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 Post subject: Burke Whistle question
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:07 am 
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Thinking about taking the plunge in the near future and buying a Burke whistle, but I'm confounded by the choices. I see Aluminium and Brass, as well as a choice of "Session" and "Narrow Bore" in addition to the "standard" model. What in the world is the difference amongst all these choices? :shock:

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:39 am 
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I assume you're talking high/soprano D whistles.

Burkes, as a rule, tend to have a slightly bigger bore (bore ID as a ratio of bore length) than many other whistles, throughout the entire range of keys that Burkes are made in.

I know these are generalities, but in general as the bore gets bigger the low octave gets more volume and solidity.

As the bore gets smaller the 2nd octave gets easier to produce, more nimble, sweeter and more pure.

It's a balancing act. Get the bore too big and the 2nd octave takes too much force to produce and sounds harsh or strident, get the bore too narrow and the low notes become feeble.

These issues get bigger as the whistle gets bigger.

Burkes tend to the big-bore side of things, having an exceptionally full low range and bellnote, but having a 2nd octave which is less forgiving, being a bit touchy, requiring good support and control.

So the Burke "Session Bore" soprano D is built for a full round loud low octave, The 2nd octave is fine, just not having the light "action" that many players want.

The Burke "Narrow Bore" soprano D, in my opinion, plays more like traditional whistles, with a lighter more nimble and sweeter 2nd octave. The low octave is still plenty full, for me.

Aluminum will give a slightly brighter tone, brass a slightly darker tone, people say. I've not owned a Burke brass, but I had Chieftain Low Ds in aluminum and brass and the difference in tone and playability was striking.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:47 am 
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The differences in aluminum and brass from my experience, which isn’t a lot, are somewhat minimal. I really can’t say I have a strong preference for one or the other as far as tone or playability goes. The differences to me seem subtle at best.

The only “real” gripe I have with brass is that tends to get a faded dirty look overtime. Where the aluminum whistles tend to look nice and clean regardless.

I have a brass Reyburn Low F and a Dixon High D with a Heavy Brass Barrel. Both look all smudged up but they sound fine. I play my whistles quite a bit. I just got the Reyburn over the holidays (a few months ago). It looks like I’ve had it for about 10 years or so. It sounds great though.

I also got a Burke High D aluminum narrow bore over the holidays. It plays with ease, has a fantastic tone, tuned very well, and I am very happy with it. I got it used and its about 4 or 5 years old and it still looks brand new.

As for the differences between narrow bore and session.. I’ve wondered that myself.

This was a discussion over at the session https://thesession.org/discussions/24350

My take is that a Session whistle is designed so it can project a greater volume so it can be heard over other instruments (such as a session setting). Narrow bore whistles are designed to offer superior playability and tone. I believe that is the very basic general idea behind the two.

But, I think Burke is probably most capable of answering the question then any. I know Reyburn (and many others) also offer a narrow bore and a session whistle. Both of these guys may have entirely different ideas on what a narrow bore and session whistle is. So I would consider shooting Burke an email if you want the most accurate answer.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:56 pm 
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I've owned brass, aluminum, and composite - all narrow bore. My favorite by far was the composite. Very sweet tone and doesn't scream that ear-piercing high B! I've since switched my preference to more traditional sounding whistles, but that composite high-D was nice!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:02 am 
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I've got a Burke C in brass and it's a lot heavier than the high D or even the Low F (both in aluminum). Sound-wise I don't really notice much difference.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:13 pm 
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If you can wait for the August 5th-7th Irish festival in Dublin, Ohio, Mr. Burke is almost always there and you can try all of them out. That is what I did several years ago and purchased the narrow bore aluminum D, but I have since gone to playing his session bore D exclusively.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:53 pm 
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Having owned both--and tried them side by side--I think the Burke narrow bore is right on the money. Lovely whistle. For me the bigger bore sacrifices too much sweetness in the second octave. I also don't really buy into the whole "session" whistle idea. Unless you're playing in a really huge session or in a really noisy venue, a normal Generation-style whistle (or in this case, a narrow bore Burke) is plenty loud.

As for material, I like the patina brass gets. It may also be a bit warmer sounding, but the difference isn't huge. Pick the one you like the look of.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:41 pm 
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The Burke wide bore brass D is probably the best D I've ever played. I bring other things on the road and to the studio, but I feel that everything else keeps getting compared to the Burke session brass D in my mind. Absolutely fantastic whistle, in my opinion.

Joey


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:45 pm 
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That said, I played with James Galway at Carnegie a couple years ago - he was using a Burke session D in aluminum. Said he liked "the bling."


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:55 pm 
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[Thread revival. - Mod]

I recently acquired an aluminium Burke C whistle which was descibed as "Standard bore".
Can anyone tell me the dimensions of "Narrow bore" compared to "Session bore" Burke whistles? I'm not sure what I've got here ... it plays beautifully and is well balanced and sweet across both octaves.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:12 am 
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It's interesting, I just just checked the Burke site and they only offer "wide bore" C whistles in brass and alloy.

I wonder why they use "session" and "narrow" for their High Ds but "wide" for their High Cs, rather than use consistent terminology across their various sizes.

In any case, years ago I had a Burke C which at the time wasn't called wide or narrow or session or anything, just C. I felt that it, like Burkes in general, had a bore a bit too wide for me.

I only have measurements from some of the Burke mezzo/alto sizes. Since my post above I did buy a Burke high D "narrow bore" in brass which I think is a fine-playing whistle, better IMHO than the high D "session bore" in alloy that I also had. The Burke high D "narrow bore" in brass is the Burke high D that most plays like traditional/classic high D whistles IMHO.

Since I don't have measurements I don't know for sure, but I think the Burke high D "narrow bore" is around the same bore as traditional/classic high D whistles. I wish all Burkes were available in narrower bore sizes.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:35 am 
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So, why don't they just say what size tube is being used, it would make identifying its sound easier, wouldn't it?

(Internal/external/tube thickness)

Edit: Maybe all whistle makers should(?).

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:51 am 
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This video shows the differences between metals and bores

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P9GYVKNqQ


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 1:29 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
why don't they just say what size tube is being used?


The only maker I recall doing that is Alexander Karavaev.

It's handy because you can see that he's using the same tubing (.866") for his various Low Whistles, Low C, D, Eb, E, and F.

It's a fairly standard Low D bore size, and it's common for makers to use the same Low D tubing for their C and Eb, but it's probably too wide for an ideal mezzo F.

My Goldie F is around .72" and the voicing is perfect.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:30 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
Since I don't have measurements I don't know for sure, but I think the Burke high D "narrow bore" is around the same bore as traditional/classic high D whistles. I wish all Burkes were available in narrower bore sizes.


Richard, you made me curious enough to check. My Burke aluminum narrow bore high D has the same internal diameter as my brass Generation D. To within a few hundredths of an inch.

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