Gannaway Pipe Bags

Pipe Bags - FAQ's & Information


Although most pipe bag manufacturers offer a 12 month warranty with their bags, we're pleased to provide a two-year warranty, covering leather and manufacturing defects, on all of our cowhide pipe bags.

Since 2007, we have kept track of every bag that we have manufactured by stamping sequential numbers on the outside rear of the pipe bag.  We understand that people lose track of sales receipts so, in the unlikely event of a warranty claim, we can refer to our manufacturing log to determine when a bag was made, which batch of leather was used, etc.

How long should my bag last?

How long a pipe bag lasts does vary between pipers, depending on how often they play, their environment, etc.  Leather is a natural product so it should be expected that skin fibres will eventually break down, making bags more susceptable to leaks, stretching, etc.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that bags are often past their best after 1 to 2 years for sheepskin, and roughly 4 years for cow hide.  Gannaway bags are made from New Zealand cowhide and are known to last for many years with proper care and maintenance, however there will come a point in time that the bag is past it's best, potentially compromising airtightness, tone, and even hygiene.

Dressing/Seasoning & Priming

Should I dress/season my Gannaway Pipe Bag?

A few pipers hold a misconception that leather bags are high maintenance, requiring constant dressing to keep them airtight, etc.  20+ years ago this may have been the case, but Gannaway Pipe Bags actually require remarkably little maintenance.  The time required to maintain a modern leather bag is actually less than that for maintaining most other pipe bag set-ups available!

A simple maintenance regime, that includes dressing your bag, is still important for a number of reasons, most notably:

1. Aiding moisture control by drawing a great deal of moisture to the interior walls of the bag, keeping reeds drier for longer.

2. Helping to keep the bag airtight.

3. Helping to maintain leather quality, keeping it supple and helping to prevent leather from becoming stiff if too dry.

How often should I dress/season my Gannaway Pipe Bag?

Depending on your environment and how often you play, a light dressing every four-six weeks (approximately) is often sufficient to keep your cowhide bag in top condition.  Sheepskin bags do require more maintenance, so a light dressing every two-three weeks may be required.  If you're unsure whether your bag requires dressing, look inside your bag (for zip models) - a film of dressing should always be evident, as per photograph below - or rub the interior walls together.  You should be able to feel a slight amount of slipperiness/tackiness.  If you allow the interior of your bag to dry out (completely), it will be difficult to keep airtight.

Above, example of a well-dressed/seasoned pipe bag.

NB.  Our manufacturing technique significantly reduces the need for dressing.  The 'old-fashioned' sloppy feel is not desirable and may shorten the life of your pipe bag.

What Dressing/Seasoning should I use?

We recommend Highlander Dressing, manufactured by us, as it is manufactured to complement the leather used to make Gannaway Pipe Bags.

Do not use Airtight Seasoning in Zip-bags.

When should I prime by bag?

A bottle of Gannaway Leather Primer is included with every new Gannaway Pipe Bag.  The primer works as the initial treatment following tie-in, to ensure air-tightness as it helps to seal pores, in and around stock joins, etc.

After priming, dressing works well to maintain airtightness, but as the primer is water-based, it will dilute from normal playing.  We recommend re-priming Gannaway Pipe Bags at least once a year, when a bag starts to feel 'soft', or when dressing (alone) no longer works to achieve airtightness.  Naturally, more regular players may need to re-prime more often.

It is not necessary to clean out dressing residue prior to re-priming a Gannaway Pipe bag.

Please note: Gannaway Leather Primer contains no preservatives, so will expire if not used within several months of manufacture.  To test; if a strong odour emits when the lid is removed, do not use the bottle.  Primer should be stored in a cool, dark place.


Checking a bag for leaks

1. Ensure your blowpipe valve is working properly and is airtight.  If it is, then sucking at the mouthpiece and creating a vacuum will allow you to hold the entire blowpipe on the end of your tongue!

2. Put rubber stoppers in the chanter stock and each of the drone stocks.

3. Inflate the bag as tight as possible.  Leave the bag for 20-30 seconds, then try to inflate the bag by mouth again.  If it is difficult to blow any more air into the bag, then the bag is well and truly airtight for you to play.

During playing, every player blows into their bag somewhere between 1-3 second intervals so, if doing the above test (which is at full-strength blowing capacity), and a leak can not be detected at 20-30 second intervals, then it would be impossible to detect any affect on playing (which is at a much lower pressure) within 1-3 seconds.

Quite often, when pipes seem harder than expected (to blow), the first consideration is that the bag may be leaking.  Of course, there are a number of other reasons why pipes may be harder to blow, including; loose or cracked stocks, loose joints, leaking blowpipe valve or restrictive blowpipe bore, or reeds that may have opened up/require re-setting.

In completing the above test, if deflation of the bag is noticeable, consider when the bag was last dressed or primed (see Dressing/Priming section above): it will be most likely that dressing or re-priming is required.

In the normal course of playing, dressing will slowly work its way to the bottom of the bag and the neck area will become dry, making this area more susceptible to air-loss through the leather's pores.  Correct this by pouring a small amount of dressing down the chanter and tenor stocks, and work the dressing around the top of the bag.  If the bag has a zip, it's often easiest to place your hand inside a plastic bag and use your fingers to massage the dressing around the neck area inside the bag.

If priming or dressing does not remedy any deflation, it is important to locate exactly where any leakage may be occurring.

A leather pipe bag is very different from a rubber bicycle tube.  If a pipe bag is put under water a confusion of bubbles will appear from the suede surface that holds a lot of air, and air will often track along vein lines.  The only accurate method of determining where a leak may be is to pour a cup of water into the pipe bag, then tightly inflate the bag. Any problem areas will soon be evident however please note; wet patches are not evidence (alone) of a leak.  If there is a leak, you will see water bubbling through the problem area.

Never submerge a leather pipe bag in water.

Getting used to a new Pipe Bag

Gannaway Pipe Bags are famous for their comfort.  However, every new pipe bag can take a little while to get used to, particularly if a player has been using a different make of bag for some time prior to changing.

For younger pipers who are still growing - and adults too, for that matter - a new bag presents a good opportunity to re-examine bag position and playing posture.  Some pipers hold their bag in an awkward position which can cause slipping and general discomfort.

Good playing posture also plays a significant role in steady blowing, and producing quality tone.

Below, an effective method for checking bag position and playing posture that will be of some benefit to any piper , whether playing a new or an old bag:

1. Without bagpipes, stand up straight with level and relaxed shoulders.

2. Hold your hands directly in front as if playing on the pipe chanter, and lift your bag arm up at the elbow enough for the bag.  This will place your bag elbow in front of your shoulder.  When you blow your pipes up (with the new bag), try this position.  The bag can still be placed forward or back, to some degree, without altering this basic position.  Holding your pipes in this position will have the bass drone pointing in a straight line to the way you are facing, not at an awkward angle across your shoulders.

3. The bag should be in line with the waist, and not up under the armpit.  A bag pushed up too high has a much greater chance of slipping and invariably raises the shoulder.  Make sure the blowpipe is the correct length and comfortable.

With good bag position, a Gannaway Pipe Bag will quickly 'mould to your body', helping you to blow steady and play more comfortably, for longer periods.