choices

choices

My question has 2 parts:

1: which would be the most versatile between an alto whistle in A or G if these were the two being considered

2: having read an earlier discussion on the pros/cons of Dixon whistles, are there any thoughts on altos in that line, or are there options that are not going to break the bank to buy that might be better? I realize they are considered mass produced but as I am only a year into playing I am not ready to purchase let’s say, an Alba at 150 GBP which I then have to get shipped to Canada.

Re: choices

I have a Dixon in G but I don’t really care for it. From my admittedly limited sampling G whilstles are just a little awkward in general. The few I’ve tried felt a little stretched and sounded a little whispy. On the other hand I have a Parks in A that is just a joy to play with a tone ring that takes the volume down for quieter playing.

I’m not really sure what you mean by ‘versitile’ though. If it’s ‘useful, that you mean, neither is particularly session friendly, but all of your fingerings will of course transfer to a D whistle, and I like to do the majority my practicing on keys lower than a soprano D.

Re: choices

And just to avoid probable confusion, when I say that G whistles feel ‘stretched’ I don’t mean that in terms of them being difficult to finger, I mean that it seems to be an awkward size for the whistle format, like a squeaky voiced kid just hitting puberty.

Re: choices

As for your question #1, you would have to clarify what you mean by "versatile".

If you mean usefulness at playing common session tunes in the keys fiddlers etc usually play them, there’s a handful of tunes for each whistle, the A and the G. As pointed out above, almost nobody does that, they just play everything on a D whistle.

As for #2, I have no experience with Dixons in A or G, but I was playing pipes in a concert and there was a woman in the orchestra using Dixons of various keys for different tunes, and she was getting a lovely sound out of those intermediate keys.

As far as these intermediate whistles being and awkward size for the whistle format, I was chatting some time ago with an Irish musician who told me that he considers those intermediate sizes, especially G and F, as being the "ideal whistle".

As far as the finger placement goes, an A or a G is just about ideal for my own fingers. They’re a bit cramped on a High D and a bit stretched on a Low D.

Re: choices

There are many tunes, like the Leprechaun Jig or the Drunken Landlady that are commonly played in D and G or Em and Am. Getting an A whistle would let you play both in one fingering by switching whistles, plus those tunes in D and Em that feature low Bs and As. Fiddle players seems to like those, and I’ve often thought of getting an A whistle for just that purpose.

By contrast, a G whistle gives you C and Dm, which opens up some tunes, but not necessarily a ton of common session ones. I’d go for the A if you’re looking for flexibility in a session.

Re: choices

I guess flexibility would have been the best word to use. I play with two others, a guitar and a fiddle and one thing we do is play regularly for an elders home, so we play all over the board from hymns and music they can remember (so stuff that has to be singable) to a few airs and all manner of jigs, polkas and waltzes. Bigsciota, your comment helps because the lower notes that an A might offer would be helpful because the guy that chooses a lot of the music usually has me playing "in the rafters" and a lower option would be nice on some things.

If there are any suggestions on good whistle models to consider I would be quite grateful for anyone’s suggestions, even for UK vendors since I am hoping to be in Scotland in June.