It is currently Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:46 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 9:39 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Posts: 4220
Location: Lovettsville, VA
Review housed at http://www.tinwhistler.com/reviews.asp

Gene Milligan Dymondwood Soprano D whistle review
(Review written May 2009)

Preface
I try to make it out to the North Texas Irish Festival every year. I know a lot of the performers, and a lot of my friends go, so I always have a good time. There are a few things I have to do every year, like my own little tradition: pet the wolfhounds (naturally), shop for soda bread (yum!), and, of course, shop for whistles!

Most of the time, I don't see much new. Usually you can find a vendor or two selling some Clarkes, some Generations, and a couple of high-enders, like Chieftains. Sometimes, I run across some bamboo whistles or bamboo flutes, and these can often be hit-or-miss for playing in a band. The key of "approximately D" can be lots of fun playing solo, and I've bought my fair share of these kinds of instruments at NTIF. But when you play with others, you need a higher benchmark.

So, I was really excited to see a vendor selling wooden whistles that I had never seen or heard from! Another fellow was there trying them out, and was playing a tune I knew, so I snatched a whistle up quickly tuned to the other guy, and we jammed out for 4 or 5 minutes. It was loads of fun, and let me know that the whistles, which not only looked good, were consistent enough for two whistlers to play together and be in tune.

So, I thanked the anonymous whistler, grabbed a business card from the vendor, and finished up the day at NTIF. I can only focus so much on whistles before the rest of the family gets restless. I'm sure you know what I mean. Later, I contacted the whistlemaker, Gene Milligan, and told him that my brief encounter with his whistles was pretty positive, and asked him if he'd like me to review his whistle. Gene sent me a great Dymondwood whistle for review.

Gene has been a luthier for 35 years, working at one time with the legendary NBN Guitars, and is a member of the Guild of American Luthiers and the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans. Gene also has over forty years of experience working as an engineer. So, it really shouldn't be surprising that the whistle he sent me was top-notch. Gene told me that he's still striving to improve his process and whistles. I don't know a whistlemaker that isn't! But from the sample he sent me, he's already got a good handle on the craft.

At a Glance
Whistle Reviewed: Gene Milligan Dymondwood Soprano D whistle
Models Available: Gene makes C and D whistles out of hardwoods and Dymondwood, with Delrin heads.
Construction: Tunable wood or Dymondwood with sterling brass ferrules, Delrin head.
Price at time of review: $185 US
Available From:
Milligan and Son Besides catching Gene at a festival, the best way to get one of these whistles is to contact Gene at his website.
How Acquired: Product sample from manufacturer

Appearance/Construction
The whistle looks very nice, and is very professionally crafted. It's an eye-catcher, and all of the non-whistlers that have seen it have commented on how nice it looks. The brass ferrules can be polished (if you're careful!) or will quickly start acquiring a nice looking patina. This is one whistle where I actually like the look the patnia gives the overall appearance.
Image
Here's the full whistle. This is a top-notch, professional job. The holes are round, well-spaced, and lined up perfectly. The Dymondwood has been lathed and polished smooth, like glass, and there are no pits or tear-out on the wood. I took this whistle to work, and the guys at the cafe downstairs saw it in my hands and immediately asked "Is that a new whistle? Wow!" Wow is right..the whistle just looks great, bottom line.

Image
Here's a close-up of the mouthpiece. The windway floor is curved, in a manner similar to Thin Weasel or Paul Busman whistles (among others). I've seen several high-end whistles that have difficulty pulling off the windway construction cleanly. From my own experience, I know that if your lathe isn't centered exactly, or your drill wanders a fraction of a degree, or you're off a smidge when you cut the bottom of the mouthpiece away, you'll see it here. Gene's is perfectly formed and centered. Speaking of the bottom of the mouthpiece, where the whistle rests on your lower lip: The cut here is a gentle slope. It's not quite a "beak" like Generation, Oak, or other plastic injection-molded heads have. But it's not the stubby mouthpiece that Susatos or Abell whistles have. It's somewhere in between the two, and it fits very comfortably in my mouth.

Image
Here's another angle on the mouthpiece, showing the labium ramp. The ramp shows signs of tooling, and isn't completely polished. I'm good with that, because it tells me that Gene spent some time getting the ramp exactly right, and then left it alone.

Image
The Milligan whistle has a brass metal-on-metal tuning slide, which is plenty long. Pushed all the way in, the whistle is +35 cents when warmed up, and a full semi-tone flat when pulled all the way out. That should be plenty of variability for just about anyone! The slide itself is snug and stays put. It doesn't wiggle or slide while playing,
On the backside of the whistle, Gene has laser engraved his mark on the head, and his name, the whistle key, and the whistle number. He's also hand-engraved the whistle number on both the head and the body, so if you have more than one Milligan whistle, you should never accidently put the wrong head on the wrong body.

Image
A shot at the end of the whistle, showing the last three holes, and the brass ferrule. As with the rest of the whistle, everything is lined up, centered, and nicely finished.

Playing Characteristics
This whistle has the same kind of woodsy complexity that I enjoyed with my Abell whistle. It's not that "scratchy" kind of complexity that a Generation, Sindt or Feadog has. But there's definitely a bit of impurity in the sound that gives it a nice, rich complexity. Even though the whislte is loud, the second octave does not feel screechy or painfully overbearing.

Sound clips of the whistle:
Twisting of the Hayrope
Frahers Jig
Farewell to Whalley Range

Volume: Very Loud. You will have absolutely no trouble being heard with this whistle. I'm pretty sure it's the loudest whistle I've ever owned.

Responsiveness: Highly responsive. The whistle doesn't have much start-of-note noise, and so each note resolves itself very quickly. That means the whistle easily handles playing quick ornamental notes in succession, like in crans. The ornaments come out crisp and clear.

Tuning: Perfect tuning. Each note of the scale takes just a little more breath than the last. There's no strange breath characteristics to get used to where one note may require a lot of push and the next note very little push to be in tune. There are no surprises here, and the whistle is easy to just pick up and play in tune.

C-natural: OXXOOO C-natural is spot-on. Using this fingering, this note is as stable and strong as the rest of the notes. None of the other cross-fingering methods produce an acceptable C-natural.

Hole size and placement: The holes are centered, well-rounded, and evenly spaced along the whistle. The reach should be accessible to just about any average person.

Air volume requirements: High. This whistle just takes lots of breath. It kind of reminds me of the old-school Sweetheart whistles from a few years back in terms of how much breath it takes. This may make playing the whistle a little difficult for the beginner.

Air pressure requirements: Average in the first octave, a bit above average in the upper end of the second octave.

Clogging: I haven't really experienced any clogging at all with this whistle. I've played it at gigs, around the house, outside in the cold, and at extended practice sessions. I imagine the Delrin head and the curved windway have a lot to do with moisture control.

Wind Resistance: This whistle works great in the wind. It took 25mph gusts outdoors before the whistle really started to have issues.

Summary
This is definitely a professional performer's whistle. Between the wind resistance, the volume, and the Dymondwood and delrin construction, this whistle will get a lot of outdoor play. There's only a small handfull of whistles that I really would consider to fill that role: The Abell, the Copeland, the Burke Composite D, and now the Milligan. Gene's whistle would probably be up there with the Abell on that short list, which is very fine company indeed.

_________________
│& ¼║: ♪♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪ :║


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 9:06 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 503
Location: Richmond, Virginia (close enough)
Thanks Wanderer. Great review as always and sufficient to get the "desire" going again.
That dymondwood is really beautiful. Sounds great too.

_________________
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 6:23 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 2931
Location: New York
Yes, I know the feeling of being rushed out of a whistle venue by family; had to pass on a beautiful low D at Custy's in Ireland just to get to the Cliffs...well, that was nice too.

Anyway, good to see you doing a review again; missed them.

Best,

Philo

_________________
"This is this; this ain't something else. This is this." - Robert DeNiro, "The Deer Hunter," 1978.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 6:34 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:43 pm
Posts: 2451
Location: Land-of-Sky
Looks and sounds like an awesome whistle. That was a very helpful review indeed.

_________________
"In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart." John Bunyan


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 8:31 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:47 pm
Posts: 22
Location: Frostburg, Maryland
Based upon Greg's superb review of the Milligan D whistle in dymondwood, I contacted
Gene Milligan at milliwe@comcast.net and got not only an immediate response, but a fabulous whistle in about five days. I cannot put into words how much I love this whistle! I am a beginner, and probably always will be, but the whistle makes me sound good. I can go from low notes to high and back again without muffing any of them. It doesn't seem to clog at all. It requires very little maintenance, and it is a delight to look at and to hold. This whistle would be a bargain at a much higher price.
Thank you Greg for helping make the connection with Gene.

Gerry

_________________
Factotum


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 9:06 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 5:16 pm
Posts: 20
I would also like to thank Greg for the fantastic review of the Milligan D whistle. I also contacted Gene Milligan to express interest in a whistle and the possibility of having a whistle made in a very unique color choice of DymondWood. He was extremely prompt in his response and let me know that he would need a DymondWood blank in a 1"x1"x10" size for crafting the whistle. As soon as my blank arrives, I will be shipping it out to Gene for the creation of my whistle- can't wait! The craftsmanship of the whistle looks fantastic, especially in relation to the very reasonable price he charges, shipping included. I will be posting some pictures once I received the finished whistle down the road. Thanks again Greg for the great review and information! :)


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 6:13 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 9:10 pm
Posts: 364
Location: Colorado: Hypoxia Capital of North America
Santa Claus (actually, Mrs. Claus) gifted me with this whistle in Cocobolo. Gad, it's beautiful! Greg's description applies to the Cocobolo model, as far as I can tell. It does have a wonderful clarity and complexity - this whistle really has it's own voice, and it is beautiful!

Mine is #158. As I often am playing in a (loud) band, this whistle will be great! The kid with a 100 watt stage amp on his guitar behind me will have to work a little harder to stomp on me now. Heh-heh!

One of the first things that I noticed is that the dymamics are more even across the octaves than many whistles I've played. The lower octave has a very full timbre to it, which I have needed - playing all upper register just to hear myself on stage gets boring.

The backpressure, particulary in the upper octave took a few minutes to get used to how the whistle would respond. This is not a whistle to play timidly. I think, though, that more backpressure offers a broader range of expressiveness, as I can really lean into it, or ease off, as the piece demands.

Mrs. Claus got this whistle through fellow Coloradoan Blayne Chastain, who has the Milligan whistles on his site http://www.whistleanddrum.com.

I'm gonna enjoy this one a lot!

_________________
sibilo ergo sum


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:20 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 9:10 pm
Posts: 364
Location: Colorado: Hypoxia Capital of North America
Update: Played the whistle onstage this morning, stayed in lower octave almost exclusively. I very much like the strength of the sound, and the clear and complex tone. Sat up last night applying Holton bore oil to the wood, and it is absolutely beautiful. Built a $2 case with a 12" length of 1" PVC pipe and two caps, plus a scrap of polyester fleece.

Also found out that the whistles are available at Kolacny Music in Denver, at Broadway and Jewell. They carry a selection of Dixons, as well as others. First brick-and-mortar retailer I've found with a display case full of tin whistles.

Mark

_________________
sibilo ergo sum


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:05 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:34 pm
Posts: 616
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Kolacny Music has very nice folks working there. It's been a couple of years, but I was able to test play a few Dixon whistles when I was there. You certainly can't try out whistles at many shops!

_________________
All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out. -- Mark Twain


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:28 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Posts: 4220
Location: Lovettsville, VA
yeah, i'm still liking my milligan whistles a lot. I have a wooden D/C set and the dymondwood pictured here. They're all Ive been playing since this review (except my low d's of course)

_________________
│& ¼║: ♪♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪ :║


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:35 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:47 pm
Posts: 22
Location: Frostburg, Maryland
I like my dymondwood Milligan whistles so much that I ordered a
D whistle in African blackwood from Gene a couple days ago--and yesterday it arrived! I think it compares --in beauty, sound, and ease of play--quite well with my Boisevert Greenwood and my O'Riordans.

_________________
Factotum


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:51 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:13 pm
Posts: 915
Location: Pacific Coast. Oregon
Wanderer...when you're not playing these beauties, what low Ds do you play???

_________________
You-Me-Them-Us-IT. Anything Else?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:50 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Posts: 4220
Location: Lovettsville, VA
copeland low d and a chieftain NR

The Chieftain is nearly indestructable..so I take it pretty much everywhere. Since I had one scare with the copeland (bent it at North Texas Irish Fest and had it repaired) I don't take it as many places as I used to.

_________________
│& ¼║: ♪♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪ :║


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:13 pm
Posts: 915
Location: Pacific Coast. Oregon
Thanks.

I felt faint, for a second, when I read Copeland and "bent" in the same sentence!

_________________
You-Me-Them-Us-IT. Anything Else?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:27 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Posts: 4220
Location: Lovettsville, VA
probably not as faint as I felt when it happened

Image

_________________
│& ¼║: ♪♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪ :║


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
[ Time : 0.132s | 11 Queries | GZIP : On ]
(dh)