Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I love to see what ebay has to offer for the musician, and I’ve noticed a lot of what are called Irish flutes and low whistles made in India. The flutes are described as rosewood, and the low whistles are described as all-metal; and all pitched in D. Has anyone bought any of these instruments from India?

Also, how good are the PVC flutes and low whistles?

All these look good to a musician on a budget, and I just want to see what my esteemed colleagues think.

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I haven’t looked at the stuff on Ebay, but there used to be a lot of Indian instruments in the Oxfam shop and in the Oxfam catalogue. You might like to take a look at their website. The instruments are pretty good, for their price. Rosewood is a very soft wood, if it’s the stuff I’m thinking of, and it’s fairly fragile.
As for PVC whistles, if you’re making your own, I can recommend it. In the links section there is a link to Guido Gonzato’s Web page (in English) with instructions to make your own. (It’s the Low-Tech Whistle Page.) He’s a member of The Session, and might even add to this thread. He has instructions for making a high D, C and B flat, and he may have added instructions for making a Low D. I haven’t looked. If they’re not there yet, I can let you have the measurements.
Making your own PVC whistle is both satisfying and unsatisfying. It is satisfying because you”ve made it yourself, and you can make music on it! It is unsatisfying because there is always something you could do to improve it, and your best whistle is always the next one you are going to make.
Rustic whistles take more puff than professionally built ones. I’ve made half-a-dozen high Ds, a high C, a low G and two low Ds. As soon as I can I’m going to get some more tubing and make more Low Ds. (and maybe another Low G). I’ve been playing on these for a while, and can belt out a few tunes on them. Recently I was at a loose end at a friend’s house, and she tossed me her Feadog, and told me to play something while she finished clipping the hedge. Peeep! Boy, was I overblowing! I got into the hang of it, but I was out of practice for a professional instrument. And a month ago somebody let me have a go on their Overton, and it was like sitting on a comfy sofa after perching on a hard wooden stool.
But every obstacle is an opportunity, and my lung capacity must have increased. I’m not a session person, and I usually play alone. I’m not sure what the reaction of session people would be to these, but I can guess. One problem is they’re not ideal for group sessions because they don’t tune - but then the same is true of a Generation or a Clarke.
Guido told me he was going to buy a drill, and I suspect he may go into working in wood. If the idea of making your own whistle has the least appeal for you, give it a try. It is a wonderful buzz!

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

The Indian ones you should avoid as for the PVC ones the best are the Tipple I have heard mixed reveiws about the Calmonts and I own two tipples a Low and a Low C I might consider selling one if you want to buy one for less.

Posted by .

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

Cheap flutes to trust:

Casey Burns FOlk FLute
Doug Tipple PVC flutes
Ralph Sweet keyless flutes
Olwell Bamboo FLutes (Although they are hard to find)
Tony Dixon 3-piece flutes

SLightly more expensive:
Seery
M & E

The mass-produced ones you see on Ebay have a very negative reputation - poor intonation, hard to sound, un-pretty sound. I’ve never played one so the above is striclty malicious hearsay ;P

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

My Pakistan made flute was utter junk…sounded more like the sound you get when you’re on the highway and don’t quite have the door closed than a flute.

Rosewood, however, is neither soft nor brittle. It’s a fine tonewood - not as heavy as blackwood or mopane but heavier than boxwood. I’ve seen rosewood flutes from the 1800s in great shape, so it’s durable, too.

Wordmdiet gives a good list of starter flutes. If you want the lowest price of the batch, the Tipple is it. But, being conical, it’s not quite the same as the Burns, Sweet or DIxon (3 piece - the two and one piece are much cheaper and of lesser quality).

Eric

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

Uh actually Tipples are cylindrical, but you knew that ;P

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

Doh! (smacks self upside the head) - yep, I knew Tipples were cylindrical…

Eric

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

Just out of curiosity, I bought a cheap nickel Low D made in India. I must say I’m unimpressed, to say the least: as usual, the tuning is not accurate. The sound is fairly nice though.

If you want a low cost whistle or flute, dont’ let PVC scare you off. My favourite whistle (Tony Dixon’s) is made of black PVC. Many others PVC whistles get good reviews, have a look here:
http://www.tinwhistler.com/music/reviews.asp. As Innocent Bystander wrote, you may make one yourself using my instructions.

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

Mrs Ptarmigan has a Pakistani Knee Harp & it is pretty good. She has had 3 or 4 years good use out of it so far, so don’t discount ‘all’ Pakistani instruments!

Although I have heard that their Pipe Chanters are utter rubbish!!

OK - Sorry for butting in - Carry on ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I own an M&E keyless flute. Let me tell you, I *adore* this instrument, and it’s all the rage of the local session! Could be that the only other flute there is a silver modern one, but… ๐Ÿ™‚ I can personally vouch for the quality and sound of M&E flutes. Michael is a joy to work with, and not only produces a high quality instrument, he can also retrofit keys on to his resin flutes!

Hope this helps.
-P

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I made a low D flute following Tipple’s design and it turned quite good AND I still have all my fingers left to play it with. I also have a basic Tony Dixon non-tuneable cylindrical flute which I have learned to play and to really enjoy.

Finally, I bought one of those "unnamed" "African Blackwood Irish Flutes" off of e-bay and while it will look nice as a wallhanging it is not a musical instrument. What does it say when a rank amatuer, with the generosity of Mr. Tipple and others’ directions off the net can make something that outshines a so-called production model?

Good luck.

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I have an M & E as well and I like it very much. It’s a flute you wont need to upgrade for seveal years.

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I am thinking of getting an M & E just in case I need a Flute that withstand more than my Wooden one because I don’t really like the sound of the Tipple now that I have a Wooden Flute.

Posted by .

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I didn;t mind the sound of tipples so much as the ergonomics - I have pretty big hands but cylinders just don;t like me for some reason. I’d not want to switch back and forth frequently.

The best thing about plastic is the increased playing time. Leave it lying around … play tunes constantly.

Re: Cheap(er) Instruments- flutes and low whistles

I have a De Keyzer keyless wood flute, 2 keyed flutes of undetermnate make, but the one that always gets used is the Dixon 3 piece - in it’s custom flight case made of an old guinness bar towel it fits in a pocket. Quite handy when your transport to sessions is two wheeled or thumb-powered. It’s also water- and beer-proof, and being made of PVC or whatever, is probably pretty indestructible.
Oh yes, it also sounds good and plays well ๐Ÿ™‚