I started Peter’s Pipes in March, 1996, when I came up with replacement tongues for the Shepherd plastic drone reeds I was playing. One day, while practicing, the bass drone became very unstable. I pulled the drone thinking I had a reed about ready to fall into the bag, when the tongue just popped. Not finding replacements readily available, I came up with my own. Then, as other members of the Louisville Pipe Band had their Shepherd tongues fail, I gave them replacements. When demand went up, I started selling them.
My next project came about when I thought I’d try and make a set of pipes out of Delrin. I spent hours measuring every set of pipes I could and many more hours resurrecting my college physics books, doing research at the library and buying books about wind instruments. It took several weeks of engineering, designing and machining, but the final product was more than satisfactory. The sound I was after was that of the old MacDougals, and I came darn close with this first set.
After my initial success with the Delrin prototype, I made 3 sets out of Bois de Rose (Rosewood from Madagascar). I chose this species of Rosewood after researching woods, looking for a less expensive alternative to African Blackwood. I didn’t want to spend the money for Blackwood until I was satisfied with my design. Bois de Rose has the same grain structure, natural oils and machining characteristics as Blackwood. After getting my personal set of Bois de Rose drones set up, I am more than satisfied with the sound, as are the judges that have heard them in solo competitions. Mike Cusack, Alisdair Gillies, Norman Gillies, Colin MacLellan, Sandy Jones, John Wassner and Dougie Pincock, to name a few, have all commented on the great sound these pipes produce. Some people run down Rosewood as far as its use for bagpipes. I do not have experience with any other variety other than Bois de Rose, but Bois de Rose is every bit as good as African Blackwood. The only major differences I have discovered are 1) Bois de Rose is a little less dense than Blackwood making it a little lighter in weight, and 2) it’s 30% of the cost of Blackwood. And, 3) its burgundy color when it freshly machined.
Since the first Delrin prototype and the 3 Rosewood sets, I have made and sold several dozen sets of drones made out of Delrin, Bois de Rose and African Blackwood. The Delrin model has been very popular, and I have even have an open class piper, Skip Cleavinger, playing a set of my Delrins in the Celtic rock band – CEILIDH RAIN.