Do plastic pipes have a real advantage in the cold?
The answer herein is my opinion.
I owned two sets of plastic Dunbar P3's and I've played them extensively in the cold. I've also played several sets of wooden pipes in the cold.
In my humble opinion, plastic pipes are a mixed blessing in the cold.
The material won't crack, so that is a significant advantage in the long term.
I also know that wood is a better insulator than solid plastic. My perception is that in practice, this translates to a reality that the plastic looses heat significantly faster than wood.
Hence, in use - on a cold day, the interior of plastic drones is colder than wooden pipes - and moisture will condense faster in a plastic drone than in a wooden drone. My plastic pipes always had a lot more water problems than the wooden pipes. ( I don't buy into the argument about wood taking up some of the condensed moisture during a cold weather gig. If you'd like to argue the point, please bring along some relevant data from a well designed study. I'm a scientist.)
My even larger concern is that, again due to heat loss, the chanter reed will be colder in a plastic stock than in a wooden stock. I believe that this results in a poorer environment for the reed. I've had a couple very rough gigs on my Dunbars. At temperatures in the mid 20s (F), the chanter reed literally froze. I've NEVER had that kind of problem with my wooden pipes. (I would like to try to set up my Dunbars with a wooden chanter stock and see if that helps.)
My feeling is that a plastic chanter is a must.
At the end of the cold day - plastic pipes are a mixed blessing. They will survive the event better than a wooden pipe, but your reputation may be better off with a wooden pipe.
This is my opinion....
Copyright S.K. MacLeod 1996-2016