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Old 11-04-2017, 07:10 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Wilrijk - Belgium
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Default Which electronic pipes to choose?

Hello all!
I play the GHB and Scottish smallpipes....
To start learning a tune I use my practic chanter and Bagpipe player...
Works great! Sometimes it is not possible to use any of these and still I would like to practice like while travelling...
While in the car, bus or train I was thinking of buying an electronic set...
I am in doubt whether I should buy the Degerpipes II or the Fagerstrom Technopipe ... any one of you people who has experienced these instruments? Can you recommend one or the other?
Many thanks for any offered advice!
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:24 AM   #2
Steve Bliven
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Default Re: which electronic pipes to choose?

I got a Deger early on in his manufacture and have been quite pleased with it.

I did run into two difficulties with it over the years. The first was trouble with completing the contacts during the winter, dry-hand season. Had to use hand lotion in order to get rapid notes to play. Not a big deal, but it was one more step.

The other issue was in traveling. I kept the Deger in a pvc pipe with screw-on ends. The x-ray machine at airports tended to be a hassle (pipe with batteries and wires = instant "please step out of line". Flying out of St. John, New Brunswick several years ago, I had to sit for a while on the Group W bench and then was escorted to a small room to speak with a couple of men in red coats about the contents of the pipe. I took it out—slowly and carefully—and explained that it was a musical instrument. They asked me to play it to show them. I said it could only be heard through the ear plugs. Perhaps fearing some sort of James Bond/Q infernal device, none of them wanted to put in the ear buds. Finally, they prevailed on the most junior officer to listen and he assured them that he could hear my fine rendition of "Scotland the Brave." Then they all wanted to listen, while my plane departed without me. By the time the next plane was ready to leave, they had were as tired of "Scotland the Brave" as I was.

Given the even more scrutiny at travel checkpoints these days, it may be even more difficult to travel with an electronic chanter. Or maybe they're now used to such things. But it's food for thought.

Best wishes.

"Some folks say I'm apathetic, but really I don't care."
~ Robert Earl Keen ~
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: which electronic pipes to choose?

I've owed both the early Deger, and early Fagerstorm. I can recommend either heartily, depending on your needs.

The Fagerstorm is phenomenal for portability, and not drawing attention to yourself. So if you're sitting, bored in a transit lounge, wanting to work on some tunes ... you're likely to be able play with the bear minimum of attention being drawn.

Deger is larger (but still pretty portable) and more substantial in presence, so it definitely draws interest, which leads to awkward side glances from those nearby, along with questions from time to time.

This is well and good but sometimes, when traveling, I'm not all that gregarious and would much rather people leave me be. If I want attention, I'll get the actual pipes out for a performance. I'm sure this isn't an issue for some, it's a personal thing.

On a playing and comfort level, I much prefer the Deger. "Substantial in presence" is a good thing here. The mouth piece allows one to put their mouth on the piece, which keeps it in place. Often though, I screw off the mouth piece, and I'll rest my chin on the top, bracing the chanter between my chin and thigh (sitting down). This has the chanter 100% stationary, which is much more similar to how I'd use a chanter that's held into a bag.

The Fagerstorm, due to being so compact, is just loose in the air, and I hate that. Again, personal thing ... clearly not an issue for others, so to each their own.

Dry hands are an issue with ANY electronic chanter that relies on metal contacts for the holes
, as opposed to optical sensors. Hand notion does help, but you'll need to keep reapplying and reapplying again and again on very dry days (for me, this starts in mid-Fall, and holds through all the way through mid-May).

To get around the dry-hand issue, I've been scoping out the A-pipes (https://www.a-pipes.com/en) ... which is a portable chanter with optical sensors. Also, if you're a very handy sort, there's an open-source website with instructions on how one can build their own electronic chanter ... http://www.echanter.com/. I don't have the time to mess with that right now, but I intend to try it out one of these days.

Now .. airport security.

As a piper who travels constantly, I can say that yes ... electronic chanters will, across the board, bear scrutiny with airport screeners. 100x more than the bagpipes themselves have in the past. I get the same sort of trouble with my moisture control canisters, in which I use silica gel.

The solution is to TAKE THESE OUT OF YOUR BAG, and place them separate in a bin by themselves. This allows them to be scanned and scrutinized without forcing the screeners to go digging through your whole bag/case. I have TSA Pre, and funny thing, they often don't provide bins, since one of the perks is not having to remove your laptop and/or toiletries.

As such, in the TSA Pre line, I often need to ask for a bin as I'm getting to the scanner. They'll often wave their hand, saying "you don't need it." To this I need to insist, "trust me, I need to take a couple things out." Once I have my bin, out comes any silica canisters, and electronic chanters. I always make certain that they're positioned at the top of my bag, so I can simply grab them out quickly.

Hope this helps.


Last edited by Pppiper; 11-04-2017 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: which electronic pipes to choose?

I bought a Fagerstrom fairly early on. I have a totally enthusiastic endorsement of the product. It fits in with travel really well. Its smaller and fits in a coat pocket pretty well. It is rugged and well made. If I lost mine, I would immediately order another.
The older I get, the more certain I am, that everything should be made from blackwood, beeswax, reeds, shellac and bits of string...
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: which electronic pipes to choose?

This has been posted in two threads now - perhap they could be merged...?

But in the question of airports, my technopipe has flown all over Europe and beyond - UK, Spain, Italy, Romania, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Dubai, Quatar, Egypt..... Quite probably other places I can't remember.

I've never been pulled up for it. On a couple of occasions, a well-timed comment to the scanner operator: "It's an electric bagpipe" seems to have averted any further investigation - but on the whole, completely trouble-free, even in today's more security conscious climate.
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Old 11-05-2017, 04:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: which electronic pipes to choose?

There is a lot of information on making your own eChanter, I make a version, and it's wood, not a sealed plastic tube, I am sure someone near to you would make one for a resonable cost, the echanter just has a basic pipe scale on it, I also now make an openpipe midi chanter that works perfectly with universal piper ( I am currently beta testing the next versions for the developer)
Perhaps I could even supply you with something, but easier to wait until I am in europe, may even make it to Belgium again next summer...with a spare echanter.
Looking at some of the alternatives again, maybe I should review my prices!

QLD Australia

Last edited by daj; 11-05-2017 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 11-07-2017, 06:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: which electronic pipes to choose?

I got the Technopipes because they're small and run off a single battery.

I've been really happy with them.

For me, the smaller form factor helped me learn to relax my grip. That is, it was difficult to play at first, but the difficulty was due to deficiencies in my fingers.
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Old 11-07-2017, 01:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Which electronic pipes to choose?

Blair tuners are bringing out a new electronic practice chanter.

The specs looks very impressive. I'm tempted even with the high price.
To be able to get practice in without disturbing everyone in the house would be just fantastic.

I love this forum by the way. So interesting..


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Old 11-09-2017, 12:59 PM   #9
Juan Pablo Plata
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Default Re: Which electronic pipes to choose?

Technopipes. Portability + MIDI.
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Old 11-09-2017, 02:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Which electronic pipes to choose?

[QUOTE=majorvonhapen;1320235]Blair tuners are bringing out a new electronic practice chanter.

That is a lot of money..optical sensors require rather a lot more circuitry compared to capacitive touch, and in experiments don't work any better for the extra hassle and wiring.
Having a pure midi controller works for me, using the audio out of a phone or ipad along with associated volume controls is far easier to get to sound ok. The latest bluetooth MiPuc also allows it to be used as power supply. Maybe time to post a new video.
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