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Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, Hebridean Reeds

About Hebridean Reeds

Hebridean Reeds: Handcrafted Highland Bagpipe chanter reeds, made by James Duncan Mackenzie on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. 

Hebridean Reeds is based in North Shawbost on the West side of Lewis and was established by well known piper James Duncan Mackenzie in 2022.

After moving back to his native Isle of Lewis in recent years, James gradually built up a small collection of reed making tools and equipment as well as learning and gaining knowledge along the way. He has been fortunate to have met and talked to a small number of individuals who have shared some reed making knowledge with him. There has also  been a fair bit of trial and error along the way, all of which has helped strengthen his understanding of reed making and increased his ability to make good reeds more consistently. 


The reeds are made in small batches, using cane (arundo donax) which is grown in plantations in Mediterranean regions of Northern Spain. The cane is seasoned for some time before it is ready to be made into a reed. 

Each reed is handmade by James and is carefully taken through several stages and processes ahead of the final finishing and testing of the reed before it is sent out to the customer. Great care is taken at every step to ensure consistency in the manufacture process. James strives to make a great reed that works in a variety of different makes of pipe chanter with the aim of making a vibrant and stable reed with a full yet refined tone. 

James' experience and musical ear plays a crucial part in his reed making; his musical ear and understanding of reed manipulation are vital skills in order to be able to pitch, fine tune and finish each reed to the highest standard possible. He strives to send out reeds that he would be happy playing himself!

Please get in touch if you have any questions or have any order specifics and we will do our best to accommodate where possible.  

Hebridean Reeds - spanish cane
Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, Hebridean Reeds, Highland pipe chanter reed maker

Isle of Lewis

James Duncan Mackenzie, Hebridean Reeds, photo credit Murdo Macleod

About James

A respected piper and composer, James has gained much experience over his piping career to date which has included playing in the Grade 1 Scottish Power Pipe Band for a few seasons as well as touring internationally with renowned Scottish folk band, Breabach, for over a decade.


James is known for his work on the folk music scene, having recorded on many albums as well as 3 solo releases which are made up of many of his own tunes; James Duncan Mackenzie, Sròmos and Fìbhig.

In 2021, James released his first collection of self penned tunes, The James Duncan Mackenzie Collections, which includes 70 tunes. In 2022, James was nominated for Composer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards. 


As a competing solo piper, James has picked up a few major solo prizes since returning to competitions in 2018, including the Silver Medal for Piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting in 2019 and the Dunvegan Medal at the Skye Gathering in 2022.


James is also in demand as a tutor and has been a guest tutor for wooden flute and pipes at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands. 


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