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Video Transcript: Hi everybody, I’m Jori Chisholm. Today I’m going to talk about the world of pipe chanters. We’re going to take a close look at the groundbreaking Infinity chanter made by the famous pipe makers, R.G. Hardie and Company in Scotland. We’re going to look at how the Infinity chanter’s innovative design instantly elevates your finger work and enhances the overall sound of your pipes. I’ll tell you about my personal quest for the ultimate bagpipe chanter, how I was told my dream was impossible, and how my dream eventually came true. Whether you’re just starting out on the pipes or an experienced piper looking to improve your tone, technique, and playing comfort, you’re going to want to watch this video. So let’s dive in!
Getting my first set of pipes was a dream come true. They weren’t anything fancy, but they were mine, and I felt like I was a real piper. The pipes were a pretty basic set, wood projecting mounts, and nickel ferrules. We never found out the exact year they were made, but we think they were from before World War II. My pipe chanter was a little bit more recent. It was a Hardie chanter made in the 1970s, or maybe the early 1980s, with the big imitation ivory sole that had turned yellowish-orange with time.
The fact that my pipes and pipe chanter were from different makers and eras is actually pretty typical. The reason for this is that most pipers have one set of pipes that they keep for their whole life or at least for a long time, and the design of bagpipe drones hasn’t changed that much over the years. There are pipers who play modern pipes, but many pipers also play really old sets of pipes, but this is basically not true for pipe chanters. Pipe chanter design has improved over the years. I know pipers who play drones made before World War II, before World War I, and even older. A top piper I know plays a set from the 1890s, but none of those pipers play old chanters that match. They all play modern chanters.
Your bagpipe drones can be brand new or really old or somewhere in between, but to get a great sound, you really need to get a modern pipe chanter. If you listen to old recordings, there’s no doubt that’s the reason bagpipes sound so much better today, that the tone pipers get today is way better. In fact, the best sounding bagpipes that have ever been played in history are being played by pipers right now. Part of that is modern technology like zipper bags, moisture control systems, better reeds, the Tone Protector [my patented and award-winning invention for stabilizing the humidity content in your chanter reed] and we have training devices like metronomes, metronome apps, the Bagpipe Gauge for helping you blow strong and steady, and smartphone tuning apps like the Braw Tuner. But a huge factor in the improved modern bagpipe sound is modern pipe chanter design.
Computer designed software and CNC manufacturing machines have allowed pipe makers to steadily improve their designs over time. About 20 or 25 years ago, there was a change, and some bagpipe makers started making their chanters with bigger holes. They pushed the idea that bigger holes meant a bigger sound, but there’s a problem with that. Bigger holes make it harder to play clean. Bigger holes are harder to cover, which means you have to be more accurate with your fingering. And it’s more likely that you’ll have a chirp or a squeal caused by not entirely covering a hole. Execution sounds less tidy and less clear when you’re playing a chanter with these bigger holes.
Think about your low G-hole, it’s the largest hole in your chanter, and you need to cover it with your littlest finger. When traveling around the world, piping in cold weather and smaller hands makes things even worse. In competitions, I started noticing that some players who had good clean consistent technique indoors or on warm days would often struggle in cool temperatures outside.
Bigger holes make it hard for everybody to play clean and even harder on those cold days or for pipers with smaller fingers, trust me. I know. As a workaround, I started putting tape on the bottom of the bigger holes to make them smaller just so that I could cover them more easily, but too much tape on the bottom of a hole can lead to random, massive loud squeals.
I remember playing with the top piper who saw the chanter I was playing at the time and told me, “Oh, that’s a great sounding chanter, but I’ll never play it. The holes are too big.” So more and more pipers started talking about the “good old days when we had more comfortable chanters” with smaller, easier to play holes.
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to play with clean fingering on your practice chanter than on your pipes? The problem with chanters made decades ago, is that their overall sound doesn’t hold up to today’s standards. Older pipe chanters don’t sound good and don’t work with modern reeds. On the other hand, many modern chanters have a great sound, but the large holes make it harder to play clean. I knew there had to be pipers like me who wanted a bright-sounding modern chanter that stays in tune, that works with a mix of different reads, and has smaller, more closely spaced holes for greater playing comfort and cleaner fingering.
I reached out to some bagpipe makers to see if they would make me a custom chanter with smaller holes. I wanted a regular chanter just with smaller holes. “That’s impossible,” they said. “It’s not that simple,” they said. “You just can’t make the hole smaller and keep everything else the same. It won’t work.” About five years later, I got an email from Alistair Dunn at R.G. Hardie in Scotland, who told me they’ve been working on a prototype of a new chanter, and he wanted me to try it. He said it had smaller holes. I waited a week for the package to arrive, and when I opened it up and I saw it for the first time, I was amazed. The holes were really quite a bit smaller. When I put my fingers on the chanter, the hole size and spacing felt perfect.
Finally, a modern pipe chanter with smaller holes spaced close together. But now, here’s the big question: what about the sound? I put my best reed in the new chanter and put it into my pipes and gave my pipes a blow. The new sound was dramatic: big, bright, crisp, and clear. I played a few tunes and got tuned up. The new chanter sounded and felt amazing. Difficult finger execution passages sounded cleaner and felt instantly easier to play, even with some of my biggest and most difficult tunes. What about the other notes on the chanter? The top hand, the F, the D, the high A, high G? I tried a bit of Piobaireachd, and the high G was perfect, stable, clear, and unwavering. My dream had come true. Introducing the Infinity chanter from R.G. Hardie.
The Infinity chanter achieved something I didn’t think was possible. A pipe chanter with a world-class modern sound and smaller holes for ultimate finger comfort and clarity of execution. It’s a dramatic breakthrough in pipe chanter design.
After playing it, I never want to go back to a chanter with bigger holes. I’ve measured the holes on several different pipe chanters: the Infinity chanter’s holes are up to 40 percent smaller than some of those other chanters. It’s available in Blackwood and Poly (plastic).
Both are available right now from my BagpipeLessons.com shop. Every piper I’ve shown the Infinity chanter to has been amazed. They say things like “wow the holes really are so small,” “it’s so comfortable,” “my bottom hand execution is so much cleaner.” I think you’ll be amazed too.
Now let’s dive into the details and up close compare the poly and Blackwood models of the Infinity chanter. Both versions have the smaller holes that make playing much more comfortable but there are some differences in sound and feel.
Here’s the Blackwood version of the infinity chanter. It has a more refined and smoother sound. It comes in this beautiful chanter case with the chanter cap. Although you’ll want to get rid of that and use a Tone Protector instead. The Blackwood chanter is generally preferred by soloists for the rich and warm tone. In addition the Blackwood version has this amazing feature: the holes are smoothed and sanded making it the most comfortable chanter I’ve ever played. Here you can see the R.G. Hardie and Company logo and the infinity symbol etched into the wood it’s really a beautiful chanter. You can see the beautiful grain of the wood. When I get a new Blackwood chanter, I always take a few nice photos that show the beautiful wood grain because over time in a few months this will darken and it will be jet black.
The poly version of the Infinity chanter is very similar to the Blackwood version. You can see the R.G. Hardie logo and the infinity symbol. One difference is that you can really feel the edges of the holes since they aren’t sanded like the Blackwood version. Also the plastic material is a little more reflective of the sound so the chanter projects a little bit more volume.
Pipe bands love the poly Infinity chanter because the material is more resilient in changing outdoor weather conditions. Also the poly chanter is a little more affordable for pipe bands who are typically buying a whole bunch of these for the whole band.
If purchasing Infinity chanters for your band, I do have a band discount. Please email me directly and we can discuss.
I’ve been playing the infinity chanter since it first came out and I love it. I love the sweet refined sound of the Blackwood version. The smooth holes make it the most comfortable chanter I’ve ever played. I love the poly Infinity chanter. It has a bright crisp sound that really projects. It’s my go-to chanter if I’m playing in challenging or changing weather conditions outside. It works at a wide range of pitches from 470 to 490 Hz. Depending on the reed and how I set it up, I can achieve a pitch from the mid 470s to the upper 480s.
There’s a really big range of pitches you can achieve with the Infinity chanter. There is a special third model for playing with other instruments in concert B-flat pitch. So if you’re playing with other musicians and you want to be in tune with them at a fixed pitch, the Concert B-flat Infinity Chanter is definitely the way to go.
The Infinity chanter is the choice of bands and soloists. The Infinity chanter has become one of the world’s most popular and best-selling chanters of all time. It’s no wonder since it combines the best of both worlds: the crisp beautiful sound of a modern pipe chanter that’s easy to reed, with the smaller holes that are closer spaced for cleaner fingering and greater comfort.
It’s popular with solo pipers from beginners all the way up to the highest level with pipers winning gold medals and clasps. I’m hearing from more and more pipe bands who are using the Infinity chanter to upgrade their sound and playing consistency. The Infinity chanter is made by R. G. Hardie & Co. which means quality is top notch. R.G. Hardie is one of the world’s most famous bagpipe makers with a great tradition in history. They use the finest materials and everything they make is made to the highest standards of precision, so you know that the Infinity chanter is going to be a top-notch product that you will love.
They stand by their products and so do I. I’m confident that the Infinity chanter will exceed your expectations and transform your piping experience. Get ready to be amazed: the Infinity chanter truly is a game changer in the world of piping. Its revolutionary design, unmatched sound, quality, and incredible comfort make it the ultimate choice for pipers of all levels.
Now it’s time to get your Infinity chanter today so you can experience the magic of the Infinity chanter for yourself! Check out the links for more photos videos and information about this incredible chanter and don’t wait any longer get your very own Infinity chanter today by visiting the BagpipeLessons.com Shop at BagpipeLessons.com/Infinity
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