Looking to either learn to play or buy an Irish tin whistle, Irish flute or Irish bodhrán drum? Below are a few resources to help you get started!
Tin whistle, penny whistle, flageolet, whatever you like to call it, is most typically a 6-holed fipple flute most associated with Irish traditional music / Celtic music.
After doing a good bit of researching, you’ll find a large range of instruments ranging from $5 to $500+. What’s the difference? Inexpensive mass-produced tin whistles as a general rule simply don’t play as well as those made by hand.
The most popular inexpensive / mass produced whistles would be those made by Generation, Feadog and Clarke.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive instrument that still plays great, have a look at the Tony Dixon trad. At under $30, it is hard to beat!
There are many makers of higher-end / hand made tin whistles these days. The Chiff & Fipple forums are a great place to begin your research. The Irish Flute Store also carries a large variety of tin whistles ranging from the inexpensive Dixon Trad to many rare and hard to find higher end instruments.
Learn to play with Blayne Chastain’s tin whistle lessons online.
The Irish flute is also typically a *6-holed instrument and can either be keyless or have 1 to 8+ keys to facilitate playing in other keys or the odd “accidental”. Most Irish flutes are pitched in D and as such play the D Major scale (and related B minor scale and other associated modes) with ease. G & A major scales (and related modes) can also be played quite easily on a D-pitched flute.
As most Irish tunes can be played on either a 6-holed tin whistle or Irish flute, many players stick with playing a keyless flute. Those wishing to dive deeper into tunes which depart from the “usual” keys enjoy the flexibility that additional keys afford.
Many keyless flutes actually have 8-holes - the bottom of which would sound C# and C if they had keys. Many prefer the look and balance that leaving the foot joint “long” provides.
If you’re just starting out, the Chiff & Fipple Flute forum is a great community to join. Also have a look at The Irish Flute Store as they carry a great variety of flutes ranging from entry-level starter instruments to higher-end and even rare & hard to find Irish flutes!
Learn to play with Blayne Chastain’s Irish flute lessons online.
The Bodhrán is a frame drum typically covered with goat skin and is struck with a tipper (type of drum stick). With a little bit of research online, you’ll find a number of makes & models. We’d recommend staying away from the very inexpensive ones as they are most probably made in Pakistan and have skin and frames of inferior quality & workmanship. We also recommend finding a bodhrán that is tunable as the skin will tighten & loosen due to changes in humidity.
There are a lot of great makers of Bodhráns these days. Do have a look at Christian Hedwitschak from Bavaria who makes a range of drums to suit most budgets - all of which are professional grade instruments.If you're in the US, you can purchase them from Rebellion Drums.
Learn to play with Blayne Chastain’s bodhrán lessons online.