Making Generation whistles tunable…

Making Generation whistles tunable…

I heard that you can make a Generation whistle tunable by dipping it in hot water. Can someone give me precise instructions and pros and cons of doing this?

Once you do this, how hard is it to tune? Do you just tune to A and assume the other notes will fall reasonably into place?

Any reason not to do this? My 10 year old plays whistle (his is a Generation) and it would be great for him to be able to tune it.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

If it’s already more or less in tune then leave it. When you do loosen the glue it can sometimes make it very slippery and any little knock will make it lose the tuning wildly.

And no. A generationn that is in tune right accross it’s range is a very rare thing indeed. If your son’s whistle is perfectly in tune with itself, take it off him and give him another. Say he can have it back when he gets a bit older and can take care of it better.

If you do take the top off though, try that thing where you put blue tack or candle wax inside behind the fipple bit. Makes a huge imrovement to the tone. There’s instructions somewhere. A brighter spark than me will give you a link.

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Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

sorry, yeah, cup of hot (not boiling) water. 5 mins. top will come off easy.

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Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

Dip the head in hot water for a few minutes, twist the head off, clean off the glue, lubricate with a bit of washing up liquid and stick it back on.

For the past x years the D models have come from the factory with the head placed too far down the shaft, so relocating it with the head a little farther out will improve the tuning and actually make the whistle sound better as well.

No real cons - if you remove the head too often, or if corrosion builds up between the head and the barrel, the part that fits over the barrel may crack. No big deal.

G is usually a better note to tune to on cheap whistles. Get it right and then leave it as far as possible. Also, he’ll have to learn to adjust his blowing to get certain notes in particular tune - i.e. blow assertively - but not too hard - in the higher parts of the upper octave or the notes will be flat. Etc etc.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

The nice thing about generations is they are cheap so if you break as jeeves warns, replacement is no big deal.

The bad thing about them is that they are really cheap and you have to buy a case of them to find one that is playable.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

I said it was no big deal because the crack doesn’t stop you using the whistle. Just wrap it up with electrical tape. I have a nice one that’s been taped up for at least 10 years and it still sounds fine.

I don’t buy 😉 the idea that you need to get a case of them. It is best to find a store that will let you try them and pick the best one or two you find. But with a little attention they can nearly all sound good. In my experience when a Generation sounds bad it’s usually because of the player.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

Isn’t it a violation of some law or other for a store to allow you to try out anything that goes in your mouth (other than food)?

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

I dont know if this will be any good to you or not, but I like to use some wax when I put the head back on to help it make a good seal and keep the head in place. I use a stick of beeswax that I have for my bowstring (archery, not fiddle) which is perfect for the job

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

I second Jeeves’ advice and almost all of llig’s (I’ve never found it that difficult to find an in tune Generation and I’ve bought/taught with a dozen or so a year for perhaps 20 years).

It’d be interesting to know why you’d like him to be able to tune it e.g. because it doesn’t seem to be in tune with itself, or because you’d like to play duets with him, or because you’d just like him to improve his ear.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

I thought of it because I noticed someone tuning a whistle at our session last night and I thought it would be prudent to give him the option early on of being able to tune to other players. He already plays regularly with siblings (fiddle and guitar) and myself (fiddle and hammered dulcimer) and occasionally in larger session-type groups. I’m not thrilled with the tuning of his whistle - generally sounds off compared to the other instruments. We generally tune to concert pitch. Also I think it’s high time for him to start learning to discern between “in tune” and “out of tune.”

We have two D whistles so maybe we could leave one unchanged (the one with the best sound) and make the other tunable. Thanks for all the advice!

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

Once the head is moveable, sliding it towards off the shaft a little will flaten all the notes he plays and pushing it on further will make them sharper. Thats the extent to which a whistle can be tuned on the fly.
If there are particular notes that are out of tune (not uncommon from Generation whistles in my experience), you can make the offending fingerhole smaller by covering a tiny bit of it up wiith clear sticky tape. This will sharpen the note. Flattening the note would require you to enlarge the hole a little which would be much harder to do, and much harder to undo if it went awry.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

Thanks. I have another question - the whistle will sound flat if it is cold, right? And will sharpen slightly as it warms up from breath and hand warmth?

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

Any sharpening is negligible in the case of a Generation-type whistle with a plastic head and thin metal body. Wooden whistles and thicker metal jobs such Overtons do need proper warming up first.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

you’d think generation would know that most of their whistles are out of tune - in my experience nine times out of ten. I tried out around fifteen C in the shop, all of which were out of tune and I’ve never managed to free up the plastic head on a C. I’ve even tried boiling it up. Does anyone have an address or ’phone number for new generation? Hobgoblin won’t give it to me.

Re: Making Generation whistles tunable…

No you won’t get the head off a C easily. Most of the time you’ll destroy the head in the process. Luckily the head is glued on in the right place, unlike that of the D whistle. At least they were last time I bought some a few years ago now.

They used to be made by Barnes & Mullins but there’s no longer any mention of them on Barnes & Mullins website, so who knows. But nobody at Barnes & Mullins was interested in making any improvements to the whistles - people tried to get them to wise up a few years ago - so you’d be probably be wasting your time phoning them.

So you tried 15 and they were all out of tune. Hmm… you have to consider the possibility that the problem might not lie with the whistles.