About Us

The Guild was founded in Britain in 1932. Its main aim is the threefold craft of making, playing and decorating bamboo pipes. Pipes are made for personal use, and are not sold – i.e. if you want to play one, you’ll have to make one! The idea of making bamboo pipes has spread around the world, with groups and guilds in Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, the U.S.A., and Japan. All of the guilds are members of a federation, which meets every five years at an international course.

What are Bamboo Pipes?

The bamboo pipe is a simple hand-made wind instrument, similar to a recorder but with a gentler tone. While looking for a recorder-type instrument to use with her schoolchildren, Margaret James stumbled across a Sicilian shepherd’s pipe. After many experiments the simple treble pipe in D was perfected. Later a full quartet of pipes of alto in A & G, tenor in D and bass in G was developed. This range has since been extended to include sopranino in G, quartbass in D, and great bass in G. In addition, treble, alto, and tenor extended pipes with a range of an octave and a sixth or more are also made.

Why Bother?

Firstly, for the satisfaction: there is a special thrill in playing an instrument you have made yourself. Secondly, it makes you a craftsman as well as a musician. Thirdly, it is an ideal way of learning the rudiments of music. Pipes are made and tuned one note at a time; the complete beginner (of any age) learns to play their pipe as they make it. For more advanced players there is the pleasure of ensemble playing in trios, quartets and larger groups.


A small group of pipers (4 to 5) are currently meeting to play in member’s homes in East London (mainly Forest Gate) and would very much welcome any visiting pipers.

The meetings are usually monthly, on Thursday afternoons from 2-4pm, although they do vary according to people’s diaries.

Thus they can also be flexible to fit in with possible visitors, given enough notice.

For information and future dates, please contact Imogen McGavin.


We are the ‘Making and Playing Bamboo Pipes’ group, one of 30 groups organised by Crawley U3A.  We have about 12 members of the group, with varied playing ability.

All members make their own pipes.  Patsy holds making sessions in her home in Crawley.  Some knowledge of music is very desirable but not essential.   The cost of materials (bamboo & cork) for your first pipe is £3.75.  You will also need a music stand, and be prepared to buy music and instruction books. Some sharing of the conducting or ‘counting in’ is encouraged, as is any music that members provide. If you are interested, come along and borrow a treble pipe until your own pipe is made (with lots of help).  It’s an ideal hobby for the ‘3rd Age’, combining things to do at home – making, decorating, and practising – with the social and creative side, as we make music together twice a month.

We meet to play on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays in the month, at 2 pm at Furnace Green Community Centre, Crawley.  For further information, contact Patsy Edmond-Smith.

To take part, you have first to join the Crawley U3A, (£9.50 per year), and then pay 90p per session (paid in advance).  This also gives you access to all the U3A activities.