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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 9:01 pm 
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When you practice do you have one whistle that you play? Or do you play different whistles in your collection, either in rotation, at random, or in some other pattern?

I've heard that focussing on one whistle makes learning easier--learning tunes but also learning about your whistle, how it plays, how it feels, what you can do with it. It would avoid the challenges of different breath requirements and finger placement. On the other hand, playing a tune on different whistles might help you understand what sounds best on a particular whistle, what the different whistles' strengths and weaknesses are. Seems like having to make adjustments between whistles would increase your flexibility.

I try to stick with one whistle for my practice sessions--at least one at a time. But it's easy to get lured by the others on the rack, to try the tune I am working on on a different make or model or key. Don't know whether I am helping or hindering my progress.

What's your go-to instrument(s) for your practice time and why?


"The WHOAD goes ever on." --Tolkien the whistler


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 3:38 am 
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I have 2x 'A', 2x low 'G', 2x low 'F', & 1x low 'D' that I tend to use the most, (whilst obviously I do have others :D ), it's usually an 'A' or a low 'F' that I pick up the most. :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:47 am 
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leydog wrote:
When you practice do you have one whistle that you play? Or do you play different whistles in your collection, either in rotation, at random, or in some other pattern?

When I practice in my "music room" at home I have my whistle roll open

Image

but I don't tend to jump around between whistles. I'll play through my tune-book all on the Low D. The reasons are 1) it's a great whistle and 2) it's the whistle I'll be playing whether at a session or in a performance group.

Though there are times when I leave off the book and aimlessly toot around on various whistles for a few minutes, just for variety.

Note that there aren't duplicates in my roll, except that I often have two High Ds, my trusty old Feadog and a newer Killarney, which play very much alike. For playing with the band I've been tending to the Killarney, as it has a tad more brightness and projection.

leydog wrote:
I've heard that focusing on one whistle makes learning easier--learning tunes but also learning about your whistle, how it plays, how it feels...breath requirements and finger placement.


Yes. You're not going to get an intimate feel for an instrument if you're hopping around.

For myself, my style changes according to which whistle I play, but it takes playing one whistle exclusively for a week or two for the full style transformation to happen. One oddity is that my favourite style tends to emerge on certain whistles I don't care for very much, the Susato Low D and Burke Low D (neither of which I own any more).

leydog wrote:
playing a tune on different whistles might help you understand what sounds best on a particular whistle...

On the matter of multiple whistles of the same size, I've heard people on this forum say that they have, for example, a half-dozen Low Ds and for each tune they play they will select which specific Low D is best. That approach is alien to me.
Reasons include

1) At a gig I might have to play a half-dozen different sizes of whistle. If I have a half-dozen of each key then I might have to bring dozens of whistles to a gig which is preposterous. Room on stage is precious, and I don't want to keep track of that many. As you see I have my whistles labelled for quick identification. I can't imagine having a half-dozen of each size, all labelled for which specific tune I use them on!

2) For each size whistle my "keeper" is the best whistle I've tried in that size. I jettison the rest. It's like the professional musicians where I work. There are musicians who keep their best horn at home and play their "beach" instrument onstage. One sax guy takes his finest instrument onstage, be it in the sun or rain. I asked him about it and he said "I sound my best on it. I want to sound my best onstage."

About selecting the best size/key whistle for a particular tune, that option doesn't exist in session or group situations, where you have to use the whistle that renders the tune in the key everybody else plays that tune in.

Of course playing solo you have that choice, and I do prefer High Whistles for certain jig sets, and on my huge Bass A Whistle I only play slow airs.

leydog wrote:
Seems like having to make adjustments between whistles would increase your flexibility.

True, and good players are usually flexible players.

But for me, in performance situations, that last thing I want to do challenge my flexibility, to make adjustments every time I pick up a different whistle. So I acquire, and if necessary modify, each of my whistles to play as much alike as possible.

It's why I've seen pro players with matching Burkes in every key: they all play the same.

However I did get a Low Whistle that played oddly for me, an Alba Low E. I decided to bite the bullet and force myself to get used to it.
It has a narrow bore for its size (a normal mezzo F bore) and also there's something a bit odd about the finger spacing. It took some time to get used to the blowing and grip of it, but eventually I was rewarded with a whistle that I like very much, so much so that I end up practicing on it in preference to all my other whistles. In fact now I'm wanting a Low D that plays like it! If such exists.

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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:28 am 
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D Feadóg. I'd like something better because I don't like its raspy cracking tendency, but the tuning is excellent.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:09 pm 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
D Feadóg. I'd like something better because I don't like its raspy cracking tendency, but the tuning is excellent.


I marvel when people say things like that. My D Feadog is the best D whistle I've come across in 40 years of playing whistle. I've tried Burkes and Sindts and many other things but none were as good as that old Feadog.

With Feadogs, being mass produced and probably having not much in the way of quality control, raspy ones evidently leave the factory door. But superb ones leave the factory door too! And I encourage people to pick up an old Feadog Mk1 just to see. They come up for a few dollars on Ebay regularly.

Like the left and middle ones.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:50 pm 
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My Chris Wall is my go-to high D in the shop but I just recently went through six or so mediocre whistles from the jar and took the time to mix and match heads, do some light carving and tuning. It took a bit of time but I seem to have an abundance of that lately. One of the best results was an old blue top Generation from the thrift store that was raspy and out of tune. It plays like a champ now. Also, an O'Brian head on a custom tone body from Freeman is now outstanding (to me) with great volume and tone.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 2:49 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:

I
Like the left and middle ones.

Image

It must be the newer ones that have that tendency. I've heard others playing them and they all have that cracking tendency. I'd like to try a MkI

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 6:17 pm 
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When 2020 kicked off, I had two whistles. As of this post, I have 13 high D whistles, plus a low D. Much as I might try to give them all an even amount of playing time, it doesn't work out that way. Some get played more than others...

Frequently: Dixon Trad nickel, Dixon PVC, Whorfin Woods (both jatoba/brass and Cambodian rosewood/aluminum), Becker
Regularly: Clarke Sweetone, Clarke Celtic
Occasionally: Walton's Irish D, red Feadóg, brass Generation, nickel Generation
Almost never: Walton's Little Black D
Never: green Feadóg

Before I acquired the Clarke Celtic and the Dixon Trad, the green Feadóg was my favorite whistle. As the red Feadóg sounds slightly better to my ears, the green one fell by the wayside. It, as well as the Little Black D, will be looking for new homes soon. The Walton's Irish D has acquired signs of use that I find unappealing, but as it was my first whistle, I'm loathe to part with it.

I've discovered I really like the tone and durability of plastic whistles, and the Becker has the additional advantage of quietness. I also find the sound of the wood whistles to be very pleasing (as do the others in the house). The Dixon Trad has the best sound of any metal whistle I've yet tried; I'd say the Clarkes run second-best in that regard.

A MK I Feadóg is on the want list; I'm sure others that I can't think of right this second are, too.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:33 pm 
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I would definitely recommend that anyone spend the first year or so of their learning on a single whistle. Learners tend to buy a bunch of whistles in an effort to sound better or find a tone they like. The truth is that you can improve your tone a hell of a lot more just by getting better at playing, and getting more used to whatever whistle you have. Once you've been playing for a while, you'll start to develop preferences, and then you can seek out your perfect whistle.

So, that being said, I play 2.5 whistle regularly. How do you play a half whistle, you ask? Well, I have both a Dixon DX001 (one-piece polymer) and a DX004 (two piece polymer). They are extremely similar in sound and feel, such that playing one is more or less the same as playing the other. They're fun to play, but they are also crucially quite convenient to have out and about, being made of durable plastic. The one piece sits in the car, the two-piece is almost always in my left pocket (it fits quite nicely when broken up). I'll play them whenever waiting around, or even in a down moment at work (one perk of working in a soundproof studio is that no one cares if I'm playing or not!).

The other whistle I play regularly is the Killarney D that I have in my flute case. It's not with me all the time as the two-piece Dixon is, but it's ultimately the whistle that I like the most. It's a "desert island" instrument for me, handle beautifully and sounds just about perfect to my ears.

I have two other D whistles, a Generation D that was my second whistle (lost the first one in a busking-related street fight) and a Chieftain, which I am currently selling. Both are nice whistles which sound and play well. I just don't end up playing them as much as the others, but they're both fun and play/sound nicely. I have Generations in Eb, C, and Bb, a Dixon Trad in E, a Killarney in Eb, and a Dixon polymer C. The last three also sit in my flute case, ready to deploy at a session when the need arises. I don't play them regularly, but every so often I'll play a tune on one or the other. The Killarney Eb in particular is a brilliant whistle, and like its brother as close to perfection as I've found in a whistle so far.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:37 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
I would definitely recommend that anyone spend the first year or so of their learning on a single whistle. Learners tend to buy a bunch of whistles in an effort to sound better or find a tone they like. The truth is that you can improve your tone a hell of a lot more just by getting better at playing, and getting more used to whatever whistle you have. .

I have to agree. Like many I have an impulse to get more whistles but I have two, and only really play one. I would like to try a clarke original because it is made differently,with a wooden block and I'm itching to try one, but I have no money at the moment so that automatically restricts me to playing the one whistle.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 6:26 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
I would definitely recommend that anyone spend the first year or so of their learning on a single whistle. Learners tend to buy a bunch of whistles in an effort to sound better or find a tone they like. The truth is that you can improve your tone a hell of a lot more just by getting better at playing, and getting more used to whatever whistle you have. Once you've been playing for a while, you'll start to develop preferences, and then you can seek out your perfect whistle.

So, that being said, I play 2.5 whistle regularly. How do you play a half whistle, you ask? Well, I have both a Dixon DX001 (one-piece polymer) and a DX004 (two piece polymer). They are extremely similar in sound and feel, such that playing one is more or less the same as playing the other. They're fun to play, but they are also crucially quite convenient to have out and about, being made of durable plastic. The one piece sits in the car, the two-piece is almost always in my left pocket (it fits quite nicely when broken up). I'll play them whenever waiting around, or even in a down moment at work (one perk of working in a soundproof studio is that no one cares if I'm playing or not!).

The other whistle I play regularly is the Killarney D that I have in my flute case. It's not with me all the time as the two-piece Dixon is, but it's ultimately the whistle that I like the most. It's a "desert island" instrument for me, handle beautifully and sounds just about perfect to my ears.

I have two other D whistles, a Generation D that was my second whistle (lost the first one in a busking-related street fight) and a Chieftain, which I am currently selling. Both are nice whistles which sound and play well. I just don't end up playing them as much as the others, but they're both fun and play/sound nicely. I have Generations in Eb, C, and Bb, a Dixon Trad in E, a Killarney in Eb, and a Dixon polymer C. The last three also sit in my flute case, ready to deploy at a session when the need arises. I don't play them regularly, but every so often I'll play a tune on one or the other. The Killarney Eb in particular is a brilliant whistle, and like its brother as close to perfection as I've found in a whistle so far.



You were in a busking street fight? Do tell. This calls for a new thread, perhaps.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 7:21 am 
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Tyler DelGregg wrote:

You were in a busking street fight?

This calls for a new thread, perhaps.


"Tell us your busking-related street fight stories"

Though I have never been in such, I would think that the best whistle to bring to a busking-related street fight would be a Chieftain Gold Low D, basically a two-foot-long section of heavy solid brass pipe.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 7:33 am 
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Dan A. wrote:
I have 13 high D whistles, plus a low D.


I've never been in that situation but if, say, out of the blue somebody gifted me 13 High Ds I'd carefully compare them, keep the two best, and sell the rest.

With the money I'd buy as many whistles in other keys as I could, starting with a C. Then maybe a couple "mezzo" sizes like G and F.

Vive la difference!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:01 am 
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Tyler DelGregg wrote:
You were in a busking street fight? Do tell. This calls for a new thread, perhaps.


Like many stories it's a bit less interesting than it sounds. A few friends and I used to busk after the pub we had out session in closed for the night. In Cork, as in much of Ireland, there are two scheduled closing times for places that serve alcohol. One is for pubs, which meant we were always shuffled out the door at 12:30 or so. The other is for nightclubs and late bars, which meant that we could walk over to Oliver Plunkett St, where a bunch of them were, set up, and be all ready to go when a large crush of people came streaming out. It was a fun setup, and we used to make a bit of money while carrying on the session outside.

Well, one night we made the mistake of setting up in the vicinity of a place called the Catwalk, which was on the rougher side. If you search "Catwalk Cork," one of the first results to pop up is a news article headlined "Shoe print found on man’s face after attack in pub." We got our crowd, a large one that was very, very drunk. I'd guess there were about 30 or so people dancing in a tight group around us, with more milling around the outside. At some point, someone pushed or bumped into someone else, and all hell broke loose. 30 people all swinging wildly at each other, a group pushed right into us, blood appearing on more than a few faces. We were trapped against a wall, so we just protected our instruments and hunkered down for a couple minutes before the guards came in to break everything up and book a couple of the instigators.

We managed to mostly escape unscathed, save for the bodhran player who was punched in the back of the head after the fight for refusing to let a very drunk person try his instrument. He was fine (it was a very poor, unbalanced swing), and we set about packing up. I had been playing banjo, and my case was the one on the ground collecting the money. None of the money was gone, but the Generation D that had been in there was missing. I assume that it was knocked out during the fight and got kicked somewhere out of reach/sight, but I honestly have no idea where it went. Maybe someone stole it, but they really should have just stolen the money instead.

Anyway, that's my "lost my first whistle in a busking-related street fight" story. It was a good whistle, but I was a very new player at that point, so it sounded pretty bad. The one I bought the next day also sounds a lot better now, but that's more a function of me than the whistle!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:03 am 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
bigsciota wrote:
I would definitely recommend that anyone spend the first year or so of their learning on a single whistle. Learners tend to buy a bunch of whistles in an effort to sound better or find a tone they like. The truth is that you can improve your tone a hell of a lot more just by getting better at playing, and getting more used to whatever whistle you have. .

I have to agree. Like many I have an impulse to get more whistles but I have two, and only really play one. I would like to try a clarke original because it is made differently,with a wooden block and I'm itching to try one, but I have no money at the moment so that automatically restricts me to playing the one whistle.

Yeah, me too. I replaced my broken Walton D with a new one-- found one of the "starter packs" at a thrift store, of all things; looked like it'd never been opened-- but it doesn't sound quite the same as the old one so I'm not as "in love" with this one. I like it, but have the urge to try a Feadog (perhaps one of the celebrated older models, if I can find one) or brass Dixon just to compare... probably the only thing stopping me is partly that I also ought to be good about spending money (hello recent vet bills, for one), but I have to admit that if there was a local store I could go to to just pick up one or the other, I'd probably do it... I just tend to procrastinate on ordering things online. (Still, if anyone has one of either that they're looking to possibly sell, PM me...)

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