Types of Bagpipes

When the term "bagpipes" is used, most people will visualize the type of bagpipe popularized in movies, tv shows, and pop culture which are called Great Highland bagpipes. This type of bagpipe is also the most common at Scottish Games, and rock bands, and among traditional, competitive bagpipe bands.

However, another popular type of bagpipe is the uilleann bagpipes, the national bagpipe of Ireland, also called "union pipes". Unlike the highland bagpipe, which is inflated by blowing into the bag, uilleann bagpipes are inflated by means of a small bellows strapped around the waist and the right arm. 

great highland bagpipes

Great Highland Bagpipes

uilleann bagpipes

Uilleann Bagpipes


The uilleann pipes are differ from many other types of bagpipes by their tone and music range. Unlike the limited range of the highland bagpipes, uilleann bagpipes have a range of two full octaves (including sharps and flats) and regulators which enable the piper to play a simple harmonic chords as needed.

In general, uilleann pipes have a sweeter, quieter sound than its highland counterpart and are often played indoors with the piper seated while playing. For a comparison, listen to this highland bagpipes and uilleann bagpipes duet on Youtube: https://youtu.be/fNhWxH_NUh8.