As with almost anything bought used, care must be taken when buying used bagpipes to ensure that a reliable product is being purchased. While it may be best to buy new bagpipes, if possible, buying used bagpipes can be a worthwhile experience if care is taken. Being familiar with the attributes and specific parts of bagpipes, as well as the quality of sound that should be expected from them, is necessary if one wants to purchase high-quality bagpipes.
One should know the specific maker of any bagpipes being purchased, because that can have a direct impact on the instrument's quality. As with other products and musical instruments, the maker often determines whether the product is of low quality or high quality. Before buying, one should research bagpipes and have in mind a few specific manufacturers based on the quality and reputation of their bagpipes.
Seeing a photograph of the used bagpipes can be helpful, but seeing them in person before purchasing is ideal. If buying from a local dealer or person, one should make sure to inspect the bagpipes personally before deciding to buy them. It can be more difficult to judge the quality of used bagpipes being sold online. A particular instrument offered for sale on the Internet may be of poor quality but come with misleading information, so knowing the appropriate condition, appearance and price range is important. Asking to see detailed pictures of the bagpipes being considered for purchase is another way one can gain more knowledge of their quality.
One should find out if the used bagpipes are playable and, if not, what it would take to make them so. Too much damage would keep the instrument from being a sound investment. If it can be salvaged with reasonable money and effort, especially if it is the specific brand or type desired, it might be worthwhile to make the purchase.
As a general rule, the wood finish on quality used bagpipes is light, thin and clear, as is characteristic of many high-quality musical instruments. These finishes are often made of wax, oil or shellac. Low-quality bagpipes sometimes have darker, thicker finishes that appear syrupy — an attempt to hide poor-quality wood and inferior parts.
The wood itself on used bagpipes should feel heavy, which is one reason why being able to inspect them personally before purchase is ideal. Used bagpipes should appear to be designed well. All parts of the bagpipe, including the pipe bags, cord beads and canter stock, should fit together perfectly. Seeing the bagpipes in person before purchase can make it easier to determine this and to test their sound and quality.