Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I’m finding my new tin whistle (a clarke celtic) harder to play than my old generation, partly due to smaller holes (which I suppose I’ll get used to), but mostly because the join of the tube runs all the way down the whistle, right where my thumb rests. This means there’s a ridge about 2mm high running down the whistle and it’s difficult to balance it on my thumbs as it tends to roll to one side or another.

Is it safe to file this ridge down a bit (and am careful not to distort the shape of the tube), or is it likely to ruin the whistle?

Cheers

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I did that with one of mine, especially where your thumb sits. Then I coated it with nail varnish to stop rust and seal any little gaps. As long as you don’t actually file through the seam you will be OK.

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Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Or you could just buy a decent whistle that doesn’t require you to butcher it just so you can keep hold of it!

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Throw the Clarke directly into the bin and save wear and tear on your metal file.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

If you are skint buy a generation, if you can afford to go to the pub an Sindt in only about £80, an Overton/Goldie is only about £130. It’s an instrument - and the cheapest.

The Clarke is as useful as a chocolate fireplace.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

well, it sounds nice for a cheap whistle, though I was really surprised when it arrived in the post that the tube was so badly designed.

I’ll give filing it a go. If I destroy it then I’ll have an excuse to buy a better whistle next time.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

W:
Do not under any circumstances throw that Clarke whistle out.

Keep it - it will serve you well in years to come as an example of how not to make, play, or listen to whistles.

Good Luck.

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Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

People really hate clarke whistles don’t they! I should’ve mentioned that i’m only a beginner (2 months in) so can’t justify buying an expensive whistle yet.

I bought my clarke after listening to the only comparison of whistle sounds I could find: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzaO67Ap0cA. Maybe someone here should record something comparing cheap with mid/high-end whistles. As far as I know no-one’s done so yet.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I certainly wouldn’t go by that whererhys. If you’ve being playing only 2 months get a generation unless you can afford a Sindt or similar. I wouldn’t recommend an Overton to a beginner even though it’s my own whistle of choice. If you don’t get on with a whistle then it’s easy to re-sell a decent one.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I’m not a whistle player, but to my mind the tapered bore whistles sound far better than the parallel. They seem to go into the upper octave better too without becoming horribly loud. But hey, what do I know!

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

For God’s sake if you’re a beginner don’t waste time filing, varnishing or doing anything else to it just play the damn thing or shell out the 7 bucks for a new one!
!!!


:)

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

My first whistle over 35 years ago was a Clarke. I’ve still got it.
It never was great sounding but It started me off well and led me on to various other things.
Play it and enjoy it and file it down if you want as Gam suggests. If you feel you want to move on and can afford to do it go for it.
All the best
Ged

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I wouldn’t say that filing or varnishing or anything else is a waste of time. Cheap whistles are cheap (note that they aren’t called penny whistles any more) because they are not very well finished. A whistle is just a tube with some holes in. If you can fiddle about with it you might finish up with a very good instrument. One of the best whistles have is one I made myself from a length of ordinary copper water pipe. I certainly wouldn’t pay 180 quid for one. Mess about all you like, it won’t cost you much, and you might learn something.

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Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I wondered what a Clarke Celtic Whistle was, so I googled it, and found it is a Clarke Meg all tarted up to appeal the crowd whose idea of good music is formed by Celtic Woman and those cheesy celtic mood CDs you find in discount stores. Here is the advertising copy from Amazon dot com:
"One cannot hear a slow air played with depth of feeling on a tin whistle by a true Celt without being drawn into, and sharing, the emotions expressed by the player. When Robert Clarke invented the Tin whistle in 1843, little did he know that it would become the perfect wind instrument to be played universally in all the Celtic lands. It can be heard in concert halls, broadcasts, churches and, above all, especially in Ireland, in the pubs. It is easy to play; inexpensive; and can be carried so as to be available for performances on all occasions. The Clarke Celtic Tin whistle in the Key of D comes with its own fingering chart and five traditional Celtic tunes, one each from Wales, Scotland and Brittany and two from Ireland. The whistle comes decorated with a Celtic Knot and is individually gift boxed."
Ick, now, onto answering the question: I would learn to get used to the ridge, it comes with playing a conical whistle, which as we all know, is the one true authentic tin whistle shape, not to be confused with all these overpriced wooden and brass things that sound oh so pretty, but lack the chiff that marks a truly good whistle. In fact, if I was to do anything, instead of settling for a conical whistle with one of those new-fangled plastic heads grafted on it, I would look for an original Clarke whistle, the kind with a wooden fipple. Or if you have an aversion to British products, look for a Shaw.
Now, a bunch of people will follow my post with their own posts that try to draw you away from the truth, but if they were more true to their hearts and self aware, they would realize that other whistles are just a pale shadow of the Platonic ideal that is a conical tin whistle with a wooden fipple.
;-)

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Heh ..

Always enjoy seeing emotional zealotry presented as fact!

Mr Clarke might be attributed the rolled-tin method, but the whistle (call it tin, penny, Irish or flageolet) has been around for 25 thousand years according to the archeology - with the same diatonic scale.

Now - the rolled tin method - as old as the tinned food biz - it is not tin, it is steel with tin-plate.

The tube is conical so it can be released from the mandrel which it is rolled on - if it were cylindrical, it would distort if you tried to push it off.

FOr this reason, the taper on Clarke whistles is over steep - the second octave is, therefore, somewhat sharp. But it can be underblown to flatten.

It is true that the second octave on conical whistles require less energy - therefore not as loud .. the first octave is also a bit attenuated because the taper dissipates a lot of the energy.

Now - the "Celtic" Clarke whistle is not a Meg - it is a Sweetone. The Sweetone model is made in England - the "Celtic" is a Sweetone with a heavy enamel finish. The "Meg" whistle is a Sweetone, made in China to the Sweetone spec. It is far from the original "Tin" whistle - the head is plastic - designed by Michael Copeland. The "Original" Clarke whistle is a rolled-and-soldered tinplate cone with a wooden fipple-block - the head is squeezed around the block to form the windway, with the labium blade simply pressed into the bottom of the sound window.

In the earlier post, the narrator of the fable about the sound of of "tin whistles" had the gist of it - but most of us got the alure of the whistle through the playing of the 60’s/70’s Celtic bands - Bothyband, Chieftains, Planxty etc - these guys all played cylindrical whistles - usually Generation flageolets.

Those who have found the whistle recently, probably first noticed them via popular movies. The whistles used in Movie soundtracks range from Gens, to Overtons, Susatos, Chieftains etc - never saw a Clarke among them - could be wrong, but none of the real famous ones bill a clarke.

The Clarke just does not sound like that.

That is not to say that there’s anything wrong with Clarke whistles - I have heard some amazing things done on them.
I regard the "Celtic" Sweetone to be the best of its kind - the enamel coating seems to make a lot of difference.

Rather than filing the seam - how about applying a blob of beeswax and smoothe-over? Could use blue-tac or plasticine, but beeswax is less sticky.
;)

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Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Use half a strip of electrical tape down the back. Takes the edge off. The whistle is what you make of it.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Thom beat me to it. I’ve got a Sweetone I’ve been playing for a bazillion years. First thing I did with it was to put a bit of tape on the seam. The tape’s still there, I’m still playing the whistle. When the tape wears out, maybe I’ll think about spending $100 on a new whistle. Or else I’ll put a new piece of tape on and spend the money on beer.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Just checked my Shaw, there is a seam but its an overlap and fairly smooth - a trail of glue or something would fill the slight step.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

There was no whistle player in the Bothy Band, ever.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

Oops, what I thought was a Meg was a Sweet tone, and Shaw is based in Britain, just like Clarke.
I guess my advice is just a pale shadow of the Platonic ideal of good and accurate advice!!!
Sorry!
;-)

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

I don’t know squat about whistles, and I appreciate you don’t necessarily know if you’re going to do well on it, but this question must arise with every type of instrument. People often ask me about where to get a cheap harp - and there are harps on ebay which look great but which are at best, a gamble. Whatever instrument you choose to play, if you don’t have one which is comfortable or which sounds OK, I don’t think that’s a good foundation for anything much. Surely it’s better, if you can, to buy something at least halfway decent, that you could sell on if you really don’t get on with it.

Re: Filing down the outside of a tin whistle

With cheap whistles, you can always luck out and get a really good one. That’s why I have a whole vase full of them. Well that, and a moderately bad case of WAS (whistle acqusition syndrome), but I digress. Anyway, about a quarter of the cheape ones seem to be playable, the rest of them are not.

I played a Clarke for 4 years before buying one from Michael Burke. I still pick up the Clarke once in a while. It served very well as a starter instrument, but I still prefer the Burke.

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