I like the A-440 sound in blending with folk instruments. I feel more of the bagpipe's power and dignity come through, whereas a B-flat pipe sounds thin & tinny to me. Your opinions on the subject in general, or on my results specifically, may differ of course.
The A-440 bagpipe consists of 1980 Sinclair impregnated maple drones (clearly heard on "Slurs") with Ross artificial reeds on brass extender tubes such that the bottoms of the reeds are level with the inside bottoms of the stocks. Photo (46 kb) of drone reed, wire bridle & duct tape! (It works!)
The chanter in the live recording is my famous "Franken-Chanter" which is a broken & semi repaired 1972 Hardie with numerous holes filled w/ epoxy and moved. Photo (52 kb) of the "Franken-Chanter" showing epoxy filled holes and tissue paper stuck in chanter bottom to moderate the low G which became extra loud.
The studio recording features a '60's Boosey & Hawkes chanter with holes taped and a 1/4" to 0" tapered dowel tuning-rod inserted up the bore uilleann-pipe-style to drop the pitch. These are nondestructive, temporary reversible modifications. Photo (47 kb) of the new Hardie "low pitch" chanter prepared the same way.
Both chanters are disgusting to handle (unstable, unsteady) but they recorded nicely I felt. Reed is an overlong Warnock with the top fraction of the thick lower section thinned so as to lengthen the thin portion of the blades. See Warnock photo (10 kb). Chanters tune cold to about 435 or less.
Since at least 3 professional makers are producing 440- or 440-attainable chanters (Michael MacHarg, Hamish Moore and Hardie via the College of Piping [not very low pitch, however, tuning near 460 with a normal contest reed] ), I recommend professionally made A-440 chanters over conversions! I have a new flat Hardie, which can be gotten to 440, and it is much better behaved than my conversion jobs.
The B-flat bagpipe has a 1981 plastic War-Mac chanter, easy McAllister reed with 1984 Naill drones with cane reeds. From the 1984 album Farewell to the Creeks by John Sherman, who plays melody guitar & bouzouki throughout and on this cut in which the bagpipe is actually a backup instrument. For album/tape or string info contact John at email@example.com