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JonThePipes 10-29-2016 12:03 AM

Electronic NSP
I was wondering if any Northumbrian Small Pipers had played any electronic chanters, and if so whether they were any good? What were the advantages and disadvantages, and how do they affect your playing when you go back to the real thing?

zarb 10-29-2016 02:30 PM

Re: Electronic NSP
I have the Fagerstrom electronic chanter and it is pretty good for practicing smallpipes. I haven't used it for NSP, and I'm not aware that it can properly take that role. On the other hand, it does smallpipes and big pipes quite well. It's a great deal more convenient than taking any set about the country, and makes plane rides go by a good deal faster. I have gotten tremendous service from the owner on the few occasions I needed any help. I would definitely recommend the product. There is an E-chanter project in the DIY portion of forums, where you would quite cheaply build your own, and that could probably get remapped for NSP fingering. That's well beyond my capabilities.

CalumII 10-30-2016 01:42 PM

Re: Electronic NSP
The disadvantage will be the same as any other chanter: an electronic chanter doesn't allow you to practice sealing holes properly so fingering becomes sloppy.

Also I feel sorry for whoever has to build a seven key electronic chanter :p

Rob_Say 10-31-2016 04:28 AM

Re: Electronic NSP
There was a chap by the name of Charlie Young who built a decent 7k NSP back in the 1990's. I had a 10 minute play on it but I've not seen one in the last 20 years and they certainly never made it to being a 'retail' proposition. It was pretty good at requiring closed fingering and the 'keys' were raised nubs with a contact you had to hit. It was bulky and the onboard sound was limited but you could plug it into a MIDI system.

It was good enough that if it were available now I would probably get one - I'm often away with work and use downtime to learn tunes and practice variation patterns. Playing these on a pencil / in my head is a good discipline but an electronic chanter would be very useful.


calecm 10-31-2016 10:27 AM

Re: Electronic NSP
I would respectfully disagree with CalumII. I find that the Fagerstrom is actually LESS forgiving of careless fingering than a real chanter. A number of other posters on this forum and elsewhere have reported the same result.

Quiet Piper 10-31-2016 02:26 PM

Re: Electronic NSP
I have had a Fagerstom Technopipes since December 2011. It has been absolutely fantastic. I have about a one hour commute each way on a large comfortable bus, usually with a double seat by myself. So I can get almost ten hours a week of practice on the bus. I would not play the SSP nearly as well if I had not spent so much time on the Technopipes.

So I would support CalumII. The Technopipes do not provide practice in sealing the holes, which, for a beginner, is very important to learn. It is very easy to hit the electronic contacts. The Technopipes are forgiving in that way.

On the other hand, the Technopipes are especially good at revealing false fingering. So, as a beginner, my fingering became relatively precise after a couple of years. But I still had to play the real SSP set so that my fingers could find and seal the holes instinctively. And also I had to learn how to work the bellows, of course.

So I guess it depends on what one means by "sloppy".

Buying the Technopipes is some of the best money I have spent in piping.

daj 10-31-2016 07:29 PM

Re: Electronic NSP
I programmed one of my electro arduino chanters for closed fingering, worked quite nicely. Galician chanters now come open or closed fingered, I imagine if I thought about it, I could use extra sensors as keys, thanks for the suggestion.
It would sound ok playing through Universal Piper, managed to produce a rather acceptable mussette sound using the smallpipe samples, will just need tweaking for NSP.
The echanter wouldn't work, it only has 9 notes hardwired, it's a bit awkward retuning them.

CalumII 11-01-2016 07:22 AM

Re: Electronic NSP

Originally Posted by calecm (Post 1307105)
I would respectfully disagree with CalumII. I find that the Fagerstrom is actually LESS forgiving of careless fingering than a real chanter. A number of other posters on this forum and elsewhere have reported the same result.

It is less forgiving of crossing noises, yes, but I am talking about sealing holes.

I have owned and played electronic chanters and to my mind they are simply different, like electric and acoustic guitars. There is much in common but there are key differences that must be appreciated.

calecm 11-01-2016 09:56 AM

Re: Electronic NSP
CalumII and I are now in total agreement! Thanks for the clarification.

What I will say is that the finger holes are different on every single set of pipes you'll play, and it takes a while to be sure you're hitting them. Even two sets of pipes you've owned for years, it'll take a moment to get your fingers in the right spot, and there'll be a "warm-up squeak" or two.

Electropipes and buses/planes are the greatest, though!


Michael Kazmierski Dunn 09-28-2019 11:41 AM

Re: Electronic NSP
Fagerstrom has come out with an electronic Northumbrian Technopipe. It's on his website.

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