It's a long way to ... sell the bagpipes
Warrnambool Standard 17th June 1986 - ęCopyright Warrnambool Standard 1986. All rights reserved
Irish bagpipes made in Mailor's Flat north of Warrnambool are being exported to musicians around the world. The pipes are made by Geoff Wooff, a former fitter and turner who decided some ten years ago to turn his hand to instrument making. The Irish bagpipes are a traditional instrument similar to Scottish bagpipes. But Mr. Wooff said yesterday they were an indoor instrument with a soft sound
which has been compared by some to organ music. The pipes contain several reeds which vibrate to give a full sound. "It is like a little one man band," said Mr. Wooff who on Thursday leaves for Ireland to promote his pipes and hopefully generate some orders. The main part of the visit will comprise the Willy Clancey Week in County Clare. Willy Clancey was a famous piper and
the week attracts enthusiasts from around the world. Past visits overseas have given Mr. Wooff orders from a Dutchman and Americans as well as the Irish. The instrument ordered by the Dutchman is taking Mr. Wooff some 500 hours to complete compared with the average, length of time to make pipes of about 200 to 300 hours They sell for about $3000. Mr. Wooff also makes flutes and English
Northumbrian pipes. Ten years ago he decided he wanted a set of Northumbrian pipes. He was told they were hard to come by and decided to make his own. He then began making the Irish pipes, originally following the design on a set of pipes from the 1850s. "Then people said 'we'd like a set of those' and it snowballed, " he said. "The demand has been fairly good but in the last couple
of years we have fulfilled the latent demand and there has been the need to export.
While overseas Mr. Wooff also arranges orders for wood for the instruments. He uses tropical woods and said the African blackwood and ebony produced the right tone. Mr. Wooff's ability as a pipe-maker is becoming well known. His wife Joan said that people from America and Europe visit Ireland looking for the best pipes. "Eventually they hear about us and we get the orders," she said. The
pipes are promoted by the Wooffs here and overseas at folk festivals, music camps, etc. Joan Wooff is musical, playing the fiddle and the spoons, while Geoff plays flute, whistle and concertina and hopes to purchase a hurdy gurdy. He played the Irish pipes last year at the folk orchestra section of the Warrnambool Theatre Company production of the "Wreck of the Loch Ard".
South West TAFE music archive