Make your own 'bagpipes' with a garbage bag and recorders

Originally published at:


Combining the elegance of the bagpipe with the tonal precision of the recorder, what could go wrong?


If I wanted to go that far, I’d go the extra mile and make the drones/chanter out of PVC with shopping bag membranes.

Man, now my giant pipe-organ (or smaller grinder organ) dreams have been reawakened.

1 Like

And of course, you can fabricate a serviceable double reed out of a plastic drinking straw. Let’s make the whole instrument out of garbage!

(By the way - it won’t sound like a Scottish or Irish bagpipe. There are indigenous bagpipes that have fipples instead of reeds. They sound just as horrible as this instrument.)

Crafty! However, if you’re concerned with how the instrument sounds, I think this kid wins with his DIY bagpipe:


This is legal?


Once a professional soloist left their heirloom/antique bagpipes in the back seat with the door unlocked while they were at a party downtown. Part way into the night, they realized their mistake, and bolted out the door but it was too late - looking through the window into the back seat they found someone had broken into the car and left a second set of pipes.

(stolen from an accordion player; insert other instrument as appropriate)



1 Like

The only thing that can stop a bad guy with an accordion is a good guy with bagpipes.


What’s next, a DIY on cooking up ricin at home?


Works the other way around too.

Best bagpipe tall story ever:

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Saskatchewan back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.

When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”


I’ve got a fairly elegant set of Great Highland Bagpipes that I occasionally attempt to play. It’s pretty obvious that the reason so many people hate the pipes is that there are too many people like me flailing away with the things. If you hear a really great piper play - with precise timing, articulated grace notes, finely tuned reeds, and complete control of pressure for the drones and chanter…it can be an evocative experience.

Otherwise, this plastic bag and toy flute set-up will probably do just as well.

BTW…The Septic System Piper story is a classic from the Great Canon of Bagpipe Jokes. My personal favorite. Here’s another:

Q: How do you tell the difference between bagpipe tunes?
A: The titles.


Yup, just like the real thing.

1 Like

Oh you mean an actual bagpipe?

Seriously, I wonder if you could replace the recorders’ mouthpieces with actual reeded mouth pieces? Something like this silly little instrument I found on Amazon.

What a terrible racket but the ingenuity made me smile.

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing and thanks for doing such a wonderful and kind thing for that man.

At my aunt’s funeral a couple of years ago, one of her friends played at the services and then at the grave side. I was standing behind my aunt’s partner, and my cousin was one of the pall bearers and was on the other side across from me. After the priest said his bit, the piper began to play Amazing Grace, and my poor cousin lost it. His daughter was hanging onto him, and I just went over and gave him a big old hug (which was tough, since I’m 5’ and he’s like 6’something). Something about Amazing Grace on bagpipes that gets ya every time.

1 Like

Nice to see a proud Scottish tradition live on down the ages.

Bagpipes usually have double reeds (like an oboe) rather than single reeds (like a sax)- you can make a suitable double reed with a plastic drinking straw.