The Bagpipe Society

Guide to the Scottish Smallpipes

Scottish Smallpipes

A modern development of the 1980s, Scottish Smallpipes are based on the old eighteenth-century instruments that survive in various museums.

SSPs are typically in the folk-friendly keys of A or D, are usually bellows-blown, have a set of drones in a common stock worn across the chest, and use a nine-note scale that fingers like a GHB but which plays at a fraction of the volume. Some makers include a second thumbhole which allows minor (dorian) tunes to be played.

With its cylindrical bore, the sound is characteristically lilting, but perfect for playing with other acoustic instruments or to accompany dancing. In recent years the instrument has become extremely popular in America.

Scottish small pipe fingering chart