It is currently Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:16 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 
Author Message
 
 Post subject: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 5:24 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:43 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Seattle, WA
I own a MK Pro low whistle, a Chieftain high whistle and just bought a Burke one.
Curiously, why are Abell whistles more than 4X the price of these other high end whistles? Do they sound like they are 4X better?

_________________
Mk Pro low D | Goldie low D | Chieftain high D & alto A | Burke high {D, E} alto {B, G} | Freeman C | Dixon Pro high D


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 6:31 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 8009
Location: Boston, MA.
arthury wrote:
I own a MK Pro low whistle, a Chieftain high whistle and just bought a Burke one.
Curiously, why are Abell whistles more than 4X the price of these other high end whistles? Do they sound like they are 4X better?


Because that’s what Mr. Abell wants/needs to charge and enough people will pay it. Beyond that, you’d have to try one for yourself to determine what the value to you is.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:17 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 4294
Location: Los Angeles
Loren wrote:
arthury wrote:
I own a MK Pro low whistle, a Chieftain high whistle and just bought a Burke one.
Curiously, why are Abell whistles more than 4X the price of these other high end whistles? Do they sound like they are 4X better?


Because that’s what Mr. Abell wants/needs to charge and enough people will pay it. Beyond that, you’d have to try one for yourself to determine what the value to you is.


^^ This.

Also, his whistles are wood (with silver fittings), which some covet. They can sound nice, often capable of a pure sound that is appreciated by Boehm flutists who want/need a whistle for other uses, such as folk repertoire. His wood Boehm flutes are finely crafted, expensive & well-regarded.

_________________
International Traditional Music Society, Inc.
A non-profit 501c3 charity/educational public benefit corporation
Wooden Flute Obsession CDs (3 volumes, 6 discs, 7 hours, 120 players/tracks)
http://www.worldtrad.org


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:27 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:51 pm
Posts: 2655
Location: Seashore
Quite simply: it is a custom made instrument handcrafted by a craftsman with many years of experience. There is no factory nor mass production.

And what everyone said above.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:38 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Posts: 4399
Location: Lovettsville, VA
Abell's are $500. Burkes and MK Pros run around $250, which isn't quite 4X the price. :D

It's worth noting that Abell's weren't always $500. Like many makers, Mr. Abell started out at a more modest number, and his prices rose along with his demand. Some people consider them worth the money. I got mine at a lower price, but if it were lost, I'd replace it at the current price in a heartbeat.

And while Abell's cost 2X as much as a Burke, i can't say if it's 2X better. I know I play mine more than 2X more than my Burke.

We've run into this same kind of weird quantification many times on the forum over the years. How do you define a percentage of "better"? Is it 50 times better than a Generation? You can't quantify how much "better" one whistle is over another. Many people are perfectly happy playing Generations and would never consider paying $500 for a whistle. Other people aren't happy with Generations, and look elsewhere for satisfaction. It's completely subjective.

If Abell makes a whistle that fits the bill, that's the price you pay. If someone else makes a whistle that you get along with just fine, and at a cheaper price, then that's your good fortune.

_________________
│& ¼║: ♪♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪ :║


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:09 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:38 am
Posts: 34
Location: Co. Kildare - NAAS
Price and "better" don't necessarily correlate. The Burke and Abell whistles aren't mass produced in a factory. Both hand made and have decades of experience (and reputation) behind the asking price. I think it only fair that the craftsman gets to set the price. As to whether anything is "worth" a given price - that is personal choice.

I've played, but don't own, an Abell blackwood D. It was a lovely instrument.

For a little less than half the price, Roy McManus in Belfast also produces hand made hardwood whistles. They are wonderful, perfectly tuned and very distinctive voice. The head is in stainless steel + wood insert not silver. (http://www.roymcmanus.co.uk/) - I love mine.

Price differences aside - there is a significant difference in the playing characteristics and sound of a wooden whistle versus the Burkes which are notably clean, and bright.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:19 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:31 am
Posts: 5486
Location: the Back of Beyond
Quote:
The Burke and Abell whistles aren't mass produced in a factory.




Here is Mike Burke's description of the process as posted here in the past. Desciption may be dated but to me it clearly reads like an assembly/finishing of factory made parts rather than a craftsman/artisan based production (not that it matters if you like the whistle):



Quote:
Hi Everyone!
I just saw this thread and thought it a good idea to write some comments regarding this subject.
I have never kept it a secret that I have help in making my whistles. No one person could produce the hundreds of whistles we produce each year. However, no one person produces anything, including myself. An intelligent division of work is the key to maximum efficiency and also to the very best quality in each instrument.
The parts for my whistles are produced by my Brother, John's company, Burke Tool Inc using the most advanced CNC equipment available. Bonni, an experienced journeyman machinist runs the machines. Burke Tool has dedicated several machines just to make our parts. Bonni loves idea of making parts for whistles and has made it a labor of love.
But in spite of the fact that we hold tolerances to half a thousanth of an inch, we custom hand fit each part together to form the whistle bodies, after the parts are given an initial polishing. This is done by my Step Father, Les Mainer an excellent mechanic, who has been a river boat engineer, auto body tech and barber his whole life. He is very good with his hands and takes a special pride in his work too. He has learned his job from me and has 4 years experience.
At this point in the process, the whistles will play, but not sound like a Burke should sound and may not be in tune in both octaves. The finished whistle bodies are now given to Steve Morris, my main apprentice. I really don't like to call Steve an apprentice any more, though, but instead a master tuner and voicer of whistles.
Steve is an accomplished musician on the guitar,which he has played for over 20 years including a number of years professionally. Steve has a wonderful ear for both tuning and tone and is an innovative thinker and very talented, mechanically. In short, he is a fine artist and with his 4 years experience tuning and voicing whistles, he should be thought of as a master whistle maker and voicer in his own right. I find that having a man of Steve's qualities working as a partner in my goal of making great whistles, we stimulate each other with new ideas on how to better voice whistles for the little things that make a big difference like dynamic ranges and transient response and tonal color. I bounce new ideas off him and have him help with some of the research, too.
Finally, I play and final voice each and every whistle that goes out before I date and sign it. Sometimes my part is very small, because Steve is just that good, and sometimes I have to spend some time on a whistle that is not quite up to our standard in some way.
Far from making our whistles less in quality, this team approach, I am sure, makes it possible for us to make not only more whistles, but to constantly improve our standards for excellence. Everyone on our team is an artist and cares very deeply about his work. I am proud of them all and for their contributions, I am very thankful.
I am sure that all the makers that have helpers or apprentices, or whatever they call them feel the same way if they have found people of these qualities to share their passion for excellence. None of us do our work alone for long without the support of others, even if it be the loyal and loving support of our spouses and friends, without which we would accomplish very little.
Happy Holidays to you all from the Burke Whistle Family!

_________________
My brain hurts

Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:35 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 8009
Location: Boston, MA.
Uh oh, somebody just opened the craftsmanship can of worms :o :lol:


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:46 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:31 am
Posts: 5486
Location: the Back of Beyond
:P

_________________
My brain hurts

Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:47 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:43 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Seattle, WA
A major thank you to all of you folks. I get a better idea now. Still feeling around in the Whistle world and the names.

_________________
Mk Pro low D | Goldie low D | Chieftain high D & alto A | Burke high {D, E} alto {B, G} | Freeman C | Dixon Pro high D


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:04 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Posts: 4399
Location: Lovettsville, VA
Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
The Burke and Abell whistles aren't mass produced in a factory.




Here is Mike Burke's description of the process as posted here in the past. Desciption may be dated but to me it clearly reads like an assembly/finishing of factory made parts rather than a craftsman/artisan based production (not that it matters if you like the whistle):



Since Burke parts are made on a CNC machine, I've never really considered them 'hand made' in the way a whistle on a lathe is. That said, a lotta wooden whistles these days are made on machine lathes, which takes a bit of that 'hand made' factor out (to me, anyway)..it's a matter of putting a wood blank between centers and dialing in the machine, one pass at a time. Very few folks are putting them on a wood lathe and taking skews and gouges and other hand tools and making whistles these days.

Though I believe a fair number of them are still hand-making the ramp part.

But then again, how 'hand made' a whistle is has really never concerned me overmuch.

_________________
│& ¼║: ♪♪♫♪ ♫♪♫♪ :║


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:26 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 8009
Location: Boston, MA.
Wanderer wrote:



Though I believe a fair number of them are still hand-making the ramp part.




The window/ramp/labium can be roughed out using machines, but will still need considerable work by hand on a wooden whistle. This is one reason so many people make metal whistles where it’s basically tubing with one edge turned down on an angle as the ramp/labium. Even with designs where the metal is deeply milled to produce the ramp, you can avoid most of the hand work that would be required required on wood whistle because you can’t take wood down all the way to the correct dimensions by machine without a lot of catastrophic failures due to chipout and cracking of the wood.

Basically, on a wood whistle you have to mill out the window and ramp well short of the final dimensions, then carefully work your way by hand to the final dimensions using files and knives. Well, some people get by with just files, judging from some of the work I’ve seen :really:

Back to the topic of cost for an Abell: One factor that people often fail to consider is that you are also paying for highly seasoned wood. In other words, you are paying for a whistle that is significantly less likely to crack. Waaaaay too many wooden whistle makers use wood that is far too newly cut, and often they also choose to use woods that are inappropriate for mouth blown instruments as they are woods prone to cracking when used for our purposes.

Usually new makers are eager to just get on with making and selling whistles, so using “fresh” wood and/or bad wood for direct blown woodwinds, so you end up with a cracked instrument not long after you bought it. But hey, it was 1/2 the price of the Abell, so you can own twice as many cracked whistles for the price of an Abell, awesome! :party: Or not.....

For whistles where the wood was cut into proper sized billets, ends waxed, and then stacked and stored appropriately, you’re looking at about 5+ years of seasoning. I’d be happier with 7-8 for whistles and 10+ for flutes. I’ve been to Chris Abell’s shop and seen his wood supplies: it’s all stacked in billets and dated. His current working stock was mostly well over 10 years old. Some much older. Not as old as the stuff where I worked :wink: but few places have 30+ year old wood stock.

Then there’s the further drying that needs to take place in stages during production, this needs to be spread out over months for whistles, and the course of a year for flutes.

Almost nobody talks about all of this, but it’s critical in order to create a stable final instrument. You rarely see a cracked Blackwood Abell whistle. There have been TONS of cracked wooden whistles posted for sale here over the years from virtually every other maker based on my observations.

So the choice is yours. I usually go for the high quality option. Buy once, cry once as they say. At any rate, how long and well the wood was seasoned, both before and during production, does factor into what you pay, as well as the “value”.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
 Post subject: Re: Abell Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:24 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:43 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Seattle, WA
Wood aging ... yes ... like good aged Prosciutto

_________________
Mk Pro low D | Goldie low D | Chieftain high D & alto A | Burke high {D, E} alto {B, G} | Freeman C | Dixon Pro high D


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google and 25 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
[ Time : 0.158s | 13 Queries | GZIP : On ]
(dh)