Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

After many years with a Brass Howard I’m looking for something a bit more reliable any suggestions on the following ;

I’m between a Viper , Chieftan V3, Alba q1, Goldie and a very expensive Copeland (in brass). Any opinions on them all.

Slán

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Boy you’ve opened a big can of worms. Thing is, there are so many low whistles out there now, and they are very different from one another, and every player is looking for different things, so if you ask 10 people you’ll get 10 different recommendations. There have been a number of discussions on this topic on Chiff&Fipple. The low D whistles most often raved about are the MK and the Overton (Goldie and Overton). A lot of people also rave about the Reviol. You will see a wide range of opinion on Copelands, it seems because the playing quality of Copelands seems to vary quite a bit from whistle to whistle.
About the Chieftans, if you go to their site there’s a cool movie you can watch where the maker demonstrates the difference in appearance and playing qualities of all the various models he has made over the years. He sounds great when he’s playing the V3.
This topic is important to me because I myself am on that quest for the "perfect low whistle". I went out and bought a Burke Viper and a brass Copeland and compared them to a whistle I already had, a Susato. I not only played all three extensively but also made recordings of myselft playing all three so I could hear how they sounded to others. The result was that I sent back the Copeland and kept the Burke. The Copeland had a nice voice in the upper hand of the low octave, but the lower hand of the low octave was very weak, especially low E and bottom D. You had to use a special very soft way of blowing to make the low E sound at all. The Copeland was however the most comfortable to play. Though it’s very heavy it has a narrow tube and for some reason that made it more comfortable to me.
The Susato has an OK lower octave but has the nicest-sounding upper octave of the three. When I listened to the recording I’d made, the Susato had the woodiest tone, the most flutelike tone. It’s just too quiet for the session.
I ended up preferring the Burke Viper and I use it now as my session whistle. It’s the loudest low D I’ve tried. The bottom D is very powerful. It has a big fat muscular voice. The voicing and tuning are very even across the range. It plays more like a flute that the others in many hard-to-describe ways. The downsides of the Burke are 1) the very fat tube makes it uncomfortable for my hands 2) it takes a lot of wind and you have to take breaths more often. Probably both of these things are necessary to get the big volume.
My only experience with an Overton was with an early one, made in the 1970’s. I didn’t like it at all. From what everybody says, the ones made today, both by Bernard Overton and by Colin Goldie, are terrific.
I myself am about to buy a Reviol and possible also an Alba and/or a Chieftan V3. Sadly, the only way to really give these things a tryout is to buy them.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Go for the Chieftain and never look back!

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Some of the Chieftains are pretty far out of tune. Whatever you get, ideally it is a tunable one…

Pete

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I have a Burke composite that I am very happy with.

I have tried some early Howard whistles and my preference is the Burke.

It’s very much an individual decision

Good luck in your selection process

Chuck

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Hu Enigma, here’s one of the many threads on low whistle.
https://thesession.org/discussions/14699#comment303394
Only thing i would say is try and buy a hand made one if you can, Goldie’s Overton or an MK for me. NOT a cheiftain - they are factory made and vary wildly. I gave the one I had to a young learner and I even felt guilty about giving it away! You do get the odd good one of course and some players here will have a good one - but it will never be an Overton.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

One thing you’ll find out about this low D whistle quest is that there are two major camps or styles of whistle. One is the Overton-style, thick machined aluminum with a very narrow straight windway, a lot of backpressure, with a complex musty voice. The other sytle is usually of thinner metal, has a wider curved windway, little backpressure, and a pure voice, exemplified by the Burke. (Of course these are generalisations and there are many makes which fall in between.) Someone who likes the Overton style usually isn’t going to like the Burke style and visa versa. There’s no substitute for actually playing them.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

That is a good distinction.
However I have both Colin’s & Michael’s whistles & love each of them depending on what I am playing. In this case my opinion probably does not help Enigma.

Posted by .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Thanks for the objective comments

Here’s the real Q: Compared to a Howard Brass which is heavy and unstable withlittle back pressure especially on the lowest end, which of the two ( Goldie & Burke Viper) would you compare it to.

I’ve also noticed the Burke has wider finger placement, is it an issue in real terms given its only mm in difference ?


Slán

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Thanks for all the response.


I can’t try either cause I live in Madrid Spain so I have to go on recommendations,

I’m looking for a "good player" that I can reel and jig on so hands and back pressure are key issues,.

The subtle sound difference is minor (most listeners can’t tell any ways) and I’m willing to sacrifice on the timber difference if I get the speed and consistency

Thanks & slán

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

You’ve thrown me for a couple of loops.
I remember when Brian started making the Low D & always thought of it as fairly light. The high D is heavy. Perhaps he now uses a thicker gauge tube. Point is it makes it even harder to compare or contrast.
I love the tone on Colin’s whistle but the Burke is easier to ‘blow’. The Burke has a bottom foot which can be twisted for easier positioning of the ring finger if you have to stretch for the low note.
My guess is you are tending toward the Burke. I only wish you could play a good Overton someday. The ones I have played have beautiful tone. Having said that I believe the more I play my Burke the low D & E just get better & better.
The old players were able to get remarkable music out of Generations. Things have come a long ways.

Posted by .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

MK whistles are getting excellent reports these days. I wouldn;t be a big fan of the copeland brass. I really don’t think it’s worth the money.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

The MKs are as good as they are because Misha takes so much care and pride in the whistles he puts out. The only reason is he doesn’t have a much wider range of whistles is that he works on getting them perfect before releasing them. If you went to his workshop you would see boxes of rejected designs for his D and F - many of which would have been deemed acceptable by certain whistle makers.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Enigma I got curious about looking for Low Ds in Spain.
Chiff & Fipple has some members there.
Jose Moreno Fernandez Tinwhistle Tutor is a Spanish site.
Yahoo Groups España has a music group site called Ewhistle.
There has to be a few Overtons in the country.
Cheers!

Posted by .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

My Howard is probably about 20 - 25 years old or more and weighs in at 295g (possibly got at least 50g of sh*te accumulated over the years) – it’s solid brass and looks it !

It’s almost as heavy as my African Black and that has solid silver rings just to lighten it up a bit.

As for the Generations, what can I say, they play better than any other high whistle I know (no I’m not starting a discussion on that one…..yet !).

It’s all in the "soul" you put into it.

I’ve played in front of thousands with just me and my humble Generation and my only embarrassment is the little red plastic ye blow inta and have you believe there’s a reason for the colour …….not quite as impressive as the solid silver of Mr Galway’s head joint but I did have the chance to play along side him many moons ago and my battered and torn Generation lived up to expectations – they seem to get better with the years not like some of us….

By the way just looking at the MK’s and I’m suitably impressed by the “sexy sports car look”, but is it just a good lookin dumb blonde (no offense to the girls) or is she really a Pamela Anderson - a very rich and foxy cute hur of a dumb blonde ??– LOL

Any owners or players of the MK let me know against the Goldie or the Viper (Low D’s only)

Slán

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

So sorry Enigma ~
I must have met Brian when he started making the lighter version. I have not even seen the older models. Or I probably have & didn’t know it without the plastic fipple.

Posted by .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Well I have an MK D and F and find they are truly two of the best whistles I have ever played. I have not played a Viper before and have only tried a couple of Goldies. I really liked one of the Goldies in particular that I tried and I know folk that swear by Overtons generally. Certainly whether you get an MK or an Overton you will be getting a quality instrument that you can depend on.

People who play MKs would include Ali Hutton and Hamish Napier (Back of the Moon), Fred Morrison and Ross Ainslie (Salsa Celtica). There are a whole host of others that I can’t think of just now. If you look at the MK customer reviews then there is lots of praise there including some very nice comments from Dale Wisely (who I think runs Chiff n Fipple)

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Hamish also has a range of very nice custom made Goldie whistles - it was his low D I was talking about.

Marc Duff has always used Overtons - although they are Bernards

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TheMuse………sorry on the confusion, the fipple is a black plastic, I was refering to the rest of it, its not black nor nickel and the wall thickness is that of a copper plumbing pipe and when polished (just before Paddy’s day each year) it looks thunderis (if thats a word) and could do some serious damage to an unsuspecting drunk at the session……….LOL

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Why bother? Get a flute instead.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Key Maniac…..thanks for that useless contribution, what the hell I’ll just go get an electronic keyboard, after all they all sound the same don’t they ..!!

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

At least an electronic keyboard is of greater vintage than a low whistle.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Daniel which flute were you thinking of?

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Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Just my 2 cents worth here:

With high-end whistles, It will always be advantageous to keep your options open - If you can’t try-before-you-buy, then, at least make sure you can return or exchange the instrument if it’s not right for you. Most reputable makers and dealers will support this.

When comparing the general differences between the makes I have found this:

The Overton whistles made by Colin Goldie generally have that classic Overton sound (somewhat flutey and with the haunting bottom-end) - the best way to buy one of these is to enter a dialogue with Colin to allow him to match the instrument to your requirement - there’s a lot he can do.

The Chieftain whistles have a more smoothed Jazzy sort of sound - I’ve not encountered significant tuning issues with the more recent batches of NR and V3 whistles. I’ve had no complaints in the last 2 years. One advantage (or trade-off) with the Chieftains is the larger B-2 hole - it allows a more even spread for the bottom hand - some people appreciate this.

The MK is a truly remarkable whistle - very smooth jazzy sound in a very presentable whistle.

The Reviol is after the style of Cillian O’Briain - the lower octave is fairly standard, but the high octave has a singing/soaring quality (listen to stuff done by Paddy Keenan).

The Howard has recently been re-designed - I havn’t seen enough of them to make-up my mind, but they seem to maintain a high standard - probably worth trying one out.

The SYN low-D by Erle Bartlett is emerging as an interesting sound alternative, it tollerates a lot of dynamic expression which is handy for more "plosive" technique and can sound a bit like a shakuhache(sp?). Once again, worth a try-out.

There’s lots of others, but I havn’t much experience with them.

Hope this helps.

Posted by .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I have two low D’s - a Howard and a Goldie, both bought this year, so probably the latest versions. I mostly play the Goldie which is a tuneable. I find it strong on the bottom D and very consistent across both octaves with more backpressure and that flutey ‘musty’ sound. When playing in sessions or with recorded tracks it sounds more in tune generally than the Howard. It isn’t noticeably heavy to me, and is a beautiful thing to hold and look at (slightly infatuated! 🙂 ) Being aluminium it clogs quickly when cold but that’s no trouble once you get the habit of expecting and clearing it.

I sometimes turn to the Howard when I want to play a slow air or jig. The bottom end is much less reliable, but I can get a particular expressive into it. The sound is less breathy which makes some ornamentation come out crisper and cleaner. The holes are larger than the Goldie too, meaning I there’s some leakage when I first pick it up after the Goldie. It has a larger bore than the other, and feels a bit cheaper in general (thinner pipewalls and plastic mouthpiece.

I bought the Goldie second as I wasn’t finding the Howard solid enough in sound and feel. I’m glad I have the two for variety, but there’s no doubt I’d be keeping the Goldie if I could only have one. I really don’t think you’d be disappointerd with it either.

Good luck - I hope this and the replies above help!

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Muse - I much much prefer flutes - *any* half decent side blown - to low whistles. No worries to me if people want to start getting abusive for me expressing my opinion in a roundabout way, am I bovvered?
If you *do* have to get one I would echo the above and strongly recommend speaking to Colin Goldie . He is extremely helpful and very dedicated.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I have low D and low C "Overton" overtons. They can’t be beaten.

Though my friend Nigel Richard (this is a blatant ad by the way) is developing a wooden low D with a reverse conical bore. I have mk1 and it’s really impressive (though a little quiet). The tone is to die for and his mk2 is coming along splendidly - much stronger bottom and louder all round without reduction of tone. I’m confident that it could even beat the overton. We’ll see.

Posted .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I agrere KML. I prefer flutes also. But it’s a case of lazyitus

Posted .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I have to agree with Daniel here too - why play a low D flute unless it is to avoid having to learn to play a flute. The fulte can do so much more, including sounding like a low whistle if you want it to…

The low whisltes that I use are in different keys, for which I do not have access to a reasonably priced flute and which I would usually use to acompany singers. So, I have Flutes in F, D and low A, and whistles in High D, High C, middle A and middle G.

That said, the A and G flutes are ALBA and I like them a lot, nice tone, tuneable, internally in tune, reasonable back pressure. I have sadly not tried out their Low D though.

Chris.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

About flute vs low D whistle, sure a fipple is never going to be able to do what the human embouchre can do. Low D’s take more wind, put out less volume, are less expressive, etc etc etc. The fipple design has to be a compromise between what is needed for powerful low notes and what is needed for sweet high notes. The flutist’s embouchure changes so that the sound of every part of the range is optimised.
I played flute for around 30 years but due to hand cramping I can no longer play flute. I can only play instruments held vertically in front such as bagpipes and whistles. So for me the quest for a good low D whistle is an important one.
Again last night I spent a couple hours playing the Burke Viper at session, and it’s just great. The more I get used to it the more flutelike I sound.
I really want to get my hands on an MK. All the reports are so glowing.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I thing that playing a whistle compared to playing a flute is like trying to fly a glider or being a real bird. The difference between a rigid wing or one that can constantly and subtly changes it’s shape.

Matt Molloy plays some slow jigs on his Heathery Breeze on his Bb. It’s the control of the hard powerful bottom end contrasting with really delacate top notes. Absolutly impossible on any whistle. (Except maybe with some clever microphone technique and a good wedge of compression, but I’m not interested in that)

Posted .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Hola Enigma, yo estoy en Toledo y tengo un Alba … and I like it very much. I found Overtons to have a very thin mouthpiece that let the spittle get stuck, whereas the Alba is open and airy, not perfectly in tune or very loud but a nice smooth tone from it.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Re llig’s point…

Not to mention that a sub-low Bb whistle (ie lower than a D flute) would require King-Kong sized hands to play. .. .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Not so, a frtiend of mine has an "Overton" overton low A (semitone below the Bb). Yeah, it’s a stretch, but playable

Posted .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Well I’ve been reading on and on and decided I couldn’t just sit here and listen to the Flute and Low D debate without stating a few facts and putting the forum back on track !

For all those who support the theory of Low D is for "lazy would be" flute players I totally disagree, I have several keyed and un-keyed black Africans with the odd bamboo and even a second hand ( a good 60 years old when given to me as it was my great granddads) cherry wood Fife given to me as a communion present ( that’s a long long time ago back in the 60’s when we didn’t mind playing the Sash in North West Belfast) and that has nothing to do with my desire to wack out a few tunes on a low D.

As for the embouchure is more expressive than a fipple "gob stopped" in your mouth bull sh*t - clearly that’s a reflection on your own (apparently) limited playing experience. I certainly don’t just blow and hope for the best, and in fact normally play in a flute like position to increase backflow and control especially on the Airs and pseudo jazz jigs ‘n reels…….I’ve even been seen to stick a tooth pick in the mouth piece to give me the results I want…

In short ; each instrument has its merits and flaws and each has its uses; "The players choice"………..I choose a Low D for some of my old and new songs and at this point I arrive back to the original Q: Opinions on Low D’s…….??

It looks like it’s down to a Goldie , a Viper and an MK (possibly the psychedelic green to match my latest MP3 player, 3G mobile, and my Lotus sports car - LOL )…….Santa will be busy this year and I’ll just have to go for all 3, although speaking with Misha yesterday he’s telling me the MK might just be wrapped up with my 2008 Easter egg !!

For those who took time to make objective opinions (most of you) thanks again and once I get practiced up I’ll subject myself to torture ( I’m sure KML will have a hay day) and let you all comment on the results which I’ll stream on my web page.

For the “war mongers” amongst us I’ll start another thread; Low D vs Irish Trad. Flute



Slán

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Ilig brings up an interesting point about microphone placement. I’ve been listening to a lot of great old New Orleans clarinetists, and they perfected the art which they called "riding the mic" which means changing the position of the clarinet relative to the mic to balance out the volume. The same could be done on Low Whistle to bring out the low notes and soften the high ones.

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

About Nigel Richard’s conical whistle with a "reverse conical" bore- a reverse of what? Saxophones, oboes, and most bagpipes have a bore which expands as you move away from the reed, while recorders and the Bulgarian kaba gaida have a bore which narrows as you move away from the fipple or reed. Which style is Richard’s a reverse of?

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

Opposite of an oboe, bagpipe, clarinet, saxaphone. Same as flute, recorder. It looks a bit like a recorder actually, but don’t let that put you off, it doesn’[t sound anything like one. Infact, the interesting thing about the sound is that it sounds more lke a whistle than a flute, unlike the overton.

Posted .

Re: Opinions on choice of Low D Whistle

I thought I should add to this old thread that I’ve now aquired two MK Low D’s and I now play the MK in preference to the Burke Pro Viper.

These MKs lack the Burke’s booming powerful Bottom D, but in my opinion are superior to the Burke in a number of little ways:
1) the MK is more air-efficient, allowing less frequent breaths and longer phrases
2) the MK has a more complex tone, a dirtier tone or more Kaval-like tone
3) the MK is more slender and for me more comfortable to hold for long periods
4) the MK’s volume is more even across the registers, being a tad louder than the Burke in the low octave but around the same in the 2nd octave.
5) seems that gracenotes pop out a tiny bit more clearly on the MK.

What I don’t like about the MK or Overtons is having aluminum in my mouth. The Burke has a delrin mouthpiece which I find more comfortable.