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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:33 am 
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I'm favoring my Dixon Trad. It's about $30. I like that the tube is slightly larger in diameter which I find easier to hold than the Oak and Blackbird. It's a good starter whistle.

Von

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:52 am 
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Since my experience of Jerry's whistles is similar to Mike's in finding them OK but nothing special, the ones I have simply can't compete with my preferred choices (which are not universally more expensive) and don't get played. As a 'cheap whistles need tweaking' sceptic, I look at their cult status here and can't help wondering how many C&F users get them because they're told they're good then tell others they're good because that's the done thing. Or how many have actually compared, as I have (admittedly in just one case), tweaked and untweaked models purchased simultaneously for that purpose. So I'd be interested to know how they'd be rated if Jerry had started as he intends to finish by offering whistles designed/built from scratch (instead of modified from mass-market models) with the same playing characteristics, but of course we'll never know that because we can't start again now...

So I like my Freeman Mellow Dog D/C but don't play it because I have other high Ds and Cs I like far more, and prefer my (cheaper) Susato Oriole Bb* to Freeman Gen despite neither being my first choice.

*Not a general endorsement for Susato Orioles when they're all built on the same bore... I like the Bb and C for their narrower length-to-bore ratios, but never play the comparatively 'fatter' D or Eb!

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:55 pm 
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As I've said before, I recommend tweaked whistles (whether from Jerry or someone else who know's what they're doing) for beginners—because then you know that if there are issues, it's the player and not the whistle. I've heard too many tales of beginners whose whistles were bad to begin with, or had quality control issues, or some other problem, who can't tell if it's operator error or bad instrument. It costs a bit more than one ordered via email or taken from the shop shelf, but it may save a whole lot of time and anguish in the early stages.

Once someone has learned to play and listened to and tried other whistles, then she/he should be able to decide whether the tweaked instrument is what they really want.

As for a beginner going into a shop and trying dozens of Generations to find that magic one—
1. No shops around here have more than one in any given key (those cardboard stands with one for each key show up around St. Patrick's day and either disappear soon after or just gather dust for the rest of the year),
2. The shopkeeper won't let you try whistles "due to health codes". (But, "Try a trumpet, sure.")
3. The beginner doesn't have any frame of reference to tell whether the whistle is good or not. And probably can't tell whether he/she is good or not.

So, for those reasons, I recommend tweaked whistles to start with....

Them's my thoughts.

Best wishes.

Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:42 pm 
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For relatively inexpensive whistles (metal, not polymer or wood), I have a few Dixon Trads and a few Freeman whistles in various keys. I really like them all, except for just the Dixon brass C, which I find takes too much air and is too 'whispery' for me to play effectively...but perhaps I will grow into it.

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:18 pm 
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It could be worth looking at a Timothy Potter, $28-ish if I remember correctly. Plays like a tweaked whistle (whatever that means) but without the glued in bits. I believe they're still available on ebay.

[edit: I see a few available on ebay, as buy it now €24 and an auction starting at €21-ish. Outside the US postage may hurt a bit or can even be prohibitive.]

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:43 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Plays like a tweaked whistle (whatever that means)


Ok, so what does that mean? Or more to the point maybe.. what does it mean to you?

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:08 pm 
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I don't think there's any magic in a tweaked whistle, but as has been remarked, it's a useful way for beginners to get a whistle that somebody knowledgeable has checked over, much the way you'd take a budget guitar to a tech for a professional set-up.

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:10 pm 
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But if they are simply 'checking it over' that implies they are not doing anything to it to improve it, as a guitar setup person might (improve the action, adjust bridge slots, etc). I'm assuming when someone 'tweaks' a whistle they are actually altering it in some way so as to improve it. Otherwise, the phrase "Plays like a tweaked whistle" would have no meaning at all, and one could instead just say "plays like a whistle" (and one would assume that was good). So, I'm guessing when someone says it "plays like a tweaked whistle" they mean it sounds or plays better in some way than an un-tweaked whistle.

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:35 pm 
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Not all whistles are duds out of the box. In my experience, perhaps 10% were fine, and about half were rough-sounding enough to be useless. The remaining 40% were playable, but over time would be side-lined in favour of sweeter sounding whistles.

I don't know how a pro tweaker works, but I assume that a portion of the whistles he receives will need no adjustment. What you're buying isn't the tweak, it's the judgement.

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:39 pm 
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Chifmunk wrote:
Otherwise, the phrase "Plays like a tweaked whistle" would have no meaning at all...


It doesn't. He means "the one I tested played well without adjustment."

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:26 pm 
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Chifmunk wrote:
But if they are simply 'checking it over' that implies they are not doing anything to it to improve it...I'm assuming when someone 'tweaks' a whistle they are actually altering it in some way so as to improve it.


The only "tweaked" whistles I have experience with are Jerry Freeman's, and yes he is altering the whistle to change how it plays. For one thing you can see a thin subsidiary blade he glues underneath the existing blade.

The various Freeman whistles I've played have been different, but most sound and play in a distinctive way, which is unique in my experience and quite different than great-playing unmodified Generations sound and play.

Chifmunk wrote:
I'm guessing when someone says it "plays like a tweaked whistle" they mean it sounds or plays better in some way than an un-tweaked whistle.


The phrase "plays like a tweaked whistle" doesn't mean anything to me. "Plays like a Jerry Freeman whistle" does have concrete meaning for me, because I've played several Freeman whistles and I know how they tend to play. (But I've never played any other whistle that played like a Jerry Freeman whistle.)

Since the only heavily modified whistles I've played have been Jerry's, I have no basis to regard "tweaked whistles" as being a type or species of whistle with defining characteristics.

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:17 pm 
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This has been a super helpful thread, even though the debate is still being waged for tweaked vs off the shelf. I was excited to get my new Dixon Trad D in the mail today as well and played it for a couple hours comparing it to my only other whistle. Waltons D. It seems to take very little breath to make low D and takes a bit of getting used to going from the high octave down to low D and E. Notes do sound much cleaner and feels easier to play than the Waltons. Oh crap, did I just hi-jack my own thread? Ignore my ramblings.


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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:14 am 
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Quote:
Ok, so what does that mean? Or more to the point maybe.. what does it mean to you?


In some modified whistles I have triied the voicing has been changed, the band of sound seemed narrowed, constrained as it were. I have in the past compared it to the voicing trying to simulate the sound of a whistle recorded and processed, equalised and compressed, rather than an actual real life whistle. A good little schoolboy or girl, always wellbehaved but sometimes a bit boring.

That will give ease to beginners, no squeaks and squawks, grunts and growls or untoward sound. It can be satisfying to a degree but when done too heavy handed after a while I get a sense all life has been squeezed from the instrument. I had that same experience with the Potter whistle, it's lovely, handles like a dream, sings like a bird but after a while I feel the strong urge to play a whistle that's untouched, free blowing and full of its own life.

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:40 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
I feel the strong urge to play a whistle that's untouched, free blowing and full of its own life.

An organic free-range GM-free whistle perhaps? Maybe that should read "JM-free" ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: Inexpensive Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:14 am 
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I was once asked about my whistle at a session. When the questioner was told it was a Copeland from the early eighties, the response was something like 'Oh, that's from when they still had some character. . .'. Not exactly sure what that means. Perhaps something like what Peter is on about.
I find my tweaked whistles respond well to using a lot of breath support, the same technique one uses to get the 'throat tones' on a clarinet to sing.

Bob

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