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Onyx WDSweet whistle review
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Author:  Tyghress [ Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Onyx WDSweet whistle review

So I'm back from the great Westbrook Fife and Drum Muster, and utterly unplanned, in possession of a new low D.

First, a brief bio for those of you who may not know me. I began whistling about 10 years ago, playing in a local session for about 7 years, and have collected and sold and traded many whistles over the years. I've had the great fortune to go to Ireland and hear the music there, to learn from dear, and dear departed old Irish men, and talk to many people who truly know what the music is all about. I had a truly wonderful experience working with Ralph and Walt Sweet as part of Sweetheart Flutes. To be honest, I'm not a great musician, but I am "well versed".

I haven't been in the market for a whistle in a long time. I'd settled on a few well-loved instruments, and need no others.

So then I got to the muster (it was awesome this year despite some worries about too much of a good thing) and when marching off the field at the head of Amer i-clique, who do I see but Walt Sweet grinning from a booth of fifes, flutes and whistles. Nice to catch up with him! Then I got handed a low D whistle to try.

My needs for a whistle are simple: make it easy for me to make pleasant music. The Onyx has surely done that in the category of Low D whistle. I've always been a fan of offset holes, and found that the reach was natural and not at all uncomfortable for me with my small woman's hands. (N.B. the only low D whistle I've ever cared to play was the original Sweetheart Low D. I've owned three other low d's that I'm dissatisfied with.) The mouthpiece is comfortable, there is an adjustable thumbrest, and the balance of the instrument is such that I don't need a tight grip to keep it in place. The air requirements are the best I've played yet. My test for that is simply running the scale as many times as I can. Now as for those scales...

I was sold. I love that thrum on the low D. I went up to the next D and felt the thrum THERE too! and then with no real effort I went up to the third D, and it was mellow and delightful. I've played it for a few hours and haven't lost my breath, gotten achey hands, or found a note that makes me unhappy. Appearances don't matter to me at all, but I think the two-toned effect of black on black is jazzy.

I'm truly delighted with this Low D. Walt has designed another winner. If you give me a few days, I'll post a practice clip.

Submitted for your approval,
Tyg

Author:  brewerpaul [ Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

Hey Tyg-- nice to see you dropping in. Nice review too. I'd love to see that whistle some time, maybe on your way to Western NY for your job?

Author:  JTC111 [ Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

Tyghress wrote:
My needs for a whistle are simple: make it easy for me to make pleasant music. The Onyx has surely done that in the category of Low D whistle.

Tyg, is the Onyx a brand new low D design or is it Ralph's current low D made from a different material?

Tyghress wrote:
If you give me a few days, I'll post a practice clip.

Very much looking forward to hearing that. :thumbsup:

Author:  Tyghress [ Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

JTC111 wrote:
Tyghress wrote:
My needs for a whistle are simple: make it easy for me to make pleasant music. The Onyx has surely done that in the category of Low D whistle.

Tyg, is the Onyx a brand new low D design or is it Ralph's current low D made from a different material?


This low D is not from Sweetheart Flute Co...it is from WD Sweet Flutes. Walt has stepped off on his own with this whistle. In truth, there are similarities to the low D Walt designed at Sweetheart, but this is definitely a different instrument. I noticed your posting on low air requirements, and frankly I can't imagine, and have never played a low D whistle that has better (lower) air requirements. If you give it a go, tell Walt I sent ya!

Tyg

P.S. - OMG I just found G#, both octaves, without halfholing!
PPS - Hi Paul! I almost arrived on your door step a few weeks ago...but didn't have your address or phone number on the new phone...huggles to Char and we'll talk to you soon!

Author:  cavefish [ Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

when are these going to be out for the public.

Author:  JTC111 [ Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

Tyghress wrote:
This low D is not from Sweetheart Flute Co...it is from WD Sweet Flutes. Walt has stepped off on his own with this whistle.

Uh-oh ...is this gonna be like the 398 Ray's Pizzas in NYC? :D

Tyghress wrote:
In truth, there are similarities to the low D Walt designed at Sweetheart, but this is definitely a different instrument. I noticed your posting on low air requirements, and frankly I can't imagine, and have never played a low D whistle that has better (lower) air requirements. If you give it a go, tell Walt I sent ya!

...and that's exactly why I'm responding. Image
I have an older version Sweetheart high D made in 1997 of Honduran Rosewood (thanks to Ralph for providing me with that information) with a recorder-type head on it. It's a very nice sounding instrument and I do enjoy playing it, but, to my ears, the tone is certainly more reminiscent of a recorder than a whistle. No one should read that as a complaint of any kind; I just view it as a different flavor of ice cream ...and who doesn't love ice cream, right? I have no idea if that tone is mainly a result of the shape of the head/mouthpiece or if other design factors are responsible and as it's the only Sweetheart I've ever played, I don't know if that tone is present in the new whistle design. So I'm wondering, does the new low D you played have that same kind of tonal quality or is it more in line with the traditional sound you'd expect from a whistle?

Sadly, I can find no mention of this whistle at all on the intertoobs.

Author:  Tyghress [ Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

No, the Onyx is nothing like Sweetheart's whistle from 13 years ago. <grin> in fact Sweetheart whistles are nothing like Sweetheart whistles from 13 years ago!

These are available now in small quantity, from http://www.wdsweetflutes.com

Walt is on his way over here right now...if anyone has Skype, you can look for me (Amy L Bissell) and ask for a live performance.

Author:  waltsweet [ Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

My thanks to Amy for her kind words.

The RESONANCE is indeed a forerunner of The ONYX, with improved features for improved performance. The toneholes have profiled sides, a slight hourglass shape, varying the diameter slightly while going into the hole. The big feature is that the whistle is made of polymer, which lets me do my job when I'm voicing them. Wood does not obey me when I make pennywhistles. Somebody like Tom Prescott (recorders) can do it, but even then you'll be paying the craftsman for much more of his time. When I make ONYX whistles out of polymer, they come out like I expect them to.

Opinions may differ as to the right sound for a LoD, but the ONYX is a pennywhistle through and through. I can only say that it sounds like an Irish flute, and I think it's great for Irish music.

I'm sorry that my website needs so much work (I'll fix it soon). I can still be reached at waltsweet@hotmail.com

Walt

Author:  JTC111 [ Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

waltsweet wrote:
I'm sorry that my website needs so much work (I'll fix it soon). I can still be reached at waltsweet@hotmail.com

Walt

Thanks for the info, Walt. I'm looking forward to some sound samples going up on the site. I'm intrigued.
By the way, one of my best friends lives in Enfield, CT ...small world.

Author:  brewerpaul [ Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

I'd love to try one side by side with my Resonance low D (Dymondwood). I can't imagine a better low whistle.

Author:  Jerry Freeman [ Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

I've seen firsthand some of the development that's gone into Walt's whistles. There's a tremendous body of work over many years incorporated in his current production.

My hat's off to you, Walt!

Best wishes,
Jerry

Author:  waltsweet [ Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

Jerry,
I appreciate the recognition from you, my fellow professional.
As we both know, it takes years of trying to make it better until we think we've got it right.
Walt

Author:  Jerry Freeman [ Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

waltsweet wrote:
As we both know, it takes years of trying to make it better until we think we've got it right.


In my opinion, you've got it right.

Best wishes,
Jerry

Author:  swizzlestick [ Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

More a demo than a review, but nicely done:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww0AA-enzH8

Author:  Tyghress [ Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onyx WDSweet whistle review

swizzlestick wrote:
More a demo than a review, but nicely done:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww0AA-enzH8


agreed! I can't really do any better so I'll let it stand for itself. Only mistake was calling it a Sweetheart whistle, when it is a WDSweet instrument. I love my Resonance, and the Onyx certainly stands alongside as a wonderful low D.

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