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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:22 am 
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Just bought my first whistle direct from Colin Goldie, an alto F.

We had a chat over the phone, Colin played six different Fs he had to hand and this one seemed to fit my preferences best. Overall we appear to have the same preferences, which is probably why Goldie whistles suit me so well.

My current F has been an Alba, ordered directly from Stacey within the last year.

For years I played a Burke alloy F but I've always thought that its tubing was just too large for the pitch. Yes the Burke had a fantastic strong bellnote but it had a slightly stiff 2nd octave and the typical Burke large appetite for air.

For reference here's the tubing ID for three alto F whistles:

Burke: 19.8mm or .78 inch
Alba: 18.65mm or .735 inch
Goldie: 18.16mm or .715 inch

I consider the latter two to be pretty much ideal.

The Alba and Goldie both have perfect tuning from Bottom D to B in the low octave (using D whistle terms).

Using the same breath support and fingering for both whistles, the Goldie's crossfingered C natural is a hair sharper than the Alba's. Both can be blown into tune easily.

The Alba does best with oxx ooo while the Goldie does best with oxx xox.

The Alba's 2nd octave is a hair sharp while the Goldie's is a hair flat. Both whistles can easily be blown into tune.

Both whistles have a strong low octave and a sweet 2nd octave.

The difference comes with the bellnote: the Alba's bellnote is a bit fluffy/spongey while the Goldie's is solid and strong.

About timbre, the Goldie is more pure, the Alba a bit more complex or dirty.

The Goldie is considerably more air-efficient than the Alba.

I do find it interesting that that Alba shares a number of characteristics with the half-dozen MK whistles I've owned:

-slightly sharp 2nd octave
-strong low octave and easy 2nd octave
-complex slightly dirty timbre
-fluffy bellnote

(I wish I had an MK F to hand to compare.)

Overall both the Alba and the Goldie are very nice professional-level alto F whistles.

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


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:29 am 
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Great information! I like the tone from all three of those top whistle makers (as well as the Thunderbird and Optima for the F/G). I hope you're playing like the wind, having all those! I'm not a bell note person, the whole range has to be working well and the low F and low G are to me the ideal standard low whistle range as my main option to high whistles. It's great to see the info on the bore size in relation to whistle response, because of the peculiar matches of key to bore size that either work well or are contraindicated for some reasons. I'm a big fan of the wide bore high D whistles, but in the low range, a proper bore size match to each key seems to become more essential. Cheers all!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:42 pm 
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Hi Richard, great review/comparison. I too bought a low F from Colin and he played several until I heard the tone I liked. I also have a Kerry Optima tuneable F which plays quite differently. My Goldie is a hard blower, so it is a bit quieter and has loads of back pressure. I thought I would like it lots more than the Optima but I actually find them so incredibly different that I couldn't identify one as favorite. I see it like driving a little VW hatchback really fast and then getting a Ferrari. By all means the Ferrari is a superior machine but until you have the skill to handle it, you might actually drive SLOWER. I can grab the Optima and bang out songs quickly and accurately, and the rounded holes mean my finger position might not be spot on but I'll still cover. With the Goldie there's no room for error so I find hole coverage such a concern that I'm over-gripping and moving more slowly. With time and experience I'll be better able to handle the Goldie.

I found the Goldie to have a much more pure and balanced tone in both octaves, fairly equal tuning and volume balance low to high octave, with a pretty clear bell note. The Optima requires more air, is more chiffy/airy/whatever the current term is, and with more tuning variance between octaves. It's also louder, which is good when you want to blast through background noise at sessions, but you lose some nuance. For a studio ballad I'd go for the Goldie, loud pub session I'd use the Optima. And for the money, I can't rave enough about Optima whistles.

-Peter


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:25 am 
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Thanks for another informative and enlightening whistle review, Richard. As you know, I've been playing an Alba F for just about a year now, and while I appreciate its ease of playability and the unique tonal qualities, I find the one I have to not be quite as sweet as I'd prefer in the very top of the second octave (the top three notes). It's just a bit stiffer than I'd like. Stacey's told me that she could make an F whistle with an easier top end, so that may be in the works for me in the near future. Also, as a 'wet player' myself, the Alba's curved windway probably minimizes clogging better than the straight windway of other makers, including Goldies, so I like that about it.

The narrow-bore Goldie tenor D I have was made with the same bore as the alto F, so it has a really lovely top end. Someday I'd love a Goldie F as well, when my budget allows for it. I'm currently waiting on a new (standard bore) tenor D from Colin.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:14 am 
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RoberTunes wrote:
I'm not a bell note person, the whole range has to be working well...


I suppose I put more emphasis on the bellnote, however I'm not a bellnote uber alles person, as evidenced by me giving up my Burke Low D (which has the most powerful bellnote of any Low D I've tried) after it being my main instrument for several years.

The Burke was my ersatz flute, when I had to give up flute after 30 years, and the Burke's strong bellnote allowed me to continue my Bottom D-honking fluty style. The fact that Burkes have huge air appetites didn't matter much, because another fluty thing is to take frequent breaths.

But various issues with the Burke kept nagging at me. One was the odd unevenness of the lowest three notes: low F# and Bottom D were like cannons but low E was strangely feeble. So I could be playing a passage involving these notes and I couldn't lean into the whistle because the E's would break. (And that was the Pro Viper, the EZ's low E would be weaker still.)

That (and other things) eventually led me to the MK. On the MK low F#, low E, and Bottom D had identical breaking points so I could lean in with the same force on all. (I've never seen another Low D quite like it.)

Ideal eh? But I missed being able to hit Bottom D with that extra push. I concluded that Bottom D was just too fluffy.

That led me to my current favourite, a Goldie Medium Blower which is (so far) the best compromise for me. The voicing is nicely even throughout yet Bottom D has that little extra.

It's interesting how each instrument forces my style to adapt to it. This isn't an intellectual thing but something that unconsciously and organically happens. On the Burke I did a huffy-puffy bellnote-honking fluty thing, on MK it was more of a smoother high-whistle style. The Goldie is somewhere in the middle. I haven't played it long enough to find out how I'll end up approaching it.

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


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:31 am 
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psoutowood wrote:
I too bought a low F from Colin and he played several until I heard the tone I liked.


Interesting! Colin and I chatted for an hour and he did quite a bit of playing of a half-dozen different F's and discussed how they played, and I don't recall the subject of tone coming up.

True that the whistle that Colin spoke of as being the most responsive did, over the phone, appear to have the most focused tone. Everything good comes from focus!

psoutowood wrote:
With the Goldie...hole coverage such a concern that I'm over-gripping...


It's probably a matter of what we're used to. I know for myself, speaking of Low D's, the Burke was the least ergonomic due to the huge tube and widely-splayed upper-hand holes, while the MK and Goldie were the most ergonomic. My Goldie Low D and Goldie F feel "just right" in my hands.

I did have an experience like yours on my Alba Low E and Alto F. There's something different about the hole-spacing and it took me a while to get used to it.

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


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:46 am 
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stiofan wrote:
I find the Alba F I have to not be quite as sweet as I'd prefer in the very top of the second octave (the top three notes). It's just a bit stiffer than I'd like.


I wonder why. My Alba F and Alba Low E (both using 18.5mm ID tubing) have lovely sweet high notes. With both I wish their bellnotes were a bit stronger.

stiofan wrote:
The narrow-bore Goldie tenor D I have was made with the same bore as the alto F, so it has a really lovely top end.


Colin mentioned his narrow-bore Low D when we spoke. He also mentioned that he makes alto F's with different bore sizes, so I'm guessing that the narrow-bore D uses tubing bigger than the ~18mm ID that my Goldie F uses.

His standard Low D using ~22mm, and standard F using ~18mm, perhaps his big-bore F and narrow-bore D are somewhere between, maybe around 20mm. I would think that 20mm would be great for Low E and/or Low Eb.

My Alba Low E is 18.5mm ID and it feels like the bore is a tad too narrow, though it's a very sweet player and perfectly in tune.

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


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:40 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:

It's probably a matter of what we're used to. I know for myself, speaking of Low D's, the Burke was the least ergonomic due to the huge tube and widely-splayed upper-hand holes, while the MK and Goldie were the most ergonomic.


Totally agree! I have an Overton low D that is just massive with huge holes. If I were an octopus I think it would be easy to play. As is I just got a Kerry Custom low D and instantly can play it easier. Ergonomics really count! With saxophones I found key and button placement to be a matter of millimeters and the Selmer Mark VI, one of the most famous and sweet sounding, I found just slightly too small. We all have different hands, it's not a surprise people have favorite whistles based not on tone but on fit. Now if we can just get low whistle makers to fabricate them with adjustable keys...

-Peter


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:43 am 
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I just took some pics:

Note how the Goldie has a longer sounding length, though both whistles are right in tune with each other, at A=440.

Image

As you can see the lower-hand spacing is almost the same while the Goldie has wider spacing in the upper hand.

Oddly the tuning is nearly identical- I can play (using D whistle terms) G, A, B, and Cnat on both whistles at the same time and note-for-note these notes match, except for the Goldie's Cnat which is the tiniest hair sharper.

Image

Sorry the whistles are transposed here!

Image

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


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:51 pm 
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Are the Alba F easy players? Do they take a lot of breath? I'm assuming they'd be better than sheerwater or optima? I searched u tube and could only find 1 clip of Alba low F.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:40 pm 
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That Alba is more "free-blowing" or "open" meaning that more air passes through it as you play.

The Goldie has a tighter voicing, more resistance or impedence, meaning that less air passes through it as you play.

EDIT: I just tested the air-efficiency of four different whistles

Goldie Low D
Goldie alto F
Alba alto F
Burke alto G

and the Goldie Low D, the Alba F, and the Burke G all take around the same volume of air on the "A" in the 2nd octave.

The Goldie F is considerably more efficient than those three.

My Goldie Low D is the most air-efficient Low D I've come across, of pro-level full-volume Low Ds. (The all-plastic conical-bore Tony Dixon Low D is probably more efficient, but much less sound comes out.)

BTW I use high A or high B to test efficiency because I found in testing three for four different makes of Low D against each other that they didn't vary much in the low octave but varied greatly on those notes.

Yes the Alba alto F takes more air than the Goldie alto F, but just now playing them back-to-back my perception is that the Alba is a tad louder in the low octave, and has a beefier grittier tone. The Goldie by comparison is a bit rounder/smoother/sweeter in tone.

The 2nd octaves of those two Fs sound more similar than their low octaves do.

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


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