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 Post subject: Mellow Dog help needed
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:49 pm 
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So I have the Freeman Mellow Dog and the only way I can express it is that it's not sounding the way I thought it would. Naturally this could totally be me.

So if there is some nuanced advice on how this whistle should or needs to be played from those of you that have it, please let me know.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:50 am 
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And people on the internet told you it would be fine!

Seriously though, all the collective wisdom of the internet can't tell you where and why your expectations and reality parted ways without you telling where the problem lies (other than what was already discussed in your other thread on same subject).

As a general rule (valid for any whistle), play with a steady, even and well supported breath, while not over or under blowing. Listen to the tone and intonation you produce and adjust as needed. I seem to remember Jerry saying the MD needs a bit of a push at the top end but don't quote me on that. Get used to the instrument and learn to hit each note's sweet spot.

If still in trouble, consult maker. If that doesn't work out and you're still dissatisfied, learn lesson : only you can decide on what whistle you like, don't take advice on buying from random people on the interwebs. Unless you know those people and their playing well and can weigh their advice, it rarely works.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:58 am 
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See if you can have another person play it for you,preferably someone halfway decent on the whistle. They sound 'way different from the audience side.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:43 am 
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Aside from trying someone else's MD to compare or posting a clip of yourself playing, you may just have to learn it and enjoy the tone. Like most whistles, it is also tunable. Crack the seal under hot water if it won't split by hand pressure and move the mouthpiece up or down. I use a free AP on my phone called InsTuner since I don't have a very well trained ear.

I say just play the sucker.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:09 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
If still in trouble, consult maker. If that doesn't work out: learn lesson


That was my first step before asking here. So far the response has been :sleep:

And I'm not seeking or getting advice from random people on the Internet. Or at least I didn't think I was.

I thought I was on a subject matter specific forum where people with practical experience in matters or with items that I didn't have were and those people could honestly share those experiences while, hopefully, separating the subjective from the objective to some reasonable degree.
Silly me. :tomato:


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:40 pm 
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I play the Mellow Dog. It is supposed to sound like the Kevin Crawford clips posted by Jerry Freeman, but since I suck, I don’t sound like Crawford. However, there are YouTube postings of various people playing the Mellow Dog and mine sounds very similar. Not much nuance here.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:59 pm 
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Tyler DelGregg wrote:
I play the Mellow Dog. It is supposed to sound like the Kevin Crawford clips posted by Jerry Freeman, but since I suck, I don’t sound like Crawford. However, there are YouTube postings of various people playing the Mellow Dog and mine sounds very similar. Not much nuance here.


Thank YOU.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:52 pm 
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MichaelRS wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
If still in trouble, consult maker. If that doesn't work out: learn lesson


That was my first step before asking here. So far the response has been :sleep:

And I'm not seeking or getting advice from random people on the Internet. Or at least I didn't think I was.

I thought I was on a subject matter specific forum where people with practical experience in matters or with items that I didn't have were and those people could honestly share those experiences while, hopefully, separating the subjective from the objective to some reasonable degree.
Silly me. :tomato:


And therein lies the rub. When it come to whistles, the objective would be the material it is made of, its key, it's dimensions, its tuning, it's intonation. Those are all quantifiable.

When you start talking about ease of play, airiness, octave switching, shrillness, back pressure and such... You've just dived headlong into the deep end of subjective. Kinda along the lines of one man's treasure is another man's trash. The things you have asked about tend to be much more subjective and difficult to quantify.

And in truth, we really are kinda random. We assembled here have in common a love for whistles. Beyond that... There is a lot of knowledge hereabouts. There is also a lot of "not knowledge". A lot of opinions. A lot of musings. A lot of perceptions and misperceptions. A lot of mythology perpetuating.

I may well be wrong, but it seems to me that a tremendous part of whistle is exactly that which you do not seek... subjective.

2¢. Peace to all.

Wishing you noyhing but the best, Michael.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:13 pm 
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jiminos wrote:
MichaelRS wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
If still in trouble, consult maker. If that doesn't work out: learn lesson


That was my first step before asking here. So far the response has been :sleep:

And I'm not seeking or getting advice from random people on the Internet. Or at least I didn't think I was.

I thought I was on a subject matter specific forum where people with practical experience in matters or with items that I didn't have were and those people could honestly share those experiences while, hopefully, separating the subjective from the objective to some reasonable degree.
Silly me. :tomato:


And therein lies the rub. When it come to whistles, the objective would be the material it is made of, its key, it's dimensions, its tuning, it's intonation. Those are all quantifiable.

When you start talking about ease of play, airiness, octave switching, shrillness, back pressure and such... You've just dived headlong into the deep end of subjective. Kinda along the lines of one man's treasure is another man's trash. The things you have asked about tend to be much more subjective and difficult to quantify.

And in truth, we really are kinda random. We assembled here have in common a love for whistles. Beyond that... There is a lot of knowledge hereabouts. There is also a lot of "not knowledge". A lot of opinions. A lot of musings. A lot of perceptions and misperceptions. A lot of mythology perpetuating.

I may well be wrong, but it seems to me that a tremendous part of whistle is exactly that which you do not seek... subjective.

2¢. Peace to all.

Wishing you noyhing but the best, Michael.


Thank you. At least I've been guided enough to know which general direction to go in.. before I didn't ask anybody about anything and ended up disliking the vast majority of whistles that I got.
Further unfortunately when I thought I wasn't going to be doing it anymore I gave away a few that I actually did like. But I only remember that vaguely and not particularly which ones they were.

But things are settling down now and I have a pretty good foundation. Though I still need the question answered about the Mellow dog. Not here. I mean I got to get in somebody's hands who knows what they're doing to really evaluate it.

That O'Brian fellow over in Ireland claimes that he individually voices each one that he tweaks before he sends it out and since he is the only source, as far as I know, of them and he only does two types, that makes sense.
I know that Jerry seems to have a lot of whistles out there with several different retailers so I don't know if he has the time to check each one after the tweak.
Even though I'm not as skilled as some, I'm really not a rank beginner and I don't see how the particular Mellow Dog that I have would be good for a rank beginner as some clain it is overall.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:40 pm 
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I think that's a good summation of the situation and more or less what I was getting at in a roundabout way.

There are so many variables, I'd even argue intonation is not an objective quantity, too dependent on who's doing the driving.

Any question here, or on almost any internet forum, is directed at an unknown quantity of people. I can give opinions and experiences but if you don't know if I can play at all or where my experiences are based, there's no way of knowing what value my opinions represent.

And then there's confirmation bias, most questions asked here are looking for confirmation of an already (half) formed idea that the person asking is entertaining and replies that go against that are very likely ignored. But so it goes.

I too hope you find what you are looking for but to be honest I think any (relative) beginner is better off, rather than spending a lot of their time querying the internet in order to buy more whistles, developing their skills on one or two half decent instruments. A narrow focus rather than the island hopping that comes with having a load of instruments with different demands. But perhaps that only becomes clear with hindsight.

I suppose I have been lucky to do my learning when there wasn't a variety of different whistles available, without an internet to confuse me but with, eventually, the encouragement and company of some great traditional musicians (not necessarily all whistlers) who recognised what I was looking for and subtly kept me on the right path by giving, between the lines, little pointers, sowing seeds that could grow when I was ready. As one of them regularly said : 'it's dark and lonesome work'. Because buying them is one thing, making them work, sing, if you like, requires putting in the work.

[cross posted]

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:09 am 
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You made me second guess my Mellow Dog a bit so I went out to the shop and logged an hour or so on it. I think it's an excellent whistle and pretty much does everything Jerry says it should. You may have a lemon but I doubt it.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:25 pm 
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Polara Pat wrote:
I say just play the sucker.

That's the best advice. I have a MD and it plays nicely while requiring a little more air for upper octave due to the wider tube.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:00 am 
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MichaelRS wrote:
So I have the Freeman Mellow Dog and the only way I can express it is that it's not sounding the way I thought it would.

Well this is a bit hard to respond to, since you don't even tell us in what way it doesn't sound like you expected it to.

I have a bunch of whistles I bounce around between them (Freeman Blackbirds, Susatos, Dixon brass and Dixon polymers, MellowDog, tweaked Generations, Hoovers...). When I got my Mellowdog, I got the tweaked Gens and the Blackbird set at the same time. What I found at the time was that the Blackbirds right away had a clearer warbly tone while the Dog was a little airy and softer toned, less piercing (mellow, after all). I tend to like the Blackbird's warbliness and sweet clear tone... I dont really go after 'chiff'. So my mellowdog sat less played. However, a year later, I find that if i pick up the Dog and play it for a while, I think it sounds better and better. I think that's because I then allow time to get used to it and apply a technique that works for that whistle.

As a beginner i do what is not advised- I jump around a lot between all my whistles, because of my enthusiasm and wanting to play varied repertoire in various keys. I know this works against me, but can't help myself. lol
But really, to bring out the best in one particular whistle you have to play that whistle for a long enough time so that your mouth, fingers, and breath to learn and adjust to what THAT whistle likes and how it will sound best. Some of these are adjustments that you may not even be conscious of. All whistles are different to one extent or another, and they usually benefit from individualized playing technique.
One thing about the mellowdog that is obvious from the get-go is that it's not got as 'piercing' a tone as many other whistles. In that respect it might be the perfect whistle for intimate settings, mixed instrument, or non Irish jams... where folks are not used to pennywhistles and may initially find them objectionable.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:55 am 
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Just a polite cautionary note in saying that a beginner especially can get caught up in reading/studying and posting about the whistle when a lot of quality time could've been better spent playing the whistle and perfecting the sound. I certainly spent too much time reading rather than playing. Just saying. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:50 pm 
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To answer a couple of questions above, I don't think it plays as easy without more conscious breath control for a *beginner.
For example everyone said the transfer is easy between octaves, but very few people have said that it needs an extra push in the 2nd octaves and even more so in the upper part of the 2nd octave. I finally found a post from Jerry and the sessions that said this about a year or so ago. Also I not generally enamored of the, what I consider to be, the overall breathy sound of it. But it's not as bad as my original Clark so I can live with it.

I also have to reiterate that I am doing this for fun. Recreation. And I've only just restarted, last November, back in on it. So, while I practice consistently on my current favorite whistle, I Also wish to rebuild my stable and search for something that might even be a more favorite one day. But not do so by going to the expense of having to buy a bunch of whistles willy-nilly just based off what the manufacturer or retailer says about their whistles versus what "regular people" have to say. But I don't take any one person's word as divine gospel in the matter, but use the totality of the statements as a general guide.

*Though I'm sure it would depend on how this is defined from Individual to individual, I am not a rank beginner. Though I am not the king of the music readers and I learned my tunes mostly by fingering tabs and ear and by learning to play Tunes that I know and enjoy.
Purest musicians may poo poo that, but it seems to work for a lot of people including the gal that goes by Cutiepie on YouTube. Something I don't think you would ever know listening to her playing if she hadn't admitted to it.

Or maybe some people will consider me a total beginner if I can't play jig tunes, or tunes of that speed, that I've never heard of in my life.
So basically I practice with a frequency that meets my needs, competing only with myself, while I continue to research and gain some technical knowledge in areas where I fall short. And I thank all those who have contributed to that.


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