What should be in my maintenance kit?

Every piper should have a maintenance kit. Some portion of it might stay at home and another portion of it might travel. Typical contents should include:

Maintenance Issue


Mechanical issues of stock and slide slipping/fitting. Yellow Hemp - a 1 ounce spool When done, apply a layer of wax to waterproof and lubricate.
Base layer for stocks, setting chanter reeds, making drone reed bridles, securing drone reeds into seats, fixing drone cords or shoelaces in a pinch. Black waxed hemp - a 1 ounce spool A great improvement over Cobbler's wax rubbed onto yellow hemp.. A base layer of black waxed hemp on stocks or drone slides keeps the yellow hemp from spinning. Don't use black waxed hemp for drone slides as it tends to stick (not slip).
Waterproofing/lubricating yellow hemp layers. Wax Beeswax is routinely sold for this purpose, but a two inch square of paraffin sealing wax (used in food canning) is cheaper, doesn't melt, doesn't get full of fibers and lasts forever.
Something to cut hemp. Scissors/knife/Skean Dubh- Swiss army knife or small Leatherman tool is often much more versatile and useful. Strongly recommended for black waxed variety. "Macho" types may want to publicly break yellow hemp by hand, but should note that using the Skean Dubh makes for an equally good show and won't cut your hands!
Something to adjust chanter reed strength. Emery board - some prefer razor knife, sandpaper or file. Also may be useful for trimming nails at last minute before you meet those paying for the gig!
Chanter reed replacement. Chanter reeds -At least three. One ready to play. Only a dummy would go without spares.
Drone reed repair. Drone reeds or tongues. At least a set of tongues or extra bass and tenor assemblies. Different reeds require different bits. Black waxed hemp can be used for bridles in a pinch.
Blowstick leaking.
Petroleum Jelly or antibiotic ointment.
Replacement flapper valve.
(Pliers for Airstream disassembly.)
Replace hemp with black waxed hemp if blowstick leaks at stock. If a leather valve is leaking moisten it with saliva or lubricate with petroleum jelly and tamp it closed. If you have a "Little Mac" beware tamping as you may ruin the blowstick. See"Should I bore out my blowstick? " for more details.
Drone Cord Problems Needle and black/white thread, hemp, cable ties colored if possible. I stitch one side of my drone cords and use cable ties for the others.  It makes changing them easier.
Uniform repair. Needle and black/white thread - Good for buttons, hats, drone cords, kilt buckles, hats, epaulets,

Safety pins: At least five - all big enough to pin layers of kilt together and keep kilt in place when a buckle fails.

Shoelaces.Can use black waxed hemp in a pinch.

Outfits generally get less attention than pipes and may need last minute repairs.
Wiping moisture out of drones. Bore Swab. Every time you're done.
Wiping moisture out of chanter. Chanter Swab. Every time you're done.
Protect the chanter reed. Reed Cap. Can make from 3/4" PVC tubing for most pipes. ALWAYS remove chanter from bag when done playing or it will mildew.
Repair a torn bag/Canmore grommet. Electrical or Duct Tape or "Goop". Hose clamp for tie-in fix! I hope you'll never need to think about using this.
Adjust the pitch of individual notes. Some form of tape about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Check out the pros and cons of different tapes here
Set the pitch of fellow pipers. Electronic Tuner. Any tuner will make the job easier.  A really good ear will also suffice.
Wiping tape "stickum" from chanter.  Isopropyl alcohol or "Goo-Gone".  Handi-wipes or Diaper-wipes also work to remove food/pop/sunscreen from your hands.  Use stronger solvents (lacquer thinner or nail polish remover) at your own risk!

Leave at Home

Limiting Moisture uptake by drones Bore Oil or Floor wax. Bore oil is available at any musical instrument store. This is low viscosity mineral oil.
Application of oil/wax. Gun cleaning kit or clarinet swab. Select gun swabs for dimensions of bores. May need to replace swabs every time if you use oil.
Replacement for mouthpiece protector. Latex tubing Only do this a couple days before you need it. I find this replacement to frequently be hard on my thumbs.
Seal drones for Seasoning Four #3 stoppers (rubber) Cork stoppers use different numbers.
Stopping drones for practice/conditioning One #1 stopper for bass, two #0 stoppers for tenors (rubber) Cork stoppers use different numbers.
Hide bag not quite airtight. Airtight Seasoning. Warm the can in a pan filled with HOT tap water. Use one third can per treatment. Allow to drain out overnight before counting on it. I like to warm the bag in an oven (200 F) before putting in the seasoning as I think it works better.
Pipe bag defective/leaking badly. A new bag and tie in cord. This is an advanced exercise required knowledge, strength and focus. Most vendors offer this service if you can take the time to send your pipes. I find that having the center drone hole about 2" in front of what all the instructions say to be right for me. It matches what Canmore does!
Chanter/Drone Modifications Reamers, deburring tools, taps, Dremel tools, etc. Dangerous if you aren't sure. Should be grade II or better to do this!
For ultimate in drone tuning. Cork and cork grease. Do this only if you know how (see Should I put cork on the drone slides?).


  Mandrel for chanter reeds.  

Don't Bother

  Teflon plumber's tape Use paraffin wax instead. This stuff always ends up in the drone bores!
  Sealing wax Use paraffin or throw the reed away!
  Cobbler's wax Use Black waxed hemp. Less mess. Works better.
Copyright S.K. MacLeod 1996-2016