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Sometimes a low whistle is just a low whistle. (Sigmund Freud )
Low whistles are the big boys of whistledom. The history of this instrument is relatively brief. (See an account of the history here.) Low whistles are those that are pitched in keys below the A below middle C. This can be confusing because some makers of whistles pitched at that A call them "Low" and some don't. The classic low whistle is the Low D which is pitched one octave below the traditional D whistle. Played well, they produce a haunting sound quite different from whistles in the upper ranges. Many are charmed by the sound, but almost everyone talks about how hard they can be to play. The holes are big (the ones on Davy Spillane's whistle are perhaps 2" wide--ok, I'm exaggerating) and spaced far apart, and the tend require a great deal of air. All this to say, don't plop down a ton of money on a low whistle and expect to start playing beautifully right away. If you have small hands, you might want to consider a conical model (Shaw or Copeland). Only in the mid to late 1990’s, really, did Low whistles become fairly available. Until then, only a few makers (chief among them: Brian Howard, Bernard Overton, Michael Copeland) were producing them. Since Riverdance the number of makers and models and keys have proliferated rapidly.
Important: Although the fingering system is identical in high and low whistles, the grip is different.
A note on researching various whistles, including low whistles:
Since these pages were originally put together in 1996 or so, Chiff & Fipple's message board community has gotten huge. That forum includes over thousands and thousands of posts about whistles. I recommend you join, it's free, and use the SEARCH function to find threads and posts about the whistle you're interested in. The address is http://chiffboard.mati.ca
Another tremendous resource is Greg Mahan's Wandering Whistle website. Greg is an active member of Chiff & Fipple and actually was writing about whistles on the internet before me. He writes thorough and thoughtful reviews. These are often published on the Chiff & Fipple message board, but there's also a complete set on Greg's website at
Howard. Low D, C, C#, E, F Cylindrical ; Price ranges are . Looks like a giant Generation whistle. Actually, the old models do. The new black ones look more like a giant Little Black Whistle. Cylindrical with a big, black ABS (polymer) mouthpiece. Like all Low whistles, many complain they are hard to play because of size and spacing of holes. Howards have been redesigned a few times and so anything you hear about one that is, say 2 years old, probably wouldn't apply at all to the new ones. The new ones come in two models: a nickel version and black. Selling for about $120. I've seen it on sale for as low as $90.. Update 11/8/97. I've owned a Howard Low D (one of the new ones) for several months and I like it very much. The holes are big, but I've learned to manage with my smallish hands. And the holes are more manageable than the Overton and the Kerry. I think the Howard has a interesting sound, different from other Low Ds I've played, and very hard to describe. Howard Musical Instruments has a website at http://www.howardmusic.co.uk/
Howard Low D. Photo courtesy of Hobgoblin Music
NEW UPDATE! (2005) The Howard was the first Low D I owned. Since, I've played just about every low whistle on the market, with only a few exceptions. I think the Howard is underrated. From what I gather, the older ones weren't as good as the newer models and people still often think of those when they think of Howards. The newer design is really good. There's a simplicity in design to the Howard. It's relatively easy to play, and it has a unique quality to the sound that I've not heard duplicated. I strongly recommend seriously considering this whistle when buying a Low D. Many vendors sell Howards, but last time I checked, the best price was at Celtic Fire.
There have been revisions of the Howard mouthpiece they offer replacement mouthpieces for older whistles. Check their website at www.howardmusic.co.uk.
Mk whistles Made by Misha Somerville in Glasgow, Scotland. MK whistles are made from aluminum by a combination of handcrafting and precision machining. The very nicely done anodized finish makes for a striking appearance as well as improving the durability of the instrument.
I've had samples of almost every Low D whistle come through here and I'm hard-pressed to name one with this combination of great sound, fabulous appearance, and meticulous craftsmanship. This is a killer instrument.
Misha writes: 'I thought it would be easy to make a whistle. Now after almost a decade of hammering, filing, cutting, gluing, sweating, swearing and most importantly listening I've realised it isn't. The most minute of changes has a specific effect on the tone and playability of an instrument. But as you try and balance all the characteristics of an instrument I've come to rely on one test of the quality of an instrument: If I pick up an instrument and I'm still playing it an hour or 2 hours later without realising or consciously thinking about air requirement, tone, responsiveness, attack or any of those specific attributes, I'm just getting carried away and then I know it's a great instrument. I don't know how Stradivarius got anything done."
Mk whistles are currently made in the keys of [Low] D and F with other keys to follow. A fine tolerance brass tuning slide is fitted to all. All are priced at or currency equivalent. For further info and customer reviews visit http://www.mkwhistles.com
Overton. See this special page for additional information and links to my review.
Michael Copeland: Low G (brass, $377), Low F (brass, $406, Low D (2-pc, brass, $475, 3-pc brass, $495, Sterling Silver 2-pc $775, Sterling Silver 3-pc $795). Widely regarded as among the finest Low whistles available. Famed whistle-maker Mr. Copeland does make Low Ds and has made Lows in other keys over the years. At present, they are arguably the most sought-out whistle on the planet. In June 1997, I got to see and hear Solas here in Birmingham. Seamus Egan played a brass Copeland Low D on about every other song. What an amazingly lovely sound. Seamus treated the instrument with respect and affection. As with all Copeland whistles, get on the waiting list and be prepared to wait--a long time. The official Copeland website is Copeland Woodwinds. Ralph Cook, himself the maker of Low D whistles (see below) writes, "I have been using a Copeland Low D for about a year now. I also own Overton, Howard, and Shaw Low D whistles, so have had a good opportunity to compare the characteristics of each. I have used my Copeland Low D for studio work, and performances in concert, pubs, and music festivals, both outdoors and under cover. In my opinion, the Copeland Low D is superior. Price is $275 (now $350-dw) , and well worth it. My particular whistle was returned to Copeland earlier this year, so he could re-voice it to play more freely in the higher range. This whistle goes up to high E (third octave) easily, and will nicely handle sustained notes in that range. It is also very loud and strong in the low range down to D. The first octave has an almost "reedy" tone which works very well for Irish music. I believe that the purity of tone throughout is superior to the Howard, Overton, and Shaw low D whistles. With regard to playability, the Copeland whistle is much easier to control and play, partially because the distance between the E hole and the F# hole is slightly less than on Howard and Overton models. I like to take my low D to Irish sessions and find it easy to play dance tunes, reels and jigs, at full speed.
The official Michael Copeland page is Copeland Woodwinds and you can order directly from the website. Or you can now order them from Song of the Sea, one of our favorite vendors, in the Great State of Maine USA.
Sweetheart "Resonance” Model Low D Whistle From Walt Sweet, son of the legendary whistle & flute maker Ralph Sweet, comes this new product (as of 2005). I've not played one yet, but it is getting raves from some of the most experienced players and collectors I know. I have played and reviewed the high D whistle that Walt makes and on which this is based and which I think is fabulous. Here's a photo of the whistle with the optional flute head.
At this writing, it costs $395. That's a lot of money. But everything I know to date suggests it may well be worth it. Here's the entry on the Sweetheart Flute website:
Here's a link to a fine review with some comments by other players:
Here's another useful link:
H o w t o F i n g e r t h e L o w W h i s t l e
This is the necessary method of playing the low whistle, in my opinion and of that of everyone who has some idea what he or she is talking about. It's called piper fingering. It's a little difficult to learn at first for those accustomed to the standard "fingertip" style of playing high whistles. Trying to play the low whistle with conventional fingering will inevitably lead to fatigue.
Note that the holes are covered with the 2nd joint pad, except that the ring fingers of both hands cover their respective holes with the first joint.
Thanks to Bill D'Ambrogio for this photo! And here's another page devoted to this topic:
Susato, ABS Plastic, various keys, narrow and wide bore, cylindrical. Susato has been making high quality pennywhistles for a long time. These are fairly distinctive instruments, notable for their very clear tone and exceptionally assertive volume. They are loud. I have owned Susato whistles in D, C, Bb, A, and Eb for years and have always enjoyed them. Historically, the closest they've come to making a low whistles was a Low A, which really isn't a low whistle. (Low G is really the highest key whistle which ought to be thought of as "low"). In January 1999, Susato expanded their line to include a range of low whistles at attractive prices. In recent years, they've continued to expand their product line, which is currently so extensive I can't provide a useful summary. Check the website at http://www.susato.com
I've always enjoyed my Susato high whistles. The lows are inexpensive because they are injection-molded plastic. I own an F which I regard as "ok" but not great.
Susatos in general have been controversial products. Some players are put off by them being polymer, an attitude which I don't particularly understand. Susatos are favored by a number of excellent players and their very assertive volume is an asset to those who play without amplification with other musicians. But, it's also true that there are people who just don't like the sound.
Shaw Low A,G,F,D Conical $40 (A)-$100(D) Not tunable. The Shaws look very much like old-style Clarkes. But, they are much better made. Beautiful tones, but somewhat hard to play for the usual reasons. Actually, the holes are a bit smaller (good) but they require lots of air (Wheeeezz! Gasp!). I've got a Low A and I enjoy it very, very much. I count it among my top 5 whistles. The Shaw whistles are very well made. The thing to know about them is that they have a beautiful breathiness to their sound--but in order to get that sound, the wind requirements are quite significant.
Shaws. Probably a D, C, and Low D. Photo courtesy of Hobgoblin Music
PHIL HARDY LOW WHISTLES
Phil Hardy has several lines of whistles. It can get confusing.
Chieftains. Chieftain is the brand name of a line of whistles based on the original Overton design and manufactured by Phil Hardy. They are slightly less expensive, with reviews more mixed than Overtons, but increasingly favorable. I have a Chieftain Low D which I find to be a very good low whistle. Set side-by-side with the Kerry Pro (below) or an Overton, one can see the difference in finish that makes the Overton and the Kerry Pro better, but the difference is sound and play is fairly subtle.
Kerry Pro Low D. This name refers to instruments which are much like Overtons and are handmade by Phil Hardy. Phil sent me one and it is a lovely instrument. The differences between this whistle and the Overton Low D are extremely subtle. I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between them. Although disputes have existed about the Overton name, if one puts these aside and stays on the level of evaluating the whistle itself, what you have is two virtually identical and OUTSTANDING instruments.
Kerry Low Whistles (without the Pro designation) are factory made low whistles made by Phil Hardy and featuring a plastic mouthpiece and aluminum shaft. They are much like Howards, although I much prefer Howards.Cylindrical, plastic jumbo fipple, tunable, aluminum. ($80.00-$90) Anne and Eddie Damm, proprietors of Song of the Sea sent me a Kerry Low D for my review. Here's the scoop. The Kerry looks like a giant Generation -type whistle. More accurately, it looks like a giant Oak whistle. It has a very large black plastic fipple and a metal shaft which I believe is aluminum. This configuration is like the Howard Low D. The fipple is exceptionally substantial and heavy and, interestingly, has a very thin airway. I gather this reduces the wind demand but it does not compromise the volume, IMHO. The overall shape and contours of the fipple are very good for some specific reasons which I won't go into except to say that they enhance comfort and playability. I was able to pull off the fipple. Under the fipple, the shaft is lined with what looks like Teflon tape...and this is a good thing. This makes the whistle tunable, or as I prefer to say semi-tunable. That's because, at least on my model, it seems to be about on pitch when the fipple is slid all the way down. So, as it is, I think you could flatten the pitch but not sharpen it. This is true of most of the whistles that are tunable only by this method, as opposed to a real tuning slide. (Anne and Eddie note that the instrument plays a little sharp when cold and needs to be warmed up.) The aluminum shaft is also quite substantial, made from fairly thick walled aluminum. This whistle sounds really good, can be played fast (unlike some Lows which are a bit slow to respond). It has big holes and--this is important--that Low D hole is large and quite a reach. The bottom three holes are arranged in a way that this whistle MUST be played with straight fingers, unlike the Howard and the Ralph Cook, which many can manage to play with the ends of fingers. This may limit its appeal a little because lots of people avoid the straight finger playing style. The tone reminds me of the Howard, but more like the inferior early Howards. I also have a slight buzz in the tone of my Kerry which I can't seem to find and eliminate. UPDATE: Now available in these Low keys: G, F, E, Eb, D, C. For additional information about Kerry whistles, see this page.
Kerry Songbird Yet another Kerry model of Low D whistle, now available. Here's a link to an edition of our newsletter with a very fine review. Phil also sent me one which I've been testing. I like it very much. I would elaborate but, as is often the case, I find myself in agreement with Greg's review to which I just linked. The large E-hole, which Greg refers to, might put some small-handed players off, but I think it's a good feature.
Kerry Whistles has a fine and entertaining commercial website at http://www.kerrywhistles.com . It contains a lot of really useful video and audio recordings of whistle players in performance. Be sure to check out their forum, where they say some nasty things about me and Chiff & Fipple. But, that's a story for another day.
Tony Dixon makes flutes and whistles in PVC. Low D and high D and other keys available.
UPDATE: There are some changes in Tony's line. I need to update this. Stay tuned. I continue to highly recommend Tony's work!
Tony Dixon lives in England and makes whistles, flutes, piccolos and
bagpipes. He has a nice website, by the way, complete with good pictures,
Tony's whistles range from Low D to High D with keys in between. Tony tells me that his aim is to provide instruments that are well-made, well-tuned, and well-voiced at reasonable prices. One of his goals is to "encourage students of all ages and abilities." He works primarily with PVC but will also make whistles of wood and alloy. Tony supplied me with a Low D and High D for review. Both are black plastic with some gloss in the finish. The plastic looks and feels like that used by Susato. Both whistles have a hardwood fipple. Both have substantial and fully usable tuning slides.
Both whistles are well-made, nicely finished, and attractive. They are trimmed with a tasteful trademark decal and some restrained use of gold paint trim. Both whistles have a pleasant sound, a bit mellow-breathy. The air requirement is a bit high, not quite as much as the Shaw whistles, but close.
I like this Low D and would consider it an good choice for anyone and an excellent choice for a beginner. The finger spread and hole size are very forgiving and so I would rank this whistle very high for ease of playing. Similarly, in spite a somewhat greater air requirement, it behaves well, remains in tune, makes the octave change easily, has a very level tone over the 2 octaves.
So, Tony Dixon is making fine instruments in England. I recommend the Low D with special note to beginners that this is an excellent choice. The high D is an excellent value in a well-made and good-sounding instrument.
Michael Burke PennyWhistle Co. Composite of wood fiber & resin, plastic mouthpiece. Tunable. Cylindrical. Low A, Low G, Low Ab, Low F, Low F#, Low E,Low Eb, Low D, Low C#,Low C. Prices range from $100 to $200. Low Ds are $150 and come in two models.
NEW! A new 3-piece aluminum Low whistle is excellent and now available!
Mike Burke is now making aluminum whistles in several keys including Low D, C, A, G, and F (all lows). They are first-rate. So far, I have the Low D and the Low F. Both are outrageously good.
I have auditioned Michael Burke's whistles in several high keys and in Low D (both models). My review is here. I also have an Eb which I would short list as one of my all-time favorite low whistles. (Note: I've recently added a Low A and an F). The Chiff & Fipple Interview is here. Mike has emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, to take his place among the first rank of whistle makers. I could not be more excited about these whistles. I intend to collect them in every key. Mike's whistles have been favorably mentioned by Joanie Madden, and Paddy Kennan, among others. In fact, all reviews today have been very good. Michael has a website at http://www.burkewhistles.com
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this point, I'll tell you that in my own personal experience with low Ds, I think of three classic sounds, which are personified by three whistles, the Overton, the Copeland, and the Burke.
Burkes have a very pure sound, to my ears. You don't hear that much wind in the tone, there's not a lot of complexity in the voice. Some might say "sweet" and I guess that's fair.
There is a particularly flute-like sound that I think is personified by the Copeland Low D. In fact, I've never really heard it duplicated in any whistle by any other maker, with one unfortunate example: A low whistle I sampled once which was virtually identical to the Copeland, but wasn't made by Copeland. I don't know if those are still around.
The third sound is the hardest to describe, is personified by the Overtons, is also present in the Kerry Low D, a virtually identical product, and to a lesser extent in Albas (see below) and the Kerry Songbird. There is a lot of complexity to the voice, some wind sound but some other qualities that I think have never been better labeled than by the term "Cosmic Drainpipe." (I wish I could remember who coined that term. I don't THINK it was me). This tone is both muscular and weirdly sexy at the same time.
Patrick O'Riordan.. Aluminum. (I don't have an updated price), Tunable. See the Expensive Whistles section. NOTE: Pat has a long waiting list and I understand has stopped taking orders as he approaches retirement. Accordingly, O'Riordan's are probably the most sought-after whisltes on the market.
Patrick O’Riordan’s whistles were made famous by Joanie Madden, who plays them more or less exclusively on CD and live. Mr. O’Riordan is one of the most respected and certainly beloved whistle makers. His instruments are impeccable and have a characteristic “round” tonality which is just beautiful. UPDATE 1/99 I phoned Mr. O'Riordan on 1/3/99. What a nice man! He tells me his waiting list now runs two years. He is making whistles in D/C/Eb and low whistles in Low D, Low Eb, Low E, and G. He is not presently making Bb or A whistles. I have a Low G O’Riordan. I also got a chance to play a Low A, which Pat no longer makes. Both are gorgeous instruments. For more information, check out O'Riordan's entry on the Expensive Guide site.
Alba Aluminum. Stacey O'Gorman makes Alba whistles in Scotland. Alba Aerophonics is the name of the enterprise. I was particularly pleased when I heard from Stacey who sent me a sampling of Alba whistles: 2 high Ds, a Low D, an A, and a Bb. They are cylindrical and brushed metal, aluminum (I'm pretty sure). The fipple plugs appear to be a good quality brown plastic with a woodlook. The shafts are stamped with a very nice "Alba" logo. Rings are engraved in various places around the whistle and this makes for a very nice touch. Another interesting aspect of the design is that the "blade" (the edge struck by the stream of air) is curved. Not in an arc along the curvature of a shaft, but a curve the apex of which points away from your mouth. All of these whistles are in tune, and the volume is well-balanced across the range. They all have nice, strong bottom-ends. In all keys, they share a characteristic of being breathy. Kinda like Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to John Kennedy. (Incidentally, I had a dream recently in which Marilyn MANSON sang "Happy Birthday" to John Kennedy.) There is a more than an average amount of wind noise in the tone. The air requirements are a bit more than average (but a bit less than, say, Shaws). I like this sound, although I would also want to vary this sound with the more pure tones of some of the other high-end whistles. I think these are good whistles in all the keys I sampled. However, two of whistles particularly impressed me. The low D is very well-made, attractive, and solid. The Low A is a really nice whistle. It has a much wider bore than you usually see in A-scale whistles but an extremely easy and comfortable set of holes.
Alba website: http://www.albawhistles.com/
Gary Humphreys. Gary, who has been making high whistles for some time now, is now making a range of low whistles as of this writing (late 2005). These are lower pitched versions of his "Journeyman" line, aluminum tube shafts with plastic mouthpieces. Keys Low A through Low F. Prices: $115-135. Some of the keys have the same bore size, and so you opt to order a single mouthpiece and then extra shafts for different keys. See Gary's website for details.
Gary Humphrey Jr. 571 Frank Anderson Road Sparta, TN 38583-7267 U.S.A. raindog1970 @ hotmail.com
Ian Lambe. Irish maker Ian Lambe makes a lovely looking Low whistle and has a website at http://homepage.tinet.ie/~mirian/ilambe/. There's a good picture there and more on the way. This whistle looks a bit like the Overton style of low whistle. It's polished aluminum with cork slide. The website promotes the whistles as having a easy finger spread and hole sizing. Whistles cost 100 Irish pounds and is mail order only, apparently. Reviews of these are rare. I received this email in June 2003.....it's really excellent. I'm no expert, but I can tell you, it's the third low whistle I've ever played, and it sounds bloody professional when I play it. Which is very interesting considering that I've only been playing low whistles for a month or two and am therefore not particularly good... Very easy on the fingers (although I have played a Low C before I came to playing this one so I don't really know...), brilliant sound, very clear and beautiful, rich and deep. Almost no breathiness, just pure sound. Whether you like it that way or no, it just sounds great. It's quite sensitive on the low register, I have difficulty playing it outside when there are a lot of these. Despite this, it's very responsive. I can play it about till the middle of the third octave, although not very much in tune. My guess is that it's due to lack of skill and not because of the instrument because it's steadily getting better.It's also got a beautifully made engraving - a Celtic animal, with "Ian Lambe" and "Co. Clare" written above and below it, respectively. Although it's tunable, I never used that feature - it's an instrument to tune all the others by...
Marc Trius,Haifa, Israel.
Cillian O'Briain lives in the West Kerry Gaeltacht. Cillian makes Uilleann Pipes, low whistles and high whistles. He is fairly well-known in whistle circles for his high whistles made from stock Feadogs.
Until recently, getting good information on Cillian's low whistles has been difficult. The whistles are offered both as 'fixed pitch' and 'tunable' types and in the following keys:
C and C# - tunable only.
D, E-flat, E, F - tunable and fixed pitch.
F# - tunable only
G - tunable and fixed pitch.
Prices (from Shanna Quay website):
All fixed pitch Low Whistles:
IR£125.00 /$145.00 / £100.00stg
All adjustable pitch Low Whistles:
IR£150.00 /$170.00 /£120.00stg
Photo courtesy of Shanna Quay.
Calmont Low Whistle I received a Low D whistle from John of Calmont Music. John has sold these black polymer whistles mostly on ebay where, by the way, he enjoys a very high feedback rating.
This whistle is tunable with a nice slide. The window in the mouthpiece is round. The mouthpiece is unusual because it is absent a beak. This is a bit hard to describe. The top of the whistle is at right angles with the shaft and you play by blowing on the edge. It's really hard to describe. I've seen one other whistle designed this way, a Chinese instrument that Wendy Morrison sent me from the House of Musical Traditions. It turns out to be surprisingly comfortable.
Also unusual: The window faces one's breast (or breasts, depending upon the gender of the player).
John describes it this way:
"Instrument played with the sound hole facing towards your chin. This has a number of advantages. You can determine your own holding angle and support the instrument next to your body .This has the added benefit of being able to flatten notes by simply moving the instrument backwards and forwards."
The finger holes are smaller than typical of Low D and the spacing is closer together.
It's got a great tone. I must say, it belongs in the same as the Overton. Not as strong a tone, but with those breathy and mysterious undertones. Volume is solid with a good lower end. There's a lot of backpressure to this whistle, but I like that. You have to lean in a bit to play the high end, but it works.
These are nice whistles.
Here's John's email address:
Oh. He ships these in a really nice case. Hard black plastic tube. Really good.
Thin Weasel by Glenn Schultz ..Ab down to F...$340 "Lovely voice, with a bit of chiff, somewhat like the Clarkes," say the folks at Celtic Fire, Ltd. Wooden whistles come with fitted wooden case. These have been sold lately by Lark in the Morning. I've talked to a few people who have played these and they have raved positively. They look fabulous. Just about everyone who has one of these says it is their favorite whistle.
Thin Weasel Wood Whistle / Rosewood / brass tuning slide
Photo by Masami Yoshihara
Water Weasel by Glenn Schultz. PVC whistles, made from plumbing pipe. Low G to Low E, $78.
NOTE: Glenn Schultz passed away in 2005. We have extended condolences to his family. We believe someone may continue to make the whistles he designed. We'll let you know.
I have Water Weasels in E, D and Low G. . I am extremely impressed with them. Dave Keenan of Celtic Fire, Ltd. tells us a Low D may be on the way. Glenn Schultz is (according to the IRTRAD-L listserv) is at: 2203 Isabell, Troy, MI 48083 Tel: 810 524-3854
Glenn has a website at http://www.thinweasel.com
water weasel, complete with the coolest: Plumbing code.
Reyburn Low Whistles Low G, F, E, Eb, D, C. Brass tube with choice of two finishes and machined maple headjoint. Tunable. Prices $150-235. Optional Hard Case. Ronaldo Reyburn makes a unique line of very good low whistles, featuring a big Eastern Rock Maple headjoint. The appearance is unorthodox because of the juxtaposition of the wood head and brass cylindrical tube. It sounds and plays really well. I sampled an F whistle. The Low D has recently earned the endorsement of L.E. McCullough who, to my knowledge, has never really even LIKED low whistles before.
Keep an eye on Reyburn's work. He has a very attractive website at http://www.reyburnlowwhistles.com
MID-East Cane Whistles Low G, Low A, Cane, $14!, Nontunable. Now, here's the poor man's chance to own a good low whistle. I learned about this product from Anne Damm of Song of the Sea, the only source of these whistles of which I am aware. I own a Low G and a Low A). The Low G is a single node of cane, with a simple fipple cut right into the cane. The cane is bound with string in a couple of places. It's extremely lightweight. The cane is very dry and thin-walled. There was a little fraying on the lower end which I fixed with a little wood glue.. It doesn't require much wind. Not tunable. A very mellow sound. Very quiet. The Low A is even better. It's an unbelievably good-sounding, easy to play, well-in-tune whistle. The nice thing about this product is the price and the unusual material. I've really enjoyed mine. For a full review, click here.
MID-East Brass Whistles are also available in various keys. I have a brass low G which I like pretty well. It's a little too easy to flip into the higher octave.
UPDATE: More recent samples of these would suggest that while they are internally in tune, they're not in tune relative to, like, other instruments.
Ralph Cook Low D, PVC
NOTE: RALPH COOK CEASED PRODUCTION some years ago. We continue to list the Cook Low D here because used ones will occasionally turn up for sale or trade
The whistle is cylindrical and made from a single piece of PVC. Curved lip and windway and a hardwood plug. Ralph builds a small "wall" on three sides of the window, for stability of tone. Finished in black lacquer. Handmade and individually voiced to play in tune throughout the range. I'm impressed with this whistle. The sound is slightly warm/mellow and rather quiet. The real achievement here is in the finger holes. More often than not, particularly on cylindrical models, Low Ds have large holes which are spread pretty far
The Cook mouthpiece. From his webpage at http://www.pclabs.com/cook/
apart. This makes the reach really tough. It's the reason most Low D players play with their fingers straight, covering the holes with the middle part of each finger. On Ralph's low whistle, the holes are still somewhat large, but he has reduced the spread significantly, which makes it easier to completely seal the holes with your fingers and I had no trouble playing it with the conventional technique using the ends of my fingers. I think Ralph Cook has really hit this just right with this design. Overall, this is an outstanding choice for someone seeking a good quality affordable instrument as well as a good addition to the collections of more experienced players. For a full review, click here.
Update 2005. This whistle was quite an innovation when it was first available. Since then, we've had a proliferation of new Low models and the Cook doesn't hold up particularly well to many of those that have come since.
T&G. UPDATE 2005: Probably discontinued. I can't find any evidence on the 'net that these are still available. Haven't heard from the makers for some time and I can't find a merchant. Anodized aluminum with wood fipples. Tunable/nontunable. $199 for nontunable, $239 for tunable. Also available in a triple layer material consistent of alumimum, nickel, and then, on the outside 24 karat gold! Cases available and often included. George and his friend Tony make Low D and C whistles. The whistles are aluminum that has been anodized. The fipples are olive wood. They are available tunable and non-tunable. Tony also will do extensive etching of designs from the Book of Kells and an unlimited amount of material to work with. These etched whistles are sold as one of a kind. They never reproduce the pattern, so each whistle is unique. I’ve tried T&G whistles and I am very impressed. The tone comes as close to the flute-like sound of the Copeland Low D as any (non-Copeland) Low D I’ve heard. The whistles have a great look, solid construction and the olive wood fipple plugs are attractive. I hear the tuning as accurate. The balance is good across the octaves. They come in first-rate cases and an optional hard-case is available. These are splendid. low whistles with a really professional look and sound. Pretty large holes and stretch, especially the E-hole. Visit at http://www.tgirishwhistles.com (NON-WORKING as of last check: September 2005)
Kelly's Whistles UPDATE: I’m sorry to report that I’ve had three email from people who had bad experiences with this maker and I’m equally sorry to report that’s the sum total of my feedback. So, I would have to recommend avoiding this maker at present. UPDATE 2005: According to their website, no longer in biz. I'm shocked.
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