Need Advice on which Low D to buy

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Re: Need Advice on which Low D to buy

Post by Byll »

I own both the Howard Black and Black Silk. (Long story...) But, I have a different mouthpiece on each. The balanced mouthpiece and the reed mouthpiece are different from each other, in both sound, and playing characteristics. I have found myself gravitating toward using the reed mouthpiece, most often. It has overtones which give the instrument - either body - a very dark and warm sound, which I like. You might consider a second mouthpiece, if you go with the Classic Black. The Reed mouthpiece takes more control concentration, but it is worth it. Any Howard Low D is the opposite of ... uh... an air hog.
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Re: Need Advice on which Low D to buy

Post by Tremendouz »

PennyPenny wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 1:08 am I've got a handful of low D whistles (Howard, Kerry Optima, MK, and Humphrey) and of these, for me the absolute standout is the Humphrey Journeyman low D. Straight away i loved it but it took me a day or two to figure out why. It has everything i want: good volume, no clogging issues so far, and plays really easily in the higher notes. What struck me, though was that to me it feels the closest to playing a high whistle - only bigger. And for me, i think that's what i've been looking for all along. I don't know if that's the thing Gary had in mind when designing his low whistles, and i don't know if that's what other people want out of a low whistle. Like the MK feels nothing at all like a high whistle to me, it is clearly designed from the ground up to be particularly a Low Whistle. But the Humphrey feels to me like a great whistle that just happens to be big and low, and i love that about it.

Penny
Reviving this thread, I just came across Gary Humphrey whistles. Do you perhaps have any photos and/or sound samples? I'm on the lookout for a "premium" low D and Humphrey would be around 280 euros after shipping and import tax. What I'm curious about: hole size (I have slim fingers), tone (I tend to like bright, "nasal" tone), volume (I gravitate towards quieter whistles but as long as it's not as loud as MK or similar it's fine).
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Re: Need Advice on which Low D to buy

Post by pancelticpiper »

PennyPenny wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 1:08 am I've got a handful of low D whistles (Howard, Kerry Optima, MK, and Humphrey) and of these, for me the absolute standout is the Humphrey Journeyman low D. Straight away i loved it but it took me a day or two to figure out why. It has everything i want: good volume, no clogging issues so far, and plays really easily in the higher notes. What struck me, though was that to me it feels the closest to playing a high whistle...
Thanks for those insights!

Seems I owe it to myself to try a Humphrey. I know nowt about them.

I do have two observations

1) When people do whistle comparisons it's informative to see what makers they've compared, and more importantly what makers they've not compared. Of the whistles you've compared the Humphrey to, I only consider the MK to be a serious professional instrument.

When I spent a few years comparing a large number of Low D whistles, there emerged a group of serious professional whistles which shared several attributes, a "professional whistle genre" more or less. There were whistles in that club that played much like one another, but there were also outliers, the two most outlier-ish being the Burke and the MK.

In any case I'd be interested to hear you compare the Humphrey with a Colin Goldie medium-blower, a Colin Goldie soft-blower, a Lofgren, a vintage Bernard Overton, a Burke, and a Reviol.

2) Interesting that you were looking for a Low D that played like high whistles. I came from the opposite direction! I had to stop playing flute after 35 years of having Irish flute as my main instrument, and set out to find the Low D whistle that played most like the flute. Not surprisingly there isn't any such thing; Low D whistles are Low D whistles and looking for one that "plays like a flute" is hopeless and pointless.
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Re: Need Advice on which Low D to buy

Post by PennyPenny »

I've come from a place of being mildly curious about low whistle and therefore am not terribly likely to be buying any more to keep investigating or comparing. Never say never, though. :)

The first one i bought years ago was the Howard. I like the big rich creamy low octave, but i find the high octave A & B basically impossible to blow. It is pretty old, and i know there have been lots of changes to these whistles, so i can't say how it compares to the Howard whistles of today. It sat on a shelf for years and years and that was that. Someday i'd try again.

A couple of years ago i was at a friend's place and tried his Kerry Optima. What a difference to the Howard, the high notes were SO much easier to reach. The tone is not nearly as nice, but it played so much better for me that i bought one, and now at least i had a low D that i could play.

When my dad died in 2020 and i had some inheritance $$$ to play with, i thought ok here's my chance to try the MK that i keep hearing about. I admire it as a beautifully made object, but as an instrument i just plain dislike it. It's nice and loud but to me it sounds so veiled and windy, and again the high A and B are really hard to blow. I get that some people do like this sound, but it's not what i want out of a whistle at all.

I ordered the Humphrey on a whim, i was ordering a high D and i thought well, let's add a low D and see how it compares to the Kerry Optima. I was blown away. It sounds big and full and (relatively) pure, and the high notes play the easiest of all so far. Again, to me it kind of plays the most like a high whistle, only bigger. The holes are the biggest (maybe some not as big as the Howard) and the stretch very slightly the longest.

Finding a "low whistle that plays like a high whistle" was never my quest, i was never really on a quest to begin with other than "at some point to find a low D i can get on with". The Howard didn't tick that box, but i didn't bother looking further for i-dont-know-how-many years. Honestly i'm not a capital-L Low Whistle player, i'm just a regular whistle player, and in my case it turned out that i'm maybe too stuck on the high whistle, and i'm maybe just plain too lazy to put any extra work into playing a whistle, any whistle. So maybe the Humphrey is perfect for the lazy whistle player, and i'm fine with that. :)

Penny
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Re: Need Advice on which Low D to buy

Post by Narzog »

PennyPenny wrote: Fri Sep 16, 2022 11:15 am I've come from a place of being mildly curious about low whistle and therefore am not terribly likely to be buying any more to keep investigating or comparing. Never say never, though. :)

The first one i bought years ago was the Howard. I like the big rich creamy low octave, but i find the high octave A & B basically impossible to blow. It is pretty old, and i know there have been lots of changes to these whistles, so i can't say how it compares to the Howard whistles of today. It sat on a shelf for years and years and that was that. Someday i'd try again.

A couple of years ago i was at a friend's place and tried his Kerry Optima. What a difference to the Howard, the high notes were SO much easier to reach. The tone is not nearly as nice, but it played so much better for me that i bought one, and now at least i had a low D that i could play.

When my dad died in 2020 and i had some inheritance $$$ to play with, i thought ok here's my chance to try the MK that i keep hearing about. I admire it as a beautifully made object, but as an instrument i just plain dislike it. It's nice and loud but to me it sounds so veiled and windy, and again the high A and B are really hard to blow. I get that some people do like this sound, but it's not what i want out of a whistle at all.

I ordered the Humphrey on a whim, i was ordering a high D and i thought well, let's add a low D and see how it compares to the Kerry Optima. I was blown away. It sounds big and full and (relatively) pure, and the high notes play the easiest of all so far. Again, to me it kind of plays the most like a high whistle, only bigger. The holes are the biggest (maybe some not as big as the Howard) and the stretch very slightly the longest.

Finding a "low whistle that plays like a high whistle" was never my quest, i was never really on a quest to begin with other than "at some point to find a low D i can get on with". The Howard didn't tick that box, but i didn't bother looking further for i-dont-know-how-many years. Honestly i'm not a capital-L Low Whistle player, i'm just a regular whistle player, and in my case it turned out that i'm maybe too stuck on the high whistle, and i'm maybe just plain too lazy to put any extra work into playing a whistle, any whistle. So maybe the Humphrey is perfect for the lazy whistle player, and i'm fine with that. :)

Penny
I'd love to try a Humphrey, but I never see them used. I'm not the biggest fan of more trad style whistles so I'd never buy a new one. I'm defiantly a capital L low whistle player tho, so my tastes are a bit different lol.

I get the dislike for the MK. I really like mine, but after getting a Goldie the tone is definitely a bit lacking. And the Goldie has a much easier playing high end. I expect your optima to be similar.

I'd like to try an optima at some point just to see how it compares to the Goldie. I may pick one up used if I can find a good deal. I'd prob resell it after trying it because I dont need more low d's haha. But it seems like one I'd like.
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Re: Need Advice on which Low D to buy

Post by pancelticpiper »

scottie wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:15 pm Have been checking out a few Low D units to buy...considering some inexpensive units...I want to be able to play along with backing tracks and a church band.
About the price aspect, sadly with Low D whistles you have to pay the going rate for a professional-quality instrument if you want good tuning, voicing, tone, and air-efficiency, which are the same things the professionals want.

I'm guessing that the other musicians in your church band aren't playing instruments that cost $150 new, and you'll probably not be satisfied if you play an instrument that costs that little.

Compared to other instruments Low Whistles are quite inexpensive. For around $300 to $400 you can play the same level of whistle, or indeed the same make of whistle, used by top professionals.

For myself, most of my best whistles were got used, some of them right here on Chiff & Fipple.
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c1980 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle
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