Last Updated: April 8, 2023
Uilleann Pipes

Uilleann pipes were designed in the mid-eighteenth century for the first time in Ireland. People also call them union pipes. We have compiled a comprehensive guide for this musical instrument.

How Do Uilleann Pipes Work?

Uilleann Pipes is a peculiar musical instrument that can play notes without pause.

There is no need to use your lungs to blow the air in these pipes.

You will find the function of each part of this article in this article.

Bellows set

This part differentiates the uilleann pipes from the Highland Bagpipes.

It is a small air pump you have to strap this part to your waist and arm.

A right-handed player will strap it to the right arm.

You can use the opposite configuration for people with a dominant left arm.

The player can press the bellows with his elbow to generate air pressure.

This pressure will travel to the airbag.

This mechanism is responsible for two benefits.

It will produce dry air and prevents water accumulation in the airbag.

There is no need to stop to clear water from the airbag.

You can also sing while playing this instrument.

People with weak lungs can use these pipes to play melodies.

Related Article: How Bagpipes Work?


When you push the bellows with your elbow, the air comes into the airbag.

This part maintains the air pressure due to flexible walls.

You can stop bellows for a few seconds when the airbag has high air pressure.

It will keep flowing air from the music-producing parts of the pipes.

It is impossible to play notes without pause if you do not have an airbag.


This part is responsible for the melody production in these pipes because the player can play different notes by closing the tone holes.

The chanter has a reed for sound production.

The chanter of uilleann pipes is not the same as the highland bagpipes.

Highland bagpipes only produce one octave.

You cannot play high and low notes on the highland bagpipes.

If you use more pressure on the bellows, you can overblow the airbag.

It will produce a high octave to make sharp notes.

You can use the average blowing pressure to play the flat notes.


This instrument has three drone pipes.

The reeds in the drone pipes produce sound.

Air leaks from the drone continuously to produce sound.

Drones make the melody peculiar because they play the notes at different locations of the octave.


The highland bagpipes do not have regulators as this part is available only in the Uilleann instruments.

The player can open the regulator’s keys with the wrist.

He can play different notes on the regulator pipes.

It allows the player to play the melodies that are impossible in other instruments of bagpipes class.

Top 10 Uilleann Pipes for Sale

You can enjoy the sweet melodies of uilleann musical instruments if you choose an authentic product.

Most of these pipes are expensive.

Most people cannot afford to make mistakes in the selection process.

We have arranged a list of the top ten uilleann pipe instruments to help you select the best product according to your budget and quality requirements.

1. Bagpipes 524 Uilleann Practice Pipes

You can choose these pipes if you want a reliable product for a lower price.

It is a perfect practice set with a bag, chanter, and bellows.

This instrument requires less care because companies are making it from synthetic materials.

You can also carry it around with ease as it only weighs 3.5 pounds.

A beginner can buy this instrument due to the low price.

2. Irish Uilleann Bagpipes, Full Set, Blackwood

Most beginner-friendly uilleann instruments do not have regulators.

Companies save the cost of making the regulators and give products at a lower price.

You can get this instrument to learn the true essence of uilleann pipes because it has regulators.

The price is higher than the other low-quality instruments in the market.

It will not cause any issues as companies are making these instruments from blackwood.

This wood is durable as the instrument will operate for many years.

A case, bag, chanter, drones, and bellows set are the parts of the product.

It produces excellent sound because it has notes in the “D” range.

3. Uilleann Pipes Practice Set Bagpipes With Tutor Book

These bagpipes come with a tutor book.

The bagpipe music book is perfect for learning bagpipes because it teaches everything about bagpipe design and melody.

This instrument makes a high-quality sound due to the leather airbag.

You will also get a black carry bag in the package.

You can carry it with ease after putting it in the bag.

It is a practice set that you can play to impress others also.

4. Uilleann Pipes For Sale

It is also a practice set. You will get all the parts of the uilleann instrument in the package.

They have bellows, airbags, a chanter reed, and a chanter with four keys in it.

It has an impressive appearance due to the cord bag covering the airbag.

They will guide you to play the instrument on the website.

The bag is made of leather to produce a sweet sound.

5. Irish Uilleann Bagpipe Practice Set 3 Key Chanter Booklet

This product is perfect for people who are afraid that they may damage the equipment during practice.

You will get two synthetic reeds and two cane reeds with the product.

It will allow you to practice without fear as you have replacement reeds.

You can play the high and low D notes on this instrument.

You can make C, G major, and F notes when you play the nickel keys.

It is easier to take care of this instrument because of the synthetic bag.

They have durable synthetic material in the airbag.

It will look elegant as the chanter is made of rosewood.

6. Irish Uilleann Bagpipe Practice Set (Starter) With 3 Keys Chanter (African Blackwood) Uilleann Pipes By Hakam Din

It is one of the most dynamic practice sets with a three-key chanter.

The chanter plays a high and flat octave in the D tone.

You can choose these bagpipes if you want the latest design.

They made this design in 2019.

They will give one of the best charter reeds to play the best melodies.

You can rely on its durability because it is made of Blackwood.

The airbag is also made of thick material to increase its durability.

They will also give you a case to carry the instrument.

It will protect the instrument and make it easy to carry.

You are not limited due to the unavailability of the notes.

It has two octaves and three extra notes to improve your melody compositions.

They give one of the best books to learn this instrument.

You will have everything you need to play melodies when you buy this package.

7. Uilleann Practice Chanter, Rosewood

If you do not want to practice with the full instrument, you can start with this package.

It has one practice chanter made of rosewood.

There is a plastic tube at one end.

You can blow air into this tube to make a sound.

If you are planning to practice melodies only, you can use this chanter to practice.

You can control the volume by reducing the air pressure coming from your mouth.

You can also adjust the length of the blowing tube to achieve a perfect length.

It is suitable for beginners only.

Advanced users should use the complete set with all the parts.

You can fit this chanter with other parts of the instrument.

8. Roosebeck Ebony Uilleann Chanter W/ Keys

This chanter has brass keys to improve your playing experience.

It has excellent Indian design due to the professional designers.

You will get a reed in the package after ordering it from the company.

They want that you experience the sound of this instrument from the time you receive it.

It is durable because the company made it with solid blackwood.

It makes a smooth and sweet sound due to the high-quality reed and the blackwood chanter.

You can also fit this chanter to the other parts of the starter kit to make the complete equipment.

You should practice the melodies with the chanter only.

Once you are proficient, you can get the starter kit and enjoy the music.

9. Uilleann Drone Reed Set, 3, Carbon Fiber

You can choose this product if you want some change.

It is the most durable drone set on the market.

The strength is due to the aluminum tubes.

They have enhanced their strength with carbon fiber.

It is also crucial to know that these drones are handcrafted for perfection.

It is one of the few products in the bagpipes market that has a warranty.

The company is confident about the product.

They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the product.

Advanced players can also use these drones due to their excellent sound.

10. Uilleann Bagpipes Chanter Reeds Of Spanish Cane 6pcs/Uilleann Pipes Reed/Reeds

These are the reed sets for people looking for a durable product.

You will get six reeds in one package.

These reeds are durable because they have a copper plate at the bottom of the Spanish cane.

They also have a copper stable on the top to hold the cane perfectly.

You can expect high quality from this product because each of these reeds is made by an expert technician.

You can put it in the pipes with ease.

It is also easy to adjust this reed in the pipe to produce the most suitable sound.

To know their excellent sound production abilities, everyone must test the Spanish cane reeds.

Etymology of Uilleann Pipes

Most people think that the word uilleann is uncommon as people do not use it regularly.

It is not strange for the Irish people because they know the meaning of this word.

Uilleann word is derived from the uillinn. This word means elbow. When you say the word Uilleann pipes, you are referring to the pipes of the elbow.

It is true because people use elbows to play this instrument.

Some purposes that Uilleann is derived from the union by the rebels.

It was to stop people from using the word union.

They claim that the rebels did not like the union of Britain, so they changed the union pipe’s name to the Uilleann.

Some people also proposed that these pipes were known as the Woollen pipes in the time of Shakespeare.

The word Uilleann is derived from Woollen.

The most authentic theory about its name is the one that means an instrument of the elbow.

The word Uilleann came from the Uillinn.

History of Uilleann Pipes

The Uilleann pipes are derived from pastoral pipes.

The design also came from the Northumbrian small pipes.

The pipes with bellows were extinct before the eighteenth century.

Everyone was looking for bagpipes due to the war.

These were common in the war.

After recovering the bellows mechanics from the Northumbrian small pipes, it became possible to recover the Uilleann instruments.

The experts took ideas from the pastoral pipes because people could play them while sitting and standing.

It is hard to say who the inventor was and how much time it took for these pipes to reach the final design.

Most people used it for protests.

Many names in history played these pipes to protest.

People of the Anglo-Irish community are most famous for these pipes.

Some people took their pipes with them to graves.

People recovered the Uilleann pipes later from the graves to understand the design.

How are Uilleann Pipes Tuned?

The chanter length determines the tuning of the pipes.

You need to tune the instrument on the D key.

This tradition was initiated by the Taylor brothers in the 19th century.

You need to tune the instrument when the drones and the regulators do not match the chanter tune.

If they are unmatched, it is impossible to play the melodies.

You can get a tuner to tune the drone and regulator pipes.

Experts tune them with the help of the bell note of the chanter.

Chanter makes this note from the bottom key.

You need to choose the correct type of pipes to get the right tune.

The tune depends on the bore size of the pipes also.

What Are the Variations of Uilleann Pipes?

Experts categorize the uilleann pipes based on the parts.

If all the parts of the pipes are available in the set, we call it the full set.

It has bellows, an airbag, a chanter, drones, and regulators.

You can make the half set if you remove the regulators from the instrument.

You will not get the drones and the regulators when you buy a practice set.

Experts use all types of sets to perform on the stage.

If you only want to practice melodies, you can play the chanter by blowing air from your mouth.

Practice set

This set has bellows, a chanter, and a bag.

It is perfect for beginners who want to learn melodies.

People prefer the practice set instead of the chanter because they will also learn to control the air pressure.

They can push the air into the airbag from the bellows mechanism.

The air will go to the chanter and make the sound.

It is easier to hear your melodies with a chanter only.

You can increase your learning speed with the practice set.

Some experts also use it on specific occasions.

If many experts play together, they do not want the drones and regulators to disturb their melody.

Some of them will play the full set, and others will play the practice set.

Half set

You will get a half set if you add the drones to the practice pipes set.

This set is perfect for people who have practiced with the practice set for a while.

Most companies produce pipes with detachable drones.

You can attach up to three drones to these pipes.

Some pastoral pipes had five drones.

The first drone is known as a tenor drone as it produces high-volume sound.

The second drone has one octave below the tenor drone.

It is known as the baritone drone.

The third drone produces the bass sound hence called the bass drone.

You can attach all three drones to the practice set to make it half-set.

You can switch off the drone even when they are attached.

You can do it by turning off a key on the stock.

Full set

You can set the full pipes when you add the regulators to the half set.

There are three regulators on these pipes.

Regulators also have the same name as drones.

We call them tenor, baritone, and bass regulators.

You cannot play the regulators in the same way as the chanters because the bottom of the regulators is closed.

You can fit the tenor and the baritone to the front of the stock.

The bass regulator will attach to the side of the stock.

You can play the regulators with the wrist action.

You can also play it with the right hand when the left hand is on the chanter.

You can do the same with the left hand.


If you are a beginner and do not want to focus only on the melodies, you can play the chanter by blowing air from your mouth.

Many companies made detachable chanters to play alone.

You can use the chanter to play the melodies by blowing through your mouth or attaching it to the practice sets.

The chanter is the most crucial part of the pipes to play the melodies.

All other pipes will produce a constant sound.

The chanter will produce the variation of the notes.

You can play two octaves on the uilleann pipe chanters by increasing or decreasing the air pressure.

Are the Uilleann Pipes Hard to Play?

It is not hard to play the uilleann pipes once you practice them for a few months.

It is challenging to play the great highland bagpipes because you need to fill the airbag with your lungs.

Uilleann bagpipes are more complex due to the regulators.

You need more technical skills to play them,

What Is the Difference between Uilleann Pipes and Bagpipes?

Bagpipes receive air from the mouth of the player while the uilleann pipes receive the air from the bellows mechanics.

It is easy to play the bagpipes when you are walking.

It is better to play the uilleann musical instruments when you are sitting.

Bagpipes do not have regulators.

The uilleann musical instruments are incomplete without the regulator pipes.

Bagpipes can produce only one octave, and you cannot adjust the volume.

It is possible to control the loudness of these instruments to some extent.

You can play two octaves from the uilleann chanters.

When you add the regulators, the notes range increases.

It is expensive to make the uilleann pipes as there is no method for bulk production.

Bagpipes cost lower due to bulk production methods and ease of availability.

How Expensive Are Uilleann Pipes?

The price depends on the type of the set you are purchasing as it can range from 600 to 6000 euros.

You should arrange more than 600 euros to buy the practice set.

If you want to buy half set, you should have more than 3500 euros.

It is also crucial to check the instrument version.

A basic full-set will cost 6000 euros while the master version full-set costs 13000 euros.

The cost of these pipes is higher than the bagpipes because you can pay 2000 to 3000 euros to get bagpipes of decent quality.

How Do You Pronounce Uilleann Pipes?

You need to pronounce uil first and give pause before pronouncing the leann.

You need to take your lips backward till you pronounce the uil.

You can continue the tongue movement to pronounce the leann.

There is no issue with the word pipes because you can pronounce it in one go.

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