Classify a Gen Bb?

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krystlepye
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Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by krystlepye »

So I went to the music store for some guitar strings, and came home with a Blue/Nickel Generation Bflat.

Isn't that just how it works :tomato:



It got me to thinking though, that since this is a whistle many of you have, it might make a good "baseline" for comparison as I try to sort out what I would like to buy in the future.

So, how would you classify your Gen Bb as far as volume and backpressure go, versus whistles of other makes? I'm talking untweaked Gen here or maybe Blutack tweaked (since I'm about to give that a try...)
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by benhall.1 »

krystlepye wrote:So I went to the music store for some guitar strings, and came home with a Blue/Nickel Generation Bflat.

Isn't that just how it works :tomato:



It got me to thinking though, that since this is a whistle many of you have, it might make a good "baseline" for comparison as I try to sort out what I would like to buy in the future.

So, how would you classify your Gen Bb as far as volume and backpressure go, versus whistles of other makes? I'm talking untweaked Gen here or maybe Blutack tweaked (since I'm about to give that a try...)
I tend to think of Gens as "normal". They're easy blowing compared with so-called "high-end" whistles. Mine have slightly less than average back-pressure, and the volume is reasonable, but not particularly loud. The best thing about Gens is the sweet tone they produce. Lovely.

And, by the way, I simply do not understand this now almost universal desire to "tweak". Why? They're much better untweaked in my experience.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by krystlepye »

The blu tak is temporary. I personally wouldn't do anything permanent to this particular whistle.

Anyway, thanks for the response. That is just what I was looking for!
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by benhall.1 »

krystlepye wrote:The blu tak is temporary. I personally wouldn't do anything permanent to this particular whistle.
I know, I know. Sorry - it's a knee-jerk reaction of mine. I haven't tried to do the tweak myself, 'cos I don't see the point, seeing that the Gens I have have the right sound anyway. But I do own some tweaked whistles, one of which I like. I don't like it as much as my old Gens though.
krystlepye wrote:Anyway, thanks for the response. That is just what I was looking for!
I hope you get some more thoughts on this. It's a fairly standard question, in a way, but interesting nevertheless. :)
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by pancelticpiper »

I also think of Generations as being "normal whistles". Much of this comes from the fact that when I started playing, in the 1970s, there were only two sorts of whistles available, Generations (in their various keys) and the Clarke C. (Clarkes only came in C.)

Generations vary from whistle to whistle but I would search out the ones that played "best" in my opinion: clear tone, very clear sweet easy 2nd octave, round full low octave, quick response between the octaves, and fairly good tuning between the octaves. Generations nearly always have flat 2nd octaves but very rarely you might come across one that has perfect octaves.

On this forum many people will talk about the 'dirt' or whatever that supposedly characterises Generations but the ones I picked out played pure and clear.

Anyhow I think of Generations as being "traditional whistles" with the characteristics which come from having a fairly narrow bore for length (easy 2nd octave etc). They're free-blowing and of moderate volume.

Back in the 1980s I was dismayed when suddenly many new makers came onto the scene (mostly Americans it seemed) whose goal appeared to be to make a whistle that sounded like a recorder, or sounded like a Native American Flute, or anything other than a whistle. These "neo whistles" tended to have bigger bores, a louder low octave, and a 2nd octave which was not as sweet, sometimes verging on harshness, like you were shouting the high notes rather than singing them. The 2nd octave was also a bit more difficult to produce, and switching octaves was sluggish, not as nimble as on old-school whistles. Most good trad players ignored these and stuck by their trusty Generations (a la Mary Bergin).

Nowadays there are whistles like the Sindt which have all the cherished playing characteristics of a very good vintage Generation.

About the 'tweaking', usually even good Generations have a slightly flat 2nd octave and this is cured by packing the head. Mine are packed with wax, I'd never heard of blu-tak until I joined this forum. Another 'tweak' that nearly all my whistles have (not only Generations) is that whistles quite often have scales which are a bit off here or there, and this I fix by carving out certain holes.

For example many Generation Ds have good scales save for a flat F#. Why live with it when it's easy to carve it out?

Some Generations have a good scale save for the note fingered xxxooo being sharp (the note that would be G on a D whistle). Common in the old days to see good players with tape on that note.

My wonderful old Generation C is like that, and I played it with tape on that note for over ten years. One day I said "enough!" and I carved out all of the other holes to bring them up to the pitch of that hole, and also chopped the bottom a tad. The result is a perfectly in-tune whistle that's served me well over the years, the veteran of many concerts, movie scores, albums, etc etc. You can see me playing it in Patriot Games. It's the finest whistle of any key at any price I've ever played.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by Mr Ed »

benhall.1 wrote: And, by the way, I simply do not understand this now almost universal desire to "tweak". Why? They're much better untweaked in my experience.
Folks can't leave well enough alone, I guess. Been guilty of that myself. Now all of the Generation (and other) whistles I have are putty free, and if they don't sound good it's because of the one playing 'em.


I can't classify a Gen Bb in comparison to other whistles, because I have no others in that key. I can say however, that after hearing recordings of myself and fixing some breath control issues recently, the Gen D is the easiest on the ears and lungs of this newbie. That's in comparison to a Waltons (untweaked) and Shaw in D.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by An Draighean »

benhall.1 wrote:I haven't tried to do the tweak myself, 'cos I don't see the point, seeing that the Gens I have have the right sound anyway.
Me neither; I like my Generations the way they came/are. Maybe I just got lucky; maybe I am not picky enough, but they sound right to me.
Deartháir don phaidir an port.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by krystlepye »

Mostly I've asked this question because I want to make sure that I understand what is meant when people say "free blowing" etc. This whistle vs. a different whistle in Bflat doesn't matter as much... I'm looking for general descriptions/ a consensus on some of the terminology. My initial impression, was that the Gen Bflat is free blowing, with a good bit of volume. At least I can confirm I am on the right track so far.

My particular whistle here is clean in the low octave, but the octave jump squeaks at me sometimes, and the second takes quite a push. With blu tak, it is maybe a little easier in the top octave, but it dirties it up in the lower. I'm not sure which I prefer yet, I'll be playing it both ways quite a lot to form my own opinion.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by stanton135 »

pancelticpiper wrote:About the 'tweaking', usually even good Generations have a slightly flat 2nd octave and this is cured by packing the head. Mine are packed with wax, I'd never heard of blu-tak until I joined this forum. Another 'tweak' that nearly all my whistles have (not only Generations) is that whistles quite often have scales which are a bit off here or there, and this I fix by carving out certain holes.

For example many Generation Ds have good scales save for a flat F#. Why live with it when it's easy to carve it out?
Hear hear! If I'm not happy with a whistle as-is, why should I put up with it, instead of altering it to suit me better?

I play my Gen Bb with the poster putty tweak, and the scale slightly adjusted. It's one of my favorites! I'd describe it as free-blowing and medium volume.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by pancelticpiper »

Sadly I never came across a magical perfect Generation Bb, not in over 35 years of playing every one for sale I came across. I've played wonderful ones owned by good players, but these were definitely not for sale. There's something especially wonderful about hearing a really good player on a really good Generation Bb.

I have a funky collection or around ten mediocre Gen Bbs which I've messed around with trying to make something better. No real success.

So for the last few years I've been playing a Freeman Tweaked Gen Bb which is perfectly in tune, but doesn't have that cherished off-the-shelf Gen sound.

Now I have a Sindt Bb which is simply amazing. It's the first Sindt I've owned. It plays very much like a really good Generation, but somehow even better. It's just as freeblowing and sweet and easy as the best Gens but adds some complexity and sophistication.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by krystlepye »

pancelticpiper wrote:
My wonderful old Generation C is like that, and I played it with tape on that note for over ten years. One day I said "enough!" and I carved out all of the other holes to bring them up to the pitch of that hole, and also chopped the bottom a tad. The result is a perfectly in-tune whistle that's served me well over the years, the veteran of many concerts, movie scores, albums, etc etc. You can see me playing it in Patriot Games. It's the finest whistle of any key at any price I've ever played.
I hadn't seen that movie. Hubby and I pulled it up on Netflix for the evening... that must've been a cool gig! Who were the other players, and what was the tune?
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by pancelticpiper »

Yes it was fun. Long ago!

The singer/guitarist is Ken O Malley. He's made his living here in SoCal for many years performing Irish songs. He's very good at it.

Here he is

http://www.kenomalley.com/

The fiddler is Cait Reid.

I don't know about that song. It starts

Here's to you, my brave Irish laddies
we'll not be broken, downhearted, and sad.
So let us drink a toast to all our comrades
that stand for the honour and pride of our land.
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by celticlibero »

[Thread revivial. - Mod]

I've had a brass and a nickel Gen Bb for years now and the brass has a lovely sweet tone. I've noticed more recently A is becoming popular, do folk reckon there is much difference between the Bb and an A?
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by RoberTunes »

Detective Ronald Obvious replies:
I would suspect the greatly increasing popularity of the A whistle is from two concerns:
1) it's an easy companion for the key of D which is already very popular, whereas Bb is a better fit for D# and F.
Adding an A whistle in that case gives a new and perhaps attractive variation in tone and playability if you are in fact
playing in the key of D (or A or whatever). Depending on the song, or if you're sick of sounding like every other
bird in the bar, it might be a very nice option to have.
2) some whistle makers may see the key of A whistle as a tube bore and mouthpiece design match set in the alto range,
(A-G-F) rather than a "lowest of the soprano" range keys, with resulting larger bore, larger windway, less clogging, louder, richer deeper tone
in the first octave. What you really want is the bore size, mouthpiece and holes matched perfectly to the key, and the A whistle not just a C or Bb tube
cut longer and thrown on the market for the gimmick of saying it's a whistle for sale.

There are so many different types of whistles out there, comparing any of them must rely on the specific models used.
More comments from much more experienced players and reviewers of both Bb and A, with specific models named ........... needed!
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Re: Classify a Gen Bb?

Post by fatmac »

I'm only a casual player, I have Generation 'Bb' x2 (brass & nickel), Tony Dixon 'A' x2 (Trad Brass & Aluminium), & a Thunderbird (aluminium) in A.

Of those, I play the Thunderbird the most - the TD aluminium is now a flute, which I like to play a lot, easy player as a flute, (second octave was a bit difficult as a whistle).

My regular keys are 'A' & low 'G', closely followed by low 'F' - there's just 'something' about these keys.... :D
Keith.
Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.
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