Tweaking a Whistle

Tweaking a Whistle

Hello all,

I have a cheap aluminium one-piece low whistle. At the moment I have no money to buy a better one, so I´m looking for ways to alter the one I have.

My first problem is that I dislike the aluminium in my mouth. Has anyone got any ideas for altering the mouthpiece? Glueing some kind of foil or wood onto it maybe?

The second thing I dislike about my whistle is that the air I give into it does not seem to translate into sound so well. There is a significant amount of this hissing/white noise that uses the air but does not give tone. Any ideas what to do about that?

Thanks a lot!

Re: Tweaking a Whistle

I’m not attracted to aluminium in the mouth, but I could be being hyper-cautious. Aluminium tends to react with alkali compounds*, and I understand our saliva is alkaline. What about some heat-shrink tubing over the beak of the whistle?

*When we were young, we used to use scraps of aluminium from nearby building sites in caustic soda to make hydrogen. We’d fill balloons with it, attach a fuse and release them into the night sky. They would explode in flames a few hundred feet up. All this passed for fun until we discovered the tin whistle….

As to the white noise, I’d want to hear from a whistle maker/tweaker on that.

I have a page on tweaking a treble D whistle, but it sounds like you have more immediate problems than tuning. Anyway, for interest:

Re: Tweaking a Whistle

Clean the fipple- dental floss- soap and water -

It sounds like it might be clogged a little.

I also use ripped card to clean it too…

Re: Tweaking a Whistle

Is is the metallic taste you dislike, or are you concerned about possible health effects of aluminium?

Terry, the pH of saliva varies during the day and with other factors, from about 6.5 to 7.5. pH 7 is neutral. Saliva is therefore a very weak acid, or a very weak base (emphasis on very). The possibility of reaction with aluminium is I would say very small. Caustic soda NaOH is a highly caustic base and reacts violently with some transition metals such as Al, releasing large amounts of hydrogen:

2 Al + 2 NaOH + 6 H2O → 2 NaAl(OH)4 + 3 H2

Saliva would not be doing this. I think your concerns are needless.

Links with Alzheimer’s Disease have mostly been disproved in recent years. Most people drink from aluminium cans to no provable ill effect. Aluminium is in antiperspirants, most antacids, and other medications. Any restaurant you go to will have aluminium pots and pans.

If it’s the taste that is the issue, how about painting the mouthpiece with a strong clear lacquer, carefully avoiding the windway? Clear nail polish? There’s a thread here about coating wooden fipples with super glue and/or shellac, which may be relevant.

It’s a fascinating topic and directly relevant to whistles as so many are aluminium. The more important reaction is I think:

CO2 + Al → ITM

Re: Tweaking a Whistle

Superglue? Nail polish? Wouldn’t those be worse for you than a little taste of aluminium?

Re: Tweaking a Whistle

Oh, come on Michelle! What’s a little sacrifice for one’s art :)
Cello-tape or some such might serve as well…