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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:29 pm 
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When I tune my whistles against an electronic tuner, I find myself tuning them on the flatter side of the scale. The bell note is in tune but slightly on the flat side. This is especially true for my Burke narrow bore high D. If the bell note is right in the center of the tuning needle, the rest of the notes are still in tune but sound too sharp to me. Thus, I tune the bell note slightly on the flat side so the other notes sound good. Are Burkes made to play a bit more on the flat side than the sharp?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:01 pm 
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Not in my experience. Very difficult not to "chase" the tuner display when doing this sort of analysis. Does it still have the same issues when you just play it rather than how you play it when using the tuner? Also, any whistle when cold will tend flat and come up as it warms up.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:18 pm 
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Are you saying that when the rest of the whistle's scale is in tune (including Middle D) that the Bottom D is a tad flat?

That's considered to be a good thing by many players, because you want to lean in a bit more on that Bottom D, honk on it.

I've owned Burkes in many keys and I'm pretty sure that none of them were like that.

They did nearly all have a tuning quirk, though: B in the low octave was flatter than B in the 2nd octave, even though every other note was right in tune in both octaves.

So, you had the choice of having low B flat and high B in tune, or having low B in tune and high B sharp. What's interesting is that Concert Pitch uilleann pipe chanters usually have this same issue. Perhaps the Burke was intentionally designed this way in order to play in tune with the uilleann pipes??

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:56 am 
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eskin wrote:
Not in my experience. Very difficult not to "chase" the tuner display when doing this sort of analysis. Does it still have the same issues when you just play it rather than how you play it when using the tuner? Also, any whistle when cold will tend flat and come up as it warms up.


Most often, I play with a guitar player and a squeeze box player. For my Burke to sound good, I find myself tuning a little flat. The whistle is in tune, but a few cents flat. Even when I play alone, it's tuned the same way, on the flat side. If I don't, it just doesn't sound good. You're right, I probably shouldn't chase the needle.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:31 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
Are you saying that when the rest of the whistle's scale is in tune (including Middle D) that the Bottom D is a tad flat?

That's considered to be a good thing by many players, because you want to lean in a bit more on that Bottom D, honk on it.

I've owned Burkes in many keys and I'm pretty sure that none of them were like that.

They did nearly all have a tuning quirk, though: B in the low octave was flatter than B in the 2nd octave, even though every other note was right in tune in both octaves.

So, you had the choice of having low B flat and high B in tune, or having low B in tune and high B sharp. What's interesting is that Concert Pitch uilleann pipe chanters usually have this same issue. Perhaps the Burke was intentionally designed this way in order to play in tune with the uilleann pipes??


Yes, the B low octave is flatter than the B second octave while other notes are in tune in both octave. This doesn't bother me because I can't readily hear this without looking at the needle.

When I play with other instruments in the weekly group I play with consisting of a guitar and a squeeze box, I tend to tune the whistle slightly flat for it to sound good. This is the case when I play alone as well.

You know the scored ring on the Burke tuning slide? When the head is positioned right at the ring mark, the bell note is slightly flat but the other notes are in tune but also slightly flat but less so. I guess this is a good thing. The whole whistle plays slightly flat but in tune. If I chase the needle for the bell note to be perfect, the head is way below the ring mark, which doesn't make sense.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:12 am 
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Play the whistle,not the tuner. That way lies madness. It's all too easy to blow notes flat or sharp. If the whistle sounds good to you and it's good with other instruments you play along with, that is what it all comes down to.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:53 am 
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brewerpaul wrote:
Play the whistle,not the tuner. That way lies madness. It's all too easy to blow notes flat or sharp. If the whistle sounds good to you and it's good with other instruments you play along with, that is what it all comes down to.


My bandmates would always tune their banjo's, guitars, and mandolins to an electronic tuner, while I stand there with my concertina and whistle screaming into the wind. Then they would argue about why everything sounded "off". Madness, indeed.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 11:14 am 
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brewerpaul wrote:
Play the whistle,not the tuner. That way lies madness. It's all too easy to blow notes flat or sharp. If the whistle sounds good to you and it's good with other instruments you play along with, that is what it all comes down to.


That's a good point, a sound advice. If I were good enough, I would carry a non tunable whistle and make everyone tune on me, like it or not. :D


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 11:22 am 
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Tyler DelGregg wrote:
pancelticpiper wrote:
Are you saying that when the rest of the whistle's scale is in tune (including Middle D) that the Bottom D is a tad flat?

That's considered to be a good thing by many players, because you want to lean in a bit more on that Bottom D, honk on it.

I've owned Burkes in many keys and I'm pretty sure that none of them were like that.

They did nearly all have a tuning quirk, though: B in the low octave was flatter than B in the 2nd octave, even though every other note was right in tune in both octaves.

So, you had the choice of having low B flat and high B in tune, or having low B in tune and high B sharp. What's interesting is that Concert Pitch uilleann pipe chanters usually have this same issue. Perhaps the Burke was intentionally designed this way in order to play in tune with the uilleann pipes??


Yes, the B low octave is flatter than the B second octave while other notes are in tune in both octave. This doesn't bother me because I can't readily hear this without looking at the needle.

When I play with other instruments in the weekly group I play with consisting of a guitar and a squeeze box, I tend to tune the whistle slightly flat for it to sound good. This is the case when I play alone as well.

You know the scored ring on the Burke tuning slide? When the head is positioned right at the ring mark, the bell note is slightly flat but the other notes are in tune but also slightly flat but less so. I guess this is a good thing. The whole whistle plays slightly flat but in tune. If I chase the needle for the bell note to be perfect, the head is way below the ring mark, which doesn't make sense.



Having read my own post on this rainy day, I must say it doesn't make much sense. So, I will just play the whistle and if it sounds good playing with others, flat or sharp, that's that. Forget the needle, tuning needle, that is.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:37 am 
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Tyler DelGregg wrote:
I will just play the whistle and if it sounds good playing with others, flat or sharp, that's that.


For sure, tuning is situational.

With whistles you have some room to blow the notes up or down to match who you're playing with, whether it's an uilleann chanter in Just Intonation or a guitarist in Equal Temperament.

Especially fluters have for generations got used to blowing those cantankerous vintage flutes into tune, oftentimes needing to strongly blow Bottom D to raise it up, sometimes F# too, and conversly not blowing A too sharp. My uilleann chanter is like that to some extent, I can blow F# to be in Equal Temperatment or Just Intonation.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:53 am 
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I'm with the prevailing sentiment that, as Duke Ellington said, "If it wounds good it IS good." But I have a couple of things to add.

You should also make sure the whistle is well warmed up before tuning. An in-tune whistle will always be flat before it's warm. [I saw John CcCutcheon onee at an old old house with a small concert hall. He tuned up his hammered dulcimer in a room that was about 10-15 degrees cooler than the concert room. After each of the first four or five tunes, he had to tune his roughly 45 strings. Took awhile, but it was still a really good show.] I'd also suggest tuning to G rather than D. If there are small tuning issues, it's always best to tune to a middle note, and the A can be a bit dicey especially on lower whistles and flutes.

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