Chiff and Fipple Forums

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Author:  felixbm [ Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Fife

Hey folks!

I'm tinking on buying a Fife, is there anybody here who ever tried one, or better, play it seriously? Is the fingering similar to the whistle? is it hard? actually I need any advices anyone can give me, so let yourselves loose and lets discuss the matter! :D

Author:  crookedtune [ Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

Fife fingering is exactly like tinwhistle fingering, (except for the Yamaha fife, which is different). It's a fun little instrument to play, but since it's usually in Bb, you won't be able to play it in most sessions.

I've made myself some nice fifes out of pvc plumbing pipe. You can also buy them from makers like Doug Tipple, Sweetheart Flute Company, Cooperman Fife & Drum Company, Skip Healy and others. Both Tipple and Sweetheart make a D fife, which you CAN play in most sessions, but it's very high-pitched, and a bit harder to play than a Bb. For this reason, most folks opt to play whistles in sessions. Fife is a very good way to start transitioning from whistle to flute, if you have a mind to.

A good fife will cost you between $40 and $100, probably.

Author:  Tim2723 [ Fri Apr 27, 2007 4:53 am ]
Post subject: 

Ditto all that. Beware the Yamaha plastic fife, as it is a different fingering scheme (that's not a problem, but it's different), I play Sweet fifes in G and A. I use them like flutes to accompany vocals. They don't see much use in a session. The high D fifes (some call the piccolos) are a little hard to play and in my opinion don't bring that much to the table compared to the same key whistle.

A Sweetheart in A makes a good transition instrument and is sized nicely for a child's hands.

Author:  John Gribble [ Thu May 03, 2007 9:36 am ]
Post subject: 

The Sweetheart Folk Fifes are very nice, i have two of them and I've just ordered one of their Renaissance fifes as a backpack instrument. But my current favorite fife is the "Model F" military fife from Ed Boyle at This is more of the fife-and-drum revolutionary War/Civil War-type instrument. Sweetheart makes military fifes too and both companies sell instructional material.

The folk fifes are perhaps a little easier to play, and in the low octave have a nice mellow tone. The military fife isn't really meant to be played in the lower octave and the low notes are pretty thin-sounding. But in the second and third octaves they really thunder. This may or may not be to your (or your spouse's) taste.

The lip takes a little developing. You say "pooh" or "do" or "two" to get the thing to speak. But they are easier to finger and lots easier to handle than a full-sized D flute. I love mine, but my neighbors are less thrilled.

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