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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:37 pm 
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Location: Iowa
I played the clarinet many decades ago and could read music, then but not now. I recently pulled out my Oak penny whistle I bought in college (late 80's). I sound just like I did when I first started the clarinet :lol: Can anyone say a parrot being strangled? I know I'll get better with practice. No place here for lessons and I couldn't afford them right now anyway.
I know I could buy a $200 whistle and still sound bad right now when I try high notes. I need to practice breath control and just practice.
I am limited on funds right now but I'd like to get a decent whistle that would take me through the intermediate level.
I have been listening to various cheap whistles on you tube and on some when they hit the high notes they are ear piercing. Would a Dixon Traditional D Whistle be any better in that respect? I know people have spoken of Freeman Tweaked Tin Whistles: Blackbird, Mellow Dog, Generation... But with shipping they're around $50 That's twice the price of the Dixon.
I found a used Freeman on eBay for $30 but it is a G. Everything I read said start with a high D. My ears would like a lower pitch. Is there any pitch somewhere between the two that I could start out with or should I stay with a D?
If I saved up for a Freeman what is the better one to choose?
Does anyone have any other suggestions for a better beginner through intermediate whistle? Preferably one that isn't ear piercing in higher register?

Thanks;

Pat


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:03 pm 
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A standard Generation Bb is a pretty nice whistle and very mellow. Costs about 15 bucks. IMO it is one of the best current Generation whistles.
I like the Oak but it takes some breath control. A Dixon has a larger windway, needs slightly more air but is more forgiving. It's also louder than the Oak however. A Waltons mellow D is also a bit easier to play than the Oak.
The reason why a D is recommended is that it is the standard key. Of course you can play anything on a Bb, too. It will just be in a different key so you cannot play to recordings. But you can use an app like "tradmusician" to learn tunes - the app let's you set any key you like.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:32 pm 
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A Killarney whistle would meet your needs. It is a small-bore whistle with a very sweet upper register. Even the third register C & D notes are not piercing.

$90 or so, and well worth the price.

Jerry Freeman tweaked whistles are the other ones to consider. The ones I have have great intonation and a pleasant tone, although they were based on the Generation D, which I don't think he makes any more.

The main point for you is to get a smaller bore whistle, not one advertised as "session" bore.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:24 am 
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I'd say get a lower key too, those high whistles do tend to screetch a bit when learning. :D

(Generation Bb is a good option.)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:50 am 
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Location: Nantes, France
Get yourself a high D. It will be easier to play along with tunes you find on youtube or spotify. If you find some sessions or other local musicians, a D whistle will be of more use than any other key, because most Irish trad is played in keys that this whistle supports. As you improve, and with a decently made whistle, a high D whistle won't sound harsh.

Generation whistles have terrible quality control. You'd need to go into a shop and test at least 10 before you'd find a decent one, and many shops won't allow this for hygiene reaasons. If you find a good one, they're a bargain. When testing, you're trying to avoid a raspy sound, or any weak notes - the tubes are all ok, the quality control problem lies in the plastic head. Don't buy a Generation without testing it.

If your budget allows it, get a Freeman tweaked whistle, or a Killarney. Either of these will see you through to intermediate level and beyond. These should also be OK to buy without testing first, if you're buying online.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:09 am 
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The Generation Bb is fine. On the D however the molds are worn out. So it is not a general truth that you always have to try a Generation to find a good one.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 7:56 am 
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If you're interested in Irish Traditional Music then the key of D is your best friend.

I'll second the Killarney suggestion. I have two Ds, a C and an Eb Killarney. They are consistently good and when starting out I found them much easier and more pleasant to play.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:42 am 
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Determining what type of music you're interested in playing, whether traditional or something else, will help determine what key of whistle. The whistles mentioned above will all suffice needs for now, meanwhile, a lot of playing will develop your breath control and fingering response to tunes which will diminish the shrillness. Enjoy your whistling and music, and... welcome to the forum.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:06 pm 
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2¢... I have a lot of D whistles. Some loud. Some not so loud.

Susato VSB Kildare ... (very small bore). Spot on tuning and intonation. Tunable. Extremely low breath requirement. Very low volume. Second octave completely acceptable and comfortable. Most comfortable whistle I own. Not for sessions.

Susato SB Kildare... (Small bore).spot on tuning and intonation. Tunable. Medium breath. Very freaking loud. Painful above second octave A to those with sensitive ears. This is the one to play when you want to be heard above a thundering herd of bison.

Dixon Trad... Good tuning and intonation. Medium air. Not overly loud. Not overly quiet. Comfortable throughout the range. Good whistle for blending in at a session.

Feadog... The standard. Tad screechy. Not my fave. Nuff said.

Parks walkabout or Everywhistle... Love it. Great tuning and intonation. Unique feature is the volume ring. You can adjust from reasonably loud to EXTREMELY quiet. Medium air. I have both. Love them.

These are what I have (and can speak to) that the criteria you set. Feel free to PM if you have questions.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:15 am 
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If wanting to stay with a high D, but want something kinder to the ears, take a look at the Dixon ABS, very nice little whistle, & not very expensive. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:46 am 
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maiingan wrote:
I could buy a $200 whistle...I'd like to get a decent whistle that would take me through the intermediate level.

I have been listening to various cheap whistles on you tube and on some when they hit the high notes they are ear-piercing.


IMHO you're making the understandable assumption that paying more will get you a "better" whistle, a whistle with better high notes.

Whistles are outliers in that price has nothing whatever to do with how well a whistle plays, particularly how easy/sweet/clear the high notes are.

In my 40+ years of experience I would say the opposite is often true: many of the most expensive whistles I've played, impressive-looking things made out of expensive exotic woods with silver mountings etc etc have some of the worst high notes.

The best High D whistle I've owned and the best High C whistle I've owned both cost under $10 each, new. They play better than the $200, $600, and $1,000 whistles I've tried. Most of those expensive whistles don't come close to the playability of the best cheap whistles.

It's not just whistles! I know two excellent professional fulltime clarinet players, and they both do the vast majority of their performing on inexpensive plastic clarinets. (One is actually hard rubber, made in Texas IIRC.)

The thing is, there are two distinctly different camps I've encountered with nearly opposite views of how whistles should perform.

One camp are the people coming from the ITM world who focus on traditional Irish music, particularly the dance music, including the Ceoltas crowd. These people tend to be Irish.

The other camp are the people who are coming from other genres (orchestral, jazz, pop, country, Church music, etc) who may play ITM or who might mainly play other genres on whistle. Many of these people are Americans.

The ornate expensive "boutique whistles" (as I call them) tend to be tailored to the tastes of the second group.

The first group has long relied on the inexpensive whistles, an exception being Sindts, which occupy an unusual place, being expensive whistles made in USA that fit the tastes of the ITM/Ceoltas camp.

Another unusal place is occupied by Killarneys, being Sindt copies made in Ireland and likewise fitting the tastes of the ITM/Ceoltas camp but at half the price of Sindts.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:01 am 
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To add to what PanCeltic said, many have found that those inexpensive whistles that sound so bad early on seem to improve vastly over time. Learning to play the whistle at hand is a skill unto itself—ofttimes it's not the whistle but the player that needs to be improved.

That being said, some of the inexpensive whistles can suffer from poor quality control during manufacture. I regularly recommend "tweaked" whistles, e.g. Freeman, O'Briain, etc., for starters so that it is clear that issues are not with the instrument. An experienced whistler is generally able to sort out whether the whistle has a problem where someone early in their whistle experience may not be able to—and a really good player can make a piece of junk sound good.

Those tweaked whistles are relatively inexpensive ($30-$50 range) and may save a lot of heartache (and earaches) for someone starting out.

Them's my thoughts...

Best wishes.

Steve

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:42 pm 
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Very good points, Steven and Richard. I only started playing ITM a little over two years ago and the whistles that sounded "squeaky" and "screechy" at first, now sound perfectly fine. Mainly Feadógs, Waltons, Clare, even the infamous modern-day Generations (the old ones are however still quite a bit nicer, I had a Generation C since I was 12 -- but only tooted around on it, and I snatched up a vintage Generation D from a flea market for 50 cents, not even knowing at the time, what I bought) can sound quite good, once you have the necessary breath control. For intermediate players (there really are no intermediate whistles) a Dixon might be a good choice as they can take a bit more air without squeaking or the notes "breaking" but they are also louder than an Oak or Feadóg. I recently suggested a Waltons Mellow D to a beginner and the reaction was mixed to say the least. However -- the lower keys from Dixon are quite finicky when it comes to breath control. It is only the high Ds that are easy to play. The alto G for instance takes very little breath and I hated it when I first got it, now I love it.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:44 am 
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I learned mostly on a Sweetone and would recommend as an affordable choice - I've had several (C and D) and they are pretty consistent in sound.
Early on I made the mistake of thinking that a better whistle would make me a better player/sound better, and invested in a couple high-end instruments that I never play. I echo those who recommend the Killarney or tweaked Freeman (Blackbird) if you can afford. I have a Sindt high D and love my Killarney just as much (maybe more).

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:22 am 
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Location: United Kingdom
Like Elspeth, I learnt on a Clarke Sweetone D and have found it to be good and not too piercing.
It's the whistle I keep in my shoulder bag when I'm out and about.
I have since acquired other whistles, including a Clarke Special Edition 200 in D, which has the traditional wood block - that has a very quiet, soft, breathy sound, but the downside is it does take quite a lot of air.
I use the Clarke Special Edition whenever the family don't want to be disturbed, as they say they prefer it for not being even slightly shrill.


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