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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 03-16-2019, 04:03 PM   #1
William McKenzie
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Default Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

Given the cost to benefit would you buy all over again?

I've been working on practicing tunes with a small pipes chanter that has a mouthpiece adapter to play it just like a PC. It's far better than a PC and how I've learned tunes over the years. However, it's still very much a pain to find a position to rest the chanter while playing that doesn't block the end (like my legs) or put my hands in a strange position like resting higher on a table. It's also a pain sometimes to get the scale to perfectly line up with BMW tunes. Having to stop to drain moisture, having to stop because lips are going out, and generally just finding a time where my playing won't bother my significant other (she and I live in a small apartment). It's almost like the stars have to align to get solid practice time in and when I do I still can fatigue my wrists and lips as opposed to being truly relaxed and focusing on movements.

Because of this I am seriously considering a Blair Chanter. Always in tune, I can rest it on my leg almost at the height my hands will be on full pipes, there's no sound to anyone else except in my ears, and it actually sounds the way pipes would so I get a true idea of expression. Plus I can play along to a BMW tune in key.

Has it justified the high cost for those that own it (or something similar like Deger or Fagerstrom)? Has it increased your practice time? There are lots of reasons to own a Blair Chanter other than practice such as plugging into monitors to play with other instruments but this is not why I would purchase it. Would you purchase it over again or something else?
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Old 03-16-2019, 04:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

I own a Deger II, and although I find it worth it sometimes I also mainly play my actual PC.

The downside of the Deger for me is that itís not long enough to play like a PC.

Iím considering the Blair as a replacement in the future tho.

I fully support the electronic/digital chanter idea as it has increased my ability to practice in work camp situations as well as in public.

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Old 03-16-2019, 06:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

I just got back into piping have learnt a bit as a kid in school (now in mid 30ís), I bought the Blair mainly so I can practice without disturbing the Wife. With work and life etc finding time to practice is never easy but with the Blair I have been able to play Everyday at night without disturbing family. I also travel for work so take it on flights with me and can play then (helps when you have seen all the movies).
I find it a great addition to PC and pipes but found it canít take over from good PC practice for me anyway. Something about adding in the blowing that changes it.
I must average 30-40mins a day on the Blair so well worth it! All at times if I picked up the PC I would be killed by the Missus!

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Old 03-16-2019, 06:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

As perhaps the lone voice of dissent, Iíll just say that I bought one, played it for a bit, and quickly realized that it wasnít for me. Even after adjusting the sensitivity, it seemed that the playing experience was not similar enough to a PC or chanter to be beneficial for me. I do not have any experience with the other brands of e-chanters. It sounds like you want to buy one though. Go ahead and get it, and let us know what you think.
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Old 03-17-2019, 07:24 AM   #5
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

not sure, its certainly upped my playing time and has great sound and the holes feel good. on the down side the setting of the sensitivity seems very hard to get right , its on off mechanism is awfull< no pause button. you have to navigate to turn it off where upon the speaker clunks. its not very stable and goes wonky easily so not IMO good enough for a live performance.
on the upside it can be upgraded through software so perhaps it will improve.
downside , the out put connections are on left side , would have been better at the back .
6/10 . i have a fagerstrom as well and id recomend that over the blair... its simple to turn on and off, stable and works well for midi. prefer the blair holes, with the fagerstrom controls and pause button.

i hope they update it as it could be excellent, but is just ok
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Old 03-17-2019, 05:28 PM   #6
Achilles Piper
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

Originally Posted by tenthpiper View Post
its not very stable and goes wonky easily so not IMO good enough for a live performance.
Could you explain what you mean by "not very stable"? Are you referring to pitch, or something else? Also what do you mean by "goes wonky easily"?
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

I agree getting the hole sensitivity right is a chore, and I don't think the Blair chanter has completely nailed the electronic instrument.

Part of it is simply playing technique, and with a bit of experience you learn what you need to do differently to get consistent results. But still, it's frustrating when something you do doesn't actually come out the speaker.

I've found it useful mostly as a tool for doing things that would be a nuisance with a real instrument. A while back I was asked to record some music for a video game - loads and loads of short snippets, which all had to be bang on A 440. Doing it all through the Blair chanter made life much easier.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

So just downloaded the update and had a quick play. The ĎPaní stereo upgrade is the one I am most impressed with (stick to the recommended setting to begin with but the options are endless), the C-pipes is nice to play with but for me not hugely useful!

Still wish there was a pause button/option.

Donít really see anything different with the metronome...

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Old 03-18-2019, 07:55 AM   #9
Steve Law
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

On electronics in general, Iíve had my Deger (Mk1, I guess) for something around 10-12 years and continue to use it a lot.... although with dry skin I learned quickly to always carry hand cream, without which itís avery hit &miss affair, to the point where no cream=donít bother to pick it up.

That aside, itís great for recording stuff (e.g a melody, so you can practice harmonies against it on replay) as itís continuous sound, tuneable so it can be matched with others, or with other recordings.

I recall seeing a video of a group of 12 or more playing like a band (folks with limited mobility or blowing capabilty, iirc, and they were great to listen to....canít imagine that working well with a group of blown practice chanters....limited market but still...

Due to the cream issue Iíve been considering a Blair....the demo videos are most impressive....but the price is high and Iíve heard too many anecdotes like those above citing issues around sensitivity and the need to set this up...maybe repeatedly?..... I donít fully understand why that would be necessary but thereís enough concern that Iím hanging back and unlikely to buy Blair until I hear theyíve made that foolproof....how likely that it Iíve no idea.

Have no experience with the other types (Redpipes, Fagerstrom et al) but Redpipes look bigger than I want, with bag attached, and the other smaller ones look somewhat crude by comparison to Deger or Blair (imho).

Would I buy another electronic if this one broke? Definitely, for all the reasons above (silent practice, recording, playing along, duration of playing with no wet reed issues).... but Iíd take a long time deciding between another Deger and the Blair
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:03 AM   #10
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Default Re: Would you purchase your Blair electronic chanter again?

Short answer:
"Yes, I would definitely purchase my Blair chanter again."

I have owned and used an original Deger since, I think, 2007 or 2008. I also recently bought a Blair once I'd found it for a reasonable price.

So far, the Blair is quite impressive and useful, and in a majority of respects I find it to be far-superior to the Deger that I've used so extensively over the years.

As with a lot of things, I firmly believe that everyone's needs can be extremely different. Thus, it can sometimes be difficult to conjure up accurate, generalized claims as to whether something is good/worth it. That being said, while I certainly can recognize that some of my particular needs can be somewhat unique or peculiar, I do at least feel that my perspective was arrived upon after careful, objective consideration.

Seeing as I already had my Deger (and utilized it extensively), I had a hard time justifying the purchase of another electronic chanter, particular for the average price the Blair seems to be going for, which appeared to be around $700 USD, give-or-take. I understand the value, and that it's clearly intended to be an improvement on many other alternatives. But that price really was just a bit farther than I was willing to invest.

As with others here, my chief issue with the Deger is the dry-hands-thing, especially in the dry winter. Additionally, I have a rather long train commute every day, so I actually work in a lot of time practicing movements and tunes during that time ... if it's working, that is. Even with moisturizer, applying it would solve the issue for about 5 minutes before I'd need to apply yet again. So in the winter months, honestly, I just couldn't use the Deger for what I needed it for the most.

Obviously, with the holes on the Blair being optical, such wouldn't be an issue. I think the Deger cost me around the $400 mark when I'd gotten in back in 2008 or so, maybe a bit less. Thus, at the least, I determined that if the Blair is a significant improvement on what the Deger delivers, I can at least justify $400, plus say, 20 or 30% ... let's split that at 25% for an even $100.

Additionally, when it comes to midi (I only use that from time-to-time, but when I do, it's really useful), the Blair has a midi interface built directly into the chanter. To my knowledge, with all other comparable products, one must buy and use a separate midi device in order to utilize midi capability.

That's around-about another $100 in value there, which is the cost of something like an iRig. So not only is that more money that one has to spend with something like the Deger, it's annoying to have to plug in (and keep track of) a whole, other device. With the Blair, the included cable just goes right into your computer. As long as everything is configured correctly on the computer, you're instantly off and running.

(addition) ... And that included cable is just a simple and rather ubiquitous micro-USB cable. The Deger uses this obscure, seemingly unattainable midi cord ... if I ever lose that cable (and I've come close), I believe that I'm screwed.

So objectively, that makes the Blair very reasonable in value, in at least the $500-550 range. So when I saw that G1 sells it for right around that price point, I jumped on it immediately (https://www.g1reeds.com/product/blair-digital-chanter/) Actual amount is bound to fluctuate for anyone outside of the UK, depending on where the pound is at.

Nothing against any other retailers, so far I've not seen a comparable offering.

Once I was able to fine-tune the sensitivity for each hole (this takes some trial and error), I hardly ever have issues any longer during my train time. Very occasionally a note might get (as others comment on here) "wonky" ... i.e., the note thinks my finger is on/off when it isn't ... that's easily fixed by going back into the sensitivity settings and readjusting. There's also an overall adjustment for ambient light ... so if say, you're in a very dark room or in direct sunlight, you can specify the light intensity around you (which can sometimes affect things).

There's only one area that, so far, ensures my Deger chanter will not be going away any time soon: pitch adjustment.

The Deger doesn't trap you into the pitch of (A) 440 thru 489hz (and now, the key of C as well, which IS rather cool). The range of the Deger is practically unlimited ... and I use that feature extensively to aid me in transposing/learning things by ear, whether the source material is piping or not.

Whilst listening to whatever I'm looking to figure out/transpose ... I simply switch on the Deger, and start hitting the pitch buttons up or down as I listen to the drones and high-A ... and I keep going until the sound from the Deger seems to fit as a drone for my source material. Then, PRESTO ... I'm off and starting to fumble around with figuring out what notes are where. If I want to know what key the source is in, all I need to do is use a tuner to tell me what pitch the Deger is at.

I'm hoping and praying that the Blair incorporates something to this effect, even if it's a separate "transpose mode" or something. I'm quite good at picking stuff out by ear, and employing the above process with the Deger over the years has greatly contributed to that ability.

So if/when Blair adds in such a functionality, well, it'll be a sad day for my poor Deger, but a wonderful day for me.

Last thing about the Blair ... it can be somewhat-easily damaged. I don't consider myself negligent, but due to the fact that I primarily need/use it whilst in transit during rush hour in a very busy city, well ... things happen. A subway car made a sharp stop one afternoon and a fellow fell right on my lap. The chanter busted in half right at the ferrule.

I'm a bit on the handy side, and I managed to get it back in working order with barely an indication that anything happened to it. Delicate process that wasn't easy, and I'm lucky that it didn't break somewhere else.

The included carrying case would be advisable to use. It's a bit bulky for my train bag, so I use a thick cardboard map tube instead. But yeah, it's not nearly as strong as a poly pipe chanter or anything.

Sorry for so much (nasty habit), but I know it's not a small purchase, so I didn't want to spare any insights which may help. I hope they do.


Last edited by Pppiper; 03-19-2019 at 11:12 AM.
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