Help me pick a low flute!

Help me pick a low flute!

Hi all,

Im stunned by the beautiful sound of the low whistle. I am a classical flute player and I m trying to get back my old skills again… Meanwhile I want to extend my arsenal of instruments!

But there are so much low whistles out there…and I ve never played one!

I’m looking for a:
-D whistle
-airy and warm sounding, but not too airy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYGfujInoJs)

-Easy to play, but not so easy that you ll stick at a beginner level… (I want to do bending, I love it!)
-I’m not so sure whether I have large or small hands, just take into account that I ve played the flute, the classical flute where there is typically about 2 cm between fingers.
-Budget: Im a student so…nothing over 200Euros, but suggestions out of my budget reach are welcome!
-And..should I buy a tuneable one? What is the advantage/disadvantage?

Hope you guys can help me out!

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

If it s worth it I might extend my budget to 250-275..

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

i would recommend a burke low D. they are very versatile and sound like what you would be looking for. you can find it here along with a sound clip: http://www.burkewhistles.com/product.php?productid=16173&cat=0&page=1. this whistle is tunable.

i have a great whistle by another maker that i got as a gift that is not tunable, which really irks me because it is a fantastic whistle.

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

Recognize that the whistle your clip references in the original post is McSherry playing a low F - what looks to be a Chieftain or an Overton non-tuneable - a somewhat different animal than a low D.

Re: Help me pick a low flute!

http://www.theaveragebody.com/average_hand_size.php
If you play the flute you will manage a low D whistle; but be aware that it is a different instrument. Your brain will need a little adjusting as well as your ‘grip’ (inverted commas to show that while it is a commonly used term, ‘grip’ is not a good description). Search Youtube for low whistle comparisons — there are quite a few.

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

I’m a real "Low D Whistle guy". I played Irish flute for 30 years but due to persistent hand cramping had to go vertical, so to speak.

Here’s a little YouTube video I did reviewing four makes of Low D. They sound much more alike in the video than they do in person. And they PLAY even more differently, so really there’s no substitute for trying them yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkL06uOtZQc


When I made the switch from flute to Low D Whistle, I bought or borrowed every brand I could to try to find the best one for me. It ended up being the MK. I’ve owned five MK Low Ds now, each a bit different, and kept the one I liked best.

Many, if not most, professional players prefer the Overtons, originally created by Bernard Overton in the 1970s and still made today by Colin Goldie. You owe it to yourself to try a good Overton or Goldie Low D; nothing else plays the way they do. I happen to perfer MKs, Burkes, and Reyburns.

BTW the tuning approach to the octaves varies from maker to maker. MKs have the 2nd octave tuned sharper than other makes, so that to play the octaves in tune you have to blow the 1st octave strongly and back off on the 2nd octave. This helps even out the built-in volume differential which is present in ALL Low D Whistles. (On the flute you can play both the 1st octave and the 2nd octave as quietly or as loudly as you wish; not so with whistles, where the 2nd octave is considerably louder than the 1st octave.) Anyhow on the MK there’s the minimum possible difference between blowing pressure between the registers, which I myself like.

Overtons have the 2nd octave tuned flatter than many other makes, so that to play the octaves in tune you must blow the 1st octave somewhat more softly than it’s capable of handling, and blow the 2nd octave rather stongly. (Oh, you can blow the 2nd octave very softly and it’ll stay up there, it’s amazing, but also very flat). Many players prefer this approach, a clear-cut pressure difference between the registers.

Re: Help me pick a low flute!

And here’s a video comparing a Reyburn Low D to a couple others

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD7G2C8yH0Q


The Reyburn I played there was very nice, easily on par with the best Low Ds made by anybody. And he has a newer model that’s even better, I tried one. You owe it to yourself to try the newest Reyburn.

The thing I don’t like about Reyburns is their weight. Most Low Ds are made from aluminum because if you make them from brass they’re very heavy and quickly tire and even cramp the hands. I think I heard that Reyburns will soon be available in aluminum; as soon as they are I’m going to buy one.

Re: Help me pick a low flute!

for a start maybe start on a normal concert d whistle just to get the hand of it but with low d you’d be better get a michael burke because they are made of metal and g for what ever model takes your fancy and i’d also go tuneable as well and stay well away from ALL chieftain whistles even though they are quite popular for some strange reason they’re made flat (even the tuneable ones!!!!!!) :)

Re: Help me pick a low flute!

Optima low D seems like a pretty good choice, based on price/quality. I ll have a look at that one

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

A couple months ago, I tried a Kerry Pro, a Burke Viper, and something else that I can’t remember. They all played and sounded good, but for me, the Burke Viper was the best by far! I absolutely loved it. The only problem was, it was pitched a bit too low in reference to everyone else in the session, even when I pushed it together as far as it would go. Other than that, I highly recommend! Not sure how it fits $$$ wise for you though…

Re: Help me pick a low flute!

I wonder how high that session was! Because a Burke should be able to go up a quartertone at least. Did anyone have a reference to tune to? Was it an Eb session? You can get a Burke in Eb for those.

Burke whistle tuning :-/

I too am flabbergasted to hear that a Burke low whistle would have ever been made too low in pitch.

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

-"airy and warm sounding, but not too airy"
You post John McSherry playing through a big PA with tons of reverb and compression. Also, good microphone technique where he backs away for the high notes. That top C he plays is ear splitting. The instrument itself doesn’t sound anything like what you are hearing on that video.

-"Easy to play, but not so easy that you ll stick at a beginner level… "
The hardest thing to do on a low whistle is play the thing in tune. They have a specific pressure for every note, and hence, no dynamics.

-"I’m not so sure whether I have large or small hands, just take into account that I’ve played the flute, the classical flute where there is typically about 2 cm between fingers."
I’ve seen 12 year old girls with tiny hands play Overton low Ds no problem. It’s just technique.

-"Budget: Im a student so…nothing over 200Euros, but suggestions out of my budget reach are welcome!"
You won’t get a good one for 200Euros.

-"And..should I buy a tuneable one? What is the advantage/disadvantage?"
A good whistle will be in tune, just so long as you can play it. The only reason to get a tuneable one is if you want to play with people who are out of tune.

-"(I want to do bending, I love it!)"
The bending is just uncovering a hole a bit at a time. You can do this on a boehm flute with holes in the keys.

You say you already play, I’m assuming" a boehm flute. Maybe you should consider getting a simple system flute. There are many many advantages to the flute over the low whistle. Low whistles, even the best ones, are very quiet, where as you can easily play the flute across a wide dynamic range, from quieter than a low whistle to ten times a loud. And with the right embouchure you can make it sound very much like a low whistle, i.e. that breathy sound. But most importantly, you can play the thing loud and with an even dynamic across it’s whole range. The only way to do this on a low whistle is with amplification, artificial compression and good microphone technique.

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

@ an fidleir: perhaps you were blowing incorrectly? i agree with na eisc that it wouldn’t be too low in pitch. like ‘em or hate ‘em, burke whistles are extremely consistent between models and meticulously in tune. i think it may be a fair assessment that a low D burke may have different backpressure than the other whistles you have tried, but i am confident that if you had taken it home you could have learned what the issue was with your own playing.

@michael gill: you are totally wrong. good whistles are not always in tune. come on… room temperature, instrument temperature and personal playing characteristics have a huge bearing on tuning. that is why every major wind instrument for the last 500 years (at least) has been tunable.

when you play a good whistle that is not tunable, more often than not you will be out of tune without constant adjustment. this means that your band or session mates need to adapt to you, or you need to adaptively play the whistle to make it in tune. i can make an untuned whistle sound in tune with other players, yeah, but that doesn’t mean that it’s because of the instrument, but rather the player. give me a tunable whistle any day, so i can put that flexibility to better use.

your argument is very similar to the maxim that there is no such thing as an out of tune flute, but only an out of tune player, which has been attributed to chris norman. if we look at a graph of how in tune chris norman’s flute is *(http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/images/RR742.2.gif), we can see that mr. norman’s impeccable tuning is indeed no mean feat. just because one can play such a flute in tune does not mean the flute itself is in tune, nor does it mean that the average player could play it in tune. to suggest that a beginner to the 8-key flute could inflict their music on the world without tuning issues on such a flute is just as erroneous as saying a person new to the low whistle could play one consistently in tune without a tuning slide.

*tuning of chris norman’s flute taken from this article: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RR742.htm

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

daiv, I did say, "The hardest thing to do on a low whistle is play the thing in tune. They have a specific pressure for every note, and hence, no dynamics. And you did say, "i think it may be a fair assessment that a low D burke may have different backpressure than the other whistles you have tried, but i am confident that if you had taken it home you could have learned what the issue was with your own playing." So I’m not sure why you are disagreeing with me.

All the good Overton players don’t have trouble playing them in tune. But I’ve met quite a few people who have played Overtons and complained that the things were out of tune.

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Re: Help me pick a low flute!

@daiv
Yeah, it might have been me, although, being a amateur flute/whistle maker, I have quite a bit of experience with changing my "default" for whistle air usage, on the fly. However, I can’t say I exactly tuned it to it’s highest pitch, so that’s probably the culprit. I tried to move it a little, but it didn’t want to budge all that easily! My guess is it hadn’t been played/tuned in a while, and it was still warming up, so it didn’t want to move. Also, no, it wasn’t an Eb session. It was a normal one, and I think we normally play at around A=442 once everything gets going.

Re: Help me pick a low flute!

I’m surprised there haven’t been more people saying "Get a wooden open-hole flute", seeing as how it uses half the techniques or more that you have already, and the difficulties that low whistles also have.
Of course, for reasons best explained elsewhere, flutes often cost more than low whistles.