The search for "the holy whistle grale".

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pancelticpiper
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by pancelticpiper »

CPA wrote: Sun Aug 07, 2022 9:09 am For me, the Holy Grail of high D Whistle is the whistle that has the sweetest sound and the easiest and smoothest transition between octaves. For my playing I think I found this characteristic in the narrow bore Burke whistles and in the Lir whistles.
About the Lir I know nothing, but about Burkes I have considerable experience.

The "narrow bore" Burke (which in fact has a fullisize bore) is rather stiffer in the high notes, and less nimble between the octaves, than good vintage Generations and Feadogs.

New whistles I've tried which capture that vintage sweetness and nimbleness have been the Killarney and the Sindt.
CPA wrote: Sun Aug 07, 2022 9:09 am I consider these whistles "pure" that is almost like instruments for making classical or orchestral music...
Yes indeed the combination of powerful low notes, stiffer high notes, and pure (some would say bland) tone makes the Burke the favourite of "legit" (classical/orchestral/studio) musicians.

These are the same characteristics that make many trad players dislike Burkes.

In my experience only vintage Generations and Feadogs combine exquisite sweetness in the high notes, super easy note transitions, and dark complex tone.

Killarneys and Sindts come very close, the Sindt more pure and dark but not quite as nimble and sweet.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Narzog »

What makes me sad with Burkes, is they are so close to being my perfect whistle. All he had to do, was not keep making the windway taller. The Burke A has a wide but fairly short windway. Not the most air efficient but not too bad. Then the low F, is at least double the height, and wider. I feel like there's two types of whistles. Ones you need to learn how to play, and ones that practically play themselves. Burkes are the latter. I put MK in the same boat with Burkes. Its genuinely hard to make bad squeaks or play noticeably out of tune with a Burke or MK. Which I respect. From my first play session with any Burke or MK I got, I sounded better than any of my other whistles. It makes it hard for me to like a lot of other 'harder to play' whistles when my first impression is that I play them noticeably worse than my others. Which doesnt mean I cant learn to play them well. Its hard to suffer through learning how to play one whistle while you know you could play another and have all the issues go away.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by pancelticpiper »

I certainly had a love affair with Burkes for a few years.

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After 35 years of playing Irish flute I realised that my flute days were over and began searching for a vertical replacement.

The Burke was the first professional-quality Low D that I got, and I loved it. Especially coming from the flute the Burke's huge honking bellnote was a plus.

And Burkes have such smooth voicing over the gamut, and mostly perfect tuning. (There's one odd quirk many Burkes have.)

For somebody playing in a band, having to switch keys often, the fact that Burkes are remarkably consistent across the various sizes is an advantage. You don't have to recalibrate your blowing going from one size to another.

But as I played more and more different brands of Low D the deficiencies of the Burke became apparent: unusually large appetite for air, unusually stiff high notes, and fatter tube making for a bit of hand strain (the very thing that ended my flute days). For any given key the Burke will have wider tubing and take more air than equivalent whistles from other makers. The so-called "narrow bore" Burke only goes halfway to solving these things; it still takes more air and has stiffer high notes than old Generations and Feadogs and new Sindts and Killarneys.

I went through an MK phase before settling on Colin Goldie whistles for the lower sizes, and sticking with vintage Generations (and Jerry Freeman Generations) for the smaller sizes.
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c1980 Quinn uilleann pipes
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Goldie Low D whistle
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Hauke »

Some weeks ago I also tried to find the perfect one for me. So I ordered, in believing expensive means perfect, a Burke high D. It took just a couple of minutes to be as most disappointed as possible. Nothing. No balance in pressure, volume, no promised sound, poor handling and playability for me, and most of all... a strange contact. HIS whistles are not comparable. How could I! do it?
My recently received Setanta high D seems to be the best I’ve ever had. Although there's a strange pressure feeling in the second octave. Not perfect, but much better than the high C from Setanta.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by DeTerminator »

Hi Hauke,

I'm curious as to which Burke high D and material made of that you had purchased. I have the aluminum Session model, as well as the narrow bore D in brass and aluminum. I also have many other high D's from different manufacturers. They each have their own traits that I don't always prefer at any given time, but can be a favorite at other times. So I can't say that I have an absolute favorite holy grail whistle. I do like my Burke whistles, and Michael Burke has been good at answering questions in a timely fashion when contacted, as far as that goes. There are many whistles out there to choose from, and that's a good thing (for the most part). :D
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Hauke »

DeTerminator wrote: Thu Sep 01, 2022 8:41 am Hi Hauke,

I'm curious as to which Burke high D and material made of that you had purchased. I have the aluminum Session model, as well as the narrow bore D in brass and aluminum. I also have many other high D's from different manufacturers. They each have their own traits that I don't always prefer at any given time, but can be a favorite at other times. So I can't say that I have an absolute favorite holy grail whistle. I do like my Burke whistles, and Michael Burke has been good at answering questions in a timely fashion when contacted, as far as that goes. There are many whistles out there to choose from, and that's a good thing (for the most part). :D
Hi, the grail would exist for me, if there's a well formed whistle tone all over the scale in the same volume.
Take guitars. Difference is mostly the pickup, tension of strings, playability, wood quality... Or fiddles, mandolins, banjos, saxophones, pianos. In my experience no kind of instruments like whistles are more different. Some fipples simply don't work, some work on every body. But I'm sure there must be a rule, a formula that would work to create the grale.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Jayhawk »

Like most of us, I have personally bought and sold a ton of whistles. I've regretted selling a few, regretted buying only a very, very few, but did finally find my holy grail of a whistle...an O'Brien 3 piece delrin rover. Tuning is great, not too loud or too soft...and it has a full, buttery-soft sound that is what I have always dreamt of! Plus, it comes apart for easy travel/storage into three pieces, which makes storage in varying flute cases really easy.

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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Alaskamike »

For me, the perfect whistle is the next one I buy!
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by facet »

Speaking not as a professional musician but as one who occasionally soothes his soul with slow-aires, I chose Burkes. As Richard said, “….Burkes have such smooth voicing over the gamut, and mostly perfect tuning.” That degree of refinement and their jewel-like build quality is why I prefer them. Simply handling them is joy. I’ve owned instruments that cost more and many that cost less. When my whistle accumulation began to own me and I had to deal with the dilemma of down-sizing, parting with the Burkes wasn’t even a consideration.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Hauke »

I also had a Burke high D. And sent it back. I cannot agree it's really worth the money. But that's only my opinion.
Last edited by Hauke on Thu Sep 29, 2022 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Narzog »

My first whistle that I really liked and dubbed 'good' (to my tastes) was a Burke in A. Which I still have and have no plans to ever sell, even if I ever get another A. It holds special value. I love and hate Burkes. They play so cleanly. Maybe a super advanced player wont appreciate that, but as someone who completely sucked when I got it, and is now maybe an intermediate player, I still appreciate it. It gets better as I get better while removing some bad sounds I could make if it was a harder to play instrument. Which just makes my perforce the best it can be. The craftsmanship is stellar. And they have 0 moisture issues, which I have issues with on many other makers. Burkes do use more air and take a bit of push than other whistles. The push doesnt bug me. And the air use doesnt bug me on the smaller whistles. But low F and down really bugs me. And it makes me sad because if he just made the airway shorter, and just kept it the same as like on the A, the low whistles would be excellent. But I just cant get over the insane air inefficiency. I saw a burke high d for sale a while back but didn't buy it because I just don't paly high whistles. But I'd probobly like it. Burkes dont have the most special tone, but at the same time theres somethign to appreciate by the cleanness of the tone. Its so clean that it actually makes it a unique tone vs other whistles.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by rhulsey »

I feel a bit like an old-timer in liking O'Riordan whistles, which I don't think have been mentioned here. I started playing for my own enjoyment and later on a few weddings, etc., in 2006 I believe it was. I bought and sold many whistles over the years, and ended up with a collection of Pat's whistles in several keys, low C, F, G, A, Bflat, and c, d, eflat, and a few odd sets with multiple bodies, and a very early wood set that includes a flute body. I wouldn't claim they are the 'holy grail' by any stretch, but for me, I still find them easy to play and they were made by a great guy, may he rest in peace. There have been a few along the way that I wish I'd kept, too. I owned at various times 3 or 4 'Greenwood' whistles by Michael Boisvert that were very much O'Riordan clones from a construction standpoint, but all in interesting wood species, and one of them in particular that was purple gidgee as I recall, stood out among the crowd. It had a clear very 'pointed' tone that was loud enough to peel paint from the walls. There was a low F and high D by Michael Grinter that was as beautiful as whistle making gets in every way - visually and musically, at least IMHO. I've hung onto a small scale brass D by Mack Hoover that has a tiny, sweet voice that taught me a lot about breath control, for sure, and a Glen Schultz Water Weasel gray PVC in "A". I've spent a lifetime doing pipe organ work and voicing, and while I could get a little hung up on the nuances of tuning, I don't because most of the repertoire doesn't lend itself to long, sustained notes where it would be most likely noticed, at least, IMHO. For a tube - of metal or wood or plastic - I think a little latitude is in order.
"Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire
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pancelticpiper
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by pancelticpiper »

Hauke wrote: Tue Sep 27, 2022 2:32 pm I also had a Burke high D. And sent it back. I cannot agree it's really worth the money. But that's only my opinion.
They're not my cup of tea either, though I was enamoured with them at one point.

What I've found in doing Studio gigs and Church gigs and such, where I've chatted with a number of professional non-trad ("legit" as they say) musicians whose primary instrument is Boehm flute, Recorder, Sax, etc and who regularly "double" on whistle, is that musicians coming from a non-Irish-trad background are usually looking for rather different performance characteristics than Irish trad musicians.

These people usually love Burkes, sometimes even citing as desirable the very traits that Irish trad musicians will cite as objectionable.

What specifically didn't you like about the Burke? Was your whistle the Session Bore, or Narrow Bore? Was it alloy or brass?

I owned two Burke High D's, quite different: a Session Bore alloy, and a Narrow Bore brass.
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Re: The search for "the holy whistle grale".

Post by Narzog »

pancelticpiper wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 7:05 am I've chatted with a number of professional non-trad ("legit" as they say) musicians whose primary instrument is Boehm flute, Recorder, Sax, etc and who regularly "double" on whistle, is that musicians coming from a non-Irish-trad background are usually looking for rather different performance characteristics than Irish trad musicians.
I feel like this is exactly why I hate Gen, Feadog's, etc and love whistles like Burkes. I dub whistle my primary instrument but I started on piano and guitar, and have no traditional Irish background. I didn't even know what an Irish tune was until I started playing whistle and started spending time on this forum and watching whistle review videos. Which would make most people wonder why I even started the instrument haha. How burkes play, minus the insane air use, is exactly what I'm going for.
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