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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:44 am 
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Roy McManus needs no recommendation from me (he already has plenty of celebrity endorsements from the likes of James Galway and Tony Hinnigan) but I feel inspired to post one anyway. I've never met Roy - it's a long way from Belfast to Tipperary - and have no connection with him apart from being a very happy customer. I've played high-end aluminium whistles for decades, and I've just started using wooden ones.

I recently bought two Bb whistles directly from Roy: one in African Blackwood and, because I liked it so much, I later ordered another one in Mopane. The craftsmanship is exemplary, and they are both a delight to play. I particularly enjoy the blackwood, which plays like a dream, but I'm sure that the mopane will be just as good once it is broken in. The latter is a bit louder and a tad brighter at the moment, but it may calm down with playing in.

Their rich tone and accurate intonation are very satisfying; cross fingering and half-holing work equally well. The top of the second octave takes a fair bit of 'push' on the mopane, but it isn't fair to judge it just yet. (By the way, I've found the B in the upper octave [actually a G on a Bb whistle, of course] is sweeter as XOO XXX, rather than the usual XOO OOO). They are incredibly responsive instruments. The tone can be varied by the way you blow them, and they take vibrato very nicely.

Roy made the instruments to suit my particular application, and he really took on board my specific preferences (good carrying power, robust, not too demanding with respect to air). And he exceeded my expectations. The whistles do exactly what I wanted, wonderfully well. But the icing on the cake was Roy's approach to after-sales service. One of the whistles had a minor issue which didn't bother me in the least. But Roy asked for it back, and made the adjustment quickly and beautifully. It plays better than ever now, right through the range, with an impressively solid bell note. He even, unnecessarily, refunded the postage I had paid to send it back to him. No-one could ask for better service than that.

If you don't already have a McManus whistle in your collection, I would sincerely recommend that you consider obtaining one while they are available and affordable. His email address is whistles@roymcmanus.co.uk and he is easy to deal with and quick to respond.

Hinnigan on McManus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gps6DdHB6Dc
Galway on Mcmanus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3snV3wER1sU
McNeela on McManus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlOT-7bX_w

Warm regards,

Sean in Tipperary


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:48 pm 
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seanpmoran wrote:

The top of the second octave takes a fair bit of 'push'...

They are incredibly responsive instruments.



The way flutes and whistle feel to the player is notoriously difficult to put into words.

And different players might use the same word to mean different things.

Those issues are probably at work here, perhaps explaining why you use those two sentences to describe the same instruments, while to my way of describing things those two sentences describe opposite playing characteristics.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:42 am 
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Thanks for your response, pancelticpiper.

You are right of course, in a sense. I should define 'responsive'.

In essence, I feel that a responsive instrument should do what musicians ask it to do; it should respond to their musical wishes. To my way of thinking, this would include responding promptly to my 'requests' concerning pitch, tone, loudness, articulation and so on. To me, Roy's instruments match this criterion: they do what I ask them to do (unlike some whistles I have played). So if you want crisp ornaments, you can have them. If you want a long note to evolve tonally as the note continues, you can achieve that. If you want to leap an octave without an unsettling change in volume, you can do that. If you want to play a phrase quietly without the pitch dropping, you can. (On the other hand, if you do want the pitch to dip at the very end of a note, you can do that too). If you want to add throat or diaphragm or finger vibrato, you can do that also. Smooth legato, triple tonguing, sliding ... all easily available. Squawk-free transitions between notes ... Do you see what I mean?

The key criterion (no pun) is that we can exert dependable control over our sound. There are no surprises; no sudden clogging or refusal to play the note as we intended it to sound. This might mean, though, that we have to adapt our technique a little to the instrument. Some whistles favour half-holing over cross-fingering for accidentals, for example (McManus whistles allow both). At the moment my un-played-in mopane whistle needs a bit of 'push' to reach the B and C# equivalents in the upper octave. I expect that to change as the instrument settles down during the playing-in process. It certainly did in the case of its blackwood brother, which ascends fearlessly to the top of its tessitura. But even now, the mopane whistle responds to my 'request' for an upper-octave B reliably - because I know how to issue that request.

So, to reiterate ... 'they are incredibly responsive instruments'.

But, as you say, 'the way flutes and whistle feel to the player is notoriously difficult to put into words'. So, it would be great to have your personal impressions of McManus whistles ... and the views of other fellow musicians who use them.

Warm regards,

Sean in Tipperary


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:10 am 
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I have McManus high D and Bb whistles both in blackwood. I've preferred wooden whistles since I began playing just for the feel of wood beneath the fingers. I too agree that Roy McManus provides an excellent service world-wide and the craftsmanship is superb. I highly recommend McManus whistles and recommend wooden whistles be included in the collection. Too often the hyped talk about maintenance and care requirements of wooden instruments detracts from interest in the instrument(s), while I have realized that minimum care is more than enough.

2018 is a new year... try adding some wooden whistles to the bag.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:36 am 
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seanpmoran wrote:
If you don't already have a McManus whistle in your collection, I would sincerely recommend that you consider obtaining one while they are available and affordable. His email address is whistles@roymcmanus.co.uk and he is easy to deal with and quick to respond.


Seeing how this is commercial post, could you go the extra nine and explain a little more? I've purchased some expensive whistles without trying them out and I have been happy with some and unhappy with others.

What are the prices ranges of the whistles (what did you pay for yours and do the prices change per key)? What key options are there? Is there a return policy if the whistle is not a good match for you? How does Roy take payments? Does he use Paypal or something like that? Lastly, is there anything particular to keep in mind about over seas purchases with the whistles? What about tuning (Does Roy do both Equal Temperament A 440 tuning and just intonation)?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:54 am 
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Not sure I'd classify the OP as a commercial post—more of a "highly satisfied customer" post.

However, a quick Google search shows that Mr. McManus' has his own web site and that his whistles are also sold through McNeela Musical Instruments. Should be info in those two spots to answer most of your questions.

Best wishes.

Steve

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"[Some flutists] place the flute between the upper lip and the nose, blowing the instrument from below. This position does not prevent good playing, but it does not look graceful."
~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:21 am 
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Thanks for that, Steve. You're right; definitely not a commercial post. Just someone excited about a new wooden instrument - having played high-end aluminium whistles for a number of decades - and wanting to share his experience with other whistle players.

I paid Roy using PayPal, on the understanding that if I didn't like the whistle, I could send it back and he would give me a full refund. That wasn't needed. I certainly do like it - hence my complimentary posting to Chiff and Fipple.

Warm regards,

Seán in Tipperary

PS Ickabod: you might email Roy direct about A=440, equal temperament, just intonation and so on. He responded quickly to all my queries before I ordered one. BTW, I was checking intonation electronically last night with a 'Noteworthy' app I've just installed on my android phone. Everything was bang in tune, according to that. Though you can change the pitch a few cents either way by the way you blow it, so I'm guessing that you could compensate for playing with either ET tuned instruments or JI (fiddle, trombone, voice etc), or pythgorean (pipes?). I certainly had no issue playing with piano accompaniment - which would be ET.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:24 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
Not sure I'd classify the OP as a commercial post—more of a "highly satisfied customer" post.

That's my interpretation of the original post as well. And Seán confirmed that he is a happy customer.

I viewed Roy McManus' Web site. His instruments look wonderful, and the following (slightly edited) passage got a chuckle out of me:

Quote:
In a recent review, Phil Hardy...concluded by saying "If you don't buy one, you're mad."


I'm not mad, but I'm sure that such a whistle is cost-prohibitive for me!

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Whistle No. 2: green Feadóg Original, soprano D


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:19 am 
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I usually speak to makers.
In Roy's case, I thought I'd hold off.
There's no need to say anything - he gets it.
This is a delight.
Whistles will never make billionaires .. and that's a shame.
All else seems like frivolous addictions while music and dance are real.
But while others pay for drugs like I-phones and youtube, there is the likes of Roy keeping real value for those who can play and those who can dance.
Whistles are not instant gratification - but they are the closest thing to it in the real world.
Thank you Roy.
You bring "heaven" closer.

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mitch
http://www.ozwhistles.com


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:02 am 
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I'm a new whistle player. While searching for the perfect whistle, I was enchanted by the YouTube clips of Kevin Crawford playing the McManus whistle. I decided I had to have one. I was daunted to contact Roy directly so I bought one from McNeela. Later, when I felt a bit more confident, I emailed Roy with some questions. He was very generous with answers, but also softly rebuked me for purchasing through McNeela. His website didn't exist at the time and currently doesn't provide much practical information (woods, keys, pricing). But he is quick to respond to email and thorough. And I would have saved about $50 by buying direct. (Also, McNeela's advert was misleading. It calls the instrument offered a wide-bore. But although the bore is wide-ish, it is McManus' standard bore. He offers a slightly wider bore which isn't recommended to beginners.)

The reason I purchased this seemingly exotic whistle was because it had such a beautiful sound, and I wanted to get in before prices went up or availablility became difficult. I'm currently practicing on my Dixon Trad and pull out the McManus when I'm feeling warmed up. The sound of the wood is so much rounder (and quite a bit louder in my small apartment). I hope to play my McManus more once I have developed my skills.

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Current kit: Oak D; Freeman Blackbird D; Dixon Trad D in Nickel and Brass; McManus African Blackwood D; Kerry Pro Low F


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:47 am 
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For hearing the McManus whistles in action listen in at 15:12. I don't know how to isolate the segment.
https://comhaltas.ie/music/detail/comha ... _514_full/

From Comhaltas:
514.9 From CCÉ, St. Wilfreds, Manchester, England, Orla and Caitlín Donnelly play a Reel in 12-15 Duets at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2016 in Ennis, Co. Clare.

Wood whistles are the preferred instruments whether I'm home alone or out in a group. Satisfied customer too!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:50 am 
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I'd like to add my own praise if I may. I emailed Roy and arranged to go to Belfast while I was in NI on holiday. Seemed a really nice fella - he had a cup of tea on the go in under 2 minutes, so he's a good Irishman in my book. He was more than happy for me to spend what must have been over 2 hours playing every damn whistle he had in his house and workshop, talking timber, talking air pressure, talking intonation, etc. He had loads of different wood on the go; no cocus, sadly, as he said it was too expensive. Anyway, he was very patient and chatty. Long story short - I got a whistle from him, a D. Bit of a hybrid, as it has an ebony mouthpiece and rosewood body - the result of him dropping one whistle and making a mistake with another! I like it very much. Roy also gave me a bottle of his own recipe oil and the offer of a free replacement when needed. Altogether splendid.

There's only one word of caution that I would voice, and it relates to any handmade whistle as much as to Roy's. I would only reluctantly buy one unseen. If you get the chance to go to the maker and try a lot, then do. The reason I played so many of Roy's was that they all (to a greater or lesser degree) had a noticeably flat middle D if I didn't vent the top hole. I like my whistles not to have too much colouring of the note with the vent finger on - just a foible of mine, not a criticism of Roy. The whistle I got colours a little, but I can live with it.

So... Nice guy. Nice whistle. Job done.
m.d.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:30 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
his whistles are also sold through McNeela Musical Instruments


Thanks for that info and link!

I'll be in Dublin in April and I will try to visit the McNeela shop.

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


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:20 am 
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Belfast isn't very far from Dublin. You might arrange to go see him? Better choice of whistles, plus Roy gets all the money. Plus he makes a decent cup of tea :)

m.d.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:33 am 
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seanpmoran wrote:
I feel that a responsive instrument should do what musicians ask it to do...respond to their musical wishes...including responding promptly to requests concerning pitch...


Yes exactly, and I look for a whistle that has a light/easy/nimble/responsive 2nd octave rather than a stiff/sluggish/recalcitrant/unresponsive one. A whistle where the high notes respond intuitively to your breath rather than needing to be forced out. That's my Holy Grail.

The quickest way to get me to put down a whistle I pick up is to find that it has a stiff 2nd octave.

Over the years I've not played many wood whistles, just by 3 or 4 makers, and it's odd that every one has had a stiff 2nd octave.

As I've mentioned before, a couple years ago I was at the annual convention of the National Flute Association, where I came across a booth selling very expensive and ornate-looking wood whistles, exotic expensive hardwoods with sterling silver bits. I played one for a minute. The maker asks "what do you think?" and I said "the 2nd octave is too stiff for me." He replied "that's what Mary Bergin told me."

Now, if I was a whistlemaker and Mary Bergin told me the 2nd octave was too stiff, I would change what I was doing. I think the issue is that his market isn't traditional players, but orchestral flute players and recorder players, which over the years I have found tend to like different things than trad players do.

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


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