review housed at http://www.tinwhistler.com/music/reviews.asp
Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadóg Soprano D
(Review written March 2005)
Jerry Freeman is probably the world's only professional full-time pennywhistle tweaker. Tweaking means, simply, to change a whistle to try and improve it. This can be done by modifying the mouthpiece or tube in various ways. A classic simple tweak is to squeeze a Clarke mouthpiece a little more closed, so that it takes less breath. I say "simple" but I've always failed at even that small of a tweak. So it hardly suffices to say that I'm in awe of the level of tweaking Jerry does. With each whistle Jerry sent, he included a sheet detailing what tweaks are done on that brand of whistle. I assume he sends that to everyone.
I wrote Jerry and let him know I was going to do a mostly-negative review of a Generation tinwhistle. It's known that good Generations are prized instruments treasured by their owners. It's also known that finding a "good" generation is an undertaking of near epic proportions. So in the interests of fair play, I asked Jerry if he'd send me one of his tweaked Generations so that hopefully both sides of the Generation coin could be explored. He did one better, and sent me five different tweaked whistle brands to review!
Today, we'll be taking a look at the Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadóg. This whistle isn't tweaked as extensively as the Mellow Dog or Generation, but has had some work. Please see my Feadóg review
for a full run down on this whistle's base characteristics. I'll spend most of this review covering the differences.
At a Glance
Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadóg
metal tube body (brass or nickel) with plastick mouthpiece.
Price at time of review:
Big Whistle Music
: Product sample from Jerry Freeman
: Purer tone than an untweaked version, easy-to-hit second octave. Tends to squeak less.
Jerry hasn't really changed the appearance of the Feadóg. It's a plastic mouthpiece on a metal tube of either brass or nickel, and his tweaks will only be noticeably to someone who closely examines the whistle. I still think the brushed finish on the brass tubing is a lot classier looking than brands with plain brass tubes.
Here's the full-sized whistle. From this view, it pretty much looks like a standard Feadóg. Let's look closer to find the tweaks.
Here's a close-up of the labium ramp. It looks like Jerry has filed a bit to change the angle of the windway a bit. You can't see it at all, but there's also some kind of plastic inside the mouthpiece to enhance the ramp a bit from underneath. I tried to take pictures at a lot of different angles, and just couldn't get it to where it was visible. I even tried to take a picture from up the mouthpiece from the inside, but it didn't turn out very clear. So I just settled on a pic that showed both the ramp and the putty tweak, which you can also see in this picture. See my reviews of Jerry's Generation and Sweetone tweaks for more complete explanation of this tweak. Except for the Shaw, this seems to be a pretty standard tweak for all of Jerry's whistles. He only uses the "acoustically transparent" material on the Generations.
Here's a view of Jerry's logo.
The whistle still sounds and plays like an untweaked Feadóg, with some minor differences. Jerry has made the whistle more pure-sounding than the original--it still sounds like a Feadóg, but not quite as reedy. He's also slightly eased the octave jump, and I squeak this one a lot less than the original, so it's easier to control. It's definitely cleaner in the upper register, which you can hear if you compare both recordings.
A sound clip of the whistle:
-Here's a clip of a song on the whistle.
: Average volume. Jerry's tweaks haven't really changed the volume of the whistle much. If I had to say, I'd say it's slightly less loud. But it's a close thing.
: Very fast. Like the original Feadóg, ornaments are crisp and roll off the fingers with ease.
: The OXXOOO C-Natural is a little sharp with the expected breath requirements..about 15 cents. Standard Feadógs are a little sharp too. I don't know if Jerry's tweak has made this one sharper than the Feadóg I've got, or if it's a manufacturing variation. They're close, with Jerry's being about 7 sharper than untweaked one. While you can bring it into tune with breath control, OXXXOO works a lot better. OXXXOX makes the whistle too flat.
: Noting the C-Natural cross-fingering requirements, the whistle is in tune across the range. I didn't expect Jerry's tweaks to change the tuning characteristcs of the whistle, and they haven't.
Hole Size and placement
: This whistle has holes with average size and placement. There are no weird spacings. If you can play a soprano D, you can play this one.
Air volume and pressure requirements
An easy player both in terms, requiring both breath volume and pressure on the low side of average. Jerry's tweaks don't change the original much here, which is a good thing in my opinion. Easily jumps the octave without much work.
: Average. Like the original, I started getting a little wet around the 15 minute mark. Also like the original, it was easy to blow out and keep going.
Jerry's tweaked Feadóg is a little purer than the original, which has a strong reedy character. While you lose a little (though certainly not all) of that reediness, you gain some control over sqeaking, and little easier octave transitions. In terms of easy playability, Jerry's tweaked Feadóg has all of the advantages and characteristics of the original, so if you like the way a Feadóg plays but prefer a slightly purer-sounding, easier-to-control instrument, Jerry's tweaked Feadóg is certainly worth looking at.