The Daye "Harrington"
Budget Concert Uilleann Drones & Partial Drones
October 2010

Copyright 2004-2010 David C. Daye - all rights reserved
Questions, special order questions email David Daye at: this link

The Daye Budget Concert Drones are now shipping alone and in half-sets.


The layout is traditional, including the conventional curved-tubing style bass drone and 2-bore-plus-tuning-slide baritone and tenor drones. Historically wooden segments are here made of black acetyl ("Delrin") plastic, plain turned with brass trim. For budget reasons there is no attempt to replicate the Harrington aesthetic styling in any way. The budget mainstock is full-featured: it's a practical PVC pipe covered with varnished wood veneer, and has a conventional on/off switch (valve), of the "hollow mainstock" style common in the antique drones. Mainstock is for drones only, it will not accept regulators. It detaches from the bag for packing or for using the set as a droneless Practice Set.

Color Photographs Sept. 2004:

The Budget Concert Drones can be added to any make of Concert D practice or starter set to create a "half set."

Update April 2010: Plastic antique-acoustics hollow mainstock always now clad in real wood veneer.

They are shipped finished, playing and reeded at medium-easy pressure, complete with instructions for tying-in to artificial and leather bags. The reed guide explains how to adjust for a stronger chanter, and to vary the overall loudness and blend as desired.

These drones are of traditional size and weight, so they are not recommended for "toy" type practice sets with very light bags. But they will mount to any ordinarily sturdy glued or stitched artificial bags and of course to leather bags.

Drones can also be sold without the budget mainstock, to mount into customer's pre-existing mainstock.

And, yes, a higher-priced traditional wood model is under development.


Although built in a budget construction, these drones are made with no acoustic compromises whatsoever. In fact, their acoustic design is more complex than most wide-bore Concert D drones, since they were developed from an antique instrument as described at the bottom of this page. The drones are concert loudness and are weatherproof and reed-tolerant, allowing the piper leeway to adjust individual reeds to vary the stand's overall loudness and its blend. They are meant to tempt the buyer to keep them indefinitely for personal and public enjoyment.

Partial Drones -- Updated 12 Sept.

Intended mainly to give a more musical experience for practicing, set uses only the 2 smaller of the 3 Budget Concert Drones, mounted in a mini-mainstock with twist on-off valve. (Sound sample available shortly.) The pipes are exactly the same as the 2 smaller of the Budget Concert Drone set.

  • Overview of finished partial drone stand shown with permanent twist-valve bag connector at left end
  • Larger Photo Click Here
  • The mainstock twists slightly around the tied-in mount, to open and close the airflow to allow playing in keys that don't suit the drones, or playing as a practice set.


    The reeds are weatherproof artificial construction using thin plastic sheet tongues on metal tube. Since the drones are not of modern descent, they were not developed for standard Concert D cane drone reeds. These artificial reeds should have indefinite service lives, and are easily repaired or replaced from inexpensive, readily-obtained materials using the design information included with the set documentation. The reeds however do respond normally to all the traditional adjustments.

    All 3 drones have some reed leeway for the piper's preferences. They "want to play" steady at medium loudness with a simple short-flat-tongue reeds, and the bass prefers some weight on the free end of the tongue in the style common to the antique drones. Tongue weights can be varied for the bass and also used for either or both of the small drones. Variations in setup and adjustment give the piper leeway to personalize the loudness, air drain and blend among the drones to some degree. There are no arcane tricks needed jsut to keep the drones operating.


    These drones were acoustically patterned from Harrington antique "narrow bore" drones, faithfully re-scaled for modern Concert D pitch and loudness standards, and tuned for easily-built, low-maintenance artificial reeds. They are able to be attached to bags and practice sets by any maker.

    Uilleann pipes (originally termed "union" pipes) were long intended for in-house listening in close quarters. Evolving since the early 1700's, they had narrower bores and consequently were quieter than the Concert D's which arose around 1900. The drones sound similar to Concert D's although their devotees regard the best of the antiques as having a richer, more refined sound.

    Like so many of you, I was originally drawn to the uilleann pipes by their remarkable sound. But as a lifelong Highland piper I've been less impressed with concert uilleann drones compared to good Highland drones that are relatively easy to find. After a time I encountered a number of uilleann antiques and copies that were more inspiring, so when I prepared to build drones it was natural to look into some of the antique designs that have lately begun to circulate.

    Harrington pipes were made in the mid 1800's and are extremely rare--only a few specimens exist in the world. The original source for these drones, pitched near the modern key of B,  is in excellent playing service in Australia. It was measured by Craig Fischer and Patrick Lyons, who published the dimensions in the 2nd "Sean Reid Society" CD-ROM. The authors report that it both sounds good and plays very well. I've played only Concert D adaptations of different antique drones for several years, and various prototypes of these "Harringtons" for over a year now.

    By reaching back into history, this project is a true re-evolution of Concert D drones. To my knowlege it is the first time an antique drone design has been offered in Concert D format. It won't be the last by any means. Other makers are sure to find this approach interesting enough to investigate in their own ways.

    Ordinarily an instrument is said to be a "copy" if it is as identical to the original as possible. These drones, being made significantly wider and  shorter than the originals, are certainly not copies in this literal sense. But while the absolute dimensions differ, all the diameter and length proportions of the original, which are responsible for the characteristic tone and performance, are faithfully maintained.

    This is the opposite approach from that of the Penny-Chanter, which I not only built in a novel construction and bore style (stepped taper) but also needed to adjust significantly in order to restore performance that the new format had altered. In contrast, I put no original design work into these drones other than translating them to modern materials, and concert pitch and loudness.

    Since the Harrington's acoustic design is maintained in this new format, I'm terming these drones "faithful Harrington adaptations" in Concert D.

    To E-mail David Daye click here
    Telephone Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio USA 330-923-DAYE ( 3293 )
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