Northumbrian Smallpipes Book & Services   

by John Liestman                                                                          






Contents (click on your choice or scroll on down for the full tour)

Tutor / Reed Making / Maintenance Book

Written to especially serve the isolated or teacherless player, beginner or advanced, "The Northumbrian Smallpipes Tutor" offers an all-inclusive course, with everything I could cram into 160 pages, including:

how to buy a set of pipes (and what options / keys / key to get to suit your needs) how to read and understand music and apply that to the pipes complete beginning and intermediate instruction common beginner problems such as how hard to squeeze and how to tell if the pipes are working extensive chapters on making chanter and drone reeds from scratch complete pipe maintenance and repairs that the player can do (and when to do them) about 30 tunes that well suit the pipes chapters on style and British Isles traditional music styles and tune types a big list of handy resources and a section on essential gadgets (some to buy, some to make) that will really help you out.

Colin Ross (the Grand Poobah of pipes himself) said in the Northumbrian Pipers' Society Magazine: "very user friendly . . . fascinating reading . . . the most comprehensive source on information available to date."

Reviewer and all around pipes ace Bill Gority (in the Northumbrian Small Pipes Society of North America newsletter) says: "The introductory parts of the book cover all the questions I wish I had someone to answer for me when I was first starting out. ... This book should be on the shelves of all Northumbrian pipers."

A Northumbrian native who prefers to remain anonymous says: "Great book, but why did it take a bloody Yank to write the definitive book on OUR instrument!"

How to order your very own copy: As of April 2011, the book is free to download and print. Just do not sell copies, claim it is your own work, or publish it yourself in part or whole without written permission from me.



Download the book . . . HERE :   The Northumbrian Smallpipes Tutor 

If you like it and want to support me keeping it available through this website, feel free to send me a few pounds / bucks through PayPal to john and then the “at sign” thing and then


(you will need a PDF file reader such as Adobe Reader to use this file – save it to your computer by opening it, then go to browser menu and select File, Save Page As)




My own D set, African blackwood, chrome, and imitation ivory, with 15 key chanter, spalted maple bellows, green marbled bag cover, typical Liestman hex decorations

DChanterFront 182    DDrones 161 

DEndCap 177


An F set in Honduras Rosewood, brass, and imitation horn, with 11 key chanter and simpler ferrules

image011  image002  image004

Three photos above by Pam Smedley Photography -



A couple of D sets in Ziricote wood, brass and water buffalo horn and a set in one of the cases that I make.



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Some tunes that you might enjoy

Here are a few of tunes in MP3 format, graciously played and recorded by Peter Dyson on a Liestman D set. All tunes copyright by the author and used with their permission. Tunes were recorded using basic home equipment with no studio EQ or effects, solely to show you what the pipes sound like.


“The Piper in the Well”, a sprightly tune composed by Andrew Davison


Aln Water”, a lovely tune composed by Margaret Watchorn


“Ian Dickson”, a touching duet (both parts played by Peter) composed by Anthony Robb with seconds by Carole Robb



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Repair and Reed Making Services

Most simple repairs can be done by the player, using my book as a guide, and I encourage you do so. In the past, I have provided repair and reed making services but am no longer able to do so, at least until my kids get older! However, I am delighted to be able to recommend Mike Sharp to handle all of your repair and reed making needs. Mike is based in California and can be contacted through his website at . Tell him John sencha!

As for giving advice, I welcome E mail or snail mail notes from people seeking advice about their pipes, within reason. I may well reply that you should buy my book. I wrote it to answer a lot of the questions that people have, but I will do my best to help you out anyway that I can. Don't worry, if you begin to use up your "free online support time allotment", I will let you know.

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Instruments For Sale

As with repairs, I no longer am able to offer instruments for sale, but will be happy to recommend various makers if you would like to inquire by E mail.

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Other online stuff

There is an online NSP Mailing list. To subscribe send an E mail to mailto:nsp-request@cs.dartmouth.eduwith the word "subscribe" as the subject (title). It is a very valuable and trash-free list.

Northumbrian Smallpipes Homepage My close personal friend Julia Say maintains a lovely ever-growing page. Check it out. The page lists lots of stuff including various makers, recordings for sale, events, you name it.

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 My email address is  john and then the @ thing and then liestman and then the dot com part. Please, no telephone calls. Thank you.

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Last modified in April 2011, but hey, how often do you think this stuff changes anyway?

Page constructed by me using a pc and some software.

Boy, if you are all the way down here, you are strange!!!