Customer Comments

The comments below are from some of my customers -- world class competitors and aspiring pipers alike.

I think it's important to know that whether you're playing in a Grade One band, competing for the Gold Medal, or just beginning your piping journey you are guaranteed to get the finest instrument I can make.

Atherton Bagpipes have been proven at the highest levels of competition, being used to win nearly every prize in piping. These instruments are not modified or in any way different than the instruments available to anyone else. If a piper openly endorses my product it's because they've freely chosen my pipes above others.

Hi Dave,

Well, I have been playing the new pipe gradually in all week, and I have to say this is a great sounding bagpipe. I have had many many sets of bagpipes in my time as a player, and one time bagpipe supply business owner, and this bagpipe is the last I will ever buy (unless another from you). That was my plan when I asked you to make this set for me. You came through for me, and then some... my wife thanks you, lol. I will play this bagpipe proudly as I work with my band to get back to Glasgow Green main circle once again. Thanks again.

All the best,

Scott Russell -- Canada

I could not be happier with my Atherton MacDougall reproduction drones.  I have played several excellent sets of pipes over the years, both new and vintage, but I have never felt so confident in my instrument as I do with my Athertons.  When I hit the boards, I can count on getting the drones locked in tune and know they will stay locked for the entire performance.  The tone is superb -- a full, yet refined sound that does not dominate the chanter, with a perfect balance between bass and tenors.

Alan Bevan -- Gold Medalist and member of Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.

Hi Dave,

I just wanted to send you a quick note of thanks for the fantastic set of pipes you custom designed for me. The attention to detail and finishes were exactly as I had hoped and the materials were first class. Most importantly the sound from the drones is beautifully balanced and steady with a nice big but not harsh bass sound. Just what I was looking for!!

Bryan Huddleston
Toronto Police Pipe Band

I am writing to you to let you know how pleased I am with the set of Atherton Bagpipes I recently purchased from you.

As you know, I was reluctant to part from my old set of pipes.  These pipes were quite plain with Blackwood button mounts and imitation ivory ferrules and caps but had a great sound.  I often received comments on the tonal quality and steadiness of the drones from judges and respected players.

That being said, the sound produced by the Atherton Bagpipes is of a fully superior quality.  The richness and full sound of the bass drone accompanied by the precise balance of the tenors is quite remarkable.  Tuning the drones takes little effort to achieve a beautiful sound and only minor adjustments are required after 15 or 20 minutes of playing.

The workmanship of the pipes, from the beading and combing on the drones down to the finish is excellent.  I am especially pleased with the holly mounts and how they contrast against the dark African Blackwood and nickel ferrules and slides. I am also impressed with how the ring caps are bushed with holly, this give the pipes a truly tailored look.

I would highly recommend these pipes to any serious player who is looking for a supremely crafted instrument.  


James Dickerson
Chief Steward New Hampshire Highland Games

Good morning Dave!

I just wanted to let you know we received the pipes! They are absolutely stunning! I can't wait to have them setup and ready to play so I can hear them!!

I must commend you on your craftsmanship - they aren't just flawless but immaculate - I've never seen a more pristine set of pipes.

J.C. McFarlane
Sergeant -- RCAF Band

I bought a set of Atherton Pipes about two years ago and have never looked back. I have played the pipes for over 40 years in a variety of bands as well as competing in solos, culminating in a great experience with the Worcester Kiltie grade 2 band for total of 7 years. I am still active in piping, teaching a number of competing pipers and a street band here and there.

For my first 20 years of piping I played a set of Henderson's that my grand mother bought me for Christmas when I was ten. For the past 20 years I have been playing a nice set of silver and ivory Kintails. But, I had a piping rebirth with the advent of my Atherton's. I love the mass of the drones, the thickness of the pipes - no 1/3 of an inch of wood camouflaged with ferrules - there is real wood used on these pipes. I also am aware that the ferrules are screwed on and not simply glued; I have had no issues at all with loose mounts or ferrules and am not concerned of any potential issues given this unique workmanship feature.

Then there is the huge facet of the sound of the drones. The resonance of the Atherton drones is unparalleled in my book; such a rich tone that easily locks in after minimal playing. You have to hear the Atherton drone sound compared to other pipes to truly appreciate the difference. I have found a great set of drone reeds made for the Atherton's that upon initial setup require minimal ongoing adjustment. I am wicked spoiled. I sincerely feel as though I have acquired my last set of pipes - not to get too morbid, but I can't envision a better sounding set of drones coupled with detailed craftsmanship luring me with Siren's tones to another set of pipes. Maybe a bit over the top, but give them a try and you too will be able to resist the Sirens!

Rob Eagan, Arlington, MA

Three things determine the quality of a set of pipes: the quality of materials, the quality of the craftsmanship, and the quality of the design.  In each of these ways, the Atherton bagpipe is the finest I've ever seen or played.  I've never owned or played a set with finer craftsmanship, made with better materials, and produced tone better than what I've been able to achieve from my Atherton MacDougalls.

Jori Chisholm, Three-Time Winner of the United States Gold Medal for Piobaireachd, Founder and Chief Instructor at

Dave Atherton is a consummate professional and artist who's work is at the pinnacle of his craft.  His workmanship and attention to detail are world-class, using only the very finest materials to skillfully create instruments of the utmost quality.  My instrument is marvelous and exquisitely beautiful, both in terms of aesthetics and tone.  Dave offered great personal attention and communication throughout the entire process of creating my custom pipes.  Thank you Dave for an outstanding instrument.

SVS -- North Carolina

Like many pipers on the quest for the perfect sound, a number of people had suggested to me to get my hands on a set of Atherton MacDougalls. This would mean bit of a departure from the sound I had grown accustomed to as a player of Hendersons. I made an appointment to stop by Dave's place which was right after competing at some Highland Games. At those Games I witnessed an open level piper taking all the medals playing a set of Athertons – it was quite the introduction to the Atherton sound. While at Dave's shop I was able to put a set of Atherton MacDougalls on my shoulder and play them for the first time. I was sold immediately. It wasn't the painstaking workmanship which produced such a beautiful looking instrument that won me, but a sound I had never experienced from a set of drones before. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, then I tried to distinguish the bass from the tenors and found it difficult since they blended so seamlessly into one, resonant, haunting sound.

Someone might quip that good pipes don't make the piper. Perhaps. But the fact is that good pipes make practice much more enjoyable and more practice means a better piper. Dave has raised the bar quite high.

Cliff Ermatinger

My pipes have a smooth blended tone not found in any other pipes I have played. They are steady and stay tuned throughout my competition sets.

Simply "Rock Solid" and "Polished".


I'm playing one of Dave's MD holly wood sets since a few years now and I couldn't be happier with it. The sound of Atherton pipes is very distinctive with a deep, resonant bass and sweet tenors. Efficency and steadiness are also great qualities of Atherton pipes and tuning your instrument has never been easier. First class materials combined with an outstanding workmanship gives one of the best pipes in the world.

Xavier Boderiou
Bagad Cap Caval
SFU Pipe Band

Just wanted to say how happy I have been with my Atherton bagpipes. I was a "self-starter" ten years ago, buying my first set of pipes without knowing what to look for, but more importantly, what to listen for. After many frustrating years of being self -taught, I was fortunate enough to join a great band and get some real lessons. Our instructor not only demonstrated the proper techniques but had us listen to the different range of sounds that various bagpipes made, under different manufacturers. We sampled many different makes, and the Athertons.  I can honestly say that everyone was stunned by how incredible the Atherton sound was. The drones (under the MacDougall variation) had a much warmer, richer tone to them. Everyone from my class of pipers now plays Athertons and the sound is amazing. You won't find a better set of pipes anywhere.


Jeffrey D. Archambeault
Massachusetts State Police Pipes and Drums


I have owned many many sets of pipes over the course of my 35+ years of piping, but nothing I have played over the years compares to the craftsmanship and tone of my Atherton MacDougall drones.  The workmanship is exquisite to the most finite detail and the sound of my big bore pipes is rich and full. Atherton pipes are the finest pipes made today and I am certain that they will be fully appreciated by pipers in years to come. I love my Atherton Pipes.  Thank you, Dave.

Tom Childs

I received my set a little over a week ago, and I am astounded at the difference in my sound that this set makes.  Although I was in love with the set from the first pictures I received, the sight of the pipes is nothing compared to the sound quality. I have been in the piping world for more than 20 years, and this is by far the finest set of pipes I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Together with the custom drone reeds, these drones have a wonderful tonal quality that I have never heard before.  Even in my difficult climate, these pipes are phenomenal.  Dave's attention to every detail really shows.

KT -- Utah

Remarkably easy to reed – with my Atherton's, it's not a case of which reeds go well in the drones, it's which reeds sound best, as every combination seems to sound great.  Playing my Atherton's is an absolute delight.  The tonal stability is the best I've ever enjoyed from a high-end set of drones, and the harmonics produced with any well-tuned pipe chanter is something to behold.

In terms of craftsmanship, my Atherton's look as good as they sound.  It could be said that you're as much an artist as you are a craftsman!

Scott Shannon -- Gannaway Pipe Bags

Dear Dave,

I received the pipes on Tuesday and I would like to again thank you for the quality bagpipe.  I used the Wygent reeds that I had been using with my Sinclairs. Once I adjusted the Wygent reeds the pipes sounded magnificent. The pipes were very air efficient and incredibly easy to tune.  In fact, the pipes seemed to want to tune itself. The drones were extremely steady  and did not change even if the pressure changed.  This set of pipes is unlike any other set of pipes I have ever played. In addition, the appearance is beautiful and I feel truly blessed to own this set of pipes.

If you have potential buyers in downstate New York please feel free to send them to my house to try these pipes.  I believe that any piper who plays this set would want a set of Atherton MacDougall pipes.

Yours truly,
Kevin Costello

During my time as the band manager of the Brockton Firefighters Pipes & Drums, I have been involved in purchasing and recommending numerous sets of bagpipes and their makers. To say that D. M. Atherton Bagpipes is the company on the top of my list is an understatement. Dealing with Dave is a true pleasure as his customer service is second to none. I have been piping for over 15 years and can honestly say dealing with a pipe maker with such class and reliability will ease your transition into an instrument your family will cherish forever. I am the proud owner of a 2009 set of Atherton, MacDougall reproduction in African Blackwood (pattern 25). The workmanship is unmatched and the sound from these pipes is unparalleled. This stand far exceeds anything I could have ever imagined. If you are looking for incredible sound, steady tuning, pristine wood turned into beautiful pipes made by and incredible craftsman that will be in your family till the end of time, Dave Atherton is your man!

Peter M. Reardon

I have been playing pipes for 10 years.  I started taking lessons with my two sons.  I knew someone in the Scottish Power Pipe Band from Glasgow that highly recommended another brand.  Having to buy three sets of pipes, this particular brand was very affordable.  For many years I was complimented on the tone of these pipes. Two years ago I upgraded to a set of full nickel. At around the same time I changed piping instructors.  My new instructor played a set of Athertons. They were the best, he told me, but I stubbornly refused to step away from my bargain brand. Then he had me play his Atherton's for about five lessons in a row.  After this it was impossible to go back to my pipes.  There was no comparison.  Even with my minimal amount of piping background I could clearly hear the difference and there was no going back.  I sold both sets of the bargain pipes and bought my Athertons.  I have only recently been able to start using them on a regular basis. They fairly hum every time I play them and after about 15 minutes they just settle in and get better and better.  Practicing is so much more enjoyable now.  The best move I ever made was to buy Athertons.

Mary Tierney

I recently acquired a set of DM Atherton MD's to primarily use for band work to replace my existing set of David Naill pipes which I found to be rather heavy, in particular on extended practise days. As one can imagine deciding on a replacement for my Naill's was not easy as they are a quality set. I should not have been concerned! From my first discussion with Dave, through the purchasing process and ultimately receiving and now playing the pipes I could ask for nothing more. The instrument is exceptional, the service from Dave professional and the ongoing support much appreciated. I now use my Athertons for both band and individual competing and find them a pleasure to play.

Charles Gregory, Australia

I'm very impressed with the quality and detail of the workmanship. I blew up the pipes without chanter for a short time for the first blow and found I could easily tune all three drones together and was impressed with the tone and harmonics. At present the pipes are very good but as is to be expected with a new set, I can tell that as they are played more and more they will just continue to mature and improve. I am very pleased with them.

Alan Harrison, England

Hi Dave,

I was no doubt, one of many who rejoiced at your return to pipe making having thought that the ‘boat had sailed’ for acquiring a set of your pipes. What a fantastic journey it has been then, since discussing initial requirements for a set of your pipes with you last December to the safe receipt of my ‘2014 Atherton Legacy’ pipes with custom beading and combing, and premium engraved silver in thistle pattern. The instrument arrived safely on May 29, with all pieces individually wrapped and labelled. Opening each piece was a thrill in itself from which they immediately received their first oiling in accordance with you’re expertly prepared notes that accompanied the instrument; hence this delay in writing as this has continued in line with those instructions. What is immediately striking about this instrument is the quality of workmanship, manufacture and attention to detail coupled with their refined and elegant beauty. The mirror polished finish of the bores must be seen to be believed and may have much to do with the depth and tone that releases with the easiest of attacks, tenors and bass in complete harmony with one another producing a full and all-encompassing umbrella of sound which is simply awesome. The ease and accuracy of tuning together with great air efficiency just adds to the overall enjoyment of playing and become one with this instrument which at first glance, appears delicate, yet at the same time exudes a bold confidence and hidden essence that subliminally calls out, empowering you to pick it up and play without ever wanting to stop. Is this the bagpipe equivalent of Pandora’s’ box? Your workmanship and attention to detail is everything I have long read about and I am deeply thankful to you for making this pipe for me. I look forward to it being the key component of my humble efforts in forthcoming solo competitions and will I am sure, prove to be of great enjoyment to all who hear it. (Initial feedback from PM James Cowie is very positive). I think also, that it will become a treasured travelling companion to dispel the boredom of business travel in far flung places.

Thank you Dave, I am extremely pleased with my custom Legacy pipe and wish you long and continued success.

Best wishes,

Best wishes, Andrew Head, Perth, Western Australia

Hi, I just want to let you know that the Legacy pipes finally arrived… what a soundmaschien, I'm absolutely in love. Thanks a lot for all the support.

Nicola Hahn, Bavaria, Germany

This is just to let you know that I have now played the Legacy pipes a few times and I am totally thrilled. The drones really ARE fantastic - it simply sounds great :-) I am using a Sinclair chanter which I have had for a while - the tonal blend is wonderful. Thank you very much indeed for this quality instrument.

Beat Witschi, Switzerland

My new Atherton MD3 bagpipe arrived last week and everything about it is perfect. The attention to detail and the high quality of finish is remarkable. The beading and combing is very well defined and every mount is fitted perfectly to the obviously carefully selected blackwood.

The quality of the instrument is everything I expected and you have even hemped all the joints properly which is most appreciated.

This morning I fitted a new bag and put in the Rocket reeds you provided and immediately the drones produced exactly the tonal quality I was looking for. A rich, resonant but refined sound. Very easy to tune and very steady. I’m looking forward to enjoying playing this instrument in the days and years to come.

Superb craftsmanship, Dave, and thank you very much.

Cameron Edgar, Yorkshire, England
RSPBA Adjudicator. PDQB Instructor and Assessor

Hi Dave,

Just a follow up email to you, after some 6 months of owning a set of Atherton Premiers. My set of pipes are exquisite, the sound they produce is truly unique, and in combination with quality cane reeds and a sheepskin bag create , in my opinion, an un-surpassable instrument. The attention to detail & skill level you clearly demonstrated during the crafting of these pipes is stunningly obvious in the finished product, sound and look. For the serious player, solo or band, consideration of a purchase of your pipes is a must, regardless of price, you don't just receive a cosmetically pleasing product, but an instrument of real quality.

My thanks again Dave, for these premiers, no69 in your pipes gallery and I look forward to many happy years of playing them.

Best wishes,

Rob Thomas, Ireland

Hello Dave,

The pipes arrived in perfect condition at my brothers place on Thursday. What a wonderful instrument. The quality of the turning and the mirror-like bores show the effort you have put in making the pipes. Outstanding sound! I oiled them right away after unpacking and let the oil soak in over night. Setting them up and tuning was very easy and needed only a few minutes. I'm very happy with the set and it will probably be not the last set I will buy from you.

Thank you very much for all your efforts and support.

Kind regards,

Sven Kessler, Germany

Over the past few years, I have been playing a set of holly wood mounted Atherton MD's, owned by a very close friend of the SFU Pipe Band organization. It was during this time that I took the biggest steps forward in my professional piping career. I loved how easy they were to lock into tune on the platform, as well as their rich depth of sound and harmonics. This never disappointing sound gave me the confidence I needed to compete at the highest levels of solo piping; especially within British Columbia. I have since purchased my own set of Atherton Legacy drones, beautifully mounted with hand-engraved sterling silver. I could not be happier with the appearance of the pipes, their dominant bass presence and expert craftsmanship. Going into the 2015 competition season, I have never been more well prepared and confident than I am now. Thank you, Dave for your passion in making such a stunning product that performs at the highest levels of piping coupled with your unrelenting attention to detail.

Myles Stewart
Simon Fraser University Pipe Band

Hi Dave,

Just thought I would drop you a quick email.

I have had my Legacy set for about 6 weeks now, and although not the ideal time of year in terms of playing them and getting outside I do now have a good idea of the qualities of the instrument.

I am not really going to be able to offer anything new or original as the merits of your various models are well documented. I can however say they have fully lived up to the ‘press’ in terms of workmanship and most importantly in sound, they are rich and warm with a broad harmonic range. Extremely easy to tune with supreme steadiness. Easily the best modern pipe I have played or worked with and worthy of comparison with top vintage sets. I had a set of 1916 Henderson’s I played for 15 years and a have a wonderful set of Ebony 1880 David Glen pipes. These legacy drones are already starting to prove themselves to be at that level.

I played them outside for the first time on Hogmanay and only at that point did I truly appreciate the power and projection from the drones particularly the bass. I also got an indication of their steadiness. Having tuned up outside and after a 15 minute wait inside in the warmth, I took in the New Year in a very warm function suite and by the time I played myself onto the stage the drones were once again locked in. They stayed that way through my 5 minute set and I was very impressed at how effortlessly they filled the room even with a very noisy appreciative crowd. It was a very impressive debut given the difficult temperature and humidity changes.

It is only when performing in public or in competition where you have changes in temperature including switching from inside to outside or have a lengthy wait between tuning and performing that you can truly test and have complete faith in your instrument. I am already looking forward to these challenges safe in the knowledge that my Atherton Legacy drones will not let me down.

I am now happily playing about with various reeds in the drones to find the set up that I prefer.

Once again thanks very much and I hope you keep producing your instruments for many years to come as they will be in great demand in 2015! and beyond.

Best wishes,
Drew Sinclair