Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I have a Syn low D whistle. It is a very quiet whistle. Sounds lovely but is there anything I can do to make it louder, for session use for example? If I made a pvc or bamboo body, would that make it louder?

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

With whistles, because they rely on the Fipple to create the sound, there is not much you can do to acoustically amplify a whistle (you can make it quieter by applying a mute). My suggestion would be to buy a louder whistle, like an MK, Goldie, etc.

Not sure how big your session is, but when I played in a group of 10 or more, low whistles don’t carry far in sound. Would recommend using a high whistle to contrast with the other instruments.

Cheers,

Melany

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I play high but would like to pick up my low whistle now and then. There is around 10 players. Is there a loud low whistle that is not too expensive? $300 AUD is my top limit and anything from US is too expensive to post.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Maybe choose the low whistle for pieces where less people are playing along, like a slow air? Or you could try to make the move to flute. I have never heard _any_ loud low D whistle at the lower end of the scale. I think it is in the nature of whistles that they are loud up high and quiet when low. That said, some are louder than others, but I could not help you with which. I only have low A and G whistles from Alba which are loud enough for my purposes - I have never tried their D. For F or lower, I use flutes.

Depending on your session, you might need to discuss beforehand who could/should play along on quieter pieces?

By the way, Chiff and fipple has a review of the Alba low D (which I do not own YMMV…), and I am sure that they have numerous posted reviews of other options there too:

http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=104327

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I’ve owned a couple of Chieftain aluminium low D’s over the years (sorry, I have already given them away), and they seemed fairly gutsy and definitely versatile with a nice tone. Although I tend to agree with Melany that you can’t expect low whistles to penetrate, I still believe that they get heard. It is possible that those around you hear it louder than you do, kind of like the experience that bass players have. Anyhow, you should get a good Cheiftain for just less than $300 Aus. You can find them in Australia, but I think at present you would be better looking to the UK. For example you can get a tunable Chieftain V5 from Kerry Whistles for 139 squids (UK currency). That, I believe is around $260 Aus., which is actually a bit cheaper than I payed a few years ago for a non-tunable.

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

An MK Kelpie (non tunable) is about $230 Aus at the moment. If you save up a bit more at $362 AUS you can get the Pro (which is the model I have, and dare I say it’s as loud as my Copley Delrin flute!)
Not sure what a Syn sounds like, but you kinda have to like the tone of an MK as they tend to have a reedier, flute sound rather than the typical cosmic drainpipe sound of a low whistle.

Cheers,

Melany

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Nobody has taken this bit up yet:- "If I made a pvc or bamboo body, would that make it louder?".
To make your own body, regardless of how accidental the loudness and tone that would result, is not such an easy task. If you can do that well and consistently you could go into business. What happened to that girl who was too chicken to adjust her harmonica reed by the way?

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Oh… sorry, but I didn’t mean to suggest that you shouldn’t give it a go!

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

My Chieftain V3 aluminium Low D whistle is pretty loud, in my view. [They are now up to V5 I hear.] At least, I have never thought of it as soft. But low whistles are not in the business of competing with a whole band. Flute players have available a range of specialist microphones for amplification. If you are not averse to that, discreet amplification would be the best solution, using a tiny little powered amp that buskers and so on use. Can’t see the harm in that. Perhaps it’s not pure, but I see fiddle players with amplification a lot.

But speaking with a background in acoustics, low d whistles are never to go be really loud, and there is no simple modification to increase the volume. Changing the body will have very little effect on this type of instrument in terms of loudness. Flutes with larger holes can be louder, and this is the whole reason Boehm created very large hole openings for the flute. But smaller holes are better for rapid ornamentation. And you can’t really increase the size of the holes in your whistle as the tuning would be messed up.

And all the best from Australia!

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Yeah, as an old ex- pub rock guitarist I always thought of the Cheiftain V3 whistle as being like the Fender Strat of guitars. It is a dependable, good solid work-horse. And great if you want to wallop somebody on the head.

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

"Nobody has taken this bit up yet:- "If I made a pvc or bamboo body, would that make it louder?".
To make your own body, regardless of how accidental the loudness and tone that would result, is not such an easy task. If you can do that well and consistently you could go into business. What happened to that girl who was too chicken to adjust her harmonica reed by the way?"

Funny you should say that Gobby, I was mucking around with a spare piece of pvc tubing today and I hand drilled a hole in one end and cut off a few inches off the far end. No measuring, just fooling around but I can blow in the hole while blocking off the end (maybe use a cork?) and found I got a near perfect D upper octave and with a little more effort, a low D. Maybe flute is in my future instead.. where’s that drill bit now..

i’m not brave enough to fool with my harp. I’ll leave it as is for now.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

> Maybe flute is in my future instead

Hammy Hamilton’s "practice flutes" are inexpensive and work very well, so might be worth a look. Just bear in mind getting comfortable with flute is a long process of doing five minutes at a time for some months (and years!); you don’t simply blow in one end as with a whistle…

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I think I’ll get an MK low whistle, but I have to sell my current whistle first. I’ll still experiment with bamboo and make flutish and whistlish things, I’ve made a good panpipe. I enjoy making things. I may make a real instrument in time with experience.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Good on ya Michelle. Keep experimenting and making things. It all ads up to hard earned experience, and that is all that ever gets you there. It is a worthwhile journey.

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Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I have Syn, Howard, Kerry Optima, Kerry V5, Kerry Thunderbird and Hammy Hamilton Low Ds.

The last two are the loudest and last one the nicest sounding and most comfortable to play. The two louder whistles also require good strong breath flow, control and management. My Kerry Thunderbird is fixed non-tuneable and the Hammy Hamilton is part of a Low C/Low D/Low Eb combination with one head. The Kerry V5 has a softer and breathier sound.

The Thunderbird is the one I’d recommend given your budget.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I hand drilled six holes in my ‘flute’, took a long time as my eggbeater drill got stuck so I did it by twisting the bit back and forth to make the holes bigger. The G is a bit sharp because I made the hole below too big. I can get two octaves at least but as a non flute player I am limited. I was surprised it worked out to be ok. I know how to improve on the next one. Bamboo will be better to work with. Sorry off topic. :)

I would also like to make a bamboo low whistle, end blown shakuhachi style, or cut a fipple into it.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Hi Michelle,
Guido Gonzato’s plans take a lot of the guesswork out of making low whistles. You can use both the 25mm PVC and Ally tube Bunnings sell with his measurements:
https://sites.google.com/site/guidogonzato/ggwhistles
Hans Brackers site has a flute calculator:
https://www.music.bracker.uk/Music/Whistle-Calculator.html
There are a few videos on Youtube IIRC where people have made PVC Shakuhachi and Fujara type instruments too.
Hope these help in your quest! Aussie Aussie Aussie!
Gerry

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

The "not loud" mellow sound is characteristic of the low whistles. Volume is predominantly governed by fipple design and I suspect a loud low-whistle is going to have to undesirable elements to it: (a) hard to keep filled and (b) overly loud in the upper register (esp. A’/B’/C#’/D”).

Low whistles better suited to more sensitive playing/listening environments than full on session.

On the other hand - perhaps this is the answer to your dilemma: http://www.open-whistle.com/en/ I have never seen or heard one of these but the theory sounds right and you’re going to have the control over the sound similar to the flute.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

If you want similar tone and range with more volume, you could always get a flute.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I played Irish flute for many years, now Low D whistles for several years, and let’s face it, flutes are better in the matter of volume than Low Whistles.

Because on flute you can play any note, high or low, as loud or soft as you want.

But on Low Whistle the volume of each note is fixed, if you blow each note where it’s in tune.

I’ve never played a Low Whistle that didn’t have a significant volume differential between the lower notes of the low octave and the upper notes of the 2nd octave.

I’ve told of the time it was me and four fluteplayers at a session: on low bits I couldn’t hear myself, I was so much softer than the same notes on the flutes. On the high bits, especially A and B in the 2nd octave, I was louder than all four flutes together.

In my experience the loudest but still great-playing Low Whistles are the ones by leading makers like MK and Goldie. Reyburn and Lofgren whistles are right up there. These are professional instruments and they’re not cheap (as whistles go, very cheap compared to flutes!)

If you can, try an MK. They’re great for group playing. You’ll be heard as well as a Low Whistle can be.

I didn’t mention Susato. Their Low D’s are inexpensive and just about as loud as any. The tuning should be just about perfect. There’s something that’s hard to describe that’s a bit offputting in the way they play, though.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

Gbyrne said "On the other hand - perhaps this is the answer to your dilemma: http://www.open-whistle.com/en/ I have never seen or heard one of these but the theory sounds right and you’re going to have the control over the sound similar to the flute."
This is what I mean by a shakuhachi style open end. It may be easier to make than a fipple. I filed down an old high whistle end to something aproaching this design. I could get 2 octaves but it wasn’t good. That was just an experiment though and I think I could get better results on a larger instrument.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

The Open Whistle is basically a big quena.

I have a quena by Milton Zapata that I bought from Tony Hinnigan. It is a soprano model (not tenor/Low D) model so I wouldn’t dare to extrapolate what a low D quena might offer in terms of volume. But forming the "embouchure" is tricky and I never gave it enough time to be any good at it or to do justice to the distinctness of the instrument. But the fact that it is just a blade and you can govern a lot of the physics of the angle, focus and flow of air towards the blade gives much of the control and colour and tonal options that exist with a flute. Learning to play an Open Whistle properly might be a lot of fun.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I’d love someone to design an electric whistle. Something that could be played in virtual silence with headphones for those unforgiving practises and something that could be adjustable for volume and effects. I love playing the whistle and have been playing for about 25 years but never play publicly fir a number of reasons.
Firstly, especially with the low metal whistles, you have to play for about an hour before the thing warms up properly and plays sweet. I also find that the combination of blowing warm air into a cold tube creates condensation which flies out if the end covering everything and everyone in what appears to be spittle. The condensation leaks into the finger holes and produces a wet film which inhibits the notes being played properly and this is most off putting.

Secondly if you play low whistle at a session the whistle is completely drowned out by any box player, leaving you unable to hear yourself playing and thus unsure of whether your playing is audible to others and whether it’s right or not.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I should point out that the mouthpieces on different open-ended flutes like Kena, Shakuhachi, and Kaval are quite different from each other.

The "Open Low Whistle" might better be called an "Irish Quenacho". It is unrelated to the Shakuhachi and Kaval.

For me the Kena/Quena route is perhaps the ideal thing, because hand cramping prevents me from playing transverse flutes. Vertical flutes and whistles are fine.

I made my own Irish Kena a number of years ago, it played great except the 2nd octave was flat. The PVC pipe cost pennies and it took less than an hour to make so it wasn’t a big loss.

In my opinion the embouchure for the Quenacho isn’t any more difficult than for the transverse flute. Either is a matter of practice. Put the same number of hours into developing your Quena tone that you did into your flute tone and your results will be equally good.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

"Put the same number of hours into developing your Quena tone that you did into your flute tone and your results will be equally good."

I don’t doubt that, but I have to question whether it’s a better path to playing Irish trad than putting the same number of hours into developing a flute embouchure. That is, assuming one doesn’t have a physical limitation preventing a transverse flute hold vs. vertical hold. "Irish flutes" are available in a wide rang of materials and price, with an option later on for keys to ease the playing of certain tunes. A modern-design flute will also play in good intonation for both octaves.

I’m just scratching my head and wondering why the OP doesn’t switch to flute, if the goal is to be louder in a session than a low D whistle? Even a flute can struggle to be heard sometimes if the session is large enough, but with a good flute and a nice reedy embouchure tone you have a fighting chance.

Re: Can I make my low Whistle louder?

I’m not really interested in flute. That would take much more time to learn and I would rather wait a couple years and put that effort and more into UPs. I’m a whistler and I’ll probably get a quality low whistle. Like I said, it’s only for occasional session use. I’ll survive.
The open end whistle will probably require training similar to the flute. It’s a big commitment, and I am committed to whistles and hopefully UPs in the future.
Thank you to everyone for your suggestions.