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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:38 pm 
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Hello there, all:

I've been searching through forum threads but I've decided it's high time I post a question of my own:

I've had a trusty little Clarke for a while now, but it's time to upgrade to a low D. I'm particularly looking for one that 1) Is around the $200 USD range (or less - prefer not to go too much higher than 200) and 2) has decently sized and spaced holes. I'm a female who has relatively narrow fingers - I don't have nice fat fingers for adequately covering the holes like most people seem to. I was originally looking at getting a Burke because I love their sound and my favorite whistler has them, but I heard they're known for a bit of a stretch and bigger holes, so I started to look at others...

Also I'd like it to be tuneable.

Right now the Alba, Dixon, Chieftain V5, and the Kerry Optima low Ds are the ones floating around in my potentials list. Opinions on those? For finger spacing, hole size, air requirement, and volume? Or if there are any other models worth looking into that would fit this criteria, I'd look into those as well.

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:19 pm 
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I have no experience with low D whistles, but I will do my best to offer a suggestion. I've seen a YouTube video of a young lady playing a Shearwater low D. Shearwater offers a tunable alloy low D for £91.95 (about 127.24 USD). If the shipping wouldn't be outrageous, that may be a worthwhile option.

Keep in mind that I'm just putting that out there as another option. As I obviously haven't played one, other members will be better qualified to help you determine if the Shearwater fits your needs.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:52 pm 
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As someone with thin fingers, the Burke is playable, but the Kerry would be difficult to play.

If you could get a second hand MK, it would also be playable for you in my opinion.

The easiest low D for me to play (fingering wise) is my Dixon TB012D.

David

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Last edited by BigDavy on Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:01 pm 
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This question comes up from time to time. Sadly there's no magic solution. It's sort of like the old saying "you get what you pay for"- with Low D's the more you move the fingerholes from their ideal positions the more tone and performance you sacrifice.

This picture is worth a thousand words- here are Low D's from several makers. Everyone wants easier-to-finger Low D's, but the makers are constrained by acoustics.

Image

That all being said, all those whistles above have a straight bore except the Dixon all-plastic conical-bore Low D (second from top). The conical bore allows the lower-hand fingerholes to be made closer together. Its combination of closer-set holes, narrower tube, small holes, and light weight make it a joy to hold in the hands.

The other solution is to have keys. Susato makes (made?) Low D's with keys so that small-handed people can easily play them.

Check out this excellent video demonstrating keyed and keyless Susatos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JESWb8Xnmoc&t=75s

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:21 am 
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The Ralph Sweet Onyx is the smallest finger holes I’ve encountered. The sound is quite different, conical bore among other things, but I do like it.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:31 am 
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I had an Alba F whistle which I found the right finger stretch to be as much as my low Ds from Phil Hardy and Colin Goldie... The stretch is similar for the Chieftain and the Goldie, Chieftain having slightly bigger holes but it wasn't a problem.

I don't have a Dixon now but remember it being really easy to cover and play. Though it seem to have a distinct breath requirement in the 2nd octave in order to play in tune, and is a little on the quiet side.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:09 am 
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I really like the Dixon too but also check out WhistleSmith at http://whistlesmith.com/ who specifically make Low Ds for small hands.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:33 am 
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cboody wrote:
The Ralph Sweet Onyx is the smallest finger holes I’ve encountered. The sound is quite different, conical bore among other things, but I do like it.


Conical bore is the way to go for easier finger spacing. I have a Sweetheart low D which is quite comfortable.Those were made by Ralph Sweet and his son Walt (I could be wrong about the details). Ralph has retired from whistle making and the business is now http://musiquemorneaux.com/ . The instruments look beautiful but are 'way out of your price requirements.

Walt Sweet is now making whistles,flutes and fifes on his own. The Onyx mentioned above is actually made by Walt.That's also above your price range at $350, but they're really nice whistles.

Check irishflutestore.com for used whistles in all sizes. There are a couple of low D whistles there right now that might suit you.They can probably tell you about the finger spacing. They're good people.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:44 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
I have no experience with low D whistles, but I will do my best to offer a suggestion. I've seen a YouTube video of a young lady playing a Shearwater low D. Shearwater offers a tunable alloy low D for £91.95 (about 127.24 USD). If the shipping wouldn't be outrageous, that may be a worthwhile option.

Keep in mind that I'm just putting that out there as another option. As I obviously haven't played one, other members will be better qualified to help you determine if the Shearwater fits your needs.


Thanks for the suggestion! I looked up a video and it looks like it's definitely playable. I love the sound of it too, and the price is ideal. However, the Shearwater website isn't working for me...there's nothing on it but a Facebook button...I don't know where else to access more info on them?? :-?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:56 pm 
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BigDavy wrote:
If you could get a second hand MK, it would also be playable for you in my opinion.

David


Buying a secondhand whistle has always seemed risky to me, but I might give it a go...Where would be a reputable source for buying one?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:10 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
This question comes up from time to time. Sadly there's no magic solution. It's sort of like the old saying "you get what you pay for"- with Low D's the more you move the fingerholes from their ideal positions the more tone and performance you sacrifice.

This picture is worth a thousand words- here are Low D's from several makers. Everyone wants easier-to-finger Low D's, but the makers are constrained by acoustics.


For me it's not even as much about the distance between the holes, but the size of the holes. I tried fingering a homemade low whistle once, and my fingers just weren't fat enough to cover the holes properly. Maybe it wasn't made correctly, maybe I just need a lot more work in attempting the piper's grip - but maybe, as you said about sacrificing tone, the size of the holes simply can't be changed without changing the tone and key. In the photo it looks like there isn't much difference between them all, is that right?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:18 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
That all being said, all those whistles above have a straight bore except the Dixon all-plastic conical-bore Low D (second from top). The conical bore allows the lower-hand fingerholes to be made closer together. Its combination of closer-set holes, narrower tube, small holes, and light weight make it a joy to hold in the hands.


Those attributes of the Dixon really get me, but it seems many have commented on the softness and weak volume of the Dixon. If it's so quiet it can't be heard well when playing with other instruments, well...I just don't know if I want that. But the ease of fingering definitely is intriguing.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:40 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
I have no experience with low D whistles, but I will do my best to offer a suggestion. I've seen a YouTube video of a young lady playing a Shearwater low D. Shearwater offers a tunable alloy low D for £91.95 (about 127.24 USD). If the shipping wouldn't be outrageous, that may be a worthwhile option.

Keep in mind that I'm just putting that out there as another option. As I obviously haven't played one, other members will be better qualified to help you determine if the Shearwater fits your needs.

lassoftheisland wrote:
Thanks for the suggestion! I looked up a video and it looks like it's definitely playable. I love the sound of it too, and the price is ideal. However, the Shearwater website isn't working for me...there's nothing on it but a Facebook button...I don't know where else to access more info on them?? :-?

Seems like Shearwater is sold mostly thought eBay. Search there for Shearwater Low D and you should come up with some possibilities.

Best wishes.

Steve

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~ Antoine Mahaut, 1759 in a tutor for playing the transverse flute ~


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:49 pm 
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lassoftheisland wrote:
The Shearwater website isn't working for me...there's nothing on it but a Facebook button...I don't know where else to access more info on them?

I just checked it, and it worked okay for me. Here's a link to their "buy" page. Hope that link will work.

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Whistle No. 2: green Feadóg Original, soprano D


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:22 am 
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lassoftheisland wrote:
Those attributes of the Dixon really get me, but it seems many have commented on the softness and weak volume of the Dixon. If it's so quiet it can't be heard well when playing with other instruments, well...I just don't know if I want that. But the ease of fingering definitely is intriguing.


Yes you're not going to get the power from the Dixon conical bore that you'll get from an MK, a Burke, a Goldie, a Reyburn. (I've only tried a couple Sweetheart wood Low D's and they played much like the Dixon.)

The cylindrical/straight bore and holes in the normal sizes and locations gets you more volume in the low range.

The only way around it is using keywork, as Susato has done.

Even though if you look at the photo I posted above all those Low D's appear to have nearly identical hole-spacing, in fact each has subtle differences, and it doesn't take much change to make a big difference in hand comfort.

I find, of the clyindrical metal tube Low D's, the Goldie and MK are the most ergonomic for me.

It's a matter of what you're used to, also. Recently I've got into bigger whistles, and I spent much of my time playing a Bass A and Low C. Believe me, after playing those for a while my Goldie Low D feels tiny! So completely comfortable and easy to play, so nice under the fingers. One thing is that going on to sub-D whistles forced me to adopt "piper's grip" for both hands, which made playing Low D so much easier.

(Here's the Bass A)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJm6BQ-Qxcg

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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