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 Post subject: Tweaked Sweetone Review!
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 1:32 pm 
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Howdy Y'all,

I got a tweaked Sweetone C from Jerry Freeman a week or two ago off Ebay and have done a comparison between an untweaked Sweetone (thanks Jerry, you should be getting it back today or tomorrow) and the whistle I am now happily playing.

Here's what I thought. Anyone else care to weigh in?

PC


1. Breathiness.

The tweaked was able to play with less breathiness but also more...I know that didn't make sense but the breathiness could be modulated with some care. I could add or remove breathiness by blowing harder or softer in the lower register. However, I noticed that this difference went away as I went up the scale. In upper register I detected only a very slight difference and that went away as the higher notes were played, past the high F# there was no difference.

2. Timbre

The tweaked does have a better timbre, at times it sounds very flute-like and on a couple of notes it has almost a pipe organ sound. The tweaked is definitely the better of the two instruments.

As a looooong time fiddler, one of the things that I look for in a fiddle is the range of the tone colors and textures: how broad a spectrum does the instrument cast? The tone colors would be like the base tone to the whistle (exclusive of the breath) and the texture would be the breathy component. The tweaked is better with the tone and the texture (although the difference is smaller regarding the texture).

3. Air required

They both seemed to take a similar amount of air (I can't really tell if I am blowing harder on the one or the other) but the amount of air for the tweaked whistle feels more "right".

4. Overblowing

The untweaked's break into the upper register was at a much lower threshold and so it tended to "pop" up into the higher notes without as much warning. The threshold was also sloppier than the tweaked. Once you learn the break point of the tweaked whistle, then switching between registers is a breeze (if I can make a bad pun).

The lowest notes on the tweaked whistle were also much more stable and could be more easily played, partly due to the higher break point, partly due to the fact the tweaked whistle has a better tone.

5. Responsiveness

The tweaked whistle was definitely the more responsive instrument! One of the nicest things about it was that little "bubble" or "bark" that it gave when you would cran or roll a note (did that make any sense?) There was that nice little transition sound that came out and really gave more depth to the ornament. This was also nicer because, since the rolls were cleaner/more distinct, you could modulate your rolls; you could play a true jig roll or a reel roll and have them sound that way.

When playing fiddles there are some that are really "friendly" like a puppy dog, all they want to do is play with you (and slobber and pee and chew your shoes...) rub their bellies and they're in heaven. Then there are others like beautiful women, who you have to treat just right and caress in just the right way but then the rewards are mmmuuuccchh greater. The tweaked whistle has a lot more to offer.

Sometimes the nice fiddles seem to be much harder to play precisely for the reason that they "unmask" your playing and demand that you play more cleanly.

6. Intonation

I checked the intonation of the whistles with my tuner and, by watching the needle, I could see that the tweaked whistle responded much more precisely. This visually confirmed my impression that the tweaked whistle is more responsive to careful playing (I could get around a +/-20 cent swing). The untweaked was out there in its little +/-10 cent world, oblivious to where you wanted it to be, with careful blowing I could hold the tweaked in about a +/-2-3 cent range.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 4:16 pm 
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In my opinion, the ease with which the Sweetone jumps between octaves is spot on. Regarding intonation flexibility, there are many situations when less is better. Teaching a group of beginners is a lot easier when they all blow a D and get a fairly uniform sound.

That said, the one thing that bugs me about Sweetones is that distinct "fuzziness" of their voice. It's evident, after listening to the clips of Jerry's efforts, that he's done a nice job of making it sound purer. If there was a way to accomplish that alone...the results would be amazing.

Jef


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 4:19 pm 
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Quote:
That said, the one thing that bugs me about Sweetones is that distinct "fuzziness" of their voice. It's evident, after listening to the clips of Jerry's efforts, that he's done a nice job of making it sound purer. If there was a way to accomplish that alone...the results would be amazing.


I think I know what you're talking about. I don't like it, either.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:13 pm 
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Jeferson wrote:
Regarding intonation flexibility, there are many situations when less is better. Teaching a group of beginners is a lot easier when they all blow a D and get a fairly uniform sound.

Jef



Jef,

This is true, the untweaked whistle seemed to just wander around without paying much attention to the inputs of the player, it did make it seem easier to play. That said, as a teacher myself, I wouldn't want anyone, especially beginners, to develop any lazy habits as unlearning is harder than learning.

PC


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:36 pm 
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Hi, Folks.

Here's some background.

I've tweaked 85 Sweetones to date [updated 5/31/03], so I've had a chance to compare them before and after tweaking.

1. Breathiness.

Untweaked, there's a lot of variation in the breathiness of Sweetones straight from the factory.

Generally, I believe the tweaking I do to them reduces the breathiness somewhat for each individual whistle. However, some are less breathy to begin with, though even those should become a little less breathy when I tweak them.

So there may be some overlap. The most breathy tweaked whistle might be about the same or even conceivably slightly breathier than the least breathy untweaked whistle. But any tweaked Sweetone should be at least somewhat less breathy than an average untweaked one.

The untweaked whistle Paul used for comparison with the tweaked one he bought from me came back in the mail today, so I was able to try it out again. I hadn't selected it before I sent it. In the interest of unbiased comparison, I just sent him the first one that came to hand out of the box. I tried it out again today and found that it is one of the less breathy ones straight from the factory.

2. How they break into the upper register.

The tweaking doesn't change this overall, but it definitely changes it for the bottom two notes. I agree that, in general except for the bottom two notes on some of them, Sweetones are right on the money in how they transition between octaves.

However, there's a lot of variation among individual whistles in how stable the bottom two notes are and how those two notes break into the upper register. Some (many) of them are too unstable on those two notes, and a few are almost unplayable on those two notes because of it.

The tweaking I do strengthens and stabilizes those bottom two notes (if they need it, which is about four out of five whistles) and makes them closer to the other notes in the way they transition between registers.

The untweaked whistle that Paul used for comparison and sent back to me breaks too easily in the bottom two notes, in my opinion, so that's one of the things I'll work on when I tweak it.

3. Timbre.

This is another area where the tweaking addresses the "muddiness" facter. After tweaking, the voice of the whistle is somewhat more focused, and the nuances of the musical sound are more audible.

It sounds richer, more like a musical instrument and less like a toy. This is a real change in the sound, but I don't want to oversell it. A tweaked Sweetone is still a Sweetone, and the difference may be subtle for some. However, it's a Sweetone that's among the better or best of how Sweetones can sound.

This too, is something that varies a lot from one untweaked whistle to another, straight from the factory. Some of the untweaked Sweetones are pretty great sounding right from the start (again, I would say about one out of five or six). Again, the tweaking improves them all, and it improves even the best ones a little more.

The untweaked whistle I sent Paul for comparison was one of the better sounding ones. I believe the tweaked one he bought from me was about average before I tweaked it. If you could compare the timbre or voice of both whistles before tweaking, I believe the one I tweaked (that he bought) would have been not as good as the one he compared it to, until after I tweaked it and sold it to him. After tweaking, as he commented, the formerly poorer sounding whistle became the better of the two.

These three characteristics seem to be completely independent of each other. Any given untweaked factory Sweetone might be breathier or less breathy, stable or unstable on the bottom two notes, with a focused/good or "muddy" timbre or voice.

I would add, even with these variations, the factory Sweetones are still more consistent and playable than most of the Generation type whistles I've encountered. And, of course, the conical bore makes the Sweetones generally better in tune as inexpensive whistles go.

4. The other element is back pressure and air requirement and how this relates to pitch control and other things.

I don't believe there would be a noticeable difference between the tweaked and untweaked Sweetones, in playing in or out of tune by an inexperienced player. There would be enough other "noise" in a beginner's playing that I doubt the issue of whether the student was blowing the notes right on pitch would matter. The difference is real, but subtle enough that I don't think it would be an issue with beginners.

However, because the tweaked whistles require somewhat less air and give you a little backpressure to work against, in the hands of an experienced whistler, they do give more control, not only of the exact pitch you can blow, but of things like vibrato and loudness. I believe this is what Paul's talking about when he says "It just feels like it takes the right amount of air."

The tweaked whistles allow you to moderate the loudness much more than with the untweaked whistles. There is still only a slight amount of variation in loudness possible, but there's definitely more than before tweaking, and it's enough to work with. This, along with everything else, allows for more expressiveness in the playing.

That about covers it.

Best wishes,
Jerry


Last edited by Jerry Freeman on Sat May 31, 2003 9:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:46 pm 
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allezlesbleus wrote:
Jeferson wrote:
Regarding intonation flexibility, there are many situations when less is better. Teaching a group of beginners is a lot easier when they all blow a D and get a fairly uniform sound.

Jef



Jef,

This is true, the untweaked whistle seemed to just wander around without paying much attention to the inputs of the player, it did make it seem easier to play. That said, as a teacher myself, I wouldn't want anyone, especially beginners, to develop any lazy habits as unlearning is harder than learning.

PC


I would agree with Paul on this.

What I believe happens when you have more control over what you can do with the whistle is this:

As you continue to play and become more used to it, you unconsciously begin to use the nuances more. You just begin to play more expressively, without having to think of it. The sensation, again without overselling it, is that the whistle "sings" more after tweaking.

I find that there's more of a tendency for the whistle to stay in my hands and keep playing instead of putting it down for another whistle or looking for something else to do.

Best wishes,
Jerry


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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 7:19 am 
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I bought a JerryTone, that is a tweaked Clark Sweetone, from Jerry a while back, when he started offering them. Here are some thoughts on it.

The essential Sweetone sound remains unchanged in the tweaked version. I was curious about that, because I am not a great fan of the Sweetone sound. I don't exactly mind it, but I am not drawn to it, like I am drawn to the sound of a Generation or that weakness-in-the-knees-inducing Overton sound.

But there is a definite change in the sound quality, at least between my JerryTone and my untweaked Sweetone. It does have to do with breathiness, and perhaps with focus. Jerry's magic give focus and strength to the tone (but not volume).

It's a fun whistle to play, and Sweetones generally are charming for their agreeable, forgiving ways. Very hard to squeak or squak on a Sweetone. The JerryTone maintains that ease and it's a great whistle to rip through a tune on. After the Jerritization(TM), however, the JerryTone does gain in subtlety and expressiveness. It's hard to add here to what has already been said, but where the Sweetone feels a bit rough-cut, the JerryTone is much more finished in its quality. You can be much more precise, and send it where you want it. With the Sweetone it's easy to land in the vicinity of where you want to be, but it's always going to be the vicinity. The JerryTone can take you much closer. Much finer tool, if you know what I mean. (Incidentally, I want to become a professional reviewer and be paid for paragraphs like this one. Any leads, anyone?)

Jerry's workmanship is great and you won't even see the tweaks unless you look closely. Very neat and professional, probably on account of the the little fat elves Jerry employs in his shop. Very competent and reliable elves, provided you can keep them off the drink long enough.

All in all, the JerryTone is a big improvement over the Sweetone. But Jerritization(TM), though close to magical, is not magic, and you still have basically a Sweetone whistle. You won't find a better Sweetone, though.

We'll have to see how Jerry's plans for the production of these babies develop: Here is a man who can tweak a mean whistle, and it will be fun to see these JerryTones pop up places. I don't know what Jerry's pricing is at the moment, maybe he could post some information about that. People will want to know how a JerryTone compares to other whistles in the same price-range.

Hat off to Jerry and his JerryTones, and a round for the elves on me.

_________________
/Bloomfield


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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 11:22 am 
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Bloomfield wrote:
I bought a JerryTone, that is a tweaked Clark Sweetone, from Jerry a while back, when he started offering them. Here are some thoughts on it.

The essential Sweetone sound remains unchanged in the tweaked version. I was curious about that, because I am not a great fan of the Sweetone sound. I don't exactly mind it, but I am not drawn to it, like I am drawn to the sound of a Generation or that weakness-in-the-knees-inducing Overton sound.

But there is a definite change in the sound quality, at least between my JerryTone and my untweaked Sweetone. It does have to do with breathiness, and perhaps with focus. Jerry's magic give focus and strength to the tone (but not volume).

It's a fun whistle to play, and Sweetones generally are charming for their agreeable, forgiving ways. Very hard to squeak or squak on a Sweetone. The JerryTone maintains that ease and it's a great whistle to rip through a tune on. After the Jerritization(TM), however, the JerryTone does gain in subtlety and expressiveness. It's hard to add here to what has already been said, but where the Sweetone feels a bit rough-cut, the JerryTone is much more finished in its quality. You can be much more precise, and send it where you want it. With the Sweetone it's easy to land in the vicinity of where you want to be, but it's always going to be the vicinity. The JerryTone can take you much closer. Much finer tool, if you know what I mean. (Incidentally, I want to become a professional reviewer and be paid for paragraphs like this one. Any leads, anyone?)

Jerry's workmanship is great and you won't even see the tweaks unless you look closely. Very neat and professional, probably on account of the the little fat elves Jerry employs in his shop. Very competent and reliable elves, provided you can keep them off the drink long enough.

All in all, the JerryTone is a big improvement over the Sweetone. But Jerritization(TM), though close to magical, is not magic, and you still have basically a Sweetone whistle. You won't find a better Sweetone, though.

We'll have to see how Jerry's plans for the production of these babies develop: Here is a man who can tweak a mean whistle, and it will be fun to see these JerryTones pop up places. I don't know what Jerry's pricing is at the moment, maybe he could post some information about that. People will want to know how a JerryTone compares to other whistles in the same price-range.

Hat off to Jerry and his JerryTones, and a round for the elves on me.


I must agree with Bloomy on all counts. My JerryTone arrived in this morning's mail and I'll likely be playing it the rest of the afternoon!

~Larry


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 7:40 pm 
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hello all, i ve had a freeman tweeked clark for about 3 months and no matter how much i tried i could nt get the top 3 or 4 notes to sound anything but just aweful. sounded like about 3 octaves going of at the same time. hated it. but every few weeks picked it up and tried again but no good. then yesterday it sang like a bird, did everything everybody said it should do.
now i brought this whistle second hand. it looks nice and new and i gave the mouth piece a clean for hygiene. but nothing else and i m sure now that the problem was muck or something stuck on the inside and it has cleared itself.
my other whistles i rince through with warm water. with the way mr freeman tweeks his whistles would this (washing) upset the alterations.?
if it does nt i would like to give it a good wash through.
cheers all haggmaster


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:01 pm 
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Well, by now I've sold several thousand tweaked Sweetones. I believe the tweaking scheme has changed somewhat from the whistles that were mentioned in this thread, but the general pattern of adjustment of how the whistle plays or sounds should be similar.

I guarantee 100% satisfaction with any whistle I've tweaked, regardless of where you got it or how long ago.

There's no harm in rinsing a tweaked Sweetone whistlehead in water or mild soap solution, but be careful not to poke anything into the filling under the windway. Also, the metal lamination inside the windway can be nicked or torn loose if you push something into the windway without being careful enough.

If you like, send the whistle to me. I'll look it over and correct anything that seems amiss, or if it seems better to replace it with a new one, I'll do that. No charge, of course.

Best wishes,
Jerry


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