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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:18 am 
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Being a fan of wooden whistles I have been searching for a wooden low D for many months. The exchange rate between Australia and the rest of the whistle making world dampened my enthusiasm to buy one from overseas. I eventually found a local maker in Benedict Stewart who has made me a wonderful wooden low D which has some interesting aspects.

The first thing to note is that the wood is rock maple which I assume is familiar to the North American members. That means it’s extraordinary light, weighing in on my kitchen scales at 122 grams. By way of comparison my MK Pro weighs in on the same scales at 232 grams. That can’t be correct I hear you say. I checked 3 times.

The whistle maker (Ben) describes the wood as
“Rock Maple (American/Canadian Hard Maple - Acer saccharum) is a cousin to
the European Maple used by violin makers and has been a favoured material by
instruments makers of many genre; wind, percussion and stringed throughout
history and to this contemporary time. It is stable, robust and has a tight
grain, it is light in weight compared to other timber matching its
properties, it ages to a honey gold hue and of course for our current age,
is plantation grown.”

The other interesting aspect is that when I explained that I like easy blowing whistles with not too much pressure Ben suggested a Delrin block instead of the Cedar block he generally uses in order to provide less resistance when blowing. The beauty of this is that a cedar block can be retrofitted at a later date if I wish. The result is that I now have a low D that has a very easy blowing high B. With my other whistles (other than the Killarney High D) the high B note for someone of my limited talent requires tonguing or really concentrating before I play the note to get a respectable sound.

As for how it sounds that’s hard to explain. Also I have only played it for a limited time as I have to play it in 15 minute lots twice a day for 3 to 4 weeks etc. It’s certainly a different sound to the MK. Similar volume I think slightly quieter by a touch. Maybe - not really sure. Certainly sweeter in the higher octave. Sounds like a low D. I haven’t ever been up close and personal with a wooden Irish flute - I assume it had some of those sound characteristics.

Once I have played it in I will probably come up with a better description of the way it sounds.

Finally the workmanship is exquisite.

Cheers


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:57 am 
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Yes being in North America I'm very familiar with that wood.

Ralph Sweet, the American maker of Irish style flutes, made thousands of great-playing Irish flutes out of maple. IMHO his maple flutes almost always played better than his more expensive flutes made from Brazilian Rosewood.

They make Bassoons out of maple.

Great to hear that a Low D Whistle maker has solved the High B issue. The Achille's Heel of most Low D Whistles is the balance between Low E and High B. Whistles that have strong Low E usually have a harsh High B, whistles that have a sweet High B usually have a weak Low E.

It's wonderful when you get a Low Whistle that has a solid Low E and a non-harsh High B.

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


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 6:54 am 
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Location: Melrose
Does Benedict Stewart have a website?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:01 am 
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Richard there doesn’t seem to be a trade off with the low E to my inexpert ears. There is definitely a very even progressive build up of pressure through each note and octave which I have only experienced with the Killarney D and a Syn High C I have in my collection. The MK Pro is close but it does take a small uneven breath increase for the high A and more noticeably high B if that makes sense. The Stewart low D definitely maintains a more even volume between the two octaves. Don’t get me wrong I think the MK is a wonderful whistle - Which will become my preferred whistle - probably the Stewart because I like wood but who knows.

Brian no he doesn’t have website. I contacted him by email.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:13 am 
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Brian if you are looking for pictures of Ben’s whistles the Irish Flute Store sold a couple of his High D’s some months ago and you can see pictures on their website in the “Sold” part of the store.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:35 pm 
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JTU wrote:
There is definitely a very even progressive build up of pressure through each note and octave...


It's nice when whistles have that, I think it makes for intuitive playing.

JTU wrote:
The MK Pro is close but it does take a small uneven breath increase for the high A and more noticeably high B if that makes sense.


Yes that makes total sense, it's how most Low Whistles are, in my experience.

On many whistles the blowing is intuitive up to High A, but High B needs an extra boost. Also High B is often touchy, where there's a narrower window of pressure you have to hit. Underblow High B just slightly on some whistles and it has a harsh tone, overblow it and it goes sharp.

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


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:54 pm 
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Here's his High D at The Irish Flute Store

https://www.irishflutestore.com/product ... ood-high-d

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


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:10 am 
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I think I may have bought the last Benedict Stewart Low D. He just advised me (after asking him if I could pass on his email) that he is no longer making instruments. Let’s hope he changes his mind in the future. So if you have a Benedict Stewart whistle keep it.
Cheers JTU


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:23 am 
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JTU wrote:
...he is no longer making instruments...if you have a Benedict Stewart whistle keep it.


Interesting thought.

Personally I've never kept an instrument due to the maker no longer making instruments- if I did that, I would never sell a set of pipes! My house would be full of the things. (Nearly all of the Highland pipes I've owned were made between the Boer War and World War Two.)

Nor would I have sold my three Irish flutes, all made in the mid-19th century.

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


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:17 am 
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JTU wrote:
The first thing to note is that the wood is rock maple which I assume is familiar to the North American members.
Up here, we have considerable fondness for Acer saccharum.

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