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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:06 pm 
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Hi, I'm new here and looking for some recommendations from you knowledgeable folk!

I'm a fiddle player really (please go easy on me!), but occasionally play a small collection of cheap high whistles (Generation, Clarkes and Shaw) and played alto and tenor recorders in an early music consort many many years ago, so am not completely new to wind instruments...

A band I'm playing with at the moment is doing a song that has a whistle part, which I think would sound perfect on a low D - so I'd like to get one and learn to play, in the band but eventually in sessions etc. as I get more confident. I don't live near anywhere that sells this kind of thing so unfortunately will have to buy online, so would love some recommendations.

I'm looking for an instrument that has fairly low air requirement (not being a wind player), is tunable, has a tone that is not too breathy and is suitable for a relative beginner, i.e. forgiving to play and doesn't require great technique to produce a decent tone. My budget is around £100

So far I've considered Dixon, Howard, Shearwater and (just out of my price range but could stretch if it's worth it) Alba, but am open to suggestions. I've read various reviews and listened to recordings but would appreciate opinions from anyone who regularly plays them.

Thanks in advance!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:46 pm 
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I've always found Susato low D's to be very good at getting the job done....nicely tuned, easy blower...it would be my choice in that price range...but hey, that's just my opinion


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:42 am 
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Many thanks, opinions are what I'm after ;)

I just had a listen to some recordings of the Susato and found the tone a bit more recorder-like - not a bad thing but quite different to the others. I'll bear it in mind!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:30 pm 
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I had the time to do a little more research, read some reviews and the Kerry Optima tunable low D looks like a good choice for someone of my limited ability to switch to low whistle playing. Reviews seem to differ on the volume, but everything else sounds like what I'm looking for.

Still keen to hear other recommendations and opinions though!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:02 am 
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There was a Kerry Optima on tour a while back. Here's my detailed review comparing it to a number of other Low D's I had to hand at that time.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=95717&start=45

Given that it was a sample size of 1, comparing that particular Kerry Optima to the several Susato Low D's I have owned over the years it's my opinion that the Susato will give you better tuning, due to that Optima having a very sharp 2nd octave. It was nearly impossible to overblow the Optima's low octave enough and underblow its 2nd octave enough to bring its octaves in line.

The Susato has the octaves bang-on, and also is air-efficient and has a powerful Bottom D.

I want the octaves down the middle so that notes in the low octave and in the 2nd octave can be underblown and overblown for expressive purposes.

However in the matter of tone I think the Optima is nicer. The Susato has a clean pure tone that many people don't like, while that Optima had a wonderful complex gravelly tone.

With Low D Whistles you generally get what you pay for. The best Low D's are going to be in the $300 range, say Low D's by MK, Goldie, and Burke. (Those three are very different from each other and it's a matter of taste which you would prefer, but they're all three of the highest quality and have the highest level of musical functioning.)

I just looked up the prices from the maker's sites, which are, for tuneable Low D's,

Goldie 250 Euros
MK 199 Pounds
Burke 330 US Dollars

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:57 am 
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Thanks for the response, yours was one of the many reviews I read!

Like you I loved the tone in all the recordings I listened to, and many comments on playability and that it is a good first low whistle for those making the transition from high whistles also sold it to me. Quite a few reviewers also commented on the sharp upper octave - that's potentially a bit of a concern as I'll be playing with a band but hopefully I'll work out how to balance the octaves as everything else seems spot on. At some point this week I'll have to decide between an Optima or Susato...

This is a new adventure for me and if it works out I may well be looking beyond an entry level instrument soon enough - luckily expensive whistles look very affordable compared to expensive violins!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:47 am 
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An Alba Low D costs £125. They are good whistles that play well.
There is also the non-tuneable MK Kelpie. Has a good sound. Though it might not work with other instruments. The one I had was a tiny bit flatter pitched than 440.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:24 am 
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CornishFiddler wrote:
but hopefully I'll work out how to balance the octaves

You just can't if that second octave's sharp enough to be problematic. You'll simply be disappointed and frustrated by hoping otherwise.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:32 am 
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Thanks for the recommendation!

Alba was one of the first makers I looked at when I started researching this, beautiful instruments indeed. The price is a bit higher than I'd budgeted, so ideally i would like to have tried one before taking the plunge. I'll probably go for a mix of well reviewed and affordable, then trade up if all goes well in a year or so. £92 posted for an Optima seems a great deal and Susatos come in at just under £100 too. I was originally tempted by Howard cosmetic seconds (lucky dip of colours!) at £67, but by all accounts this doesn't seem to be ideal for a low whistle beginner - anyone have experience with them?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:03 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
CornishFiddler wrote:
but hopefully I'll work out how to balance the octaves

You just can't if that second octave's sharp enough to be problematic. You'll simply be disappointed and frustrated by hoping otherwise.


Thanks Peter, that's a good point. If an instrument were so sharp in the higher octave as to be unplayable, I'd return it. I'd better check the returns policy of whoever I decide to buy from in the end!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:34 pm 
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https://lindstruments.com/products/low-d-qwistle-plastic

I've not tried the 'Qwistle', but I do know Donald (who designs and makes them) and would be tempted if looking for a cost-effective low D.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:36 pm 
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I have a Howard low D and really like it. Low air requirements and it has an intriguing fat reedy sound that appeals to me. I guess not so surprising as Brian Howard makes well-regarded uilleann pipes. I would also commend the Alba too - well-made and in-tune aluminium whistles with a very satisfying complex sound (in the same tent as MKs and Goldies).


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:11 pm 
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I believe Howard has retired and either has or is in the process of emptying his inventory (3rd party on ebay). See the Howard Chanters thread in the uilleann forum


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:36 pm 
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awildman wrote:
I believe Howard has retired and either has or is in the process of emptying his inventory (3rd party on ebay). See the Howard Chanters thread in the uilleann forum


He has retired AFAIK. The seller selling off his stock has no current listings on eBay.
I have been told that the only thing that he is doing now is reed making, (for Pipe Dreams, the makers of eezeedrone reeds).

As for Howard low D whistles.

Brass
Red
Nickel

Are the cheapest on eBay.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:04 am 
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Howard Low D's are sort of an outlier, aren't they?

I heard one played in concert back in the 1980s (the band was Easy Club, if I recall) and loved the sound.

So I bought one and tooted around on it and basically it sat in a drawer for decades before I finally sold it.

It required blowing opposite of any whistle I've ever played: I had to blow stronger for the low octave, and back off and blow very softly for the 2nd octave. I suppose in time a player can get used to anything, but it was just too strange for me.

And the tuning was quite a bit off, but there too I think somebody could get used to blowing it into tune, in time.

(BTW Howard uilleann pipes were also an outlier.)

But I sure love EzeeDrone reeds! My 1945 Starcks just sing with them- were singing in concert Friday night on The Lament For Captain MacDougall. (If only my fingering was a bit better... I had a mis-fire on at least one crunluath!)

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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