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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:43 am 
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Pondoro wrote:
I know I am playing a cheap instrument. I know I am a complete beginner...


There's an old tried-and-true custom of beginners having their instruments picked out for them by experienced players.

The reason is because otherwise the beginner is in your situation- no way of knowing what ill sounds are due to the inexperience of the player, and which are due to the instrument.

That's the advantage of starting out with a Freeman whistle- you know for a fact that the voicing is exactly how Jerry wants a whistle to be voiced. He takes the randomness out of it.

Pondoro wrote:
...practice eventually making a cheap whistle sound better...


With whistles, due to their fixed tone-production mechanism, no amount of practice is going to change a whistle's built-in characteristics.

Each note, when blown into tune, has a certain volume and timbre the player can't change.

What does change is intonation- a player with a good ear can blow a whistle into tune even if it was built with a faulty scale.

Pondoro wrote:
...ponying up the money for a better whistle...


In my 40-odd year experience, I've not seen a positive correlation between how good a whistle plays with how much it costs.

There seems to be a general tendency of expensive fancy wood whistles not playing to my liking.

My favourite high whistles are my vintage Generations and Feadogs which all cost under $10 each. I've not played their equal at any price.

But then again I'm a product of my generation (no pun intended) when the only D whistles available were Generations and everybody played them, from the star players to the beginners. You played the best one you could find. The very best old Generations, in my opinion, have never been equalled (but IMHO Sindts and Killarneys are very close).

I've done hundreds of studio gigs. Every one has been done on my c1980 Feadog D and my c1980 Generation C.

I never found a good Generation Bb and for that key I use a Freeman.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:00 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
With whistles, due to their fixed tone-production mechanism, no amount of practice is going to change a whistle's built-in characteristics.

Maybe so, but for sure practice can change your approach to playing that instrument, which can make a huge difference. I know it was probably five years of whistle playing before I had the breath control to make a Generation-style whistle sound good. (In the early years I got by because I played whistles with a higher back pressure that could compromise enough with my bassoon player instincts to get me up and running.)

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:01 am 
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My first whistle I bought at a historic site; rolled tin replica of an old whistle. Not very good, and I got nowhere with it. I thought it was defective until a friend picked it up and played a respectable scale on it. So I tried again, and soon walked into a music store and bought the first blue-top Generation I picked out of the jar. It's not a carefully selected 'good' Gen, or an old one, just bog standard. Did the standard tweaking of the windway, blue tack etc, but nothing else.

After a while, I convinced myself I 'needed' a better whistle, that Gen (and all the other cheapies I bought around the same time) was holding me back. So I got a Sindt (first of three in different keys), a Humphrey, and came into an Impempe..... all 'better' whistles for sure. And I do love them. But when I do pick up that old Gen from time to time, now that I am a better player, it is a great little whistle and really does anything and more I need it to do. My daughter fairly recently bought a couple of brass Gens in D and Bb. Off the shelf, minimal tweaking, and they are also great whistles. All of my cheapies have magically turned into pretty good whistles over time.... just played a couple of tunes on that replica whistle I used to think was defective: works just fine. They are all fine, except the Clarke Sweetones and Megs which I should just destroy or give to someone I don't like. Never played a Freeman, but I'm sure they are worth paying a little more for one that has been done over. So I'm in the camp that says it's more about the player than the price of the whistle. You do get something special with a whistle from one of the good makers... I guess; you can't have mine, I'm keeping them.... but with time and practice, that ten dollar whistle somehow gets better and better.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:12 pm 
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Hmmmm, love all the comments. I will only add you should find a whistle that can become your voice. When I started, I was bored easily. So I went from whistle to whistle and from key to key for the sake of variety. I remember reading back then that this was a poor way to learn. I'm sure that is right. It is a poor way to learn, but for me, it was a great way to have fun....And I was playing more for fun than for learning.

There is no right or wrong way to go about it . . . if your budget allows a variety of whistles, go for em. My budget was modest so I used this forum as a way to purchase and sell, purchase and sell until I found the whistles I felt like I could not part with. The first whistle I fell in love with was a Busman out of Tulipwood. Love at first toot. After several years, I now have a whistle I love in each key. Doesn't mean I still wouldn't like a new whistle or two (or twenty), but I have what I need to play in my environments. My voice has full expression - in whatever key is needed. What fun!

We live in a great time to play whistle. Their are quality craftsmen who have poured years of trial and error, money, sweat and tears into mastering their work. We also have a forum, like this, where experienced musicians are willing to offer their opinions and advice to those of us who are tinkering with learning. What a great combo!

I gave up a long time ago trying to play a certain way, or copying a style of someone else. The basics are very helpful in teaching one what the whistle can do - but the fun starts when things start to click and you discover your own voice. Finding the right whistle(s) is part of that process. The whistle can be a vastly expressive instrument sensitive to nuance of breath, and touch and emotion. In my book, this makes it the perfect instrument for pure enjoyment . . . may your adventure continue both as you find your voice and whistle.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:16 pm 
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I agree with keeping the whistling fun.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:37 pm 
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For a beginner D whistle, I highly recommend either Freeman-tweaked (especially his Blackbirds!) or Dixon brass 'Trad'. Both are very easy to play in tune and both have lovely tones. For a beginner it's important to have a whistle you can trust and that is a pleasure to play.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Perhaps off topic, but does circular breathing make an appearance in whistle playing? It seems some players just go on and on endlessly whereas I simply do not.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:06 am 
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thx712517 wrote:
Perhaps off topic, but does circular breathing make an appearance in whistle playing? It seems some players just go on and on endlessly whereas I simply do not.

It is done:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekIIn_BY3e0

Hatao is a member here:

memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=6674

However, I personally have never come across, IRL, anyone using circular breathing. What most players do is choose where they breathe very carefully. The trick is to make it appear that there are no gaps. It's a bit like the trick of some of the best banjo players, some of whom manage to convey an impression of playing legato, when that is clearly impossible.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:04 am 
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Great playing by Hatao, but I was running out of air watching it! :) Especially the flute section, for some reason.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:41 pm 
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I just happened to toot a bit on my c1980 Generation C just now... wow... I do forget, if I don't play it for a while, just how sublime it is.

The low octave is big, full, and round yet the 2nd octave is incredibly sweet and easy. I've not seen any whistle at any price equal it.

The timbre is complex, yet sweet and clear.

My c1980 Feadog D isn't as good as that Generation C. Its low range is softer that I would like. But still it out-played quite famous and expensive D's I tested side-by-side with it, the Feadog's timbre having that extra something the various new whistles lacked.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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