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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:04 pm 
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Direct link to review: http://tinwhistler.com/Reviews/Details/69

Killarney Brass Body Review
(Review written June 2018)

Preface
I've been hearing good things about Killarney whistles for a while now. They are hand-crafted instruments produced in Killarney, Ireland by Padraig Buckley and Tadhg Buckley.

I've heard it called the "Poor Man's Sindt", referring to the Sindt brand of whistles. Sindt whistles are known for their pure drop sound like old school whistlers could get out of Generation whistles. But Sindts are also known for good craftsmanship and quality control.

So, of course, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

At a Glance
Whistle Reviewed: Killarney Brass Body
Models Available: C, D and Eb whistles in nickel and brass bodies
Construction: Tunable brass mouthpiece with delrin tip whistles with nickel or brass bodies.
Price at time of review: €74
Available From:
Killarney Whistle Company Direct from the manufacturer
How Acquired: Purchased secondhand

Appearance
I got the brass-bodied version. I don't know if the brass has been treated, because the whistle is quite shiny and shows no signs of tarnishing. The quality and construction are top notch, and I have nothing negative to report.

Image
Here's a shot of the full whistle. It's quite the looker, in a simple, understated way. It's not flashy, but it still looks nicer than a plastic-topped cheapie whistle. The tuning slide is incorporated into the mouthpiece, so it doesn't stand out.

Image
A closeup of the mouthpiece. I believe the plastic tip is made of Delrin, and it's been polished nicely. The labium ramp appears to have been milled very precisely, but I can see some signs of hand-tooling if I look at the ramp through a magnifying glass. That tells me that even if these things were produced via CNC or some other manufacturing process, the makers still take the time to hand-voice the instruments.

Image
The back-side of the mouthpiece. This whistle is a standard 3-piece sandwich design that I've come to expect from many makers. Brass pins hold everything together, so you won't have to worry about the glue failing on the Delrin bits (which is notoriously hard to glue). They also will keep your whistle from rolling off the table!

Image
The last three holes of the whistle. All of the holes are nicely centered on the body, and the holes themselves have been polished to remove any sharp edges. They feel very nice on the fingers.

Playing Characteristics
Bright, extremely responsive, easy to blow, and louder than I expected.

Sound clips of the whistle:
Calliope House

Tone: Definitely old-school pure drop. A wee bit raspy, and very bright sounding. But, as I mentioned above, it wasn't raspy enough to annoy me. I really enjoy the sound of this whistle.

Volume: Louder than expected. It's not my loudest whistle by far, but it's louder than any of the inexpensive whistles I own, and I think it'd stand up nicely in a medium sized session. I haven't had a chance yet to play at my truly rowdy Sunday session, but I'll come back and modify this section after I've had a chance to see how it stands up.

Responsiveness: Extremely quick and nimble. This whistle can do anything I ask of it, crisply and effortlessly rolling off ornamentation as quick as I can play it.

Tuning: With the tuning slide all the way in, this whistle is 45 cents sharp. All the way out, it's 30 cents flat. That's an awesome range, and more than most people will ever need. The whistle is in tune with the expected breath requirements, increasing slightly as you go up the range. The A and B notes require a touch more push to be in tune, but it's nothing extreme.


C-natural: While this whistle has been compared to the Sindt, there's an important difference: The OXXOOO C-natural. The Sindt whistle is notoriously sharp here, and you have to half-hole that note. My Killarney is only 6 cents sharp with the standard cross fingering, and you can bring that under control with your breath, OXXOXX brings it down another couple cents.

Since it's so close, and can be managed with the breath, I already like this whistle much better than the Sindts I've played, because I don't have to retrain myself to play those notes.

Hole size and placement: The holes on this whistle are fairly medium-sized, and are centered nicely on the body. As with many designs, the E and F# holes are closer together, but they aren't so close that my chubby fingers touch when playing this whistle. It's a pretty typical configuration, and I had no issues just picking the whistle up and playing from the get-go.

Air volume requirements: On the low side of average. I picked the whistle up and played it for a good 90 minutes when I first got it, and didn't find myself gasping or running out of breath in odd locations.

Air pressure requirements: Also on the low-side of average, as far as high-end whistles go. It takes a little more push than some of the inexpensive models (like Generation, Oak, or Clarke Sweetone), but not much.

Clogging: Very low. I played this whistle for an hour and a half when I first got it. I didn't warm it up first, I didn't treat it with duponol. I can't smell duponol or soap in the windway, so I don't think the prior owner treated it either. But I didn't have any clogging issues at all. I attribute that to the mostly-Delrin construction in the part of the mouthpiece that channels your breath.

Wind Resistance: Surprisingly good. It was able to stand up to a soft breeze, and only really started to cut out once the wind got a little stiffer. I was able to adjust my body slightly to bring the sound back, but never had to actually turn my back to the wind.

Summary
This whistle definitely has that pure drop sound. It's got that scratchiness and bright sound that I've come to expect from recordings by some of the old masters. That said, the Killarney comes across as more subtle and and I don't find the bit of raspiness or squeaking nearly as annoying as I do in some brands of whistles. I find myself really liking this whistle, and expect to be playing more of it.

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Last edited by Wanderer on Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:13 am 
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Great review! and also extremely accurate--my feelings about the killarney are exactly the same.



Regarding Sindt--it's obviously based very closely on the Sindt whistle. Does anybody have any backstory on Sindt? When did he come up with his specific design? How unique was it at the time?

I'm assuming he's either no longer making whistles, or if he is he's basically only making them for a select few at a stately pace?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:55 am 
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Quote:
Does anybody have any backstory on Sindt? When did he come up with his specific design? How unique was it at the time?


There used to be an interview with him on the C&F main site. He talked about how he got to design them. I suppose you will have to go to the Waybackmachine to read it but it will be there if you look (yes : here it is).

I know a friend who had early Sindts by the second half of the nineties, I got my first around 2001. The design is wholly his own, nobody did anything remotely like it. They became more and more sought after when some youngster won the all Ireland on one and all the Comhaltas mammies wanted one for their offspring. They are also ofcourse lovely whistles.

He's still making them, working his way through the waiting list. He must be a good age by now though.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:11 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
He's still making them, working his way through the waiting list. He must be a good age by now though.
He is or will be 78 this year.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:07 am 
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I bought one of these in the last month, and agree with what you say about it—spot on. Fine whistle at a very good price.

(I’ve appreciated all your reviews through the years. A real help, especially starting out, in determining what whistles to buy or not.)

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:50 am 
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khl wrote:
I bought one of these in the last month, and agree with what you say about it—spot on. Fine whistle at a very good price.

(I’ve appreciated all your reviews through the years. A real help, especially starting out, in determining what whistles to buy or not.)


Happy to be of service :)

One of the most gratifying things about making these reviews is when people who own the same model of whistle tell me that my reviews match their own experiences. I dread the day I make a review and someone posts "what are you on about? That's nothing like how my whistle plays!" :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:47 am 
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kkrell wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
He's still making them, working his way through the waiting list. He must be a good age by now though.
He is or will be 78 this year.


78, seriously? I had the pleasure to sit next to the man and play with him in a NYC session a year ago. Super nice guy, and apparently very well preserved. I actually played my Killarney (when not playing my flute), he asked who made it, I mentioned it was rather reminiscent of his whisltes, and he replied "well, there are only so many possible ways to make a whistle out there", which I thought was a nice response.

Nice review of the Killarney, too...still one of my favorite whistles.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:19 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
Does anybody have any backstory on Sindt? When did he come up with his specific design? How unique was it at the time?


There used to be an interview with him on the C&F main site. He talked about how he got to design them. I suppose you will have to go to the Waybackmachine to read it but it will be there if you look (yes : here it is).

I know a friend who had early Sindts by the second half of the nineties, I got my first around 2001. The design is wholly his own, nobody did anything remotely like it. They became more and more sought after when some youngster won the all Ireland on one and all the Comhaltas mammies wanted one for their offspring. They are also ofcourse lovely whistles.

He's still making them, working his way through the waiting list. He must be a good age by now though.



Thank you very much for that! He looks like a Hudson Valley guy.

I emailed him this morning.


Last edited by PB+J on Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:22 pm 
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Yes, thank you Wanderer for the excellent Killarney review. I have both brass-bodied and nickel-bodied D whistles. While I have read about many players having clogging issues with the Killarney whistles I have not experienced clogging with the Killarney and I'm a wet blower to begin with. Thanks again for posting W!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:37 pm 
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Your review match my sentiments fairly well.

I get a very good C-natural with: OXO XXX (and it let's me do rolls.)

The only thing missing from your review is something I really enjoy from the Killarney: The second register is extremely sweet and not piercing. I can even play the third register C-nat and C# without offending the cats next door.

In a larger session, you might find the lowest notes a bit quiet, but the second register will be audible.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:12 am 
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tstermitz wrote:
I can even play the third register C-nat and C# without offending the cats next door.

Third register surely starts at third (i.e. two-octave) D.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:05 am 
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Nice review and exactly in line with my own opinions.

About Sindts, the first time I tried them was when a professional musician on tour with us opened his whistle roll to reveal a row of Sindts in every chromatic key (as I recall, there might have been a gap somewhere) and loaned me one in an odd key for one particular piece we were doing. (I can't remember if the key was C sharp, A flat, or B natural, but it was a key I didn't have at the time).

I was blown away by how well they played. A Sindt himself says they played like the best old-school Generations, pretty much.

I ended up with Sindts in A, Bb, B (a three-body one-head set) and D. Great players! I've played a large number of new whistles by a large number of makers and these Sindts were the only ones that played "right" to me.

Then I got a Killarney and was also impressed.

It's a small sample size, but the differences I experienced between my four Sindts and that one D Killarney (nickel) were

-all of the Sindts had slightly flat 2nd octaves, just like most good old Generations, while the Killarney had a bang-on 2nd octave (for me)

-the Killarney had a subtle metallic undertone or hiss in the 2nd octave (almost inaudible to me) while the Sindts all had very smooth 2nd octaves.

-the Killarney had a better crossfingered C natural.

-the Killarney had a slightly easier 2nd octave than the Sindt D, even a hair easier than my old Feadog D.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:49 am 
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Thanks for the great review. My brass Killarney is definitely my sweetest sounding whistle but I find as a novice player that it is not my "go-to". I feel like it takes a bit more effort to cleanly hit every note and is a bit quiet on the low end and gets buried beneath my friend's accordion. Again, this is purely my lack of experience and when I practice solo with it it's a real gem. I have to admit that I don't know about the flat/sharp comparison with change. I'll have to look into that.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:08 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
Nice review and exactly in line with my own opinions.

About Sindts, the first time I tried them was when a professional musician on tour with us opened his whistle roll to reveal a row of Sindts in every chromatic key (as I recall, there might have been a gap somewhere) and loaned me one in an odd key for one particular piece we were doing. (I can't remember if the key was C sharp, A flat, or B natural, but it was a key I didn't have at the time).

I was blown away by how well they played. A Sindt himself says they played like the best old-school Generations, pretty much.

I ended up with Sindts in A, Bb, B (a three-body one-head set) and D. Great players! I've played a large number of new whistles by a large number of makers and these Sindts were the only ones that played "right" to me.

Then I got a Killarney and was also impressed.

It's a small sample size, but the differences I experienced between my four Sindts and that one D Killarney (nickel) were

-all of the Sindts had slightly flat 2nd octaves, just like most good old Generations, while the Killarney had a bang-on 2nd octave (for me)

-the Killarney had a subtle metallic undertone or hiss in the 2nd octave (almost inaudible to me) while the Sindts all had very smooth 2nd octaves.

-the Killarney had a better crossfingered C natural.

-the Killarney had a slightly easier 2nd octave than the Sindt D, even a hair easier than my old Feadog D.


Thanks for this. Greg's review is good, and your additional comments comparing the two are additionally helpful--especially to one who may be deciding between the Sindt and the Killarney (and there's a world of difference in price right now).

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:00 pm 
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Polara Pat wrote:
My brass Killarney... is a bit quiet on the low end and gets buried beneath my friend's accordion.


That's the thing, the whistles that I like the best end up being the quiet ones, classic old Generations and Feadogs and modern Sindts and Killarneys.

I like them because of their sweet easy 2nd octaves and extremely nimble "action" (to borrow a guitar term).

Is lower overall volume the necessary byproduct? I don't know.

What I do know is that all of the loud High D whistles I've owned, or tried, have had stiff 2nd octaves.

Have you tried a Burke Session Bore D? Bigger overall volume than the traditional mass-produced whistles (Generations etc) and the 2nd octave isn't all that stiff, with practice you'll be able to negotiate the octaves pretty nimbly.

For a real High D blaster you might want to get a Susato. I dislike Susato high whistles due to their stiff 2nd octaves but it's hard to top their loudness! When I was doing a series of outdoor unamplified gigs at a Theme Park I turned to an old Susato High D and it was perfect for that situation. You'll not get all the subtleties but it does put out the volume.

I would never use that Susato on an amplified gig! For that I'd use my Killarney or vintage Feadog.

A professional musician friend plays a vintage Copeland High D as his "axe", in his opinion its combination of sweet 2nd octave and full low octave is unbeatable.

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