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How Moist is your Bag?

posted May 27, 2011, 9:21 PM by Lachie Munro   [ updated Oct 12, 2011, 11:33 PM ]

There are so many different bagpipe moisture control systems out today, it really is difficult to notice the very minor differences between the brands. That is, until it is too late and you have some sort of unfortunate mold growth springing into existance. Recently the members of the band decided to research the effectiveness of the many different systems and brands on the market Do you throw as much cash as possible at the problem, intimidating it and making it go away? Or is the simplest method the best? Read on to find out which system is tailored for your needs.

For starters, some say that it all depends on what you have under your arm. Hyde bags have been found to absorb moisture at a greater rate than the newer synthetic bags. So for those of you who have recently purchased a new set with a synthetic bag, moisture control is probably something to look into. If your pipes fall under this category and you don't have a system already you could get lucky, and never need worry about it. For the unfortunate few however, the tonal quality of the pipes can be put well off, (experienced first hand by the band).
The guys at Celtic Affairs in Victoria offer a great range of systems. The Bannatyne Universal Pressure Moisture Control System (UPMC) is a pretty good package for the piping enthusiast if you are willing to fork over the $95. Air blown into the bag is diverted through a desiccant (a drying agent that has a high affinity for water), which promotes a dryer, better set of pipes. The pack also includes a set of drone controllers which assist in clean drone starts/finishes, along with the added moisture control of your drones. Sold seperately for $59, the inclusion of this set may make the purchase of this system worth your time.
 For the same price a similar system can be purchsed which includes quick stop drone valves and a plastic water trap. The yellow drone valves contain gel beads which are made of, I'm assuming, some similar form of desiccant. From personal experince these valves have a tendancy to fall out of place the instant you turn your unsuspecting back, rendering them rather useless to your drone enhancement. Hemp, tape, you name it we tried it - these yellow things just love to annoy you. The water trap, or 'bagpipe bong' as some have named it works well on the other hand diverting any mould build up into a little plastic bottle. I use this specific water trap system and I find it to work just fine.
Last but not least, this Victorian company offers the Shepherd Water Trap which is basically the functional part of the above system. It also comes for less than half the price ($39). What a bargain you must be shouting! I have not tried this system personally however so I cannot comment as to whether it is or is not as effective as the water trap included in the UPMC system. I would have to say that there would not be too much variation between the two, and I guess it is just personal preference.
For the creative few out there, a number of designs have been released for a DIY water trap system, but as mentioned, it all comes down to personal preference [note: attachment at the end of the post contains information on building your own water trap]. If you want to spend the extra cash then the Bannatyne or UPMC may be for you. Otherwise I suggest going for a simple water trap system whether it means purchasing from a trusted supplier or having a go at making your own. There are a number of different providers out there and I have only scratched the surface of brands, but overall you won't find too much variation between styles. 
Lachie Munro,
May 27, 2011, 9:54 PM