Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Hello all, I’m seeking to buy a new Burke composite penny whistle. I’ve checked the Internet, but so far I haven’t had very good fortune doing this. I checked Burke’s homepage, but apparently, they sell only brass and aluminum whistles there. Does anyone here know where on the Internet I could find *new* Burke composite penny whistles being sold (preferably for US dollars). (I’m interested in all keys at the moment.)

Also, any honest opinions of Burke composite penny whistles would be appreciated. Thanks…

— lartes

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Michael Burke started phasing out composite whistles in 2014, so they’re probably all gone and stock not replenished. It’s unlikely to find one NEW, but you might find one "new" (as in little-used by the previous buyer).

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Hi kkrell,

So Michael Burke started phasing out composite whistles in 2014… Well that explains a few things for me. Thanks for your reply, btw.

— lartes

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Hi AB,

I’ll check out the website that you listed for me. I’m not familiar with the Milligan Delrin high D, but it’s worth a look on my part. By the way, I read (here on the Session) that Delrin whistles are quite fragile, and that they can shatter if they fall. Have you (or has anyone else) heard about this?

Thanks for your reply AB.

— lartes

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

I do not know how vulnerable Delrin is to damage. At least not for thin walled, small whistles. The only experience I have is with a Rob Forbes Delrin D flute. My flute seems to be quite sturdy. I have
owned it for a number of years and never had a problem. However the sides are not thin,
which probably makes a significant difference.

p.s. also the head on my Hammy Hamilton practice flute is Delrin. It’s survived all my abuse & I’ve not been protective of it. Maybe I should be more careful, because I do like the practice flute.

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Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

I have one of the Burke composite high-D whistles and really like it quite a bit! Never clogs, very lightweight and similar in sound to his wide-bore model, but a bit mellower.

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

@lartes

I have a Milligan Delrin D and am quite happy with it. It does not seem fragile at all. Delrin is a pretty strong material that machines well and is often used in industrial and medical applications. I’ve never heard of any cracking, as one might with PVC and other plastics. I suppose if machined into a superthin tube that one might then be able to stomp it to death.

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

This is mostly my gut feeling, but I would tend to agree w/Kevin about Delrin not being like PVC, CPVC, or other forms of plastic. I know very little about Delrin, but I’m somewhat familiar w/failures in those other plastics.

If I had to choose between an instrument made of one type of plastic over the other I would probably avoid vinyl. Unless, of course, it was a ‘water weasel’ whistle made by Glenn Schultz. 😉

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Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

I bought one Burke composite. I picked it up used. It came in the post snapped in two.

Couldn’t get my money back.

I wouldn’t touch one.

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Thank you all for your replies to my post. As best as I could tell, Delrin penny whistles *could be* fragile if they had thin walls on them. I happen to have a few penny whistles made of Polymer, and although I haven’t dropped them on a hard surface, they seem to be pretty sturdy. Apparently, the tone of the Delrin whistles is a bit different from the tone of the brass or aluminum ones. But there must have been some reason for Michael Burke to have "phased out" the Delrin whistles that he used to make.

— lartes

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Richard, that’s amazing. Mine seems anything but fragile, but I haven’t actively tried to drop or break it. Where did it split?

Has anyone tried just calling Michael Burke and asking him about the story on the composite whistles?

When Glenn Schultz was still alive, I had an issue with an ebony high-D whistle he made that repeatedly cracked. So I called him. His response "Who the f*** thought it was a good idea to make whistles out of ebony?". He had a very good sense of humor about it and sent me another in rosewood.

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

So, I had to do a bit of research, plus I received my Becker low D (it was cheap, and I wanted to see one with the Delrin fipple). From what I could find, Delrin has a high degree of rigidity. It makes it really strong and stable for keeping its shape when being carved to exact measurements. But that same rigidity makes it weaker when it comes to impact resistance. In fact, looking at the specs for Delrin vs something like PVC, PVC has a lot more resistance to impact than Delrin. Just examining the Becker whistle, which has a PVC body and a Delrin fipple block, I would not really want to consider making a thin-walled whistle entirely out of Delrin. Even though it’s strong and dense, it also feels like it would be the type of material that would crack on impact. My Tony Dixon polymer, which I think is ABS plastic like many of my plastic recorders, seems less rigid and is much lighter. It can take a drop on hardwood, but it also plays just slightly softer than the Becker. Ditto on the Susato whistles, though these are much louder for some reason. Still, if the acoustic qualities of plastics are anything like wood qualities, I suspect a viable Delrin whistle would be very loud and bright.

"I had an issue with an ebony high-D whistle he made that repeatedly cracked"

I have recorders made in grenadilla (ebony) and rosewood. I don’t often play with the grenadilla one because it’s in A=415 tuning, but it’s hardness factor makes it sound brighter. My rosewood is more pleasant to play. It’s a softer wood with more oil in it, so it sounds a bit more reedy and sweet to my ears. I suspect that wood recorders have thicker walls than wood whistles, so that would help resist cracking. Haven’t looked up resistance to the fatigue stresses of constant playing.

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Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Yes, the Schultz ebony whistle had extremely thin walls, would crack near the tuning slide.

Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Grenadilla is not ebony. Grenadilla is more commonly called blackwood, and is actually a member of the rosewood family. Ebony is a different species of tree altogether, and is in the same family as persimmon. All 3 of the woods have high oil content.

Ebony is generally used for fingerboard and such, but is not really used for woodwinds. I don’t think it handles moisture as well as the other two. Surprisingly enough, it works well for uilleann pipes.

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Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Hi Aaron, you’re correct. I think that ebony and grenadilla had been used so interchangeably in the woodwind world because they are both hard, dense dark woods. It’s not really my material of choice, as I prefer rosewood. It’s like the mix-up with tulipwood, which actually isn’t the American variety tulipwood, but a Brazilian tulipwood that actually belongs to the rosewood family. This I did learn because I have recorders in rosewood and tulipwood. Also have one in olive wood and plum wood…I wonder how those would fare in whistles.

For uilleann pipes, there’s no actual mouth-blowing, right? Which means no extra moisture from human breath. Would this be why ebony works well for the pipes? I’ve never seen a set up close, so I have no idea how these work, but I’ve never seen someone blow into one.

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Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

Correct. The air enters the pipes through an inlet in the bellows. No mouth involved. Well, unless you count my ‘uilleann face.’

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Re: Burke composite penny whistles - I’m seeking a new one…

I have a carbon fiber whistle from Carbony Celtic Winds. I have had it about 6 months and love it.

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