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Copper as a whistle making material
http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=104500
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Author:  AngelicBeaver [ Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Copper as a whistle making material

Does anyone have experience with copper whistles? For the longest time, I've thought a copper whistle in the style of a Chieftain V3 would be pretty sweet looking, although a copper low D would be pretty heavy.

How would copper work as something you put your mouth on or handle frequently? Would it require a coating of some sort? Ideally, a bright copper finish or a green patina would be used, or perhaps a combination of both.

Besides the weight, I'd be concerned about corrosion on the inside or what might happen with frequent skin contact, like blackened lips or fingers.

Author:  whistlecollector [ Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

AngelicBeaver wrote:
Does anyone have experience with copper whistles? For the longest time, I've thought a copper whistle in the style of a Chieftain V3 would be pretty sweet looking, although a copper low D would be pretty heavy.

How would copper work as something you put your mouth on or handle frequently? Would it require a coating of some sort? Ideally, a bright copper finish or a green patina would be used, or perhaps a combination of both.

Besides the weight, I'd be concerned about corrosion on the inside or what might happen with frequent skin contact, like blackened lips or fingers.



Copper would be no worse than brass as far as weight or sticking things in your mouth. If you're a very careful player, a relatively thin walled copper tube should do well enough as a whistle body. Brass is simply an alloy of zinc and copper --- so, yeah. Copper is a very soft metal, however, so a pure copper body would have to be handled very delicately.

Maybe consider bronze? It's an alloy of tin and copper and looks coppery enough to pass.

Another solution would be to build the whistle out of brass and have it copper plated. That way you'd have the durability and the cool finish. I guess you'd have to lacquer the copper, though, because after you polish the whistle enough times, the plating will wear through!

Artificial patinas can be applied, but I think they're ugly. Let the whistle grow its own patina over the years. Either that or lacquer it to keep it bright.

Corrosion is an issue on the inside of the tube, but proper care (maybe cleaning it out once a decade or so) will pretty much keep that in order. If left be, the inside will eventually form a patina and that will be that.

Author:  puipui [ Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

I am using a copper whistle for months now. Surface of it lost its initial shine and looks reddish-brown but without any uncomfortable feel to my fingers or lips. Rather, my fingers like the texture of area around finger holes. The color is slightly light around the finger holes and the bottom area where thumbs touch, like that you see on brass whistles left un-polished. Small area of the mouthpiece where my lips touch is also with lighter color. I do not feel any taste when my lips or tongue touch the copper surface of mouthpiece.

Copper pipes are used in the part of water supply line of your house probably.
So it is assumed as safe material. It is also known to have disinfectant effect.
They said that the stable membrane of cuprous oxide is formed inside of copper pipes when water is supplied, so I believe that the same happened in my whistle. I do not see any corrosion inside of the finger pipe or mouthpiece.

You can find copper pipes of various sizes at hardware shops like Homedepot and Lowes.

Author:  mickey66 [ Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

bronze? Is heavy!

Author:  Dibbs [ Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

mickey66 wrote:
bronze? Is heavy!


Slightly less dense than copper but not significantly.

Author:  Tommy [ Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

AngelicBeaver wrote:
Does anyone have experience with copper whistles?


Yes, I have made copper conical whistles with a black PVC head.
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=69086&hilit=copper+conical

Author:  Tyler DelGregg [ Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

I once had a copper whistle in low A made by Sand Jasper of Elfsong. She coats the tip of the mouthpiece with some clear material. It weighed about the same as brass, and nice sounding, too. I don't like to put my mouth on copper or brass; it just tastes bad to me. I can't taste aluminum. Come to think of it, Ethnic Winds had a YouTube demo of a copper low whistle. Can't remember the key.

Author:  ytliek [ Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

There has been discussion about copper whistles here on C&F. I didn't do a thorough search, but, one memory recalled this:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=91601&p=1097305&hilit=copper+whistles+alaska#p1097305

Author:  khl [ Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

David O'Brien of O'Brien Whistles used to make whistle from copper tubing. I've got a set of them and like them very much. I don't know when he stopped making copper whistles (assuming that he has, since I don't see any listed on his site). http://www.obrienwhistles.com/

Author:  MadmanWithaWhistle [ Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

Bronze is relatively expensive and difficult to machine in my experience.

Author:  Chifmunk [ Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

Copper always has a funny 'copper smell' when you rub it with fingers, or wear a copper bracelet etc.. Some might find it unpleasant... and it's a stronger smell than brass has.

Author:  puipui [ Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

Chifmunk wrote:
Copper always has a funny 'copper smell' when you rub it with fingers, or wear a copper bracelet etc.. Some might find it unpleasant... and it's a stronger smell than brass has.

FYI. http://www.nature.com/news/2006/061023/ ... 023-7.html

Author:  Chifmunk [ Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

Well whether it's coming from the metal itself or from a reaction when our skin touches the metal...it still smells like copper to me. :)

Author:  benhall.1 [ Wed May 03, 2017 11:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

Chifmunk wrote:
Well whether it's coming from the metal itself or from a reaction when our skin touches the metal...it still smells like copper to me. :)

I agree. Much more so than iron or other metals, as well.

Author:  David Parkhurst [ Tue May 16, 2017 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper as a whistle making material

I've worked with copper a bit :D . It's fairly soft, easy to turn on a machine lathe as long as your tools are sharp. You can make a basic whistle by hand using shop tools. In my opinion it needs nothing in the way of coating, although if you let it sit for a long time there is a transient copper taste (duh) when you start playing it again, but I didn't find this to be a deal-killer. You can make whistles down to Bb using 1/2" copper plumbing pipe, I never experimented enough with larger diameters to give you any good advice.

If you do a bit of Googling, there's a good set of measurements by a wonderful lass who decided to make her own copper whistle and posted what worked for her. I've tried making a fipple using both a mandrel press with a rounded form as well as simply placing a piece of shaped wood in the bore under the windway and hammering it flat.... both work if you're patient.

Best of luck... give me a buzz if you have other questions

David Parkhurst

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