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 Post subject: Help With First Low D
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:42 am 
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I'd like your help. Been playing various High D's for about 9 months, none expensive. Favorite is a Chris Wall. I'm not a beginner, but I wouldn't classify myself as an intermediate yet. I love the Low D sound. I have a play a Becker A, which is breathy. I want a Low D, I love the slow airs and more expressive music (mainly because my fingers get twisted when playing above 100 bpm. I have asked several about an entry level Low D. Here's what I've been recommended & concerns about each

Kerry v5 - good whistle, but holes too large for beginner
Kerry Optima - weak bell note & unstable upper octave
Qwistle - requires more air
ML Kelpie - requires more air

Price Point: < $150 US
Tuning: doesn't have to be tuneable, but I do hear pitch
Backpressure/Air/Volume: moderate BP, it doesn't have to be loud, I'm not playing sessions
Tone: decent bell note, don't want it to sound like a recorder, and I like playing slow airs

Bottom Line: I want a beginner Low D that will encourage me to keep working on it. If I can get the piper's grip and make it work, I'll probably buy a better whistle later.

Oh, there are no shops that would allow me to try a whistle within 1,000 miles, so that's not an option.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:20 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2016 5:03 am
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Location: Germany
I tried almost every Chieftain Low D whistle (from Optima over OS, V4, Thunderbird to Kerry Pro).
I can confirm that all but the Optima have hugh tone holes (esp. the F# hole) and I couldn't cope with
it playing faster tunes.
I also tried the Qwistle. It has very fat tone you can get addicted to. But I would not recommend it to a
beginner. For me it's very hard to play and takes a lot of air.
With the MK Kelpie I made different experience than stated. It is quite air efficent, easy to play (just
the A and B in the second octave need a bit push) and most important for me, the tone holes are
rather small and perfectly placed. A year ago I upgrade to the MK Pro and there isn't much difference.
Before I also owned a Goldie, but I had clogging issues and I personally prefer the MKs sound.


Last edited by RLindner on Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:50 am 
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I like the Kelpie as well and find it relatively easy to play and not very air-hungry. I also have an MK pro and don't find a huge difference between the two except the Pro is a bit heavier and of course it's tunable. I do find the MK whistles a little hard to hold. I'm not sure why this is, but my hands get sore. Other people don't complain of this so it might be some peculiarity of my hand size and shape. I've been concentrating on flute and high whistle lately, but keep thinking I should rig up some means of making the MK whistle's easier to hold.

I have an Kerry optima low D which is quite nice and very light, but it does feel like the holes are harder to cover. it may have less to do with their actual diameter than with the geometry of the tube. The MK whistles have a more solid tone and more dynamic range, that is, you can play them a little louder or softer without falling in or out of the other octave. The Kerry Optima reminds me of a Generation High D whistle


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:07 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:47 am
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Location: Surrey/Hants border, England
Another possibility, I have a Howard low D, my first, it's a fairly easy player, not too loud, & if you're lucky you could buy a 'second' for quite a bit less than the normal price, mine is a 'second', & I can't find anything wrong with it, (cost me £72).

Maybe also take a look at Shearwater Whistles, I bought a low F from them, & it's become my favourite, (about £62).

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Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


Last edited by fatmac on Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:36 am 
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The Kelpie does not require a lot of air. It’s a great low whistle and does everything well. Great solid tone. It is also visually beautiful.

I also have a Kerry Optima and love it. I don’t know where the unstable upper octave came from. It has a great, easy to play upper octave, probably slightly easier to play than the MK. The low D was a little tricky for me to consistently hit at first. After a week or two it clicked and the low D became easy. Once you get it the note is stable and solid. I play it side by side with my MK and it holds up well. It also has a beautiful tone and it is my main practice low D. An incredible bargain at 49 pounds. I have the non tunable version. I haven’t played the tunable version, perhaps it’s a little less stable or different? The Mk is a better low D, particularly the bottom two notes, but it is also several times the price.

The V5 does have a big RH2 hole, which brings the hole a little lower, in relation to the other RH finger holes, than on some other low D’s. I found that this made it easier to just pick up and play for me, and I have fairly skinny fingers for a guy. I found this the easiest low D for me to play, and it does everything well. I’m not totally sure why, but I slightly prefer the Optima over the V5. I like the tone a little bit better, it’s slightly more open with a little less air in the tone, IMO.

Haven’t played a Qwistle but would love to try one. Sounds great in the videos. If it uses a lot of air that wouldn’t work for me. I prefer efficient low D’s.


Last edited by bruce.b on Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:11 am 
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It's a pain to have to decide without actually picking up these whistles, but the feedback helps.

I would love a Kelpie or MK Pro, but can't find a used Kelpie and even used Pro's are a bit out of my price range. Phil Hardy recommends the new V5, but several have said the holes may pose a problem for a newbie low whistler. So, I've narrowed it down to a Howard or an Optima.

Apparently both are easy on air. Wonder if there is much difference in hole spacing & size?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:36 am 
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Location: Surrey/Hants border, England
My Howard has top holes 1 to 2 = 34mm & 2 to 3 36mm, lower holes 4 to 5 = 28mm & 5 to 6 = 47mm.

The Howard is brass, the Optima is aluminium, if that helps/makes a difference. :)

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Keith.
Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:42 pm 
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I've owned and played dozens of makes of Low D and the MK was the second-most air efficient of any I've tried.

The Goldie is the most air-efficient I've tried, of Low D's that are serious professional instruments. Colin makes headjoints with different windway heights which have different levels of efficiency.

By "efficiency" I mean the quantity or volume of air that passes through the whistle as it's played.

I don't mean the resistance or backpressure.

When people say a whistle "takes more air" or is "easy on air" (as you word it) it's unclear which of these two different characteristics they're referring to.

BTW I've owned both Low D's you've narrowed your search to and I couldn't have used either for professional work.

IMHO you'll need to have the instruments to hand to find out how they play for you. Different people are looking for different things.

Yet, you see the same makes in the hands of professionals over and over, and other makes not in the hands of professionals, which tells us that there are some shared characteristics that many/most good players are looking for.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:40 am 
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A professional wants an efficient & loud whistle, I feel, whereas I didn't want an excessively loud whistle for home use, that's part of the reason I got the Howard, the tone was another; yes, we each like different whistles. :)

P.S. My definition of an easy player is that you don't have to blow hard to get the second octave, a bit more pressure/faster burst to get it there, but not really hard.

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Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 5:06 am 
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fatmac wrote:
My definition of an easy player is that you don't have to blow hard to get the second octave, a bit more pressure/faster burst to get it there...

Yes to me that's one of the most important things in a whistle! There are many different ways to put it into words, a whistle having an easy or light 2nd octave, having a light action, responsiveness, nimbleness. Especially with flutes, some it's like you barely do anything and the note is right there, high or low.

The opposite is a whistle having a stiff 2nd octave.

The lightest/easiest/most responsive Low D 2nd octaves I can recall coming across are the MK, Lofgren, and certain Goldies.

About Howard Low D's, I've only owned one, a poor sample size I know. Its 2nd octave was very flat. I think it's the flattest 2nd octave I've ever come across on a Low D, so flat that to force the octaves into tune meant underblowing the low octave to a whisper and blasting out the 2nd octave at full force. The result was unmusical and unuseable, in my mind not a serious musical instrument.

Oh and the note B was extremely flat in both octaves. I had to carve out that hole just to get one useable octave.

As I said an absurdly small sample size, and one would hope that the maker would have sorted out the tuning problems at some point.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:03 am 
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I think they've probably changed the fipple head design since you tried yours, Richard, I know they changed it fairly recently.

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Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


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