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The primary emphasis of the San Francisco Pipers' Club is on the uilleann pipes, though some members play other pipes such as the zamponia, gaida, and great highland bagpipes. The uilleann (also called "union") pipes are Irish bellows-blown bagpipes consisting of chanter, drones, regulators, bellows and bag. Uilleann pipes have become more widely recognized lately through their use in movies and on various TV commercials.

More detailed information on uilleann pipes can be found at the sites listed on the links page.

Getting Started with the Uilleann Pipes

Since the uilleann pipes are a difficult instrument to play, it is a good idea to try learning the tin-whistle first. The music is the same, and the fingering is very similar. The tin whistle, however, is physically much less demanding, and isn't overly sensitive to atmospheric conditions as uilleann pipe reeds are.

Once you have decided to learn the uilleann pipes, you will need to get a practice set of pipes. A practice set consists of a bag, bellows and chanter. Drones and regulators can be added to a practice set later to make a full set.

If you decide to buy a practice set, you may be able to find a used one, or you can have one made by a pipe maker. Practice sets typically cost in the range of $600-$1,200. A full set costs in the range of $6,000-$10,000. A number of pipe makers located in the Bay Area are listed on the contacts page. Some tips on buying uilleann pipes as well as a more complete list of makers can be found on the NPU web site. It is recommended to do thorough research before purchasing a set of pipes to help ensure that you will be satisfied with your purchase.

Once you have your hands on a set of pipes, you should get some lessons to get started. Some teachers in the Bay Are are listed on the contacts page. There are also a number of good tutor books and videos available. See the links page.

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