Tin Whistles

Bodhráns

General

What is a good beginner whistle?

There are many different entry level whistles you can look into as you are starting off.

One of the best ways to get into traditional Irish music is through one of our starter kits. Both the Feadóg and Clarke starter kits are fantastic. The Clarke Starter kit has a traditional tin whistle with a wooden fipple (mouthpiece). This whistle has a warm woodsy tone. It isn't too sharp sounding, which is great for beginners. This is what Blayne Chastain, W&D's owner/founder, first learned on, and is still one of his highest recommended beginner whistles. The book is comprehensive and takes the learner far in playing; plus, it includes a CD.

The Feadóg Starter Kit includes a more modern whistle that is still made in Ireland. The book is simple and easy to follow. The kit may be purchased with or without a CD.

For the more serious beginner, we usually recommend the Tony Dixon traditional whistle in high D. This is a great durable whistle. It is lightweight and easy to play, and comes in your choice of brass or nickel. Some find the brass to be a bit warmer in tone, but the difference is so slight as to be hardly noticeable. Brass does tarnish, so you will have to weigh that fact in when making your decision. These whistles are great on the budget, at only $27 for the brass and $32 for the nickel.

If you're looking for a lower entry whistle, we suggest the Clarke Original D ($16.95). The Clarke Meg whistle is also a good inexpensive whistle to play with ($5.95). Slightly higher-end is the Tony Dixon Aluminum High D.

What key of whistle should I buy?

For traditional Irish music, D is by far the most common choice. The natural scale of the D whistle is D major (two sharps). Most Irish tunes are written in one, two, or three sharps, and are playable on the D whistle.

Whistles do, however, come in almost every key. The second most popular key for whistles is C, as it allows you to play in the keys of C, F, and G, which are popular keys for singing. E flat (Eb) whistles are also somewhat common among session musicians and those who want a slightly more responsive, energetic sound.

Any tune you can play on a D whistle can be played on a whistle in any other key — it will simply come out transposed. For example, a tune played in D major on a D whistle will sound in C major on a C whistle, in Bb major on a Bb whistle, and so forth. An A major tune played on the D whistle will sound in G major on the C whistle and in F on the Bb, etc.

What is the difference between regular whistles and "trad" whistles?

"Trad" really refers to the early mass-produced type of whistle that generally had a thin-walled brass or nickel body with a plastic mouthpiece. I suppose there is really no "regular" whistle anymore, as there are so many varieties. Still, a whistle with a thin-walled body will have a lighter "tin-whistly" tone than one with a thicker body. A thicker-walled body gives a solid/more substantial tone that is nice as well.

What is the difference between Hedwitschak's "regular" skin and DragonSkin? What about "spicy" DragonSkin?

About Standard Skin

Christian Hedwitschak's so-called "Standard skin" is the one most commonly used, especially for the LightLine and BasicLine bodhráns. It is produced in an environmentally friendly way, is flexible, and offers a wide sound spectrum. In addition, it tunes easily and holds its tuning very well. Standard skin requires some playing-in time before acquiring a mature sound. Good progress can be detected after just a few days of playing. The positive characteristics of this skin are its reliability and longevity, as there are no animal fats or chemical particles included. There is no danger of skin tear if used in a normal way. This is a drumskin of the highest standard in a high-quality finish.

About DragonSkin™

DragonSkin™ is not, believe it or not, actually skin from a dragon (sorry kids ;). It is Christian Hedwitschak's top-of-the-line goat skin, available on high-end bodhráns such as the Tineo, MOS, and MHTF. It starts out as standard skin, and is then specially treated and refined according to a special in-house procedure. Only the most homogeneous and most visually attractive standard skins are selected for this purpose. The treatment process renders the skins extra soft, smooth and supple, and adds a something to the tone which is difficult to describe in words. The sound character can best be described as lively and harmonious with crystal-clear highs, a creamy mid-range tone, and a full bass sound. It responds easily to the slightest touch of the skin hand and offers a very wide-ranging sound spectrum. In comparison to the famous Lambeg skins from the North of Ireland, the attack is a bit softer.

DragonSkin™ Classic is the standard DragonSkin™ model with a skin of medium thickness and hardness. This is the most popular and universally used HighEnd skin with the typically creamy sound character. Even unexperienced players are well served with this skin. Choose this skin if you primarily desire a warm/bassy/buttery tone.

DragonSkin™ Spicy is a thicker skin from an older animals (3–7 years). It is sanded to medium thickness, meaning that the portion of the harder outer skin layer is greater. In addition, the intensity of the DragonSkin™ procedure is shortened. The result is a DragonSkin™ with a harder attack and more punch (even at louder sessions), but still possessing the creamy DragonSkin™ tone and solid bass. Nice if you're playing in noisy environments with no microphone.

What is your return policy?

We think we have one of the easiest return policies out there. You have 14 days to return an item if it is not exactly right for you. We understand that buying instruments online can be a bit scary, and want to make it easy. As long as we receive the product in 100% re-sellable condition, you will get a full refund for the product. Unfortunately we cannot give refunds for shipping costs unless there was a mistake on our part.

Our address is:

Whistle & Drum
922 8th Avenue
Greeley, CO 80631
USA

How long will it be before you have the instrument or product I want in stock?

First of all, check the product page for the instrument you are interested in... sometimes, you can place an order for a product even if it is out of stock or backordered. In those cases, we will get the instrument for you on request, and you will not be charged until we receive it and are ready to ship it out. The wait will depend on which product you have ordered; Susato whistles, for example, arrive within a few days, whereas a custom-made whistle or bodhrán may take six months or more.

Many of our instruments are made by hand, some of them outside of the U.S. Due to the nature of the cottage industry, as well as the cost and the time required for international shipments, it can be challenging to keep a steady supply of these fine instruments on hand. We try to stock them regularly; however, sometimes it may be a few months before they are replenished.

If you have placed an order for a custom or backordered instrument or product, we will notify you when it becomes available, and ship it to you as soon as possible. Your card will not be charged until that time, so if possible, please use a card with an expiration sufficiently far away to account for this.

We thank you for your patience, and invite you to continue to check our website for the most up-to-date availability.

How does Blayne Chastain's online student discount work?

To be eligible for a student discount, you must first be a student over at Blayne's teaching site (www.BlayneChastain.com/i-teach). Once a student, there will be a section in your account (still over at BlayneChastain.com) where you can enter your Whistle & Drum account email address (click on "My Account" up at the top of the screen, then on "Edit", then on "WhistleAndDrum.com Student Discount"). Do that, and the next time you log in to Whistle & Drum you will see your own pricing ranging from 5% to 25% off!

Note that some products cannot be discounted, but most are.

There is no place on Whistle & Drum's website to activate your student discount. It must be done from your account at BlayneChastain.com, as described above.


Pssst. When our founder Blayne Chastain isn't playing the flute, he's flying for Cloudgate Aerial Cinematography in Colorado. Check 'em out!