Cheap Whistles

Cheap Whistles

Santa brought me this year a 2-piece Clare D whistle, and i was very pleasantly surprised with it. It plays fairly even in the 2 octaves, without being too soft on the bottom or too shrill on the top. Let’s see, after the effect of the eggnog passes, but this may end up being my favourite cheap whistle.

So far, my favourites, in my endless quest for the perfect cheap whistle, are the Clarke sweetones, and the Clarke original. I love the second octave on the sweetones, but the first octave is somewhat weak. I’ve never been able to enjoy the sound that comes out of a "Generations" whistle.

I’m curious about the whistle players in this here session, what are your picks for the best cheap whistle?

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I use the original D Clarke. I like its sound much better than the Generation D.But I had to buy two of them before getting the right one. They don’t let you try anymore, so you are lucky if the first one you buy sounds good to you.
For slow airs like Roisin Dubh I like playing with the Generation Bflat.

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The only inexpensive D I can deal with is my old Soodlum. But I agree about the Generation Bflat…nice and mellow, a real pleasure to play, and I have a Walton nickel C that I enjoy. The brass Walton was ungodly awful though. I don’t know if it was just THAT one, or the fact that it was brass, but it was truly a terrible instrument!

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My favorite is my Clarke Sweetone whistles and also the Clarke penny whistle, although it seems to collect more moisture faster. I purchased the Clarke "TWEEKED" pennywhistle that I like, too. A bit more expensive than the orig. version, but the mdifications are nice.

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I’ve been playing the same original Clarke D whistle for nine years. Although I’ve tried others in that time, I always come back to the Clarke. Although the pitch is about a half-tone lower than a true D - making it unplayable for sessions - it is remarkably in-tune in both octaves, which can’t be said of other cheap whistles. The Clarke is my favorite, by far. You can modulate the volume on it more easily than other whistles, it is highly responsive to even the subtlest ornamentation and half-holing, and the conical bore gives a good feel in the hands.

My second choice would be the Susato. It is reasonably in-tune and has a good, clear tone throughout, even on C-natural. Even after several hundreds of hours of playing, though, I can’t get used to the fipple on it, and I have to consciously prepare my "attacks" on the higher octave Gs, As, and Bs, particularly on cuts and rolls. The Susato has strong volume, and can be heard in the crowd even in the larger sessions.

I also have a Feadog which I prefer over the Generation, but it is a little weak on the lower octave Ds and Es. Although the complaints about the Generation whistles seem common everywhere, I’m always amazed by the sound that Mary Bergin, Paddy Maloney and others can get out of them.

Generations and Susatos

Yes, i keep seeing these people play the Generations, and i don’t understand why mine always sound bad. I wonder if they’re keeping all the good Generations on the other side of the pond, sending the bad ones to the US. :-)

I got a low-A Susato (i’m assuming you’re talking about the same kind, made of plastic). I don’t like the way it plays; i think it’s the fipple, as you say.

I tried aluminum whistles (i even have the nice black one with the Guiness logo), but haven’t found a real good one either.

Somebody mentioned the Soodlum; i like the way that one feels, somewhat heavier like a "serious" instrument.

My "original" Clarke (black with yellow diamonds) has a beautiful sound, but it’s in C, so it’s no use for sessions. The Sweetones are also very nice; these are the only conical-bore whistles i have; i think the conical bore has something to do with the nice sound.

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I’m just learning whistle, but I’m really happy with my Tony Dixon tuneable D. It’s polymer, so it stays in tune over a greater range of temperatures than any metal whistle I’ve played—none of that lag time waiting for your whistle to warm up. The larger bore plastic barrel also just feels better in my hands than metal. It has a rich, open tone, perhaps a bit breathy on the D in all octaves, but every other note is clear as a bell, and intonation is good.

Maybe the Dixon’s don’t qualify as "cheap" at $25-30 US, but I’m a fiddler, and I spend at least that much on a set of strings every month or so. This whistle will no doubt outlast me….

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Dixon

Wow, pretty cool whistle, with an optional flute head! I may just have to buy one some day; hmm, my birthday is coming…

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Hmm! I’m just starting with the whistle. I’ve got a John Sindt D which is not a low-end whistle, but this discussion has opened my eyes to some brandnames I was unaware of. Thanks you guys for your input. Can I find these whistles on the net?

The Sindt, by the way, feels real good—fipple and all. It’s metal but gives a real clean sound. This eval comes from a beginner, of course, with input from a professional friend who tried it out.

By the way, glauber, did you get my message on the "Christmas Wish" strand?

Linda

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Re: Cheap Whistles

I have a tuneable Dixon whistle, too. I think the sound is nice, although it "squeeks" on the upper octave every now and again, I must need to practice more!!!! I have a Feadog which I can’t seem to play.The lower & upper D have a sound it makes as if I’m not giving it the proper air flow, it doesn’t seem to matter if I give it more or less air. It just doesn’t like me. :- ( I have seen others with tape on their whistles (for tone quality?) and am wondering if anyone has done that and how it helps. I have a Generation Bflat, sounds great with waltz’s and slow aires. My sister is learning to play the whistle and she plays much better on her Generation D whistle than I do on my Generation D. I think that the conical-bore of the Sweetone whistle and Clarke whistles make them easier to jump from one octave to the other. But I agree with K. Leahy that their pitch may be slightly off. I have to admit that I still play it at the sessions, nobody has complained, maybe they are just being polite? Or maybe with others playing it’s not as noticed.

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Linda, you’ll find a great variety of good whistles at excellent prices (from cheap to thousands of pennies) at www.thewhistleshop.com.

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I’ve never had the money to buy one of the expensive whistles, so I don’t know what they sound like. Most of my whistles, I’ve built myself, and I can really recommend any serious whistle player to try to make your own. There is enough information on the net to make you able to make a whistle far superior to the budget whistles.
But I still play my Clarke Sweetone on occasions. I think it’s an extra ordinary budget whistle with a really sweet tone. Why the Generation whistles have been such a great success is one of these mysteries you never will solve. The ones I have bought sounds like crap.
But I still miss my first Sweetone, which I burrowed to a kid who forgot it in some scrubbery somewhere.
Lars

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Re: Cheap Whistles

Thanks, Will, for the address. I’m going to browse around there.

A concept I never thought of before, Lars, making my own whistle. You make it sound easy and fun. You’ve definitely got me thinking now. Do you work with plastic or metal?

Linda

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I mainly work with aluminium, but have also made a few in copper. Then you work with water pipes that plumbers use.
Have also made some experiments with plastic and metal combination - whistles similar to the Susato models. The problem with plastic is that I can’t find the kind of plastic pipes that people in the USA uses.
My aluminium whistles are a bit like the Overton/Chieftain kind of whistle (I mean in construction - I don’t claim them to be of the same quality). I have made the fippleblock in hardwood, but will try to find other materials that don’t change in form and size when wet.
At the Tin Whistle Page http://www.patashley.com/tinwhistle/whistle.html
you’ll find a few links for how to make your own.
If you have further questions I’d be glad to help
Lars

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Good whistle players manage to get a sweet sound out of whatever they play. The probably find the whistle that suits them best. As a passable whistle player, I can’t get on with the Clarke Sweetones. I like the Clarke originals, but I lost both of the ones that I had. Generation whistles are notoriously variable in quality, but the good ones are little gems. They have the added advantage of coming in a wide range of keys, nice for solo playing, or in with flat or sharp pitch sessions. I’ve got a lovely E-flat and a C.
The Walton’s ‘Mellow’ whistle, with an extra wide bore is very forgiving to the beginner, as is Walton’s aluminium whistle - although it doesn’t stand up to being trodden or sat on. My choice for sessions is usually an Oak - similar to the Generations, but more stable and slightly gentler in tone - and in a slightly higher price bracket, but as musical instruments go, still very cheap. In sessions where I’m having trouble hearing myself, and if I’m confident of the tune, I’ll play a Susato, although I can’t stand the sound of it on its own.

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I like feadog whistles, very quiet but really comfortable to play! When getting whistles for my pupils that’s the one I choose. I have tried clarke whistles and just don’t like them, they are to breathy and collect to much moisture.

I play a susato in sessions because of the volume, but I know what you mean about the second octave, it took me a couple of weeks to get use to that but now fine. Also had learn to not to grip with my teeth when playing C sharp.

I agree that a good whistle player can make a cheap whistle sound great. Great scottish whistle players such as Dougie Pincock, John Gaughan and the late George Jackson all used generation whistles…..what players. I have had several goes at wooden whistles made by Pat O’Riodan………and well heaven!!! I would consider selling my soul for a set of those!

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Re: Cheap Whistles

I like feadog whistles, very quiet but really comfortable to play! When getting whistles for my pupils that’s the one I choose. I have tried clarke whistles and just don’t like them, they are to breathy and collect to much moisture.

I play a susato in sessions because of the volume, but I know what you mean about the second octave, it took me a couple of weeks to get use to that but now fine. Also had learn to not to grip with my teeth when playing C sharp.

I agree that a good whistle player can make a cheap whistle sound great. Great scottish whistle players such as Dougie Pincock, John Gaughan and the late George Jackson all used generation whistles…..what players. I have had several goes at wooden whistles made by Pat O’Riodan………and well heaven!!! I would consider selling my soul for a set of those!

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The Genaration whistles that Mary Bergin stood by when she recorded Feadog Stain were of a better quality. From what I hear the mold that they make the fipples from is a mold of the mold of the original fipple, which was really nice - but has gotten all fouled up from being recast. If you’ve got an older generation whistle hang on to it.

Cheap whistles are fun because they don’t cost you much, my favs are the clarke & the generation. The Clark is well in tune but I like the chiff of the generations. My main gripe with many expensive whistles I’ve come across is that they are too refined - high end wood whistles sound like recorders to me. The brassy chiffy sound of a whistle is it’s beauty - that and the cheap price tag.

John Stindt Whistle

I have to admit the nicest whistle I’ve everplayed is a more expensive one - but it’s worth it. they’re about $70 for a ‘D’ but well worth it.
here’s a blurb about them.
http://www.chiffandfipple.com/sindt.html

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Brad, thanks for the link to the Sindt blurb. I’d heard about John’s whistles before, but the interview and photos on Chiff and Fipple convinced me to order one. They’ve gone up to $80 (still far cheaper than a Copeland, which is what many players are comparing them to), and the waiting list is now up to eight months.

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