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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:33 pm 
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Hi all,

I'm currently considering a McManus Bb whistle. I've found a few videos online of different Bb varieties that he makes but I'd be curious if anyone who owns any McManus Bb whistles (or has at least played them) can help answer some questions and/or just provide some general thoughts. (Don't feel the need to have to answer all 8 ... whatever input you can give would be great)

(1) How would you compare the loudness of your McManus Bb whistle to say, a Generation Bb? I'm not a professional and will probably mostly be playing in my apartment, so a quieter whistle is probably preferable if possible but it's not the end of the world if it's a bit louder.

(2) How would you rate the amount of air required to play? Personally I like the amount of air required by the Generation as I never feel I'm running out of breath (very much unlike my Clarke Original which always leaves me gasping for air)

(3) Does the whistle produce a clear and/or strong bell note that is easy to play without jumping to the 2nd octave Bb? On my Generation Bb I'm having a lot of issues with the bell note. I find that it doesn't sound particularly clear and pure as there is a certain buzzing undertone and graininess to it that doesn't seem to quite exist for the other notes on the whistle. Also it's quite easy to have it inadvertently jump to the second octave which makes it challenging to hit the bell note properly, particularly in faster passages. (There is a chance that my specific Generation Bb may be a dud. I ordered a new one which will be arriving shortly so I'll know then ...)

(4) How well balanced is the volume between the two (main) octaves? I know that it's hard to avoid the whistle getting louder in the 2nd octave but a whistle where the volume differential is not too large would be preferable.

(5) How would you judge the finger stretch for the right hand? Up until about a month ago I had been used to just playing high Ds so when I got my Generation Bb the finger stretch took a little getting used to. It's fine now but on the off chance that the stretch on a McManus Bb is significantly greater than I'd be interested to know.

(6) Are there any challenges in covering the lowest hole? Once again, I can cover this hole on my Gen but it's rather large so a smaller one would certainly be welcome.

(7) What type of maintenance is required on account of it being a wood whistle?

(8) Is there anything else worth mentioning?

Thank you all for any input!

P.S. Below I've catalogued some of the videos that I've found on YouTube of various McManus Bb whistles. I'm honestly not sure yet which one I lean toward as they all sound great (and rather different).

Wood type: Wicklow Ash, non-tunable
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGKGm0M8U4k (some random guy)

Wood type: African Blackwood, non-tunable
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULTqfnrCv5M (Paraic McNeela)
https://youtu.be/sOTzHQ1P1V8?t=2019 (Tony Hinnigan, who maybe was not entirely please with it?)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9KCkJoLRvE (Phil Hardy)

Wood type: African Blackwood?, tunable
https://youtu.be/3snV3wER1sU?t=54 (James Galway)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BvtqB1WsNA (random guy)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjRe2YMxLzk (same random guy)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drTd6AG3gl8 (same random guy)

Wood type: I think African Blackwood, but it doesn't say ... tunable BIG BORE
https://youtu.be/jo1nf1MnPcA?t=66

Wood type: Newtonia, tunable
https://youtu.be/KGlOT-7bX_w?t=278 (Paraic McNeela)


Last edited by wxflurry on Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:32 am 
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wxflurry wrote:
(5) How would you judge the finger stretch for the right hand? I have I'd say smaller than average hands but I'm able to jussst play my Gen without having to resort to piper's grip and although I'd like closer spacing I feel like I've adjusted well enough. Any increase in spacing though and I would need to use piper's grip so it's important to me that the spacing not be greater than that of the Generation.

I wasn't going to say anything, partly because I don't own a McManus whistle, though I have plenty of others, but I can't resist. :)

I would say that, if you're having any trouble at all with the stretch on a Bb whistle, you must be doing it wrong. I find it hard to believe that anyone has hands small enough for there to be an issue, barring congenital defects, injuries or other abnormalities. A Bb whistle is really quite small. I would say that, for a man, I probably have hands that are on the small side. I can handle low, low A, i.e. bass A, which is more than twice the length of an ordinary Bb whistle. Maybe it's just practice that's required, to get your fingers going to the right places and to stretch them out a bit?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:18 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
wxflurry wrote:
(5) How would you judge the finger stretch for the right hand? I have I'd say smaller than average hands but I'm able to jussst play my Gen without having to resort to piper's grip and although I'd like closer spacing I feel like I've adjusted well enough. Any increase in spacing though and I would need to use piper's grip so it's important to me that the spacing not be greater than that of the Generation.

I wasn't going to say anything, partly because I don't own a McManus whistle, though I have plenty of others, but I can't resist. :)

I would say that, if you're having any trouble at all with the stretch on a Bb whistle, you must be doing it wrong. I find it hard to believe that anyone has hands small enough for there to be an issue, barring congenital defects, injuries or other abnormalities. A Bb whistle is really quite small. I would say that, for a man, I probably have hands that are on the small side. I can handle low, low A, i.e. bass A, which is more than twice the length of an ordinary Bb whistle. Maybe it's just practice that's required, to get your fingers going to the right places and to stretch them out a bit?


I think that I didn't represent the situation accurately enough as the wording I used may have made the situation seem more dire than it really was for my Gen Bb, so I've edited my original post accordingly. I do indeed have small hands and I think between that and having been so used to high Ds it was hard at first to adjust to the Bb. I think I just didn't have enough finger/hand flexibility. Now, however, I can reach the low hole without trouble, but that said if some other Bb has significantly larger spacing (perhaps in combination with a quite large bottom hole) I think it could be a problem, which is why I ask about the spacing just incase.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:40 pm 
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Hello WX Flurry,

I have four McManus Bb whistles -- all of which were used for street performances in Paris, Prague, Verona and Tipperary until COVID 19 temporarily put a stop to it. They are (a) wide-bore in African Blackwood, (b) wide-bore in Mopane (c) standard bore in African Blackwood (d) standard bore in Newtonia.

To answer your questions:

1. They are all louder than a Generation Bb. Not only that, they have a more stable and 'solid' sound with excellent carrying power. In Paris (which is not a quiet city), other musicians have said they can hear me (without a microphone) a kilometre away.

2. The standard bore Bb McManuses take a similar amount of breath to the Generations. The wide-bore ones take a little bit more, but are still very efficient. They don't waste air on breathiness, but convert it into solid tone. You won't be gasping, even with the wide-bore. I can play on the street for 4 hours without a break. Even then, it isn't lack of breath that stops me playing ... it's just that I start making the odd mistake.

3. Bell notes are rock solid. On the wide-bore in particular.

4. The octave volume differential is better controlled on the standard bore. The top notes on the wide bore (B, C sharp and D equivalents) are a bit loud.

5. No problems with stretch. I have an Ab McManus, and that is no problem either. My hands are not big.

6. No problems covering the lowest hole. My fingers are not particularly broad.

7. I've played my McManuses in a scorching Paris summer and a freezing Prague winter with zero problems. I shake them out when I've finished, occasionally swab them out ... and oil them about once a year. I think that claims that wooden whistles are high maintenance are exaggerated. These are professional tools that are built to be played under adverse conditions. African Blackwood and Mopane are very robust, in my experience .

8. McManus whistles are in a different league to Generation. They are amongst the best in the world -- up there with Abell and Oz (both of which I have, but they don't see as much action as the McManuses).

I've posted many videos on the FaceBook page 'Tin Whistle / Penny Whistle Resource' -- all played on McManus whistles.
Have a listen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1134058 ... an%20moran

I have no connection with Roy, apart from being a very happy customer. He's a master craftsman ... and a nice guy.

Warm regards,

Seán.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:14 pm 
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wxflurry wrote:
(1) How would you compare the loudness of your McManus Bb whistle to say, a Generation Bb?

This excerpt from a review of the McManus ebonite D whistle might help:
Volume: Loud--even louder than my Abell. I asked Roy about this, and he stated that he felt that there were enough quiet whistles in the market, and he aims for good volume in his work.
http://tinwhistler.com/Reviews/Details/72

seanpmoran wrote:
4. The octave volume differential is better controlled on the standard bore. The top notes on the wide bore (B, C sharp and D equivalents) are a bit loud.

Seán: I've had my eye on a McManus in A for awhile. With the standard bore, does it take a lot of push to reach and sustain the top notes of the 2nd octave with a good (i.e., not harsh) tone?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:50 pm 
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I have the McManus Bb blackwood whistle which I like very much. The tone is lovely, loudness is there to be heard among the session instruments but does take a bit more air which took some time to get used to. I also have a McManus A, C, D, D ebonite whistles. Craftsmanship is excellent. Maintenance is a quick wipedown outside and inside with almond oil annually, or more often if played a lot. Easy to do and very little oil is used and never over oil wood. People fret over maintenance of instruments and its not that much effort at all. I've seen folks who polish their brass whistles with so much more effort and regularity its sickening.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:04 pm 
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stiofan wrote:

Seán: I've had my eye on a McManus in A for awhile. With the standard bore, does it take a lot of push to reach and sustain the top notes of the 2nd octave with a good (i.e., not harsh) tone?


I don't have a standard-bore A (only a wide-bore), but the standard-bore Bb doesn't take inordinate breath pressure to reach and sustain the upper notes. It's not hard to play up there. And none of Roy's whistles are ever harsh in the upper octave in my hands (loud perhaps, for the wide-bore ones, but never harsh).

Hope this helps.

Seán.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:22 pm 
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seanpmoran wrote:
Hello WX Flurry,

I have four McManus Bb whistles -- all of which were used for street performances in Paris, Prague, Verona and Tipperary until COVID 19 temporarily put a stop to it. They are (a) wide-bore in African Blackwood, (b) wide-bore in Mopane (c) standard bore in African Blackwood (d) standard bore in Newtonia.

To answer your questions:

1. They are all louder than a Generation Bb. Not only that, they have a more stable and 'solid' sound with excellent carrying power. In Paris (which is not a quiet city), other musicians have said they can hear me (without a microphone) a kilometre away.

2. The standard bore Bb McManuses take a similar amount of breath to the Generations. The wide-bore ones take a little bit more, but are still very efficient. They don't waste air on breathiness, but convert it into solid tone. You won't be gasping, even with the wide-bore. I can play on the street for 4 hours without a break. Even then, it isn't lack of breath that stops me playing ... it's just that I start making the odd mistake.

3. Bell notes are rock solid. On the wide-bore in particular.

4. The octave volume differential is better controlled on the standard bore. The top notes on the wide bore (B, C sharp and D equivalents) are a bit loud.

5. No problems with stretch. I have an Ab McManus, and that is no problem either. My hands are not big.

6. No problems covering the lowest hole. My fingers are not particularly broad.

7. I've played my McManuses in a scorching Paris summer and a freezing Prague winter with zero problems. I shake them out when I've finished, occasionally swab them out ... and oil them about once a year. I think that claims that wooden whistles are high maintenance are exaggerated. These are professional tools that are built to be played under adverse conditions. African Blackwood and Mopane are very robust, in my experience .

8. McManus whistles are in a different league to Generation. They are amongst the best in the world -- up there with Abell and Oz (both of which I have, but they don't see as much action as the McManuses).

I've posted many videos on the FaceBook page 'Tin Whistle / Penny Whistle Resource' -- all played on McManus whistles.
Have a listen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1134058 ... an%20moran

I have no connection with Roy, apart from being a very happy customer. He's a master craftsman ... and a nice guy.

Warm regards,

Seán.


Seán thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful reply. The info you provided was most helpful and you've addressed almost all of my concerns :) I think at this point my only real lingering concern centers around the loudness of the instrument. As most of my whistling is done from the comfort of my own apartment I fear that perhaps the whistle might be so loud as to cause an inordinate amount of bother for my neighbors. You mentioned that fellow musicians in Paris could hear you from a kilometer away but was that with the wide or narrow bore (I assume the former)? Do you feel that even the narrow-bore might be prohibitively loud for indoor practice?

Also between the two narrow bore models that you have, do you find one to be quieter than the other?

ytliek wrote:
I have the McManus Bb blackwood whistle which I like very much. The tone is lovely, loudness is there to be heard among the session instruments but does take a bit more air which took some time to get used to. I also have a McManus A, C, D, D ebonite whistles. Craftsmanship is excellent. Maintenance is a quick wipedown outside and inside with almond oil annually, or more often if played a lot. Easy to do and very little oil is used and never over oil wood. People fret over maintenance of instruments and its not that much effort at all. I've seen folks who polish their brass whistles with so much more effort and regularity its sickening.

Image


You mentioned that you feel that the McManus Bb does take a bit more air. Might I ask if you have a wide bore or a narrow bore?

stiofan wrote:
wxflurry wrote:
(1) How would you compare the loudness of your McManus Bb whistle to say, a Generation Bb?

This excerpt from a review of the McManus ebonite D whistle might help:
Volume: Loud--even louder than my Abell. I asked Roy about this, and he stated that he felt that there were enough quiet whistles in the market, and he aims for good volume in his work.
http://tinwhistler.com/Reviews/Details/72


Thank you for sharing this! As it happens I did read that review already at one point and do recall that reference to the volume levels that he pursues. I know that his whistles in general are on the louder side but part of why I've sought to attain more info on that matter is that it's not clear to me if, perhaps, some woods might be significantly quieter than others.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:24 pm 
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wxflurry wrote:
ytliek wrote:
I have the McManus Bb blackwood whistle which I like very much. The tone is lovely, loudness is there to be heard among the session instruments but does take a bit more air which took some time to get used to. I also have a McManus A, C, D, D ebonite whistles. Craftsmanship is excellent. Maintenance is a quick wipedown outside and inside with almond oil annually, or more often if played a lot. Easy to do and very little oil is used and never over oil wood. People fret over maintenance of instruments and its not that much effort at all. I've seen folks who polish their brass whistles with so much more effort and regularity its sickening.

Image


You mentioned that you feel that the McManus Bb does take a bit more air. Might I ask if you have a wide bore or a narrow bore?

It is the standard Bb bore Roy was making at the time. When I purchased Bb there was no discussion of narrow or wide bore. It may be a narrow bore though.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 4:24 am 
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The standard bore Bb McManus in Newtonia is the quietest. It doesn't have the carrying power of the wide-bore instruments. I use it in situations where I don't want to annoy people with excessive volume. It has a gentle, but well-defined sound.

Hope this helps.

Enjoy which ever choice you make,

Seán.


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