really appreciate the history in the video, and it is entertaining and educational all at the same time.
  • Rob Crabtree - The Piper's Christmas My favourite Christmas CD, September 13th, 2013
    Although it's only September when I write this, I know as soon as Remembrance Day is done, this cd makes its way back in my rotation of music at home. Rob is such a great player, and the recording quality is fantastic. I initially purchased the cd to help me select tunes to play for Christmas events, and fell in love with it. Not sure my children would agree :)
  • Warnock Chanter Reed by David Chesney Great reed for McCallum chanters, September 23rd, 2013
    The choice of our band for our McCallums, the Warnocks give great volume, easy to work with, and help create a very true scale that for us means less tape on the chanters. Handles moisture well too. Matched well with these chanters!
  • Gilmour Chanter Reeds Great reed for Kron Chanters, September 23rd, 2013
    I have a few of these reeds broken in for my Kron chanter, and the sound is fantastic. They are strong, so note that when ordering, but the volume they produce along with their longevity make them a great choice for most chanters.
  • Bannatyne Hide Synthetic Pipe Bag with Zipper Excellent Synthetic Bag, February 7th, 2013
    The hybrid bag is really popular in our band with those previously accustomed to a hide bag, with its heft and moisture control. The bottom zipper seems better than the side zipper as the zipper then does not come in contact with the player's forearm. Very easy to install and maintain!
  • Airstream Mouthpiece Great mouthpiece!, February 7th, 2013
    For myself and others who like to bite down on their mouthpiece and prefer playing from the center of the mouth, these oval mouthpieces are a God send. The oval shape also allows for more airflow. It may take some getting used to if you typically have played a standard mouthpiece.
  • Selbie Drone Reeds Great reeds for many drone bore sizes, February 7th, 2013
    I have found that for setting up fairly new pipers, these reeds are economical and yet easy to play. Easy to set up and adjust, the Selbie's sound exceptionally good in McCallum, Dunbar and MacLellan drones. The inverted bass tongue also makes strike ins so much easier for many pipers. Great price and great sounding. Many players in our band use this brand.
  • Reed Mandril Great tool for every piper's case, February 7th, 2013
    In my band, people seem to go through chanter reeds like water. Picking up this mandrel has added life to many a reed since it became part of my supplies in my case. Only wish I had picked this up earlier. A must for band and solo players alike.
  • Tunetape Pipe Chanter Tape Great tape for tuning, February 7th, 2013
    Unlike the last reviewer, I find this tape so easy to use and works better than most tapes I've tried. I am the primary tuner in our band, and every piper has at least two pieces of this tape on his/her chanter sole for me to slap on quickly. Last reviewer stated it slid down over the hole, but realistically, the tape needs to be changed often to make it effective. Great product.
  • McCallum Poly Band Chanter Great band chanter, February 7th, 2013
    Our band has been using McCallum pipe chanters for a decade now. The volume we get from players of varying ability is excellent. Well made, very consistent scale, and economical price make it a great choice for bands. Easy to reed, it makes a Pipe Sergeant's life, like mine, a lot easier come time for tuning. Some people with smallish hands find them hard to get used to, but other than that they are foolproof.
  • Kinnaird Kanister Moisture Control Good alternative to the Ross system, September 7th, 2013
    Just finished a week of playing with Kanister, and I am impressed. Reduced the moisture in my bag tenfold without affecting volume in my drones. I like that I can easily remove the system for drying. It is a little heavy, so I have to get used to that, but otherwise a great product for wet blowers like myself. Highly recommend it.
  • Piper's Pal Reed Protector Great Cap for Your Reeds, September 7th, 2013
    This chanter cap is a must for all of us in dry climates, or in particular for me, in the winter in conditions where forced air heating dries out wood and cane horribly. Protection plus humidifying makes this a must for all pipers!
  • McCallum AB2 Bagpipes Great all around blackwood bagpipe!, September 7th, 2013
    Quality construction, nicely trimmed, and easy to reed makes this the choice of over half of the players in my pipeband. Made in the likeness of old Lawrie pipes, they are easy to reed, and produce a great tone for band or solo playing. Consistency of manufacture is wonderful, and McCallum's customer service is first rate. This would make the ideal first set of blackwood pipes for anyone. I find they set up well with Canning, Kinnaird, and Selbie drone reeds.
  • Classic Inverness Cape A must for any piper's kit!, September 7th, 2013
    I found out this past Labour Day, as I stepped of in a parade in Hamilton, Ontario in a pouring rain, this cape is a must. 15 minutes prior to the parade, the sky was overcast, but I made sure the case was in its pouch and attached to my belt. First drop of rain, out came the cape. Kept me and my pipes dry while waiting, and once I stepped off, I was comfortable under the cape. Only addition I'd make is some non-slip or bag grip material for the left shoulder for the top of the bass drone so it does little slipping. Got to have a cape with you for such emergencies!
  • SFU Live from New York City Great Cd for your Car, September 8th, 2013
    Love the flavour of this offering from SFU. Very international feel to the cd, with tunes from Australia, South Africa, and a slice of NYC! Found the sound quality to be excellent. Some surprises with the singing and session chanters. One of my favourites for traveling in my car.
  • Ezeedrone Reeds Set the Standard, September 8th, 2013
    Ezeedrone reeds are the staple of many a band. In my band, over half the players use these reeds. Easy to adjust, easy to set up, and maintenance free. Many people use the tenors along with a cane bass to get an optimal sound. I find the reeds a little finicky for strike ins for some newer players, and would suggest the inverted bass drone reed to cure some of that issue.
  • Shepherd Drone Reeds- Old Style Great first set of reeds, September 8th, 2013
    These reeds have been in use for over 20 years. They are really great for the new player who wants to be able to play with ease. The tongues are also easily replaced when fatigued. They have some limitations in set up, and can sound harsh if played in poly pipes, but overall, an easy reed choice for the new player.
  • Bannatyne Willie McCallum Custom Pipe Bag Great, comfortable bag, September 8th, 2013
    I purchased the hybrid version for my solo pipe, hoping to alleviate some of my left forearm stress I sometimes feel with my Ross bag. This bag did the trick. Comfortable, not too large, and the cutaway allows more freedom of movement. Bottom zipper is great too. I do caution you have a moisture control system: the bag retains a lot of moisture. My go to bag for solo work!
  • Kitchen Pipes Great for students!, September 9th, 2013
    I picked up a set of these kitchen pipes for our band to loan to students "in between" the practice chanter and the full highland bagpipe. This allows students to learn to blow and squeeze and play with drones, but still be cost efficient and able to play indoors. Fun to play, they do take a little time to set up as the drone reeds are practice chanter reeds. Experienced pipers may have to learn to not blow too hard or the drones will shut off. Great for practice and for students.
  • McCallum Band Socks Great hose for bands, September 9th, 2013
    The McCallum hose is a great option for bands as they are well made, competitively priced, and give a look of popcorn style tops, but at a smaller price. The colour options are great to then match with shirts and kilt. Our band is moving away from the creme to denim, which also washes and wears better.
  • HBT3 Highland Bagpipe Tuner Great tuner for the Solo Player, September 9th, 2013
    Given the size and accuracy of this great tuner, it's really a great idea to slip one in to your sporran for solo performances. I have one in my sporran for such an occasion. Often, I have little time between performances and this helps with a quick tuning.
  • Shepherd Chanter Reed Great reed for Naill Chanters, September 23rd, 2013
    I have set up a couple of solo player chanters for bandmates playing Naill blackwood chanters with this great reed. Seem to bring out the best in scale and volume with these chanters. A little quirky with moisture, but overall a solid choice.
  • Frazer Warnock Practice Chanter Reeds Excellent band p.c. reed, September 25th, 2013
    Our band uses these p.c. reeds, and we find they provide a true scale and good volume, but not too loud. Also excellent in kitchen pipes. Nice to have an entire band using the same reeds so even the practice chanters can match up.