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 Post subject: Good mid tier options?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:23 am 
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Hey guys. I've been playing for a while and think its time to upgrade from my cheapo whistles. I'd like to be able to record in the future when my playing is good, because me and my brother are super into trying to make high quality covers and studio stuff. So I need whistles worth recording with. The problem is that I need to over time get a lot of different whistle keys and other stuff. So I cant really just shell out top dollar.

how do Susato and Dixon compare to more expensive makers? They are noticeably cheaper than pretty much every other professional feeling option (so excluding your diy style pvc's. No hate to pvc players haha).

another option is going non tunable, saves a lot of money per whistle. But I feel like for recording that could be problematic. But a good argument I read is if its a good whistle its in tune anyway. Where especially for like shearwater, a non tunable C saves a large % of money.

Some of the more eco friendly brands I'm looking at are Susato, Dixon, Shearwater, and Whistle workshop. But I'm open to other options. Theres probobly a lot of good ones I havent heard of yet. Some of your other popular ones like burke, chieftain, etc just cost noticeably more. How much better are the more expensive ones?

Thanks for any input. A lot of this just comes down to preference I think but I'd like to at least make an initial educated decision for what I try to hopefully get something I dont need to replace any time soon.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:48 am 
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I'd spend some time researching and listening to whistle reviews to identify the quality and characteristics for a particular brand. There are numerous whistle reviewers around the internet, but, I'd suggest seeking a reliable reviewer rather than a mere opinion. Here's a reliable reviewer, Wanderer, on the forum:

http://tinwhistler.com/Reviews

And keep in mind that playing experience is a major factor in how a whistle sounds. Non-tunable whistle(s), have the other instruments tune to the whistle.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 11:01 am 
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Since you mention the focus is recording, that presents choices you must make, selecting from the list of tones available in whistles, and what your music needs. Recording then gives you fine control of EQ, compression, dynamics, effects and volume in the mix of any particular track. That will allow one whistle to sound like 30 others if you so wish. So make a list of the options available in whistles and maybe get a few whistles that give you options.

You should establish some baseline requirements.

An old style thin-wall penny whistle is just NOT going to sound like a thick-walled wide-bore brass or aluminum whistle. My problem with the very reliable Susatos is that they sound very much like recorders, and I already have recorders. When I play whistle, it must sound like a whistle. Tone as an issue, has many related issues and model variations. Some, like the Killarney, handle the second octave and highest notes very smoothly and with great control. Many whistles get louder in the second octave, and maybe a little shrill or chiffy, but sometimes if carefully crafted that's appealing. Sometimes, it's really not. What do you want?

For instance, is it most suitable for a particular song to have a whistle that has a very pure tone, like a steady flute tone, or one that has more variations, more windiness or texture to it, more effects from the player involved?

The advantage of the higher priced models like Burke, Goldie, McManus, Milligan, Reyburn, Oz, Alba, Reviol, Setanta, Howard, etc., is that they typically play like professional musical instruments, they have reliable quality control where they're made, they sound great, they respond well, they have a long-term base of users, they are occasionally upgraded because their makers are astute musical minds who deal with accomplished and exacting musicians regularly.

There is a long list of mid-price whistles that might suit your purposes. From inexpensive ones like the Tony Dixon trad brass or their excellent DX006, or the Walton Mellow D, in the lower priced range. Depends what you want. Consider these too: Chris Wall, Timothy Potter, Goldfinch, Tilbury, Becker, MK, some of Nick Metcalf's whistles are mid-priced, some are higher (he's a brilliant crafter with a lot of models available). Watch for the release of the new Kerrywhistle Cobre model and see what you think (to be released within a few weeks, from what I know).

For the alto range, the Optima by Kerrywhistle sound great. The Tony Dixon aluminum in A I like the clean precise tone of. If you want power and expressiveness and rich tone, the Thunderbirds in F and G may the solution. Alba whistles sound great. Chris Wall mid-key whistles sound very good too.

I've little experience with the Low D whistles, so others will have to offer comments there. Keep an eye out for innovations as well. The Bracker whistles with 9 holes offer a chromatic whistle. That makes a lot of sense to me. The Carbony is an all carbon option. The Erik The Flutemaker Irish whistle with plastic mouthpiece and wood body sounds terrific, and he also offers some pure carbon whistles. The Qwistle is a new whistle with a very strong and clear tone with lots of character.

If you're going to follow up recording with live performance, I'd recommend a whistle that gives you a lot of reliability and confidence, that's built strong.

See → YouTube reviews, comparisons, demonstrations, and Chiff and Fipple discussions.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:57 pm 
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I don't think Susatos sound like recorders but they do have a certain hard edge to the tone that I don't like all that much. The tuning is excellent however. The Oriole has a slightly nicer sound than the Dublin or Kildare models but a rather loud and stiff 2nd octave. Apart from that it's great, once you get used to it. With the Dixons I like the higher keys more than their mid range (A and G). The low D one piece abs version is easy to play but I'd rate it a beginner instrument. The soprano D models I have (trad nickel, DX001, DX204) are very good. So I think there are not that many makers who are consistent over the whole range from high D to low D. Maybe Colin Goldie.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:13 pm 
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I've done quite a bit of studio work, it was my fulltime job for a couple years, mostly on uilleann pipes but some whistle too.

In my opinion the High Whistles I prefer playing- vintage Generations and Feadogs- record very well.

In the studio their relatively low volume doesn't matter. What you do get- thanks to their relative narrow bores- is a lovely dark complex tone.

Wide-bore loud whistles, in my experience, have a blander, plainer tone when recorded. To me, that kind of whistle shines in noisy environments like loud sessions and gigs without PAs. The classic thin-metal-tube plastic-top whistles shine in the studio or when miced in live performance.

Then again, I'm prejudiced because to me classic Generations "are what whistles sound like" and I prefer whistles that revel in sounding like whistles rather than trying to sound like recorders or Boehm flutes or Native American flutes.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:47 pm 
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If you can't shell out top dollar, may I suggest the Killarney (brass is my preference over nickel), about $89 shipped w/pouch. A big jump would take you to a Gene Milligan wood (or Delrin) whistle, about $185 + shipping.

Cheaper options are a good (perhaps tweaked) Generation or choices from a variety of Jerry Freeman's tweaked whistles.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:19 pm 
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Loads of good info here guys. I've had to do a lot of name googling haha. Theres so many options, the hardest part is cost. If I wanted to budget out Susato and Dixon are great but. The other part of me wants something "cool" and "high end" (no hate to dixon or susato users. I just feel like they are known for being mass produced). Theres just something cool about being able to have brand loyalty to your high end product of choice.

It doesnt help my cause that my initial key I'm going for is high C. I feel like I just like high C over D, D is just too high. But Playing a D song in C sounds fine its just a tad lower. Vs like using my Bb is a huge jump, so on guitar it can be way different. Which can be problematic. I also want to get a Low F in the future, and I'd like many others like A (better D to me lol), G, D, one of my Fav songs is Eb but I will prob just play it in Low D, etc lol.

If I could ditch tunable, I would prob just get a shearwater C because its really affordable but still is in the "hand made" category. But shearwater adds flat 30 pounds for tunable. Which isnt huge for the low whistles, but for the supranos pretty much double the cost. Which then makes it the cost of my other options, making my choice harder., where before tunable it was so affordable it was a easy choice. but once its $100 shipped with a possibly long wait time, it has a hard time competing with a lot of my other good $100 range options below.

Some good contenders I've found-
Syn Whistles- One of my top picks sofar- It doesnt have the option to get just the C, but as the pack if they are good is a very good deal in the long run. 130$ or so for 3. Its only 1 headpiece but thats fine. From my research I think they seem good but I've heard some mention of buzzing. But in the sound clips i listened to it didnt seem like a problem except the spot they were intentionally showing the buz. but I feel like the buz just adds some character. I feel bad spending 160$ but as a longer term where I eventually am going to have to get a D and stuff, the pack is really eco friendly. I love ones that have switchable bodies to save money. I need to do more research tho, these are noticeably cheaper with the packs than some of the others, not sure how the quality is vs others like Killarney. But it could also just be a good deal and be good quality.

Killarney seem promising, definitely a good contender. I've heard nothing but good, and is only 100$ shipped (sadly the C costs noticably more than the D). But for the cost the quality just seems really good. Is it possible to buy discount price bodies no head for these? I love the concept of that.

Tillbury are 90$ on his site but some sites seem to say its $75. So I'll prob look into them more. At 90$ tho they compete with my other options making it harder. At 75 tho it gives them a boost.

Tweaked are a good budget option but it feels bad when I upgrade from my feadog to a tweaked feadog lol. Theres lots of good plastic options like goldfinch and parks it just feels really not cool. Which sounds liek a stupid reason but feeling cool is half the battle in life :D

@kkrell I bumped into Gene's whistles earlier while researching. They seem really cool. Sadly out of my budget but if I up my budget are a possible option. I'd want to get a cool wood one but more upkeep is kidna rough. Reyburn also seem cool but once again out of my current budget. But I like how he has a lot of keys. A lot of makers seem to have diff erent keys. Which isnt necessarily bad it just means you get to have multiple favorite makers.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 1:55 am 
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Seems like you're looking for something different, as well as more expensive, to justify the purchase - so I would suggest you go for a delrin, not a very common option in whistles, but still easy to care for compared to a wood one. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 1:58 am 
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Quote:
Some of the more eco friendly brands I'm looking at are Susato, Dixon, Shearwater, and Whistle workshop.


Eco matters are important but why a plastic whistle like the Susato would qualify as an eco friendly option eludes me, to be honest. If you, or anyone, wants to be an eco friendly whistler it's probably a good idea not to fall in the trap of buying whistle after whistle but rather than that make a choice and stick with that, limiting the waste of unused whistles. That would be a start anyway.

It's probably best to step away from the 'cool' factor and let functionality be your guide, select a whistle on how it plays and how it suits your playing and the music you intend to play on it, everything else is superficial. That may mean you, like many of the finest whistle players, end up playing an off the shelf mass produced whistle. Ignore arguments like 'it looks like a toy', if it does the job, and does it well, that's all that counts. Not all highly expensive whistles do the job well, in my experience, but if you find one that does the job well for you, than that will have to be your choice. Functionality first and foremost.


FWIW, I am still trying to find a buyer for my Killarney C €80

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:30 am 
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It is true that I do have a extreme tenancy to go out of my way to buy something different haha. Not exactly the best habbit.

I haven't been able to find a lot of info on Syn whistles so I should prob cross those out, even though the kit ability is nice. Is too risky with the tone buzzing, I cant find enough info on the sound. Killarney is still a solid option. they dont have the option to go low, but for suprano they just look and sound very good. My 2 others are Shearwater (I just think they sound nice and are a good eco option for getting other keys, they have a lot of key options), and Tillbury. These are less popular but what I've heard has been good.

Decision making is always harder when all the options are good lol.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 2:50 pm 
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Narzog wrote:
It is true that I do have a extreme tenancy to go out of my way to buy something different haha. Not exactly the best habbit.

I haven't been able to find a lot of info on Syn whistles so I should prob cross those out, even though the kit ability is nice. Is too risky with the tone buzzing, I cant find enough info on the sound. Killarney is still a solid option. they dont have the option to go low, but for suprano they just look and sound very good. My 2 others are Shearwater (I just think they sound nice and are a good eco option for getting other keys, they have a lot of key options), and Tillbury. These are less popular but what I've heard has been good.

Decision making is always harder when all the options are good lol.


I had an alloy low G from Shearwater, and it also had a buzzing problem. It also left a bad taste in the mouth. Also, the bore is very large - larger than the bore on the MK Low F, a key lower - which makes it very loud. I really didn't enjoy it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:28 pm 
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TO help the decision making, you need to narrow down what you want and consider your recording system ability to shape the sound after that. You can spring for a few whistles within a reasonable small budget that give you a lot of tonal and performance range, including covering the general categories of;

1) the old style thin metal, thin bore whistles of the Feadog/Waltons/Clarke/Shaw style that's been around a long time, so find a whistle that's a suitable musical instrument with that kind of tone. There are enough options in that category so that you can keep the price down and get quality music.

2) the larger bore or larger mouthpiece and larger blade/window area that gives richer tone and louder sound, the style common with many higher priced aluminum whistles now

3) the wood, Delrin or non-metal body types available, whether the blade is metal or not, starting at a low price Tony Dixon DX001 and many other options, that are well-made and perform reliably. A more balanced tone perhaps, lots of variety in this category, from top pro whistles downward in price.

Know what tonal range you want to work with, be it one, two or all three or more, and with recording software EQ you can fill in many gaps. Some of the peculiarities of a whistle may not be noticeable once other instruments and reverb are mixed in.

I would also recommend finding at least one knock-about general practice whistle, at a low cost, that's going to give you unlimited hours of practicing on most skills. It may take a better performing whistle to give you skills practice in the 3rd and high second octave, relative to stage performance and recording for real, but many low and mid-price whistles are suitable for the knock-about whistle. Options that have good reviews for performance and low price, such as the Walton's Mellow D, Oak, Potter, Feadog Pro, Dixon DX001, etc., which can get damaged or lost and you can just snag another ASAP.

They may not have the ideal tone you're looking for, but the knock-about whistle is a special category anyway. By the way, "inexpensive" is not a license to think a whistle is suited to be a knock-about. The knock-about has to be a good-performing and reliable musical instrument, not a scratchy-sounding thing where the notes break down in the higher second octave and third octave (or even the lowest notes too) and you have to fight the damned thing and it's too different than the higher cost performance whistles you may settle on. The knock-about can't be giving you the wrong sorts of experiences to be affected by, it has to be in line with the experience with quality musical instruments, just maybe not quite as good.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:07 pm 
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vigaglum wrote:
Narzog wrote:
It is true that I do have a extreme tenancy to go out of my way to buy something different haha. Not exactly the best habbit.

I haven't been able to find a lot of info on Syn whistles so I should prob cross those out, even though the kit ability is nice. Is too risky with the tone buzzing, I cant find enough info on the sound. Killarney is still a solid option. they dont have the option to go low, but for suprano they just look and sound very good. My 2 others are Shearwater (I just think they sound nice and are a good eco option for getting other keys, they have a lot of key options), and Tillbury. These are less popular but what I've heard has been good.

Decision making is always harder when all the options are good lol.


I had an alloy low G from Shearwater, and it also had a buzzing problem. It also left a bad taste in the mouth. Also, the bore is very large - larger than the bore on the MK Low F, a key lower - which makes it very loud. I really didn't enjoy it.

Thanks for the good info. Most of what I've read about shearwater has been good but I have come across more negative feedback on them than most others. So I will definitely need to do more research on them if I don't chose one of the others. But right now I'm prob leaning towards one of the others based on my current info.


RoberTunes wrote:
TO help the decision making, you need to narrow down what you want and consider your recording system ability to shape the sound after that. You can spring for a few whistles within a reasonable small budget that give you a lot of tonal and performance range, including covering the general categories of;

1) the old style thin metal, thin bore whistles of the Feadog/Waltons/Clarke/Shaw style that's been around a long time, so find a whistle that's a suitable musical instrument with that kind of tone. There are enough options in that category so that you can keep the price down and get quality music.

2) the larger bore or larger mouthpiece and larger blade/window area that gives richer tone and louder sound, the style common with many higher priced aluminum whistles now

3) the wood, Delrin or non-metal body types available, whether the blade is metal or not, starting at a low price Tony Dixon DX001 and many other options, that are well-made and perform reliably. A more balanced tone perhaps, lots of variety in this category, from top pro whistles downward in price.

Know what tonal range you want to work with, be it one, two or all three or more, and with recording software EQ you can fill in many gaps. Some of the peculiarities of a whistle may not be noticeable once other instruments and reverb are mixed in.

I would also recommend finding at least one knock-about general practice whistle, at a low cost, that's going to give you unlimited hours of practicing on most skills. It may take a better performing whistle to give you skills practice in the 3rd and high second octave, relative to stage performance and recording for real, but many low and mid-price whistles are suitable for the knock-about whistle. Options that have good reviews for performance and low price, such as the Walton's Mellow D, Oak, Potter, Feadog Pro, Dixon DX001, etc., which can get damaged or lost and you can just snag another ASAP.

They may not have the ideal tone you're looking for, but the knock-about whistle is a special category anyway. By the way, "inexpensive" is not a license to think a whistle is suited to be a knock-about. The knock-about has to be a good-performing and reliable musical instrument, not a scratchy-sounding thing where the notes break down in the higher second octave and third octave (or even the lowest notes too) and you have to fight the damned thing and it's too different than the higher cost performance whistles you may settle on. The knock-about can't be giving you the wrong sorts of experiences to be affected by, it has to be in line with the experience with quality musical instruments, just maybe not quite as good.

I think I'm looking for a #2. A lot of the covers and music I like use assorted well known whistle brands like burkes and others that I recognize from my research. I currently have a feadog C, clarke sweet tone and a generation Bb for knock-abouts. So if I'm going somewhere that I might get my whistle ruined I'd definitely bring one of those haha.

Its amazing what editing can do to a recording. My brother helped me set up a track for recording whistle with compression and proper reverb and stuff and it makes anything I play sound way better. My playing still has a long way to go though 8)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:43 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:

It's probably best to step away from the 'cool' factor and let functionality be your guide...functionality first and foremost...

...select a whistle on how it plays...

...if it does the job, and does it well, that's all that counts...

...that may mean that you, like many of the finest whistle players, end up playing an off-the-shelf mass-produced whistle.


As somebody who paid the bills with $6 whistles I could not agree more. (Well those and a $375 uilleann chanter.)

Onstage shows are a different matter. What an instrument looks like, and what you look like, are part of the show.

But in studio work nobody sees what your instruments look like!

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:43 am 
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I had an alloy low G from Shearwater, and it also had a buzzing problem. It also left a bad taste in the mouth. Also, the bore is very large - larger than the bore on the MK Low F, a key lower - which makes it very loud. I really didn't enjoy it.


That's very different from my experience, my low F Shearwater has the same diameter as my MK low F, in fact, they are almost identical, but the MK has a fuller tonal sound to it, but definitely nothing wrong with the Shearwater's tone either.

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