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 Post subject: Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadog D review
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 8:54 pm 
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review housed at http://www.tinwhistler.com/music/reviews.asp

Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadóg Soprano D
(Review written March 2005)

Preface
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
Whistle Reviewed: Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadóg
Models Available: Tweaked D
Construction: metal tube body (brass or nickel) with plastick mouthpiece.
Price at time of review: $18.85 US
Available From:
Big Whistle Music
Elderly Instruments
How Acquired: Product sample from Jerry Freeman

Bottom Line: Purer tone than an untweaked version, easy-to-hit second octave. Tends to squeak less.

Appearance/Construction
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.

Image
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.

Image
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.

Image
Here's a view of Jerry's logo.

Playing Characteristics
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:
Blarney Pilgrim-Here's a clip of a song on the whistle.

Volume: 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.

Responsiveness: Very fast. Like the original Feadóg, ornaments are crisp and roll off the fingers with ease.

C-Natural: 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.

Tuning: 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.

Clogging: 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.

Summary
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.


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 Post subject: Re: Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadog D review
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:52 pm 
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Location: somewhere, over the rainbow, and Ergoville, USA
Wanderer wrote:
Jerry Freeman is probably the world's only professional full-time pennywhistle tweaker.


Probably?

Who else is there?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:58 pm 
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Should've called it the Man-tweaked Freedog.

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 Post subject: Re: Jerry Freeman Tweaked Feadog D review
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:15 pm 
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Location: Lovettsville, VA
Cranberry wrote:
Wanderer wrote:
Jerry Freeman is probably the world's only professional full-time pennywhistle tweaker.


Probably?

Who else is there?


With several billion people on the planet, there's the off chance that there may be another one ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 6:46 am 
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How does it compare to the Cillian O' Briain tweaked Feadog?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 7:00 am 
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FJohnSharp wrote:
How does it compare to the Cillian O' Briain tweaked Feadog?


Well, you know...Cillian O'Brian has not offered to send me a Feadog yet ;)

If someone were to make one magically appear in my mailbox, I'd be more than happy to give it a whirl, though. Until then, we can only hope that someone who has both will speak up.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 7:24 am 
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FJohnSharp wrote:
How does it compare to the Cillian O' Briain tweaked Feadog?


The O'Briain Improved Feadog is a completely different whistle.

A Freeman tweaked Feadog is essentially the same voicing as a stock Feadog, but it has been worked over to minimize the tendency to buzz, rattle and squawk, and especially to help clean up the upper register, which tends to be rather rough on the stock Feadogs. The timbre is very reedy/complex, as you can hear from Wanderer's soundclip.

An O'Briain Improved Feadog/Generation is at the exact opposite end of the voicing continuum. An O'Briain Improved is very sweet/pure voiced, whereas a Feadog or Freeman tweaked Feadog is very reedy/complex voiced.

O'Briain Improved Feadog/Generation whistles are very well liked by those who are comfortable playing them, which includes some highly regarded recording musicians. It is often mentioned that they require rather sensitive breath control, as the lower register is especially delicate. This is a conscious decision in the design of the O'Briain Improved whistle. The purer/sweeter you voice a whistle, in most instances, the more delicate the lower notes become to play without overblowing into the second register. Cillian has accomplished a remarkably sweet and birdlike sound with his Improved Feadog/Generation.

In developing the tweaked Mellow Dog, I set out to create a pure/sweet voiced whistle that would be less demanding than an O'Briain Improved for breath control. My tweaked Mellow Dog isn't quite as sweet/pure as an O'Briain Improved, but it is definitely in the sweet/pure range of voicing. Also, there's a difference in resonance due to the fact that a tweaked Mellow Dog is a wide bore whistle, whereas an O'Briain Improved is a standard bore.

The tweaked Mellow Dog and O'Briain Improved are quite different from each other, even though both are at the sweet/pure end of the continuum. The Freeman tweaked Feadog is at the opposite end, the complex/reedy end of the continuum compared to an O'Briain Improved, which is at the far sweet/pure end.

I hope that makes sense.

Best wishes,
Jerry


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