Many people ask advice on buying a Northumbrian Smallpipe. The following will help anyone interested in getting a set of pipes. Northumbrian bagpipe music is written in the key of "G" although the instruments in reality are pitched in "F"; in other words you play the written fingering for "G" and you get an "F". Sets can be special ordered that play in "D". The chanter is stopped, enabling a staccato style of playing that gives them the unique "bubbling" sound for which they have become famous. The drones play a harmonizing chord, are dry-reeded and bellows-blown. Northumbrian pipes come in different forms. The Primitive set is the original Smallpipes. It has a limited compass of 8 fingerholes (one octave) and only 3 drones which play G (below middle C), D and G above (remember when we are talking G we really mean F). Although this is a good training instrument for the first 6 months of practice, its limited range soon imposes a restriction to anyone seriously wishing to play the Northumbrian repertoire. The 7 key set is the basic "real" instrument. The seven keys extend the range of the chanter by 5 notes, in addition to providing 2 accidental notes in the middle of the range: C# and D#. There are 4 drones with one tuning bead on the G drone, giving the notes D, G, A, D, G; this gives the player the possibility of playing in G major or D major (remember G is F and D would be C). Drones are available with extra tuning beads. These are called Complex drones. These add the possibility of playing in A major or E minor. Normally these are fitted to a set with 9 or more keys which has 2 G#s necessary for the key of A major. It's impossible with complex drones to make a 7 key chanter play many of the Highland pipe tunes which are written with a G natural. The scale of E minor is within the compass of the 7 key chanter. Sets listed are made of Blackwood mounted in brass and imitation ivory. These sets are in G (really F).