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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:28 pm 
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A while ago I sent some timber to Alex at Hermit Hill whistles for him to try out. As a result, Alex sent me a new model metal whistle for me to try. I had just gotten a Killarney to try out. My camera is in for repair so I cannot post photos of the two, but the head design is similar. The Hermit Hill is made of brass and has a Delrin beak like the Killarney and is of the same style. The difference is that the Hermit Hill is made of a larger diameter tube, so is much louder. The brass head is a little longer and the wind-way is wider as well, which contributes to the louder volume. The tone is clear, but not too pure. This whistle does very well in larger sessions. The finish on the ramp is much cleaner with the HH. The ramp on the Killarney has a series of facets which seem to work fine and give a clear tone. I don't find the Killarney to have any advantage over the Blackbird I have; both very sweet, but quiet. The HH is designed for a loud session and has no trouble being heard. It does not screech in the high A and B, but is louder. The octave change is not at a much higher pressure and the whistle is a medium blower as to resistance. This is a very good whistle for my purposes. Alex does not have this whistle listed on his site yet as this one is the prototype. He is not sure of the price he will offer them for, but indicated it would be in the range of $90 to $125. It is at a similar price point as the Killarney. Those that find the Killarney too quiet for their uses should check the HH whistle out. A lovely brass whistle of the same type with good volume for session play and at a great price. Perhaps Alex can post photos.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:34 pm 
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Thanks for the review Ted, I'm hoping to have more of those made up when I get caught up on the backlog of orders I have (between winter storms and the flu things got set back a bit..). For people who were wondering the body tube is made from a thicker wall brass than what was used on the economy model whistles and the head piece was also brass with the Delrin plug and mouth piece. Can see below for the photo's.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:50 pm 
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Nice looking whistle Alex. Do you have a name for it yet? I realize its a prototype, but, to differentiate from the economy brass whistle I think a name would help. And an established price would help. I see this whistle is being compared to the Killarney while I think it would be helpful to include comparisons along with the Sindt. As the Killarney whistle was initially compared with the Sindt.
Sure looks nice!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:06 pm 
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I'm right with Ted here. My experience with the Killarney is exactly as he described.

I have not tried Alex's new whistle yet but if it's anything like his wooden instruments it will be well superior to the Killarney.

Can't wait to try it.

ecohawk

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:21 pm 
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it will be well superior to the Killarney.


I don't think just being louder will mean by definition superior. Quite the contrary.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:18 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
it will be well superior to the Killarney.


I don't think just being louder will mean by definition superior. Quite the contrary.


I agree fully. Every "high-end" whistle I've ever got has been simply uncomfortable in the usual settings I frequent- indoors and small gatherings. Granted, I'm not a session player for the most part since the reductionist approach to tunes bores me. To me, and this is just my personal take, a good whistle shouldn't necessitate avoiding tunes that use the high A and B. I think to some degree the market for whistles is really oriented towards beginners, and therefore whistles with higher backpressure are favored since they require less breath control, and a side effect of this tends to be a louder sound. I'm not slighting Hermit Hill whistles by any means, and I'm sure people accustomed to loud sessions may well need a loud whistle, but the idea that a louder whistle is a better whistle irks me. In the sessions I've been to, I've never had a problem playing my narrow-bore, Generation-style whistle and adding something nice to the mix.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:27 pm 
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A whistle is always so much louder to the listeners than the player...it's rare that one it too quiet for others when you're playing it.

I've also found spouses tend to find ANY sound emanating from a whistle, played indoors, to be too loud. My wife always prefers whichever whistle I'm currently NOT playing in the house.

Eric


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:38 pm 
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"I've also found spouses tend to find ANY sound emanating from a whistle, played indoors, to be too loud."

Eric - you've been talking to my wife again ! :)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:27 pm 
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I suppose any comparison can be justified but I consider wide bore a separate animal from narrow. FWIW I played my Kilarney and wide bore Burke session in a loud session last week and both were comparable volume wise to me. What the listener heard may be different. Both lower octaves were hard for me to hear myself and both upper octaves were easily heard above the fray as you would expect a whistle to come to the fore. I like em both for different tones and playing characterists they offer. No regrets on the Kilarney purchase.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:01 am 
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Quote:
I think to some degree the market for whistles is really oriented towards beginners,


I think the elephant in the room is the fact that many makers, with some notable exceptions, are in fact not very good players.

When I look for an impression of a new whistle my first port of call is usually, out of necessity, the soundclip section of a maker's website. Too often, the majority of makers' websites I have looked at, clips are disappointing: wooden performances without grace, fluency or a full use of a whistle's potential. Sometimes with poor intonation (especially in the higher octave, came across one of those just at the weekend). I would never consider buying a whistle presented in that way sight unseen. I don't think makers fully realise how damaging their own presentation can be. I know on the forum some makers like to wear a mantle of quasi endearing self-deprecation and make statements like: 'my playing is not very good. I make them much better than I play'.. Fact is, anyone making a statement like that has no way of knowing whether or not the bit about the quality of the whistle is correct. Any maker trotting out his/her ineptness when it comes to playing the product advertised has, in my eyes, no credibility at all (and yes, I do understand fully the insecurity this sort of statements spring from but do you really feel it helps making that sort of proclamations when promoting something you're trying to sell?).

I know it's a sore point, makers and some players alike will maintain making a whistle is a mechanical exercise, playing doesn't come into it. But I am convinced a person not at ease with the finer detail of playing will not be able to fully understand the requirements of setting up and voicing the instrument to suit the music played on it.

On the other hand I had no qualms at all ordering for example a Killarney. The soundclips on the website were all by competent players, including one of the makers (and I say this as a stand alone example of one presentation that works, there's no 'vs' any other whistle in particular). If a maker puts up a clip to sell a whistle, showing it being taken through it's paces is a plus. If they can't do that, maybe they should consider not putting up any clips at all as poor or mediocre ones will do them a disservice.

So, that's one hobby horse thoroughly flogged once more. Not bad for a monday morning.

The volume issue is another issue that comes up on the forums all the time. Personally, I prefer to play in smaller groups if I play out at all. If the setting is too loud to play in, it's most likely not worth playing in. I don't feel an arms race of instruments with ever increasing volume will bring much good. In the past whistle players reached for the flute in noisier settings. Maybe take a leaf out of their book.

But that's my personal take on the volume issue, YMMV. A louder instrument is not by definition a better one, I think we can agree on that much. There are more issues at play when determining the quality of an instrument.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:05 am 
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I think that beginners especially don't realize just how loud their whistles are. My trusty Feadog and Generation whistles are plenty loud enough for all the sessions I've gone to in the area, even with a large amount of people. If your whistle can be heard above 10+ other players, there's something wrong.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:42 am 
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I don't know. Last night I went to a session I hadn't been to before, in a busy restaurant. Due to the threat of snow, or the threat of Oscar's, most of the usuals didn't show up. So there was just me and a flute player. This was a frightening predicament for me, since I'm still very much at the stage of just trying to learn tunes, and I was hoping I could take be in the background, just playing along inconspicuously with any tunes I recognized.

No such luck.

I had three whistles with me: The Killarney, the Kerry Optima low D, and my Parks Ghost whistle. The Killarney was nearly inaudible in just the ambient pub/restaurant noise, so I used the Parks Ghost until most of the diners were finished (it started at 5:00 pm), then I switched to the Killarney, and also started using the Optima a bit.

I guess in a regular session, I wouldn't care so much whether I could be heard, but under these unusual conditions I was more or less "on the spot" and needed volume. The Parks Ghost isn't a tremendously loud whistle, but I've noticed before that it carries well--just a notch louder than most of my other high D whistles. I don't know why I had it with me; I don't usually take more than one high D to a session.

For the record, the experience was pretty daunting. I definitely felt I was over my head. The flute player was very gracious and when I had explained that I was far from a seasoned player he just told me to play anything I knew, and he played along. I think I know about 50 tunes now, and by the end of three and half hours I'd played every one.

The Killarney is a very sweet whistle, and truth be told, if there's more than one high D whistle in a session I think it's a benefit for a whistle to be quiet. If there are two or more high Ds, I don't even touch mine and just play the low D. I know a session isn't an "ensemble" but I don't think a lot of high D whistles wailing at the same time usually sounds good.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:38 pm 
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I still have some reservations about people saying a whistle is "loud". It would be great to have some sort of measurement, both near the player and removed, to get a real sense of whether a whistle is really loud or just has a tone that "stands out". And, of course, what is "soft and mellow" to me is almost always "loud and shrill" to the rest of the inhabitants for the house.

So, the question is, has anyone done any measurements of "loudness" for a variety of whistles?

Best wishes,

Steve

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:40 am 
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I agree that being loud is not the best criteria for judging a whistle. I have played several "loud" whistles I didn't much care for. In smaller settings I use a Freeman Bluebird or an old Generation which are my favorites in that setting. I also have a Freeman Mellodog which has a larger bore that I like in larger settings. I also have a few other great whistles that fall into either one of these camps. The comparison I wanted to point out is similar to comparing the two Freeman's. I know listeners can hear the Bluebird in a large session but the sound is often lost to my own ear. Tone and response are more important to me than volume, but I like to be able to hear what I am playing as well.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:50 am 
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I understand that, I hate feeling my way around a tune without really hearing what I am doing. The problem is, a whistle will be covered up to the player in certain circumstances. I posted the example of myself playing a Sindt before. I was in Friel's, in the kitchen. Which is a relatively small room (for those who don't know it) with a low ceiling. At that time, maybe ten years ago (?) there were maybe six of us playing. I forget who exactly were there on the night but certainly the McCarthy girls. I would guess two or three fiddles, one or two flutes, concertina and maybe pipes and/or accordion. I didn't hear myself at all and thought I could play away happily without embarrassing myself too much. Until Marion Mac remarked on the tone of the whistle and I let her have a go. I could hear her very very well from across the room. A louder whistle would most likely have been out of place there, in spite of the player not being able to hear it. But as I said, YMMV. The response earlier was more aimed at Ubizmo by the way, who seemed to be thinking more along the lines of loud=better.

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