Handing on the Tradition –

a History

The instruments produced in the Hervieux/Botuha Workshop currently on sale in Brittany and France are also to be found across Europe and The United States not to mention in New Zealand and Russia The story of this long line of craftsmen goes back to Lann-Bihoué half a century ago

Join us and discover the fascinating handing on of tradition from father to son by bombarde makers of repute, a process which has made this workshop a legend !

The Workshop


Gilbert Hervieux et Olivier Glet first met up when members of the famous Lann-Bioué bagad. This was at the end of the 1970s, and a wind of change was blowing over the Breton musical landscape – change was inevitable. The two pipers shared the view that it was high time to re-visit the methods employed in the making of traditional instruments. Having chosen to innovate, Gilbert Hervieux and Olivier Glet quickly turned to the making of chromatic instruments as well as exploring lower pitches such as alto and tenor bombardes.

In 2009, Tudual Hervieux, Gilbert Hervieux’s eldest son, joined the workshop having studied under the most prestigious musical instrument makers in England and Scotland. On the retirement of Olivier Glet, Tudual entered the firm in his own right.

On the first of January 2013, to the great surprise of many in the world of traditional music, the legendary Jorj Botuha left his workshop in Auray to join forces with Tudual Hervieux. The two great makers merged into a team . A marriage of genius, skill and passion for the production of traditional instruments which has enabled them with Gilbert Hervieux, to achieve all that is best in the manufacture of unique, high quality instruments. This fusion necessarily lent itself to innovation. A few months later, the firm was awarded the prestigious label EPV (Company engaged in genuinely promoting the living heritage of France) -instituted by the French state to recognise excellence.

By merging their skills, Tudual Hervieux, Gilbert Hervieux and Jorj Botuha are in a position today to offer a complete range of traditional and contemporary instruments, as well as range of top quality reeds.

logo epv signature blanc 200

«  Following a rigourous selection process, the EPV label has been awarded to the Tudual Hervieux & Jorj Botuha workshop for its technical, innovatory and creative qualities and the resulting positive cutural impact. »

The craftsmen

Craftsmen of Great Repute

Tudual Hervieux

In his early years, the young Tudual was learning to play the bombarde under Philippe Janvier and subsequently under Erwan Hamon, but it was the biniou which really interested him . He played the biniou alongside his father( on bombarde) in the Breton traditional duo known as a « couple ». His love of the instrument soon led to an equal passion for turning…a vocation was born !

He travelled to Scotland to learn the craft of bag-making under Angus Lawrie. There then followed a training period with McCallum Bagpipes. Following this he registered for a diploma course involving several years of study in the prestigious international school of musical instrument making at Newark (Woodwind Musical Instrument Making School) in the United Kingdom. He emerged as top student in his year group in 2009. He rejoined his father and Olivier Glet in the Hervieux & Glet Workshop where he put his expertise in bag making to good effect and produced Scottish pipe-bags as well as bags for the biniou ; he also began to make keys in the traditional style and applied his skills to silver-plating.

His passion led him to take precise measurements of the old traditional instruments to be found in museums or in the hands of private owners ; this enabled him to extend the frontiers of his knowledge of bombardes, veuzes and bagpipes.

Tudual Hervieux trace le gabarit d'une poche de cornemuse écossaise sur une peau de mouton
« In the absence of in-depth knowledge of what was done in the past, we can neither appropriate the instruments nor re-design them if we are to create the instruments of the future. »

Jorj Botuha

orj Botuha’s workshop was one of the best known in the world of Breton and Scottish music. At first he concentrated on bombardes, but soon applied his skills to the manufacture of binioù and bagpipes.

Through time, Jorj’s workshop expanded and he made instruments not only for Grade One bagadou and traditional couples, but for top solo pipers in Scotland. Following his musical apprenticeship with Yvon Palamour and Alain Le Buhé, his « guides » as he likes to call them, Jorj Botuha has maintained his desire to « create atmosphere ». Thanks to documentary research, discussions with tradition- bearers, and quite simply through « training his ear », he has strived all his life to restore the sensations of the old music. Jorj Botuha’s savoir-faire stems from his undoubted competence and up-to-date technical skills.

Gilbert Hervieux

Gilbert Hervieux is a native of St Vincent sur Oust, a commune in the Morbihan département. This area is particularly well known for its well rooted folk traditions, « Especially as far as dancing is concerned ! ». From an early age, Gilbert was in close contact with a native population devoted to dance and song.

The fact that the Breton Cultural Centre Ti Kendalc’h covering the Vilaine area was close to hand, meant that doors around St Vincent were opened up to him for field collecting. Very soon he had extended his folk collecting to include the whole of Gallo-speaking Morbihan.. and even beyond  to take in the Breton speaking sector (pays vannetais). Thus was born a veritable passion which shaped his whole career !

The active promotion of the song material collected in the Vilaine area was to culminate in Gilbert setting up a presigious event known as the « Bogue d’or » involving the celebration of song through competition and the award of the coveted medal, The Bogue d’Or, the « Gold Chestnut » (as it coincided with the harvesting of the edible chestnut for which the area is famous). Gilbert continued to pipe in the « couple » tradition with a number of different « partners », notably Jean-Yves Pédron, Jacques Beauchamp, Dominique Mahé et Tudual Hervieux.

Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant

«  Following a rigourous selection process, the EPV label has been awarded to the Tudual Hervieux & Jorj Botuha workshop for its technical, innovatory and creative qualities and the resulting positive cutural impact. »

The Trades

Stage by Stage

The savoir-faire and the reputation of the Tudual Hervieux / Jorj Botuha workshop is built upon a number of complimentary trades which come together throughout the fabrication process. ; futhermore; the craftsmen are engaged in a continuous search for perfection.

Each instrument is the result of many hours of work on wood, horn, reeds, leather and metal. The work passes through several hands which combine in a skilled co-ordination of tasks be they mechanical or by hand. We use high precision machinery ( designed originally for the clock-making and aeronautic industries). It is the skills of each tradesman interacting to obtain perfection, which lies behind the production of the impeccable, quality instruments which emerge from our workshop -instruments which are not only unique, but also of consistent quality thanks to precision work practices.

Gilbert Hervieux Tournage d'une carrelet de buis pour biniou

The Turning Stage

The first manufacturung stage is that of wood-turning which is used to rough out the basic form from which the instrument will eventually emerge ; undressed timber, wooden tiles, stocks, each piece of wood are carefully selected then left to dry out for several decades at the end of which only the straightest, hardest and most stable pieces will be retained.

The turning process is both physical and poetic : odours, shavings, the grain of the wood, the feel of the wood - all experienced as the basic form emerges and gives an idea of what the finished article will look like.

Jorj Botuha vérifie la perce d'une bombard en Fa

Boring, Reaming

There is no instrument without boring ! The bore is effected using reamers which are made to measure in the greatest of secrecy. This stage consists of boring the heart of the wood to preserve the accoustic qualities of the instruments. Without a doubt, this is the most crucial stage of the manufacturing process and the success of Tudual Hervieux and Jorj Botuha at this vital stage is the hallmark of their prowess. The trade secrets attached to this process are carried in their heads. The deftness of their fingers, the infallibility of their « ear » are matchless and are the defining qualities behind their uniqueness as instrument makers.

Tudual Hervieux Brasage à l'argent de clefs de bombarde


Basically, each key covers a hole which is beyond the natural span of the fingers and allows perfect ergonomic conditions for ease of play. This work of designing, and fitting according to the needs of the instruments, is carried out from beginning to end entirely in our workshop. It is this task which makes for perfect tuning and ease of play. The moving parts range from being quite simple( i.e., one or two keys only) to something infinitively more complex ( as in the case of the chromatic bombarde). The manufacture of the different keys is highly detailed, and also highly essential operations. : balls, axis, pads, corkwork, springs etc., You have no doubt got the idea by now ! - patience, precision, ingenuity - are all necessary at this stage ….and goodness knows, it all takes time !

Tudual Hervieux argenture des clefs de bombarde par galvanoplastie

Electro-plating silverwork

The elegance of an instrument derives from the finishing stages which involve the silver plating of the keys using pure silver. This treatment is applied to the surface of the keys and helps to achieve an aesthetic blending of colour and colour tones crucial to the overall visual impact.

Gilbert Hervieux ponçage d'un pavillon de bombarde en Sol en Buis

Sanding and Polishing

Once the instruments have been turned, and the keys braised and silver-plated, each millimetre of the instrument is sanded using a very fine grade sand paper, polished by brush and then varnished using a special mixture (once again- a well- kept secret!) This results in an ultra smooth finish which very pleasant to the touch. The keys are then mounted on their final position finding their due place among the springs, levers and arms. The keys become notes and the instruments take on their outstanding and unique personality.

Ciselage d'un bombarde en si bémol avant étamage

Metal inlaying and Chiseling.

Many of the instruments produced in the Tudual Hervieux /Jorj Botuha Workshop are ornamented. A system consisting of grooving by chisel and using pewter as an inlay (yet another closely guarded secret!) this processen enables the bombarde and biniou to emerge in all their glory. The craftsman chisels traditional patterns on the surface of the instruments although design exceptions may be made at the customer’s request. These innovations may,for example, be a desire to see family traditions reflected through an instrument.

Tudual Hervieux trace le gabarit d'une poche de cornemuse écossaise sur une peau de mouton


From the outset, the leather is selected from the finest suppliers worldwide. From this point onwards, the rest of the productive process is carried out in total secrecy from within the workshop. The design of the bags is the result of many hours spent in assessing and researching the best patterns in order to arrive at a good fitting item which will correspond to the vibrations of the instrument and make for ease and comfort in playing. All sewing is done by hand – strictly no machines. A special twine is used which we produce and wax ourselves – the result is perfect airtightness as befits top-grade bags which are sought after the world over.

Jorj Botuha mesure les anches et le materiel du sonneur Gus Salaün de Bannalec


The reeds made in our workshop come from highly selected tubes of cane from our suppliers. We use only those who enjoy an excellent reputation for quality. The cane is worked entirely by hand – cut to length, gouged, profiled and assembled using special thread which is bound round a copper tube and all of this taking into account the specific requirements of the different instruments. Jorj Bothua’s reeds are the embodiment of his rich experience as the most prize-winning competitive player in Brittany !

Tudual Hervieux perçage des boules de bombarde

Final Adjustments

Before leaving the workshop to be sent to the four corners of the world, Brittany, France and well beyoind, each instrument is tested by by each tradesman in the workshop whose ears and fingers are well used to this task. Each component of the instrument is carefully tested in minute detail to achieve the perfect instrument whose moving parts, precision and airtightness  and whose accuracy of tuning and quality of sound contribute to its outstanding character.