Introduction: How to Make Bagpipes Out of a Garbage Bag and Recorders

Picture of How to Make Bagpipes Out of a Garbage Bag and Recorders

This instructable is how to make a simple bagpipe like instrument out of basic household materials. Granted, it does not sound all too much like a bagpipe, but it works similarly and is fun to mess around with.

Step 1: Basic Construction of Bagpipes

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At the most basic level, bagpipes have 4 parts:

A bag to hold the air
A blowpipe to blow air into the bag
A chanter to play a melody
And a drone which plays a constant note

Step 2: Materials

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1 Garbage Bag or large plastic bag
2 Recorders (or 2 PVC Recorders:
2 Pens (You can also use a decent sized straw or a piece of hose)

Step 3: Make the Blowpipe

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To make the blowpipe out of pens, just take the pens apart and tape them together.

Step 4: Trim the Bag

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We wont be needing an entire garbage bag, so trim it down some, maybe 3/4 the size of a regular garbage bag.

Step 5: Attach Blowpipe to Bag

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Tape the blowpipe to one side of the open bag. I like to put the blowpipe in a good inch or two into the bag to make sure no air escapes.

Go ahead and tape up 1/4 of the open part of the bag too.

Step 6: Attach the Drone

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Take one recorder, which will act as the drone, and tape it near 1/4 of the bag length down from the blowpipe. Make sure you do not cover up the whistle part of the recorder and that the mouthpiece is in the bag.

Go ahead and close up the rest of the open part of the bag, making it airtight.

Step 7: Attach the Chanter

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Cut a hole in the corner of the bag that is on the same side as the blowpipe.

Attach the other recorder to the hole and this will act as the chanter.

Step 8: Modify the Drone

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Tape up some holes on the drone to make it sound like how you want it to. This is the part that plays a constant note, so try to make it a note that doesn't make you want to find earplugs. Covering up all the holes works the best I think.

Step 9: Have Fun

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Go ahead and play with your new bagpipes. Look for videos on the internet to learn how to play, the main difference is you play the chanter like a recorder. Check for any leaks and fix them with tape.

The bagpipe in the video looks a bit different because I made it larger than the one I did in the instructable, I find it works better if it's a little on the big side. Also you will notice I have no idea how to play a recorder, but someone with some musical talent should be able to get some nice melodies out of this.


PaoY (author)2017-05-01

Wow this is amazing!! Id love to try making this one!! Thanks!!

Maker Saga (author)2017-04-29

This is so resourceful! Nice work.

Phil Schinbein (author)2017-04-20

Hahaha yes!

kriddell2 made it! (author)2016-03-06

fun project, thanks

ThistlePiper (author)2015-07-04

I made it! and I improved! instead of recorders I used bagpipe practice chanters and added two more chanters for the drones. I also extended the bass drone with black PVC pipe. the bag was a lawn trash bags. to maintain shape I bought a bagpipe cover. and real drone cords

Oldreds (author)2010-12-11

I am currently in the process of making mine, but how do I make the reed?

tomd1 (author)Oldreds2014-08-15

recorders dont use reeds, they are essentially "long" whistles

it works, but it will make you deaf. its gawdawful.

mikethemaster123 (author)Oldreds2011-04-05

i kno i r not author, but, the answer is recorders do not use reeds!

tomd1 (author)2014-08-15

it turned out to be unplayable garbage.

maybe if you use $100 alto recorders, you may have something that wont permanently make you deaf, but it will still make your ears bleed.

roystonlodge (author)2010-11-04

That sounds almost as mind-destroyingly awful as a real set of bagpipes.


Reiff (author)supertoria122013-07-12

Hey, Hey, hold it! Bagpipes are far from annoying, bagpipes have an amazing sound. I love bagpipes.

Reiff (author)2012-05-09

How much do "good" (not homemade) bagpipes cost? I found some in the hundred dollar range but I'm not sure if they are "good".

OriginalPugsly (author)Reiff2012-07-23

At least $1000, the hundred dollar ones are crap.
Also don't buy the plastic ones.

georizzo (author)2011-07-15


mmcgartland (author)2011-06-23

and if the garbage bag does not match your kilt, it is really easy to make a plaid cover.

ecarr1969 (author)2011-05-14

We used this for my son's cultural night at school. Thanks!

cesar_87 (author)2010-11-23

I have tried to make these bagpipes 4 times and I couldn't, I still CAN'T! and I need to make one urgently, I don't know if the bag is too big, or the recorders are not the most appropiate =/ ='(

SuperCoPilot (author)2010-09-25

so my elementary school recorder lessons will come in handy!

kiafayce (author)2010-07-14

That sound singlehandedly caused one of the most terrible migraines I have ever had.

I'll pass on this instructable, but kudos for the idea, bro. It's creativee :]

granolape (author)2010-06-12

Who says you can't play? My dog really enjoyed the sound from the video.

sci5 (author)2010-05-26

Squirt- When I bulit the bag pipes, the volume of the bag was too big. I cut the width of the bag shorter by a inch, and duck tape it

sci5 (author)2010-05-26

Squrit- when i bulit the bag pipes, the volume of the bag was too big. I cut the width of the bag by a few inches, and duck tape it.

Aklash, The hunchback (author)2010-02-26

 Wow, that actually sounds a bit like bagpipes. It also sounds like you're strangling a cat but still, impressive.

"strangling a cat"
So, like a bagpipe.

harley_rly (author)2010-03-19

genius! i have to try this now

a_traceur (author)2009-10-06

The constant note is an A although the long one is an octave higher.

laykanay (author)a_traceur2010-02-16

by the way, the long drone is a Low A and the two shorter drones are Middle A's, just like the chanter's A.

Applejacks (author)2010-02-16

HA i did this same exact thing like a year ago. great minds think alike...

Ukealyptus (author)2010-01-06

 I once made a set with three drone reeds, and a custom chanter, except the sound was produced by straw reeds. it worked like a charm and was tuneable, and also a great way to blow off work.

a_traceur (author)2009-10-06

My sub a WHILE ago played the bagpipes. So I figured I might as well try to learn, although I am NOT musically talented. I can't even find a beat in a song.

karossii (author)2009-05-31

some oboes would be a more bagpipey sound, I would think. Great idea though for a fun afternoon project to drive your family batty!

PKM (author)karossii2009-06-01

Don't oboes require an actual mouth to play? I figured as reeded instruments they might not work so well with just air flow. You can get bass recorders- might be worth digging one of those out for the drone part. I second the request for video, the scots can put their fingers in their ears while you play "Scotland the Brave" on a garbage bag :P

a_traceur (author)PKM2009-10-06

The drones in a bagpipe are a lot like oboes, they are a double reed.

abehambino (author)PKM2009-06-01

i agree with the bass part. i am also going to be looking into those metal recorders for this. they are also commonly known as penny flutes if anyone else is interested.

bobwantzanapple (author)karossii2009-06-01

oboes require lips to play them, recorders just need airflow

karossii (author)bobwantzanapple2009-06-01

I didn't say it was feasible, only that it would be a more bagpipey sound, lol. Any reed instrument would need a special artificial embouchure of some sort to function, but the bagpipe certainly uses something akin to a reed instrument based on its sound.

starfighterzoot (author)2009-09-30

This is the cleverest instructable instrument I have seen. I will MAKE IT.

Javin007 (author)2009-07-22

Gotta admit, came in here thinking, "Ugh, he taped recorders to a bag." I see that not only did a lot more thought go into this, but it actually turned out to be a very interesting and enjoyable instructable! 5 stars and my vote!

wasabi32746 (author)Javin0072009-07-22

Much appreciated

Javin007 (author)wasabi327462009-07-23

:D You should attach additional drones with the appropriate holes covered so they play a chord. Hope you have a hell of a set of lungs, though.

Azayles (author)2009-06-30

That is pure genius! One of the FUNNIEST instructables I've seen in a LONG time, that was hilarious, whimsical and brilliant :-D Top marks!

wasabi32746 (author)Azayles2009-06-30


worleyll (author)2009-06-26

You could also use a large grocery bag and just tie the handle together to make a bag (that's what I did and it works great) +Plus you would be recycling!

linuxnewbie (author)2009-06-03

Might be able to save cash by using the instructable for PVC recorders-

Also, it occurs to me that a better option for the bag might be the water bladders that are used by restaurants to bulk pack coffee. Another option for the bag could be the vinyl blow up beach balls that can be purchased from a dollar store. A little more money, but might last a little longer.

tmfark (author)linuxnewbie2009-06-08

Try for other pvc whistles and tuning them. With a stronger bag and some work you should be able to make a 'real' bagpipe. Have to find me a bagpipe page.

Good project for the kids, if they are going home somewhere else!

wasabi32746 (author)linuxnewbie2009-06-03

Anything pretty large and able to be made airtight would work fine with this project. And never thought of using those PVC recorders, thats a good idea.

capricorn (author)2009-06-01

This is so funny I could go and sew a kilt just to go with. Nice one mate :)

Jake-off (author)2009-06-01

Make actually put out a book filled with many projects. one of the projects was bagpipes made from PVC pipe and leather.

JonathanCM (author)2009-06-01

Thank you! I just quickly made some with 2 irish flutes instead of recorders. Works well!

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