Uilleann Pipe "Budget" Practice Set by Patrick Sky
Sky's pipes are an excellent value Review by Mick
I actually own a Sky "Full Practice Set" (very similar to this one, but with leather bag, routed bellows, and ebony chanter). So I can't speak to specific characteristics of his budget set, but I'm so pleased with my "Full Practice Set," whose chanter is the same design, reeds are identical, and overall craftsmanship and execution are presumably the same, that I wanted to put in a good word for Mr. Sky's work.
Mr. Sky delivered to me, on time, a carefully-tuned, hand-crafted instrument that I was able to have success learning to play, almost immediately (with the help of his "Manual for the Uilleann Pipes" and especially H.J. Clarke's method). When I was able to start taking lessons with a local piper -- for which there's no substitute -- my teacher verified that various issues I was having were strictly beginner's errors, and that my instrument is in fact responsive, well-tuned, and altogether solid!
There are cheaper Practice Sets available, but the odds are quite slim of finding a cheaper set with a chanter and reed that play responsively (without thousands of pounds of bag-pressure ;-) and in tune relative both to A-440 and to itself. (Making a chanter that doesn't have specific notes that are sharp or flat relative to its tonic (D), is a major challenge for pipemakers, even when they're using a "known-good" design & materials -- there are lots of variables.)
If you check out the forums at Chiff and Fipple, thesession.org, and elsewhere, you'll easily verify that at this price-point, Patrick Sky and David Daye are reputed to be the ones who most consistently produce solid chanters/reeds for the beginner on a budget. I can vouch for the quality of Mr. Sky's work -- I'm a very happy customer!
One last note: if you deal with Patrick Sky directly, you'll find him to be extremely gracious, helpful, and encouraging. His passion and affection for the Uilleann Pipes are infectious. (Posted on 3/16/11)
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