Ian mainly plays three types of Bagpipes. The Southern English Border Pipes, Traditional Gascon Boha Pipes and the Electric Pipes.
Border pipes were never standardised and consequently while Southern English Border Pipes look like their northern cousins, they are much influenced by, and closer in sound to, the French Musette à Béchonnet and the Grande Cornemuse du Centre. Probably the biggest difference from a lot of pipes you’re used to hearing is that the these pipes have a set of bellows to supply air to the bag rather than having to be blown by the player.
A modern development, in other words, English Border Pipes tend to be in G, low D or low C, can be mouth or bellows blown, have up to four drones carried on the shoulder or across the chest, use half-closed fingering, and are nearly chromatic over a one and a half octave range. Various makers now produce variants of the same instrument (sometimes under different names).
Repertoire overlaps with its northern cousin but the instrument’s versatility allows English, French, Breton, Early Music and even Eastern European tunes to be played. That this is a new instrument means that in the absence of a tradition players tend to develop a unique and identifiable style.
The Traditional Boha comes from the South West of France. They’re different from other pipes in having no separate drone, but a drone and chanter bored into a single piece of wood.
The Electric Pipes? Well you’ll just have to come see The Drones Club to see how that works.
For more information about Bagpipes check out The Bagpipe Society