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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Low-Tech Whistle

I've got one of those cheap "Generation" tin whistles in the key of "D". It's quite fun to play, but it is quite high and squeaky and when I try to play with other instruments, it is horribly sharp. I like the sound of the lower pitch whistles, such as you hear played on tracks by Capercailie and on the Transatlantic Sessions television programs, but, although not very expensive, still looking at upwards of £50.

But I found an interesting website by Guido Gonzato here: Guide to making low-tech whistles

Now I have found designs for whistles before, but I have had difficulty getting the same materials as were used in the original. If you substitute a different type of tubing it has an affect on the length and hole position. But I found 2 meter lengths of this 20mm diameter PVC pipe in B&Q and Wickes for 99p and 18mm diameter hardwood dowel which can be made to be a snug fit inside by sanding off about half a mm.

So today I made one, and I am very pleased with the result (photo left). I won't go into detail about how I made it because Guido's instructions (in the above link) are very detailed and I followed them very closely.

I made the Alto B-flat instrument, and I found that I needed to leave the tube about 1mm longer than was specified in the diagram.

In fact, because my tube started out quite long, I checked his overall lengths at F#, G, G#, and A and found they all needed to be 1mm longer than specified - that probably comes down to the type of tube, he says "not all PVC pipe is created equal".

So I wanted to upload a sound-sample for you, but I don't see a way of doing that on Blogger, so it will have to be in the form of a video ...
Sorry I'm playing it a bit like a recorder, it's just to give an idea of what it sounds like! Guido has some much better sound samples on his website.

I'm intending to make some more of these, in different keys, and perhaps even longer and more mellow :-)

Anyway, if you like making simple musical instruments, I encourage you to have a go at making one of Guido's low-tech whistles.
73
Hugh M0WYE






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