Bamboo / River bamboo whistles

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Bamboo / River bamboo whistles

Post by musicmadsimon »

Hi, although i have some regular whistles, Chieftain, Sindt, Generation etc, I adore the rich breathy quality of the cheap indian bamboo whistles. Also some I have which I think may be S American an looks a bit like marbled effect can without the nodes - these have a flat mostly blocked mouth end and a rap around ring of cane that create creates a small opening for blown air to enter and cross over a small hole. It is played front on like a whistle. I'm sure you've all played these at festival stalls and world goods shops like Siesta. Of course they are never in tune so prety hopeless for recording but a joy to play ad hoc (alone!). I've searched and searched the web over many years but not found anyone who can make these new or tune mine. There are some nice whistles like Phil Bleazey's which I own and love but the tone isn't the same to me. Does anyone know of someone making quality bamboo type whistles? I also have 3 hohner metal whistles I believe as used for qualla music (and I'd like to play) but need 'adjusting' as they sound terrible. Maybe there's someone out there could do this. Many thanks
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Tell us something.: I have been a flute, guitar, keyboard and whistle player since time began for my consciousness. I am learning much about quality whistles, about the musical possibilities and about playing techniques. I've recorded a CD of my own music and am creating music for grade school.
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Re: Bamboo / River bamboo whistles

Post by RoberTunes »

I've yet to see good quality and good playing bamboo whistles or flutes sold in standard instrument stores, import stores or at music festivals. Those situations sell cheapie instruments that barely assume the definition, they're breathy, the intonation is off, the mouthpiece/blade areas are usually hack job constructions. The notes arrive at different volumes and the highest notes sound like ice skates being dragged across a glass window, as heard by a dog. Owners of those stores typically don't play the instrument, don't know what to look for, or care to. They're expecting to sell impulse-sale novelty items as loss leaders to kiddies who want to make noise for fun while Mommy buys the $75 dress and $25 scarf from Peru.

To find quality instruments go to international suppliers of proven high quality and consistency and it would help to talk to players who have them. And look for reviews online. India is the main place for high quality bamboo flutes, that I've seen. South and Central America perhaps for the instruments more unique to those areas. Same for North American First Nations style whistles (plenty of quality makers of those, if you search online!), and Erik the Flute Maker (USA) does good work with a variety of instrument types.

Also, I wonder about your comment, "I adore the rich breathy quality of the cheap indian bamboo whistles". "Cheap"? If you've only heard the cheapies, then the tone of one note may be very appealing, because of the general nature of bamboo whistles and flutes, but to buy one that is a reliable, expressive true musical instrument through the full range of notes, you need to do a search for what the high quality suppliers offer, and consider how to get one. The high quality bamboo flutes out of India are priced very fair and I wouldn't call them expensive, but they certainly aren't "cheap" in price or quality as instruments.
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