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"The WhistleSmith - Wicked Good Whistles Handmade in Maine" - 15 new articles

  1. Sound files of Marcia Contador playing the WhistleSmith Mountain Made Hi-D
  2. Mountain Made Hi-D at a Wicked Good Price!
  3. Cleaning Your Wicked Good Whistle • Three Different Ways
  4. Everything is not Barter... Some things are "Being Neighborly"
  5. Good & Plenty C Whistle
  6. WhistleSmith Good and Plenty Bb Whistle
  7. What People Say for Spring and Summer '09
  8. Slide Flute finds New Friends and Places to Play!
  9. Tips about Antique Reviews•Second Hand Instruments •Chat•RIP Archives
  10. What is the difference between a Thumb Post and a Thumb Ring?
  11. The Whistler of Blackstone Bluff
  12. Update on the Proto 3 slide flute
  13. What People said November of '08
  14. What Folks are Saying in September '08
  15. Proto 1 Auto Slide Flute Due for Production

Sound files of Marcia Contador playing the WhistleSmith Mountain Made Hi-D

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On November 22, 2010 - we shipped a Hi-D Mountain Made whistle to Brazil. Marcia Contador who ordered the whistle inquired in a couple of weeks on the progress of the shipment. The post office tracking said the package was "clearing customs and not to worry about delivery" and that some packages take "quite a bit of time".

Marcia was most patient and the whistle finally arrived after clearing Brazilian customs on January 2, 2011. This is the longest shipping time we have ever had with an order

to any place in the world and must be some kind of a record!

The very next day, I received a note in my e-mail from Marcia to let us know that she was playing her new Mountain Made Hi-D and recording a Youtube selection.

In the past weeks she has recorded four selections and posted them for everyone to enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9Q8Tmj0UM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRnEgjGEhZQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KngTgK4snCM&feature=email

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpuWmD9-Icc&feature=email

I am sure everyone will enjoy her playing and wonderful presentation. The technique and the enthusiasm she has for playing the whistle is evident throughout the piece.

The Mountain Made Hi-D being played is typical of the sound and tone of a WhistleSmith whistle just as you receive it. No filters and special effects were used at all.

 
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Mountain Made Hi-D at a Wicked Good Price!

2010 mountain made D billboard

The Mountain Made Hi-D is here! A great Hi-D that plays the way WhistleSmith buyers said they wanted it made. Hundreds of feedbacks and players have had their say and The Mountain Made Hi-D fits the bill with all these features.

 

Whistle measures twelve inches long. The instrument is well balanced and feels substantial in your hand

This is a Limited Edition whistle using precise tuning and hand work to make a very precise whistle. The Mountain Made Hi-D incorporates hours of development and feedback from folks all over the globe.


There is no tuning slide which provides the cleanest playing bore possible. Tuning starts with a steel template and laser drilling of the finger holes. The foot of the whistle is bored larger to make octave shifts easy and precise.


The mouthpiece contains no wood or metal and the top slides completely off for cleaning and can be adjusted to best playing position on the top and bottom octaves.
Using light, precise tonguing will give clean, clear notes and runs. Breath requirements are minimal.The Mountain Made Hi-D lets you play in the Keys of D, G and Em without having to learn any tricky cross fingering. The Mountain Made Hi-D will play indoors at a session or outside in cold and windy conditions. This is a very handy whistle to add to your collection.


Straight Shot mouthpiece cap is made of Bristol white polymer with a top bevel for lip comfort. The mouthpiece and tonebody are one piece and utilize a dark gray poly plug from IMG plastics. The tone body is a light tan color and a five color decal with clear wrap gives the whistle a coordinated color combination using just the natural colors of the materials.


The Mountain Made Hi-D has a rich, full sound you'll enjoy, with balanced high and low octaves. There is plenty of volume for any type of playing and octave shifts are easy and precise.

• Easy clean features a take apart Straight Shot mouthpiece

No tuning slide for best bore and sound

• Precise hand tuning for best tonal qualities.

Great appearance using natural colors of materials

• Play this whistle for years and retain a great looking whistle.

Great price for a handmade whistle!

Whistle comes with a color coded fingering chart and whistle care and playing tips sheet. A quality cleaning rod and beeswax tablet are included.

Allow 4 working days for shipping.

Consider purchasing a Whistlesmith Thumb Ring and get a grip on your whistle. Made to fit your whistle and ships free when you buy this instrument.

Cost is $29.95

Shipping is calculated at checkout

Whistle Color

Note: International orders will be charged an additional $12 to cover shipping and insurance to destination outside the US. Please check out with your current order and we will send an invoice for the additional $12.

 

 
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Cleaning Your Wicked Good Whistle • Three Different Ways

vector clean rod 554

This is a simple way to make an excellent cleaning tool for all size whistles. The materials are a 3/16" wooden dowel and a long strip of cotton cloth.The 3/16" wooden dowel costs $.78 cents at our local hardware and is 48" long. You will have plenty of material to make two extra long cleaning rods that will fit up to a Low D whistle.

I use a white 100% cotton cleaning towel and tear it into 2" strips the long length of the towel.

One towel is enough to last a long time, so you can be neighborly and share with a friend if you like. If you have an old pillow case, that will work well and it can be any color you have on hand.

I recommend 100% cotton because you will not get lint when you buff the bore of the whistle coming off and getting into the finger rholes and tuning joint.

You will need to cut the slot in the end of the dowel with a sharp, fine tooth saw. I use the band saw to do the slot, but you can use a craft saw, coping saw, scroll saw or perhaps a neighbor might cut the slot for you. If you do not wish to cut a slot (I like the slot so I can change the cloth often), you can use a dab of Elmer's Glue and wrap your cloth around the dowel and glue it on.

Wrap the cloth smoothly down the dowel by turning to the right with the dowel and feeding the cloth flat and pulling to the bottom of the dowel. Wrap enough cloth around the dowel so that it fits nicely into the bore of your whistle and let the tail end of the cloth pull down to the end of the dowel. Do not make the cloth fit too tightly or it can make a plug of cloth and be hard to remove.

The tail end of the cloth should be left loose and hang outside the whistle so you can pull the cloth out of the whistle if it should come unattached from the cleaning end of the dowel.

When cleaning and drying your whistle, you can push and pull the rod back and forth or using both hands, spin it in the whistle bore.

If you want to use your electric drill, put the drill in forward mode (the same direction you would use to drill a hole with a drill bit) and push and pull back and forth to buff the whistle bore.

If you forget and buff with the drill in reverse, the cloth will unwind and probably come off the dowel. This means you will have to pull on the tail end of the cloth and retrieve your buffing cloth out of the whistle bore. Rewind your dowel and you will be back in business.

You cannot hurt your whistle by buffing the whistle bore. The more times you buff, the smoother the bore will become and the better it will play.

SDC10371

Using a shot gun buff and electric drill to clean your whistle

So many e-mailers wanted a picture of the cleaning setup I mentioned this spring that I decided to post a picture of my top secret whistle cleaning apparatus. The woolen buff is for a 12 gauge shotgun(fits low whistles with a big bore) and will last a long time. A 410 size buff fits small diameter bore whistles.

You can use any type of drill, but cordless is great if you already own one. Be sure the drill is in tighten mode when you clean with it or the buff will unscrew and be left in the whistle. Several buffing sessions will improve the sound of any kind of whistle because the buffing head smooths the instrument inside and dries up the water.

Doing this type of buffing is not the same as using a clarinet style bore wiper, because the buff generates heat while it is turning and the heat and rotation takes out residue and polishes the inside of the instrument. If you find that your instrument wets up easily in high humidity conditions, dry silicon spray available in hardware and automotive stores can be wiped into the bore after it has been cleaned and then buffed again to produce a finish that will absolutely shed water.

Moisture in the bore will deaden sound quickly if conditions are humid. Saliva is not plain water and the surface tension inside the bore makes it collect as a coating on the walls of the instrument. Silicon when buffed onto the surface makes surface tension minimal and improves the instruments internal vibration so you get more volume without having to increase the air flow.

 
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Everything is not Barter... Some things are "Being Neighborly"

IMG_0327

Being Neighborly with a tune at the Scarecrow Festival at Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. Just as this photo was being taken, a tour bus pulled up and I played some tunes to the passengers who thought I was part of the festival welcoming committee.

Barter is doing business without using man made money. Folks display their goods and you display what you will give them in return for those goods. This is the oldest kind of trade, swap or doing business that exists and a common method of exchange between neighbors and friends in rural Maine.

You can exchange splitting wood with someone who has vegetables, milk, tires for your car or welding on your snow plow. Barter is also called "Being Neighborly" by the folks around The WhisleSmith Shop on Griffin Ridge.

Over the years, I have bartered for lots of items and have found it makes friends and let's you know what's going on in the neighborhood.

Aroostook is the largest county in Maine and the neighborhood is a very large area. You get to know a lot of good folks to contact that might be interested in your items. Word of mouth increases your reputation and the number folks willing to barter.

Here are a few examples of barter.

An old but sturdy piano for four cords of firewood. I didn't have a way to move the one ton instrument, but a wood lot owner had wood and some really strong men and the barter was made. Both parties were happy and the new owner got a piano for his daughter.

Furniture that wore out its welcome got bartered for knitted, sewed, tatted and quilted household items.

Many a newborn got a special blanket to come home from the maternity ward in.

Hand labor and work with the tractor making lawns, plowing gardens and leveling driveways, often means you have new lumber, pickles, or fresh eggs and new baked bread.

I always tell children I barter a whistle with that "I expect to hear about how they make out with the whistle and their feedback is very important to me when I make more whistles."

The best barter is the smile you get from a child in exchange for a whistle.

While on vacation in Halifax, Nova Scotia I met Gwen, who was setting out breakfast at the Comfort Inn. She was in love with the idea of playing the whistle and just full of enthusiasm. I always carry a few extra whistles so I asked if she would like a lesson and a Low G whistle to get her started. She was a good student and was up and going on her new whistle in short order.

The next morning she presented me with a pair of bright red hand knitted wool socks. Thanks a bunch Gwen, I wear them all the time when I'm plowing snow!

Everything is not Barter...Some things are "Being Neighborly".

 
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Good & Plenty C Whistle

good & plenty C

The Good and Plenty C whistle is the result of receiving so many requests for a back to basics whistle. Many folks asked for an easy to clean whistle with accurate tuning, no tuning slide, and an extra smooth bore for the best sound possible.

I received this email from a whistler in Pennsylvania who lives near Lancaster in the midst of Amish country. Here is an excerpt of his letter.

"I recently was waiting for my wife to do some shopping in a road side furniture store near Lancaster, PA. I got tired of sitting in the car , so I ambled over to where there were some rocking chairs for sale and took my whistle along for company. I bought the Traveler, Low A in October and I carry it on the road while I call on accounts.
There were no customers outside the shop, so I settled in to play a tune or two and probably had been playing a full ten minutes when I noticed I had an audience of two Amish children of about ten. I stopped playing and said hello and they responded that they liked my music and settled in to hear another piece. I had played a couple of my favorite songs when their father showed up and with a nod invited me to play some more.

I played for a bit more and then took a break and showed the two children the whistle and how it played. The father looked the whistle over and asked me if it had a name and I replied it was a WhistleSmith. He smiled and said " I think you should call it 'the Good and Plenty!' because it plays plenty well and good too!" Thought you would enjoy hearing that you have an Amish admirer of your whistle. As you can tell I think this a great whistle to take on the road too.

The Good & Plenty whistle series is a nice addition to anyone's collection and is in stock for at once shipping.

The Good and Plenty C is made with a single piece body of ultra white polymer pipe with a dark grey poly plug and removable top cap for quick and easy cleaning of the mouthpiece.
Whistle is 12.5" long overall.
The tone body has large finger holes with a small hands reach between holes. Comfortable for folks with extra large hands because of the larger diameter tone body. Large finger holes make half holing notes easy and adds to volume and ornamentation possibilities.
The mouthpiece slides apart for easy cleaning and clips in place with improved snap action.

The Good & Plenty Whistle has a rich, full tone and plenty of volume. This is a whistle that will take powerful playing and still play with minimal breath requirements. Light, sharp tonguing will bring out the clarity of the Good & Plenty with the tone and precise pitch you have been looking for.
This whistle is perfect for playing in the Key of C, F, and Dm with no cross fingering to learn.


This is a take any where whistle that will play in all kinds of weather and temperature conditions and can take years of play with little or no effect on fit and finish.

Whistle comes with a color coded fingering chart and whistle tips and instructions sheet. A quality cleaning rod and beeswax tablet are included to use for maintaining your new whistle.

Wicked Good Thumb rings now available! Order your thumb ring with your WhistleSmith whistle or flute and we will ship it for free! Why do you need a Thumb Ring? If you ever dropped your car keys, you know the answer to this question. Don't drop your whistle! Get a grip on your whistle that doesn't slip and play with all fingers open with confidence!

Priced at $39.95

Shipping Calculated at checkout

Whistle Color

Note: International orders will be charged an additional $12 to cover shipping and insurance to destination outside the US. Please check out with your current order and we will send an invoice for the additional $12.

 
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WhistleSmith Good and Plenty Bb Whistle

good & plenty  Bb

Many folks asked for an easy to clean whistle with accurate tuning, no tuning slide, and an extra smooth bore for the best sound possible. The Good and Plenty whistle is the result of receiving so many requests for a back to basics whistle.

I received this email from a whistler in Pennsylvania who lives near Lancaster in the midst of Amish country. Here is an excerpt of his letter.

"I recently was waiting for my wife to do some shopping in a road side furniture store near Lancaster, PA. I got tired of sitting in the car , so I ambled over to where there were some rocking chairs for sale and took my whistle along for company. I bought the Traveler, Low A in October and I carry it on the road while I call on accounts.

There were no customers outside the shop, so I settled in to play a tune or two and probably had been playing a full ten minutes when I noticed I had an audience of two Amish children of about ten. I stopped playing and said hello and they responded that they liked my music and settled in to hear another piece. I had played a couple of my favorite songs when their father showed up and with a nod invited me to play some more.

I played for a bit more and then took a break and showed the two children the whistle and how it played. The father looked the whistle over and asked me if it had a name and I replied it was a WhistleSmith. He smiled and said " I think you should call it 'the Good and Plenty!' because it plays plenty well and good too!"

Thought you would enjoy hearing that you have an Amish admirer of your whistle. As you can tell I think this a great whistle to take on the road too. A new addition to the Good & Plenty whistle line up is now available in the key of Bb. This is a nice whistle for anyone's collection and is in stock for at once shipping.

The Good and Plenty Bb is made with a single piece body of ultra white polymer pipe with a dark grey poly plug and removable top cap for quick and easy cleaning of the mouthpiece.

Whistle is 14.25" long overall.

The tone body has large finger holes with a small hands reach between holes. Comfortable for folks with extra large hands because of the larger diameter tone body. Large holes make half holing and ornamentation easier to play.

The mouthpiece slides apart for easy cleaning.

The Good & Plenty Whistle has a rich, full tone and plenty of volume. This is a whistle that will take powerful playing and still play with minimal breath requirements. Light, sharp tonguing will bring out the clarity and tone of the Good & Plenty with the tone you have been looking for.

This whistle is perfect for playing in the Key of Bb, Eb and Cm with no cross fingering to learn.

This is a take anywhere whistle that will play in all kinds of weather and temperature conditions and can take years of play with little or no effect on fit and finish.

Whistle comes with a color coded fingering chart and whistle care and playing tips sheet. A quality cleaning rod and beeswax tablet are included.

Whistle is White with silver striping as shown in photo.

Priced at $39.95

Shipping Calculated at checkout

Whistle Color

Wicked Good Thumb rings now available! Order your thumb ring with your WhistleSmith whistle or flute and we will ship it for free! Why do you need a Thumb Ring? If you ever dropped your car keys, you know the answer to this question. Don't drop your whistle! Get a grip on your whistle that doesn't slip and play with all fingers open with confidence!

Note: International orders will be charged an additional $12 to cover shipping and insurance to destination outside the US. Please check out with your current order and we will send an invoice for the additional $12.

 
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What People Say for Spring and Summer '09

This section of What People Say! will be available for additions. If you have non commercial information you would like to share with other whistlers just send me an email.

 

Dear Skye,

Thank you for the lovely note about your whistle. I really appreciate you letting us know that you have received your Low G and your comments on the whistle. Thank you so much as your note really made my day. Rod Brewer, The WhistleSmith

Hi Rod,

I just opened the low G whistle this morning and played for 5 minutes before work. Beautiful! I love it! Makes me want to replace my high D with one of yours, and save up for a low D, too.

And the thumb ring is great. Don't know how much traditional music I'll ever learn in this lifetime, but this beautiful sound is perfect for a lot of what I do, and a nice change from the silver flute.

You have a fan :) Skye

This is a very nice letter with good information on the thumb ring. Thanks Crystal!

Hi Rod,

The Ultra Bb arrived safely and quickly became my favorite whistle! The first thing I thought when I saw the mouthpiece was, "This thing

is a work of genious!" And it is. I have 3 other whistles, different brands and different keys, and they're all hard to clean and not

nearly as comfortable to play. I also love the thumb rings. I use one for each hand, and I never realized how tense I got playing all holes

open, until I didn't have to worry about it anymore. Whistling is the great joy I always thought it could be, thanks to your wonderful

whistle! Thank you, and feel free to publish this if you like.

Crystal

The following post comes from Beryl Branin, who is building a blog with news and music to download.

Hi Folks .

I'm still a'whistlin' and having a great time -- thank you. Just thought you might be interested in reading the March post I've put on my blog.

Gura mile maith, Beryl Branin

http://www.grammbo.typepad.com/grammbosramblings/ > grams blog banner

Dear Beryl,

My wife Nadiene and I are very impressed with your blog and the time you have taken to let us know you like your whistles. I will post your email on the WhistleSmith blog so others can read your note in "What people say"

Your email has certainly made our day while we have been cooped up with three days of very bad winter weather. Thanks again for your note, Rod Brewer, The WhistleSmith

 
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Slide Flute finds New Friends and Places to Play!

I have been busy making inventory this winter and one instrument that has been consistently in demand is the slide flute. The Pennywhistle and Symphony Slide Flutes have both been found to be very satisfactory instruments for children and adults with Down Syndrome.
These folks love music and the interaction that it gives them with others. Playing the slide flute is a good therapy for improved breathing and an inexpensive way to provide an instrument that is easy to play and fits into family activities.

Because the slide flute can be played very loudly, I am providing extra poly plugs to limit volume and allow a quieter more mellow sound if required. Inserting the poly plugs also cuts down on the amount of air required to play the flute.
An adjustable poly plug on the slide rod now allows adjustment to the tension of the slide. You can adjust the size of the plug with a common Phillips head screwdriver for best fit in the flute bore. Lubrication of the whistle remains a single drop of olive oil.
From information that I have recently received, I understand that the slide flute works best when the person learning to play starts out with making as many different sounds as possible. The sliding sounds are at first most popular. It is best if the person who is instructing tries to mimic the student's lead on the sounds being played.
After a session or two, the student generally begins to be confident enough to try blowing notes that are like the instructor. Making up tunes of their own is a large part of the fun and should be included in the daily routine. Loud and unexpected sounds are also very pleasing to the student and a part of relaxing and enjoying the music.
As sessions with the slide flute progress the student will become inventive and spend more time with the instrument. The instructor should encourage outdoor playing situations and search out some interesting settings where there are good acoustics. Echoes from the slide flute are especially nice sounds and the student will be encouraged by the improved music sounds they are getting from their slide flute.
Other ideas, like the student playing a rhythm line using a set single note and the instructor playing a tune that is familiar can produce wonderful results. Part of the fun is finding the perfect note for the student to play along with the instructor's tune. As time progresses, the student can reverse the role and play the tune and the instructor can play the drone and rhythm line.

 
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Tips about Antique Reviews•Second Hand Instruments •Chat•RIP Archives

I get a lot of calls and emails from folks inquiring about other whistle makers and instruments that they may have acquired second hand. Here is what I say.

1. Don't buy second hand unless you can physically play the whistle and find out if it fits you and the type of music you are playing. Many whistles that are second hand have been modified by previous owners and may not be the same sounding instrument as it was when new. If the seller doesn't want the instrument and is trying to sell it, maybe you won't want it either. Would you buy a car without trying it out?...same deal with a whistle or anything else.

2. Do not put your faith in on line reviews that are out of date or based on second hand instruments that were once owned by the writer and are now traded off. Don't take anyone's word on how a particular brand plays or how wonderful it is. They are basing their opinion on one instrument out of perhaps hundreds of dozens made by the same whistle maker. Stradivarius when making violins surely didn't make every instrument with the same sound. Whistle makers usually have several models in the same key, so find the one that suits you best.

3. If you are a professional musician and are looking for an instrument that has a specific sound, go to the maker and play instruments until you find what you are looking for. The cost is minimal and whistlers should be as picky as a guitarist (play on words) or a violin player.

I get dozens of folks that drop by in the run of a year that are looking for a specific instrument. These folks are looking for their specific sound and they usually find an instrument that suits their needs. Often times they switch from a whistle to a flute or fife to get the sound they require. I sometimes regret I am off the path in Northern Maine as I'm sure many more folks would show up if the shop was farther south. But there again, I would miss all my Canadian friends that come by on their vacations and play a tune and purchase instruments.

4. Don't take chat room advice on buying whistles. It is entertaining to a degree to chat with others interested the same things you are interested in. However, many "chatters" will say they own or owned a particular whistle or flute and give it a thumbs up or down in favor of another brand. This is not always the truth and you have no way of verifying anything the "chatter" tells you.

5. No whistle maker wants to sell you an incorrectly made whistle or a whistle that does not fit your type of music. I see and handle dozens of instruments from other makers each year.The only thing that is consistently wrong with these instruments is a problem anyone can fix. Without fail, the instrument has simply never been cleaned!

6. Check to see if the instrument you are going to purchase is still being made. Many online stores are selling old inventory,unpopular models or the maker is out of business or deceased and has been for some time. Warranties are no good to you if there is no one home anymore to make them valid.

7. Check the web site you are reading to see if the postings are current and really valid. If the web site is a cemetery of old information, Antique Reviews and long gone makers, let the writer know in a kindly manner to put those entries in an RIP (rest in peace) directory so everyone is reading valid, up to date information.

Help yourself and help everyone else at the same time by letting others know the information they are reading is current.

 
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What is the difference between a Thumb Post and a Thumb Ring?

THUMB RING 55

This is The WhistleSmith Thumb ring that snaps to the barrel of the whistle and rotates for most comfortable playing position. Some folks would like a Thumb ring for both hands so I am listing them as an individual item. Low whistles and flutes take a large ring and Hi whistles and flutes use a small ring. WhistleSmith Thumb rings are made to fit Whistlesmith whistles and flutes. Pick Thumb ring size to fit your whistle and Add it to Your Cart. We will ship your Thumb ring with your whistle order

Thumb ring size

I recently received a note from a music teacher who instructs both children and adults on playing the whistle. She was not familiar with the thumb ring and asked if I would explain how a thumb ring was constructed and how it works versus a thumb post.

I do not make a thumb post, however some makers include them with their whistles. A thumb post snaps onto your whistle and will keep your whistle from rolling and falling off a table. However, a thumb post has little value for holding your whistle. Thumb posts are generally injected molded and tend to break if snapped on and off the whistle frequently.

The WhistleSmith thumb ring is made from schedule 40 pipe and hand riveted together to make a very strong clip and ring combination. There are 20 steps involved in making a single thumb ring and each step is done by hand. WhistleSmith thumb rings are made to last, but can be easily repaired with common tools if necessary.

Here are some advantages to using a WhistleSmith thumb ring.

1. The WhistleSmith thumb ring is a full circle ring for your thumb. The ring swivels on a clip which snaps onto your whistle to allow movement and angle adjustment to the ring for the most comfortable playing position.

2. You have a solid grip on your whistle without having to practice fingering positions when using the thumb ring.

3. The thumb ring prevents your whistle from rolling off the counter or table top if you lay it down.

4. The thumb ring lets you hang your whistle on a cup hook or a wall pin when you are not playing. This provides a secure storage for your whistle and keeps it out of harms way.

5. Playing with a thumb ring improves your technical skills by eliminating learning hand grips when playing with all the holes open on your whistle.

6. You will not drop your whistle when you are playing because your lips anchor the end of your whistle and the thumb ring hold the body securely.

7. Confidence is a large part of playing your whistle. You need to know your whistle is held securely and cannot be dropped by accident when playing in front of an audience!

8. You can use a thumb ring on either hand. Place the thumb ring where you like it best. You can use a thumb ring on both hands at once if you wish!

 
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The Whistler of Blackstone Bluff

Zuma 1

Last ride of the season on November the sixth. Temperature was 55 degrees in the afternoon for about two hours and I had to dress warm to be comfortable. By evening, we had snow on the ground again.

After the barn wreck this spring, Nadiene and I needed to replace the two SUVs that had been totaled in the building. I thought that we could do fine with one vehicle since our business is here at home and the price of gas was over $4.00 a gallon. We have always had a motorcycle or four wheeler around and I used them to go to work in the summer and run errands. This time I opted for a scooter and after some shopping around, we bought a Yamaha Zuma. I really had no idea that I would like the scooter so much and how handy it turned out to be for doing errands. After a few trips around the area, I started looking forward to a ride before supper and on the weekends, I would try to squeeze out an hour or two for a good long ride and would come home feeling really refreshed. Summer this year was rain, rain, rain with a two hour break in the afternoon with wind and then more rain at night. I dodged a bunch of thunderstorms by having some places to stop by laying out various roads to ride that fit into how much time I had for the trip.

I jokingly told my friends that I was finding the best scooter roads in Aroostook county so I could take visitors for a tour when we had company. The more riding I did, the more I discovered great places to play the whistle. Natural spots with lots of echo and amplification from the surrounding hills are not too hard to find here in the "County". I usually make a brief stop and do a loud shout or two and if the sound is good, I will open the under seat storage, break out a whistle and give it a try. If the terrain shouts back, you generally have an amphitheater made by Mother Nature! One of the best spots is the Blackstone Bluff in Perham, Maine. The bluff is an abrupt stone drop into a twenty five mile long valley that has lots of stone faced hills facing you as you play. There is so much resonance from this arrangement of hills, that you music keeps playing back way after you have stopped.

The Bluff is also the home of a fair sized cemetery on one end that originally belonged to the Blackstone family, hence the name. Several times, I pulled into the opposite end of the bluff and played for a few minutes and then continued on my scootering. Of course, the play back from the hills bounces into the cemetery and it sounds like it was coming right out of the air in front of you. My playing apparently didn't go unnoticed as some folks visiting the cemetery started asking around about who was playing all the music and where was it coming from. When no one knew who the whistler was, a legend was immediately born about the Whistler of Blackstone Bluff. How cool is that? Celebrity status without trying.

By the way, my scoot will hold an orchestra of whistles or enough Chinese Take Out for two days under the seat . I get over a hundred miles to the gallon, so it turns out to be economical way to travel and a great way to find a place to play your whistle.

 
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Update on the Proto 3 slide flute

Slide flute diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had a lot of response from the article on the new Prototype 1 whistle for physically challenged people.

I took the information from the Proto1 instrument and built a second instrument and called it Proto 2. There were some technically nice things about Proto 2 which was the next step toward a production whistle. After working with Proto 2 for several week I decided the breath tube was collecting too much moisture and would always be a problem. I archived the design information and have moved on to Proto 3.

Proto 3 will be better to play and less expensive to produce. Proto 3 has no tubing, and no wire connection to the slide in the flute. The slide flute is snapped to a ten ball bearing stainless steel slide that is used in heavy drawer construction. The player moves the body of the slide flute on the track and the plunger is secured to the stationary part of the drawer slide to produce the individual notes. By playing the instrument in a vertical position, you let gravity drop the whistle to play low notes and lift on the mouthpiece to play the high notes. This solves the problem of getting a stiff neck from moving back and forth sidways with the slide and gives a 50% mechanical advantage in that the player only lifts the slide up to play and gravity does the rest. Proto 3 will be shipping out to Dave Whalen shortly for testing!

About a hundred emails have come in inquiring at what price range the slide flute will be priced. I feel confident that we will be able to produce Proto 3 with the tracking system at around $50.

Many folks have asked if the slide flute will be difficult to play and how durable it will be. I can only say that using the improvements learned on the project so far, that the air requirement is very low and the volume is quite amazing. For those wishing to practice and not make much sound, I have a poly plug to insert into the end of the slide flute hat cuts the volume by 50% yet retains good sound quality.

As far as durability, The slide flute is the same as the Symphony Slide Flute that I have been selling for some time with very good results. The poly plug is the only thing that could wear out and you get two extras with the flute. Lubrication will still be a drop of Olive Oil if the slide starts to drag.

This project has been a pleasure to work on. Like most whistle designs, you generally over design and then eliminate some parts that are not necessary or do not perform as expected. Proto 3 is no exception and by not having to hurry the project, it looks like it will be a very nice instrument.

Oh yes, caregivers will have only a minimal amount of maintenance to do on Proto 3. Cleaning and setup are going to be very easy and no experience will be required. Easy to understand instructions will be provided in the package along with good illustrations.

 
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What People said November of '08

I received this note from Mark Hanson and thought you might like to hear about the work he is doing with his Low D whistle.

Hi thought you might want to hear your whistles in action . My album named The Lonely Traveler on I-tunes is live and features use of your low d whistle through out the album. Hope you like it. Mark Hanson [ aka Mark Perry ] God Bless

I must apologize to Jason Hoopes for misplacing his letter and not getting it posted until now.

Rod,

I wanted to take a moment to tell you how amazing this Low D whistle has been. I have had the opportunity to play it in warm weather, and cold now, and the tone has never been anything but perfect, warm and as airy as can be. I've put this lovely thing through it's paces, and whether performing a slow piece or a speedy jig on the upper pitches, the whistle performs as it should. The tuning slide is such a delight, making it easier than ever to achieve just the sound I need for whichever piece I happen to be playing.

Numerous times I've had neighbors stop by my window or front lawn to listen to the melodies that comes from this enchanting whistle, and although I have much to learn yet, the ease of playing even such a large whistle just boggles the mind.

I want to commend you on the craftsmanship that goes into these beauties, for if every whistle is as meticulous as this one then you have most certainly the finest traditional workshop in America.

Sincerely Jason L. Hoopes

Founder, Think Design Studies

 
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What Folks are Saying in September '08

I have quite a few questions and some comments and feedback for the past couple of months that I find very interesting. First off is a very nice note from a gentleman that liked his new Low F whistle. This is the response every WhistleSmith likes to receive.

Dear Sir,

I have received your Flute via UPS. This morning. I was able to play Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo, Malaguena, O Danny Boy, and the beautiful tune Rose of Tralee.

I am more a singer ( light Tenor ) than a flutist but I love the sound of the Tin Whistle, I guess genes inherited through my grand mother Rose O'Neil.

Never the less to tell you, Your Flute is not Good. * It is excellent* you are truly and artisan and I take my hat unto you. The instrument has a mellow sound that is haunting. It has two full octaves, you can not go wrong with it.

Have you considered making them out of hardwood or metal using the same concept? A very innovative design. I only wish it will have a 7th hole to add a lower note.

But, of course then it will not be an Irish whistle. It will be a sophisticated recorder.

The thumb ring is quite an addition as it is the mouth piece, a wonderful concept.. It remind me a bit of the Native American Flute.

Thank you again, Godspeed...

Luis Alberto

 

Another person who purchased a whistle inquired about obtaining beeswax that I had mentioned for several uses on whistles. Beeswax candles are available in almost every candle shop. Rubbing beeswax on the slide joint of your whistle will make it tighten up, but is easy to remove if necessary by warming the joint with hot water. Rubbing beeswax on the inside edges of the whistle mouthpiece will make it stick in place, but allows fine adjustment if you need to align the mouthpiece. Again the top cap of the mouthpiece can be easily moved by warming with hot water if necessary.

Burt's Bees makes a chapstick type product for chapped lips from beeswax and this is very good for a very tight joint that you need to slip easily, but the joint is too tight to use beeswax. When applying beeswax to the whistle joint, rub the wax on the male part of the fitting and spin the fitting together to distribute the wax evenly. If the fit is too tight, remove a little of the beeswax . Try the fit of the joint until it has a good firm fit, but is not jammed or over tight. I really like using beeswax for joints and you seldom have to replace it. "O" rings are technically fine, but they tend to break at the wrong time and the right size is often hard to find.

Oh yes! you can share you candle with all your whistling friends as it takes very little wax to do the job. One small candle will last a lifetime if you don't share!

I inform buyers from other countries by Email that the USPS shipping charge to Canada and especially Europe is high, but as low as can be afforded to insure delivery and tracking of the package. I also warn buyers that the Brokerage fees charged are not included for them to get their whistle. Brokerage fees to Canada are very high and are charged by the individual items in the package. The VAT to the United Kingdom is another charge that is expensive. WhistleSmith is not responsible for these charges and can only tell buyers they should be prepared to pay them to get delivery of their items. So much for free trade...

A lady in Florida wrote to remind me of shipping costs here in the States.

" Please remind you customers that you will ship two whistles at a time for the same rate. I forgot to order the thumbring for my Low D on my first purchase from your website. Thank for shipping everything in one package on my second order. When you are retired and on a budget, everything helps out. By the way, I really love my new Low F, very nice sound."

Will you be selling your whistles on ebay this next year!

I recently shipped two Low D whistles that were purchased on ebay to Tasmania and another pair to the Czech Republic. We will be running the ebay store and Buy It Now auctions for another year. The category for WhistleSmith products is Musical Instruments/Woodwinds/Whistles. Prices for all items is uniform here on the website and with those for sale on ebay. Many customers find their way to this website from ebay and it is always good to shop online where you are most comfortable. If you have special requests for your order, it is best to order here on the website and to use the 1-800-675-4206 toll free line to discuss your purchase.

I hope you will read the news on Proto 1, the new slide flute that can be played with just the use of your head. This will allow thousands of folks with disabilitiessto play a musical instrument for the first time.

All for now, but please keep writing so I can post your comments, questions and information.

 
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Proto 1 Auto Slide Flute Due for Production

proto 2 slider 5

Here I am holding the original Proto 1 auto slide flute. The long tube is the air tube into which you blow to play the flute. The air tube is held in a ring of the wire that goes to the slide rod in the flute. The slide moves back and forth with your head movement to change the pitch and determine the note you are playing.

My Top Secret, keep the lights burning project for the summer has been a whistle project with David Whalen from Scotia, New York. David approached me on the phone with the idea of making a slide whistle that he could play by moving the slide with just the movement of his head. The whistle would also have to be easy to blow, have a nice deep sound, and be easily cleaned and maintained. In addition to that, the cost should be as low as possible so a lot of folks could afford it in all kinds of countries and economic situations.

WOW! You have to love a project and challenge like this!

David further explained that he was quadrupelegic from a skiing accident and wanted very much to play the slide whistle. His idea was to make a slide whistle that many people could play and have fun with, sound good, be inexpensive, be non-electrical, and be portable. He and a group of friends and family had done exploratory work on the music project and knew there would be lots of interest in the whistle if it could be made to work.

I was really excited by the concept of the slide whistle project. I knew from working with my nephew Kevin on the original slide flute, that the number of folks who would benefit from the project would make up a very large and enthusiastic group of people. I told David it was a done deal and I would develop the whistle and he would be the tester. I also cautioned him that it might take longer to get the whistle right and playable than we both could anticipate.

Sometimes you just get lucky and that's what happened next. The Penny Whistle Auto Flute has been throughly tested and played by a large group of folks, many with disabilities that hamper breathing or mobility. Soooo...I turned the flute upside down and made a clip to hold the clear vinyl tube used to blow the flute onto the original mouthpiece. I made a wire bending jig to make a heavy wire loop to hold the mouthpiece tube and an extension to hook it to the fiberglass slide in the flute. All you do then is put the tube in your mouth to blow the whistle and move your head back and forth to move the slide. Now you can play music! I added some clips to hold the flute to an 18" piece of rod that can be held in place by an appliance bar and you can then play without using your hands.

The day David received the slide flute, he called at six in he morning to tell me he had gotten up early and had already learned three tunes to play. And then he played them for me over the phone. What a great feeling to hear him play and know everything had worked out okay!

David has been testing the flute for about a month and a half and it works very well. I dubbed it Proto I (for first prototype) and while David is testing, I have developed Proto 2 which is built on the Symphony Slide Flute. Proto 2 will be tested over the next few weeks and hopefully a production model will be decided on to begin production before the end of October.

Proto I has proven to be reliable and fun to play. Sound is very good. Cleaning is easy and quick. Sets up easily. Windway can be cleared simply and overall the flute works as well as hoped for. With a few changes in geometry and the wire bending apparatus, I feel confident we will be making this model on schedule.

The slide flute does require the care giver to be able to do some easy cleaning of the instrument and some minimal setup with the appliance bar. I am writing an easy to understand set of instructions and the illustrations necessary to take the flute apart and assemble it correctly.

We are very excited about this project and would like to hear what you have to say about the development so far. If you would like to email, send your message with the Subject line on your email as "Regards Proto I" to rodbrewer@jaybrewer.net.

 
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