Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

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Mr.Gumby
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Look Andrew, I am not here to pick a fight over this, been there and have a wardrobe full of tshirts.

The observations of the hypothetical man with his new fiddle weren't wrong either, putting the blame on the instrument before learning to play it properly is where the problem is.

You keep asking why there is a market for 'tweaked' whistles. That's probably a whole different discussion but let's instead stop and think for a moment why a large portion of the finest traditional players we have persist playing those supposedly flawed (Generation type) instruments when there is now such a choice of, according to some here, 'superior' instruments available.

And let's avoid the whole 'they must have been lucky/have tried dozens of duds', 'if you can play like that you can play anything well' type of argument.
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Andrew Legg
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Andrew Legg »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 7:16 am Look Andrew, I am not here to pick a fight over this, been there and have a wardrobe full of tshirts.

The observations of the hypothetical man with his new fiddle weren't wrong either, putting the blame on the instrument before learning to play it properly is where the problem is.

You keep asking why there is a market for 'tweaked' whistles. That's probably a whole different discussion but let's instead stop and think for a moment why a large portion of the finest traditional players we have persist playing those supposedly flawed (Generation type) instruments when there is now such a choice of, according to some here, 'superior' instruments available.

And let's avoid the whole 'they must have been lucky/have tried dozens of duds', 'if you can play like that you can play anything well' type of argument.
Cheers to that. I’m not after a fight either, so that makes two of us. :D What I am after is understanding what resources are available to me and which is best from a beginner’s perspective. I have found both whistles non-ideal for different reasons, and I have voiced my (strong emphasis on) opinion. I love the breathy more organic sound of the Clarke, but if I have to blow that hard to hit the high G and A, it’s going to end my marriage. :boggle: What am I doing wrong? I don’t know. It’s a bit frustrating because I have virtually no alternatives to try here without importing. That’s tricky as our postal service is dicey, so now I have to rely of travelling friends. Anyway, I have ‘ordered’ a different whistle and I hope it will be more of a success for me.

Finally, let me apologise if I came out of the starting blocks a bit quick. It’s not my intention to ruffle feathers. It’s a frustration thing, not an arrogance thing.

If anyone can give any advice as to how to get to those higher notes without blowing like a northerly gale, it would be much appreciated.

Cheers. :thumbsup:
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Mr.Gumby »

There is a reason why Clarkes were dropped as soon as plastic headed Generations appeared during the 1950s.

And that was well before the current Clarke production.

I only recall hearing them played in public on very rare occasions, often just to get a different sound. The only use in a serious context in decades perhaps Peadar O Riada and Caoimhin O Ragallaigh at the premiere of An Triur.

I have one old Clarke that actually works well enough although I don't feel a particular urge to play it.

You should probably check for leaks around the block and fix any you find. I am not a fan of just squashing the windway although it will probably need some reduction. The secret lies in how the windway floor and the 'lip' at the far end of the window line up. Problem is, you may work on it, have it nice enough, one step from good and then you move it a fraction on a millimetre and loose all sound. Then you can start again. It's very delicate work, frustrating without any guarantees you will end up with a decently playing whistle.

Generation type whistles are a different story, they basically need a delicate touch. Finding the sweet spot between head placement, breath control and fingerings is what you need to concentrate on. Once that's done I can't think of a more delicate, agile and responsive, sweet sounding whistle.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Narzog »

Andrew Legg wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 5:15 am I think I will cough up for a Killarney. All the reviews mention excellent playability and consistency of quality. Not only is that important for me as a beginner, because it will help with enjoyment, but even more so given that instruments are tricky to physically get.
I endorse getting a Killarney, but for maybe a different reason than you might expect. There's probobly nothing wrong with your Generation. But. Having a nice hand made instrument, that tons of other people praise heavily, that you know for a fact is playing how its supposed to, gives a huge peace of mind as a new player. If you had some local whistlers you knew who could play your Generation and say its a good one, you would feel a lot better. But when you can't, its just really demotivating to play, when theres lots of people out there who also think theirs is a dud. And the way the Killarney plays MAY be what your looking for and be easier (or not).

We had very similar starts in whistling. My first whistle was a Clarke sweet tone, which I hated. I then got a Feadog D Pro, which I thought was a dud (I thought the tuning was terrible), but still played because it bugged me less than the clarke. Then I got a Generation Bb. Which I liked the most of the 3, but still thought the tuning was still off. Then I got a Tilbury C, and thought it confirmed all my suspicions. I liked it way more, thought it actually played in tune, etc. My tastes in whistles has since changed and I ended up selling it off, but its still the thing the actually got me practicing and not thinking my instrument was the problem. A year of quarantine later, I can confirm that my Feadog and Gen Bb are not duds. I still like them less than my hand mades, makers are doing things to make them easier to play in tune (some makers more than others). Which is probobly a large part of why there's so many people online who say their Gen's were bad and love their Killarney (or other high end maker). And I'm not trying to start a debate on cheap vs expensive whistles. I just think there's something there that makes new players usually enjoy the switch.

BUT definitely keep playing your gen while waiting for the Killarney. You could even decide you like it more than the Killarney. But trying out different whistles is nice, it helps find what traits you really like.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Andrew Legg »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 10:12 am There is a reason why Clarkes were dropped as soon as plastic headed Generations appeared during the 1950s.

And that was well before the current Clarke production.

I only recall hearing them played in public on very rare occasions, often just to get a different sound. The only use in a serious context in decades perhaps Peadar O Riada and Caoimhin O Ragallaigh at the premiere of An Triur.

I have one old Clarke that actually works well enough although I don't feel a particular urge to play it.

You should probably check for leaks around the block and fix any you find. I am not a fan of just squashing the windway although it will probably need some reduction. The secret lies in how the windway floor and the 'lip' at the far end of the window line up. Problem is, you may work on it, have it nice enough, one step from good and then you move it a fraction on a millimetre and loose all sound. Then you can start again. It's very delicate work, frustrating without any guarantees you will end up with a decently playing whistle.

Generation type whistles are a different story, they basically need a delicate touch. Finding the sweet spot between head placement, breath control and fingerings is what you need to concentrate on. Once that's done I can't think of a more delicate, agile and responsive, sweet sounding whistle.
Thanks for the advice! I saw a mod on the Clarke that involved placing a section of clarinet reed into the mouthpiece. I may give that a try as a starting point. I can feel that the Clarke is less responsive, but I like the airy tone. Different strokes for different folks I guess. Perhaps it is better for more mellow slow airs rather than the quick stuff. I have changed the shape of the mouthpiece now a bit, but that has not changed the airway. I’ll check for leaks as well.

On the Generation, I notice how delicate one needs to be. Specially on the lower notes. It seems to be all about breath control. Having two diametrically opposite whistles is perhaps not ideal.

Aaaaand on a personal note, we got of to a rocky start, but not intentionally, so I appreciate your willingness to continue to engage. Down the road, I’ll be sure to let you know how I am getting along.

Cheers,

Andrew
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by RoberTunes »

I find the topic of "tweeking" to reveal an ironic activity; the spending of more $$$.
To clarify it, has anyone got a detailed list of the tools, supplies and costs involved to do a proper tweek?
We know the whistle brands involved that are commonly tweeked, and the cost of the whistle
seems cheap to begin with, but if tweeking is so commonly desired, what equipment expenses and specific
whistle-tweeker skills can a whistle player expect to see as part of the purchase/setup, in order to make these
whistles that need tweeking, functional to the point of satisfaction?
I can offer up a guess, that the cost of the tools and supplies needed to do a proper tweek
will be roughly 3X to 5X to 10X the cost of the whistle itself. And that presumes that you
get past the surgery, accomplished a successful tweek on the first attempt, and didn't make things worse.

So, Whistle $12 + $40 in tools/supplies, sound about right? Bare minimum?
And do you need a vice or larger tool in the tool shed, to do this?
A small table vice may be $28 to $75. Three simple table-top clamps would be $15 or more.
That's going to hold the whistle in place, if need be. Then you need tools to reshape a blade,
or windway or window, or adjust tone holes. What tools do that, and what do they cost?
How much is a packet of that BlueTak, and how many tweeks can be
done with $___ spent on BlueTak? Need a file? Pliers? Extra-fine sandpaper or cleaning fluid
and polishing cloths? Grease or teflon tape for a tuning-slide or mouthpiece repair?
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Narzog »

RoberTunes wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 7:00 pm I find the topic of "tweeking" to reveal an ironic activity; the spending of more $$$.
When I started whistling I had this rocket scientist idea, that I could save a ton of money by making my own. Over $1,000 in tools, and probobly hundreds of hours later, I'm back to buying whistles haha. Tweaking is less in tools but similar concept. If someone wants a professionally tweaked whistle, just buy from a tweaker. You can do it yourself, especially if its an easy tweak. But if you end up spending a lot of time, and or do a bad job, it was worth spending the money on getting from someone who has a lot more experience doing it.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Mr.Gumby »

The Clarkes that are currently sold are terribly inefficient in their use of air. It feels like most of the ait you put into them doesn't do anything but hiss or disappear, anything but being translated into musical sounds.

I have a few, Clarke or of the type, that work really well. The two in the picture are a D, clealry marked Clarke and a red F that may be a Clarke made for export by some branch of the Clarke family during the mid 20th century or one made in Germany or Eastern Europe around that time (this one was sent over from Bulgaria). It's hard to say why the D works so well (and it does really work and sound very well for the type), I have been trying to configure a modern C into the same state, so far without success. The red one is infinitely better designed and made than the current Clarke output, the windway is straight and square, as it really shoud be. It works fine.

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Fussing about the cost of tools to modify these is really a bunch of hot air, a paint can opener, a small file of two (or any old strip of metal the right size) and perhaps a small screwdriver or whatever you have handy, go a long way when trying to tackle a Clarke.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by ecadre »

So, my memory isn't playing tricks with me and Clarke whistles used to have "squared-off" ends and didn't have that indentation in the labium.

I just recently acquired a new Clarke "original" D whistle. It wasn't the instrument I was actually after, it came with a job lot of whistles on Ebay, but out of sentimentality it wasn't unwelcome. I always used to have at least one Clarke whistle (they were all C whistles in those days) kicking around when I was a kid. They weren't my favourite, but they were always an interesting diversion.

Now on to this new one. The first thing I noticed is that the wooden block protrudes into the window. It doesn't seem to have slipped down, it's just how it is. Also I notice that the block is now glued into place; those three indentations on each side on the head are gone.

Then there's the blade/labium. If you look down the airway, the indentation that they put into the labium isn't centred, and the raised part is significantly higher and larger on one side that the other. Put this with the new bowed top airway and I think it's obvious why this whistle is inefficient and takes a delicate touch to play, especially at the bottom end.

When it's well warmed up and you've attuned yourself to it, it behaves better. I also treated it with a de-clogging solution, one part Ecover washing-up liquid to three parts water in an eye-dropper; this improved matters considerably.

The second octave can sing quite beautifully especially on slow tunes, but there is a considerable difference in volume between the first and second octaves. There have been some comments on how hard it is to blow the top G, A and B notes on this whistle. I didn't find them a problem at all. This Clarke takes more air than, say, a Generation, but I found the playability and sound at the top of the second octave to be pretty good.

On another positive note, I found the tuning to be very good. The third D (at the top of the second octave) seems impossible to get in tune, but it doesn't get played much and then usually as a passing note.

If I intended to play this as my regular whistle then I may of course get better results. I would definitely recommend the de-clogging solution; for me it saved this instrument. I'm sure someone out there loves this design, but it's not really for me ... though maybe it could get a role as a quieter night-time whistle?
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Mr.Gumby »

So, my memory isn't playing tricks with me and Clarke whistles used to have "squared-off" ends and didn't have that indentation in the labium.
I think they did but can't be sure I can really trust my memory of them: I believe I had two different ones at different times during the seventies and eighties. The last of those went where ever it went sometime by the late eighties ( it could be hiding in a box with unused 'stuff' in some corner).
The old Caluras and similar German and Eastern European ones certainly have a squared off windway with the top parallel to the bottom. It probably saves a lot of work to just fold over the sheet metal and leave it arched but it does make a poorer whistle.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Average Whistler »

ecadre wrote: Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:11 am I also treated it with a de-clogging solution, one part Ecover washing-up liquid to three parts water in an eye-dropper; this improved matters considerably.
Could you share with us the process you use to apply the de-clogging solution to the Clarke? I am curious, given the wooden fipple, how you apply it, how long you leave it on, do you rinse it/wipe it/ let it dry, etc.

Thank you!
AW
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Andrew Legg »

RoberTunes wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 7:00 pm I find the topic of "tweeking" to reveal an ironic activity; the spending of more $$$.
To clarify it, has anyone got a detailed list of the tools, supplies and costs involved to do a proper tweek?
We know the whistle brands involved that are commonly tweeked, and the cost of the whistle
seems cheap to begin with, but if tweeking is so commonly desired, what equipment expenses and specific
whistle-tweeker skills can a whistle player expect to see as part of the purchase/setup, in order to make these
whistles that need tweeking, functional to the point of satisfaction?
I can offer up a guess, that the cost of the tools and supplies needed to do a proper tweek
will be roughly 3X to 5X to 10X the cost of the whistle itself. And that presumes that you
get past the surgery, accomplished a successful tweek on the first attempt, and didn't make things worse.

So, Whistle $12 + $40 in tools/supplies, sound about right? Bare minimum?
And do you need a vice or larger tool in the tool shed, to do this?
A small table vice may be $28 to $75. Three simple table-top clamps would be $15 or more.
That's going to hold the whistle in place, if need be. Then you need tools to reshape a blade,
or windway or window, or adjust tone holes. What tools do that, and what do they cost?
How much is a packet of that BlueTak, and how many tweeks can be
done with $___ spent on BlueTak? Need a file? Pliers? Extra-fine sandpaper or cleaning fluid
and polishing cloths? Grease or teflon tape for a tuning-slide or mouthpiece repair?
I prefer twerking.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by ecadre »

Average Whistler wrote: Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:06 am
ecadre wrote: Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:11 am I also treated it with a de-clogging solution, one part Ecover washing-up liquid to three parts water in an eye-dropper; this improved matters considerably.
Could you share with us the process you use to apply the de-clogging solution to the Clarke? I am curious, given the wooden fipple, how you apply it, how long you leave it on, do you rinse it/wipe it/ let it dry, etc.

Thank you!
AW
Turn the whistle upside down and use an eyedropper to drip the solution into the windway from the window end. Then blow into the window to blow out excess liquid. Leave for a while to dry. I bought some cheap droppers from Ebay for this purpose, though I've also used old eye-droppers that used to contain drops for hayfever.

That specific advice came from a recorder maker website (Mollenhauer). The mix of one part washing-up liquid and three parts water came from either the Moeck or Mollenhaueur websites, though I can't find it right now.

I tend to put my thumb over the end of the windway to keep the liquid in place as I drip it in, and then blow through the window to remove the excess. Using the window means that the liquid does not get into the rest of the instrument.

The general advice is not new to these boards and has been mentioned many times. The way it works is that surfactants in the washing-up liquid will cause any condensation in the windway to sheet off and not form droplets.

You can buy commercial anti-condense liquids (such as Duponol or those from various recorder makers), but the active ingredient is the same as in washing-up liquid.

Edited to add. PS

I should note that I do not use this solution on all my whistles, only a couple of them that benefit from it. It gets reapplied every few weeks, or when I remember, or before gigs. Just see how you get on.
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by NicoMoreno »

Andrew Legg wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 12:41 am Why is there a market for tweaked whistles?
From my experience, it's generally because beginners don't immediately make the whistle sound great, blame the whistle, and buy (or follow guides online to try to do) something that they hope will make the whistle better (without any effort on their part). But it's also that when a tweaked whistle still costs less than $50, it's not really a big deal to buy. So a lot of good musicians might just buy one that they tried and liked, or buy one just to try.

For me, I have several Generations, Feadogs, and others, all untweaked, that are all great. I might buy another whistle just to try it, and the pain of buying such an instrument is far less than the thousands needed for a good set of pipes or a flute...
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Re: Clarke Original D Tweak/Mods

Post by Mr.Gumby »

I too think it's mostly beginners that have been convinced cheap whistles need someone to overhaul them before they are playable. Which really is a load of nonsense. Convince people they will need this and they'll buy it. So there you have a large part of your market.

Another side of some modifications is that they are not so much 'fixes' but revoicings. For example, over the past ten years or so I have had a Cillian O'Briain close at hand and it is a lovely little whistle. If I didn't have any other whistles, I'd be fine with that. A few years ago one came up for sale on the forum and I jumped on that to have a spare, just in case. But Cillian is a fine player who knows what he wants from a whislte and he voices his accordingly. So that's a whole different story.
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