I received my new “McCallum-designed” Bannatyne bag with the MCS in prompt fashion, well packaged for international shipping. Based on previous products from Bannatyne, I anticipated the usual high quality and a long lasting product that the company is known for. I wasn’t disappointed.”
I was most impressed with the bag shape… a medium sized bag, just slightly less in depth than what I formerly used. This provided an immediate comfort fit for playing. It freed my forearm slightly and eliminated any physical fatigue in my top hand from a long play. Because of the neck design, the chanter fell right into place. Installation was very easy … strong grommets made of a softer rubber to last longer – instant airtightness with the insertion of the stocks. The firmness under my arm reminded me of those hide and sheepskin bags that I used to use … finally a bag that felt right! Although not mentioned often, the airtight zipper is finally placed to the bottom of the bag from the side, making access extremely easy. Years ago, I tried the small extended bag, but found it lacking in bag volume and thus more challenging to sustain a steady tone … not so with the increased volume of the new Bannatyne bag.
Now the MCS impressed me even more. The system is complete for any type of control you may require. If you are the player that wants a little more moisture and airflow to the chanter, then there is the option of a tube-type trap or no trap at all. Combining this with the MCS canister and tubes, there are now three options. The crystals change color with moisture to provide the player with an indicator to switch cylinders (yes, cylinders – more streamlined than many inserts). The flex hoses from the cylinder will withstand the stress of folding the unit when putting your pipes into your case, thus preventing wear and tear holes in the hoses. Suction cups provide easy bonding to the stocks.
From my experience with the bag and MCS, my students are converting. All are amazed at the comfort and moisture control for longer plays. The system brings stability to their tuning, permitting more effective practice sessions and confidence when competing or playing in public. I recommend both very highly, the best on the market!
Ken Eller, also fondly known as “The Captain”, has enjoyed a 40 year piping career at the Grade 1 level, in which time he was 15 times winner of the North American Pipe Band Championships with two bands: the 78th Fraser Highlanders and the Clan MacFarlane Pipe Band. Eight of these championships came as Pipe Major of ‘the Clan’. He is now retired from active competition and has expanded his involvement in instruction. Ken is a well-known instructor at personal level to many students as well as a frequent instructor at schools in Canada and all over the world.
Originally taught by Richard MacPherson, brother of Hugh MacPherson, the Edinburgh highland outfitter, he continued his studies under Pipe Major John Wilson, of Edinburgh and Toronto, through the 1960s. During the 1980s and early 1990s he was a managing partner in the bagpipe-making firm of Dunbar-Eller, Ltd, now Dunbar Bagpipes.
Ken owns and directs The Captain’s Corner, a music and information centre for the piper, musician and the enthusiast, the world over. This is intended to be of service not only to students who participate in his workshops but also help the long distance piper needing special assistance.
He has been a member of the Piper’s and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) since 1962 and also a member of the Eastern US Pipe Band Association (EUSPBA). In 1984/85 he was admitted to the panel of Adjudicators for both of these organizations. In 2005, he qualified for Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) adjudication panel and have been judging regularly in Scotland, Australia and Ireland since, including the Grade 1 World Championship.