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Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D
http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=107078
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Author:  Mikethebook [ Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:13 am ]
Post subject:  Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

I'm always interested in attempts to improve on the basic design of the whistle. And Nick Metcalf has just brought out the interesting Overton-based Skellig Low D (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lndWFXLWyfA) a prototype of which has been around for a while now. It basically has two "improvements." First is a head that is made differently from the Overton/Goldie. According to Metcalf, it is one piece apart from the top of the windway and this has allowed him to coat the two windway surfaces with Teflon to cut down on clogging. If the video is anything to go by the results are amazing. However, the design would appear to restrict him to one windway height. The pictures suggest it is what Colin Goldie would call a soft or very soft blower and that's fine if that is what you want. I would a narrower windway.

The second innovation I find far more interesting. It appears that, without affecting the bore, he has shaved down the thickness of the tubing starting at the first hole and gradually increased the thickness again down the whistle. He suggests that this helps to better balance the volume of the high and low notes, making the high notes softer and, though he doesn't mention it, probably easier to reach. This isn't a new idea. The tapered Lochlan held to this same idea but it's nice to see it, at last, in a production aluminium Low D.

Living in the UK makes it too expensive for me to buy what with shipping and import duties. Besides which I wouldn't want a soft blower nor a Low D that didn't have the rounded holes I love on the Goldie Low Ds but I would be curious to see someone review one . . . and confirm or not whether it does what Metcalf suggests it does. Maybe he would be interested in a whistle tour for it in the USA.

Author:  PB+J [ Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

That's an interesting idea, but from the video it seemed to have the same sound difference between low and hi registers that you get with any other whistle. It seems like it should make sense to vary the diameter of the tube, but wouldn't that also lead to rearranging the finger hole size and placement? And yes, it does--the low D hole is farther away than usual from the E and F#? Might not matter.


Teflon inside the mouthpiece seems like a brilliant idea although my wife has banned non-stick cookware from our house for alleged health reasons. I know there are other hydrophobic coating out there that shed water--great idea.

I'm a little skeptical, but I'd love to try one.

Author:  Mikethebook [ Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Good points! I wouldn't be concerned about the Teflon since your mouth wouldn't come into contact with it and it wouldn't be heated up anyway. I'd certainly like to try one. Maybe someone on the forum will . . . and post us a review.

Author:  Matt NQ [ Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

PB+J wrote:
Teflon inside the mouthpiece seems like a brilliant idea although my wife has banned non-stick cookware from our house for alleged health reasons. I know there are other hydrophobic coating out there that shed water--great idea.


In a wooden whistle, would a pure tung oil treatment achieve something similar?

Author:  nickthepiedpiper [ Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Hi, I’m happy to answer any questions about the Skellig Low Whistle. First of all I can adjust the windway height when I make the whistle so however your preference is I can do it.

Also the tapering on the outside of the body makes the volume even across notes in the same octave. It doesn’t change that the second octave is louder than the first octave, but it does make the volume of notes in the same octave much more even.

There is no safety issue with the Teflon coated windway as the only danger of Teflon was when it heated up and scratched off and was eaten. There is no heating up or scratching off or eating in this scenario as far as I know so I think we are good there.

I don’t think any oil you could put in the windway of a wooden whistle would be anywhere nearly as effective as the Teflon.

I will be making a few with a very low (top to bottom) but wide windway similar to the old big hole Overton mouthpiece soon. I believe they Teflon will make it perform very well.

Author:  Mikethebook [ Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Hi Nick,
I have a couple of questions. Does, as I suggest, the narrowing of the tubing at the top make the higher notes, especially in the second octave, softer and easier to reach than would be the case without the tapering that you've done and for a given windway height?

Second, would you mind measuring the distances between the 4th & 5th and the 5th & 6th holes centre to centre? That looks to be a longish stretch between the bottom two holes.

Many thanks.

Author:  nickthepiedpiper [ Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

So the tapering of the outside of the whistle doesn’t affect the hole size or placement, nor is it relative to the height of the windway (not sure I understood what you were asking there) the windway height affects the tone and backpressure, and volume in general, but not the relative volume between notes.

Yes the higher notes in the second octave are a bit softer and easier to play without straining while the lower notes are as big and strong as I can make them.

The distance between the lowest two holes center to center is a very reasonable 2” while the distance between the next two holes is 1”

Hope that helps

Author:  Mikethebook [ Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Thanks. That's very helpful.

Author:  Kade1301 [ Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Matt NQ wrote:
PB+J wrote:
Teflon inside the mouthpiece seems like a brilliant idea although my wife has banned non-stick cookware from our house for alleged health reasons. I know there are other hydrophobic coating out there that shed water--great idea.


In a wooden whistle, would a pure tung oil treatment achieve something similar?


As a recorder player I have learned that the windway is the one place on a recorder (and therefore whistle) which must never be oiled. We block access to it with a strip of cardboard when oiling the head.

Author:  Matt NQ [ Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Kade1301 wrote:
Matt NQ wrote:
PB+J wrote:
Teflon inside the mouthpiece seems like a brilliant idea although my wife has banned non-stick cookware from our house for alleged health reasons. I know there are other hydrophobic coating out there that shed water--great idea.


In a wooden whistle, would a pure tung oil treatment achieve something similar?


As a recorder player I have learned that the windway is the one place on a recorder (and therefore whistle) which must never be oiled. We block access to it with a strip of cardboard when oiling the head.


We could be talking apples and oranges here, though maybe not. I was more thinking of applying a tung oil treatment - which would leave a fairly stable film - to the windway during the making process, not to an already made instrument, where it would likely narrow the windway, and in any case the rubbing/sanding involved in a tung oil treatment would be difficult to apply to a finished instrument's windway.

If it's applied during the making process, the extra thickness is taken into account. The tung oil would protect a wooden block from absorbing moisture and swelling. The interesting thing for me is how much the known hydrophobic (water repelling) qualities of a hardened tung oil layer would translate into how moisture behaves in the windway. Unlikely it would be as effective as teflon, I agree, but I'm personally not interested in coating wooden whistles in chemical treatments for perhaps philosophical reasons. I wonder if anyone has actually treated a windway block with tung oil during the making process? So many things get tried, I'd be surprised if it hasn't been done, unless there's some obvious reason not to do it I'm not aware of, which is of course very possible! :)

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

Matt NQ wrote:
The tung oil would protect a wooden block from absorbing moisture and swelling.

Recorder blocks are made of cedar expressly because it absorbs moisture. IIRC the reason for avoiding oiling the voicing, edge etc. is so you can't get little globules of oil affecting the airflow over these critical parts, which your time-of-manufacture tung oil probably wouldn't [edit: hmmm, dimensional changes after voicing?]. But you absolutely don't want to waterproof the block.

Author:  Tunborough [ Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nick Metcalf's Skellig Low D

I treated some whistle fipple blocks with drying oil. (Food-grade hemp oil, as it happens, because that's what I had on hand.) I would describe the result as water-resistant, but not water-proof. The block still absorbs some moisture, particularly through the end grain. More important to this discussion, the result was not entirely hydrophobic, or water-repellent, like teflon or wax would be. Depending on the grain, water will bead on top of the finish in some areas, but not in others.

It is possible that with many more thin coats (with a few days drying between coats), the surface would be more water-proof and water-repellent.

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