Mikel Celtic Instruments
Welcome to Mikel Celtic Instruments. We are craftsman and manufacturers of bagpipes, Irish flutes (“Mikel Bagpipes”) and lever harps (“Mikel Harps”). Mikel Celtic Instruments started manufacturing bagpipes in 1999 and lever harps in 2006.
We at Mikel Celtic Instruments analysed our market and found that the majority of local manufacturers were producing substandard bagpipes and harps. In addition they did not employ any research and development. The international market was dissatisfied with the poor quality instruments being produced and therefore was wary about purchasing instruments from Sialkot. At the other end of the market, the manufacturers in Europe and America were making quality instruments but this quality was reflected in their price which was out of the range of students and ordinary musicians.
Realizing there was a substantial discrepancy in the two markets; Mikel Celtic team started a Research and Development department with their mission “To produce quality instruments at affordable prices”. This enterprise has involved many foreign professional musicians, local Professional pipers and some foreign makers. To achieve our quality product, reverse engineering techniques were utilized. Top quality woods were imported in the development of our quality instruments; blackwood for bagpipes, and beech, ash, and spruce woods for harps. Quality harp strings were imported from the USA and synthetic drone reeds were imported from Scotland. It has taken many years of experimentation and hard work to produce fine quality instruments at affordable prices.
“Mikel Harps” and “Mikel Bagpipes” are now selling well worldwide at very affordable prices. The company has distributors in Germany, UK, France, Italy, China, Australia and Canada.
History of success
The Mikel Harps Department was established in 2006 when we found a serious gap in the market. Quality Harps, we felt, were not being made available in affordable prices for inspired Students and professional Harpists, many of whom could not afford to pay a high price for a Harp. After several years of research and development, and drawing on the experience of our team of artisans and our management , we are proud now to offer quality Harps at highly affordable prices. To understand how we became successful, you must first know the company’s history.
Since we began manufacturing of harps, our company has remained engaged in continual improvements. With the passage of time many designs were made and modified to include these improvements and to satisfy customer demands. New threaded pins were designed for lasting grip. For easy and precise regulation new steel threaded bridge pins were also designed. New innovative low cost quality sharpening levers were also invented to precisely sharpen notes.
Spruce wood soundboards were designed very carefully for precisely balancing string tension and resonance. New string charts were arranged with the collaboration of Markwood Strings. The wood joint structures were re-crafted and updated.. The feet, bases, sound box and detachable legs were designed carefully by our team.
A new Deluxe Cordura Carry bag with 10 mm foam padding interior and pockets was designed to customers specification.
At the start all drawings were done by hand. 2 years ago all drawings were redesigned in CAD software giving greater precision, and ultimately enabling us to consistently produce quality harps at a much lower price.
A CNC milling machine and Auto lathe is used in the production of the metal hardware. Some new machinery for wood working was also purchased to speed up production needs although hand finishing and inspection is still a very important part of the process. At present the company has a production capacity of 50 harps per month, but since the demand is relatively high, we are now expanding to double our production capacity while retaining our very high quality.
To make all these improvements, we exchanged ideas with harpists, customers and other harp makers. Especially we thank to Mr. Joseph from Joseph Harps Canada, Mr. Paul from Dewart Harps; both have made a great contribution to our quality harp production.
We understand there is always room for more improvements and we are continuously working to improve our instruments. We invite you to join us, share ideas and enjoy Mikel Harps.
Our team (few members)
Statement by the Production Manager - Highland Bagpipe Department
Mikel Bagpipes is the department of Mikel Celtic Instruments dedicated to the production of Bagpipes and Irish Flutes. Below is the history of how our high quality Bagpipes were developed at Mikel Celtic.
Mikel Celtic began manufacturing Bagpipes in 1999 under the direction of our Director of Production, Mr Latif, the Manager, Bagpipe Production Department.
Mr Latif recalls,
“About 29 years ago, when I was 17 years old, my uncle was working in a well known musical instrument company here in Sialkot where Bagpipes, Brass Band and other instruments were manufactured. My uncle obtained employment for me there as an apprentice artisan. I spent 15 years in that company gradually mastering all aspects of the very skilled technical work involved.
During that period, I made a detailed analysis of why the bagpipes made in Sialkot were not getting success in international market. My analysis brought before me the following faults in manufacturing process.
1. The Local manufacturers were not using properly dried wood.
2. They were using cheap local woods that were not best for woodwind instruments.
3. They did not differentiate between Sapwood and Heartwood. Sapwood because of its tendency to move, is harmful if it used in instruments.
4. The Quality of tone of a bagpipe depends 90% on the bores. They were using rough tools for drilling the bores.
5. The Pipe Chanters were being made without any proper technical theory.
6. The Drone bores were too rough and so could not produce a clear sound
7. There was no testing procedure for the handmade pipe reeds and cane drone reeds.
8. The brass mounts and ferrules were roughly produced on the lathe.
9. The fittings of mounts and ferrules had no precise standard sizes.
10. The stocks were being made from wood that absorbed humidity. As a result they developed cracks with the passage of time. There was the same problem with the mouth piece.
11. They use the old method of wax oil to make the airbag airtight.
Despite all the above I realised the artisans of Sialkot had accumulated hundreds of years of tradition and ability in the necessary hand skills needed to work in wood and metal.
I decided that if I started our own manufacturing, I would be able to remedy, not only all the above technical faults, but also to use higher quality materials and introduce rigorous quality control.
I had faith in the ability of our skilled artisans to adapt and believed that as we carefully removed all the above-mentioned faults carefully in the manufacturing workshop, we would get consistently produced, quality bagpipes, which could ultimately gain a strong share of the market.
I started my manufacturing workshop in November, 1999 in a small village in premises in Sialkot city. I received our first order of 7 highland bagpipes from the USA. Just after receiving that order, the customer confirmed another order of 19 sets. Our sales started growing in many countries and at the same time I expanded the business. I invited other professional people to join me and we became a company. We moved premises to Sialkot City to a small factory with additional workers in 2006 and later, needing to expand the manufacturing unit, we shifted once more to a bigger factory near a small industrial estate in Sialkot. Our aim now is to maintain the high quality we have achieved and to constantly improve our product.”
Details of our now highly upgraded bagpipes and their product details are contained on other pages in this website, as are details of the other musical instruments produced by Mikel Celtic Instruments.