Chiff and Fipple Forums

Page 1 of 1

Author:  bdh [ Tue Dec 12, 2006 3:16 am ]
Post subject:  REVIEW: GFM Low F


<img src="">

<b>The Maker</b>
Granite Falls Manufacturing (GFM) is Chuck Tilbury, a whistlemaker in Granite Falls, Washington, USA. By day he is a software engineer, and by night he works on constructing beautiful whistles in aluminum. For Chuck, what began as a hobby and an obsession became a business in 2005. His goals, as stated on the <a href="">GFM website</a>, are "to make very good whistles that are comparable in quality to high end whisltes, such as Overton or Copeland. However, I want to sell them for much less... I feel that everyone should have access to a really good whistle." Chuck is very friendly, and has been a pleasure to do business with.

Chuck has recently raised the cost of his whistles by $5. They are still a bargain.
Soprano whistles (E, D, C, Bb) are $80 USD, with $35 for extra bodies.
Low whistles (Bb, A, G, F) are $95 USD, with $40 for extra bodies.
Not sure how much a replacement headpiece costs.
Whistles are available in brushed or polished finish.
Worldwide shipping is available, and mine arrived in Australia safe and sound so rest assured that the packaging is good.

Chuck Tilbury
Email: <a href="">chuck AT whistlemaker DOT com</a>
Website: <a href=""></a>*
*The website is old, but being updated to include new whistles and prices.

<b>Whistle Construction</b>
GFM Whistles are cylindrical bore whistles made from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy and are constructed with a separate headpiece and body for tuning. The headpiece is secured to the body with two o-rings (standard 5/8" x 1/16" butyl rubber). Whistles have a brushed finish, and can be cleaned with anything (except a lye or an acid) since there are no adhesives to rot or worry about. Scratches can be buffed out using 600 grit sandpaper. Older models of GFM whistles had the GFM logo edged on. Not sure what the process is for the logo now – it's certainly not just a stain (I've already washed my baby twice... I didn't realize I still had mango juice on my hands! :boggle: )

<img src="">

<img src="">
Detail of headpiece and body (note the o-rings)

<img src="">
Closeup of the mouthpiece

<b>The Whistle</b>
I think my GFM low F is a stunning whistle to look at. I love the brushed metal finish. It looks fantastic, and looks like it should be at least twice the price!

The whistle is very easy to hold. I'm not sure about tubing diameters so I can't be exact, but it's just short of 2cm. It's very solid – thicker than a Howard but not as chunky as a Kerry. Finger spacing is generous, and shouldn't be a problem for those with small hands. The distance between the last 2 holes (E and D) is just short of 3cm. The holes are about the same size as the A and G holes on a Generation Bb (approx. 8mm), except for the E hole which is wider (approx. 11mm). There was another <a href="">topic</a> on this board about an FED triplet "lagging" – I suspect this is the result of not sealing the E hole properly. For this reason I like to play this whistle using a modified pipers grip, playing with the tips for the top 3 holes and using the pads for the bottom 3.

<i>Tone, Voice, and all that Jazz</i>
The tone of the GFM low F is very rounded, mellow, and sweet, but airy and with a nice helping of chiff. The bell note is rounded, and, as with most whistles, the upper octave is louder. It doesn't require a lot of breath (probably about as much as my Shaw soprano D) and is loud enough to play nicely in sessions (unlike my Susato Dublin low D, which is far too loud), but I guess overall it is a "soft" whistle.

The whistle is very responsive – it handles ornamentation quite nicely. For c-natural, 0XX000 is a tiny bit sharp, 0XXX00 is spot-on, and 0XXXX0 is a little flat. Very little amount of clogging as condensation collects on the metal, but washing in soapy water helps reduce this. If you want to lubricate the o-rings after cleaning your whistle, Chuck recommends Vasolene (petroleum jelly). Don't use saxophone cork grease (which explains both of my reasons for washing it thus far!)

<i>Sound Samples</i>
First I must apologize for my breath control in these samples – I've got a cold (yes, and it's summer down under no less!) and so have tried my best. I'm also reasonably new to the whistle, coming from a piano/guitar/sax background. That said, I hope I manage to do *some* justice to this wonderful whistle. All of these samples are in mp3 (192kps) and were recorded in Cubase SX using a Samson condenser microphone with a homemade pop filter (sorry, don't remember the brand of pantyhose or wire coathanger!).

<a href="'s.mp3">Waterman's</a> (solo whistle, no reverb) 933Kb
<a href="">Inion Ni Scannlain</a> (solo whistle, light reverb) 1.9Mb
<a href="">The Miller of Drohan</a> (guitar, two whistle tracks with the Low F, light reverb)* 4.1Mb
*I wanted to show the versatility of this whistle, so I improvised a harmony for the final verse.

<b>Final Thoughts</b>
I'm very taken with my GFM whistle. The tone is warm, and the whistle is a pleasure to play. Visually the whistle is stunning and looks like any of the high-end models (I think it looks similar to a Kerry Songbird). Interchangeable bodies makes owning a set of aluminum whistles in different keys affordable. The whistle is expertly constructed, and I can't wait until Chuck starts making Low D whistles.

I'm happy to take additional photos or upload larger photos by request.

<img src="">
Tigger happily sporting his GFM Low F whistle

Author:  Tony McGinley [ Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:01 am ]
Post subject: 

Really excellent review and great quality sound clips!
The whistle looks really beautiful. It would appear to
have elements of both the Kerry Songbird and the Alba.

Thanks again for a very useful review.

Author:  ctilbury [ Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:29 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks, Bret! It is always such a joy to hear my instruments played by others!

Author:  bdh [ Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:59 am ]
Post subject: 

Cheers Chuck – I hope I did the whistle justice! :)
- Brett.

Author:  PhilO [ Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks; looks and sounds lovely. Clips are helpful with respect to forming an opinion and relating to one's own preferences.


Author:  azw [ Wed Dec 13, 2006 1:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks, Brett. I particularly enjoyed listening to The Miller of Drohan. Did you play all of the parts?

Author:  jrc [ Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Just a quick question -

If the GFM has rubber O rings, wouldn't petroleum jelly degrade the rubber? I've always heard the two don't work well together.

Author:  dfernandez77 [ Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

Nice review. Thanks!

Author:  bdh [ Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

@jrc - not sure to be honest. Chuck suggested vasoline.
@azw - Thanks! Yes, I'm playing everything. :D

Author:  ctilbury [ Fri Dec 15, 2006 5:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

jrc wrote:
Just a quick question -

If the GFM has rubber O rings, wouldn't petroleum jelly degrade the rubber? I've always heard the two don't work well together.

I actually use Buna-N o-rings (not butyl as I have told some people :oops: ) . This is the "standard" industrial material. They are quite resistant to most mineral oils (includes petroleum jelly). I just looked up my o-ring supplier's web site to get an authoritative response. Here is a link:

I might be better off using polyeurathane or silicon, but they are about 5 times the cost and not always available. I want to stick with something you can get in a hardware store, too.

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 6 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group