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Tech: Why whistles squeak?

DonMeixner 30 May 08 - 09:27 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 May 08 - 09:46 AM
Paul Burke 30 May 08 - 09:54 AM
The Fooles Troupe 30 May 08 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,Dave_ 30 May 08 - 11:00 AM
Escapee 30 May 08 - 08:47 PM
Mo the caller 31 May 08 - 06:28 AM
Mr Happy 02 Jun 08 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Jun 08 - 02:25 PM
Bert 02 Jun 08 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 02 Jun 08 - 04:33 PM
gnu 02 Jun 08 - 05:05 PM
Leadfingers 02 Jun 08 - 05:48 PM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Jun 08 - 06:14 PM
Leadfingers 02 Jun 08 - 08:22 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Jun 08 - 11:26 PM
Escapee 02 Jun 08 - 11:45 PM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Jun 08 - 11:55 PM
Paul Burke 03 Jun 08 - 03:17 AM
DonMeixner 03 Jun 08 - 01:12 PM
Jack Campin 03 Jun 08 - 02:10 PM
JohnInKansas 23 Mar 12 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Mar 12 - 09:40 AM
Jack Campin 23 Mar 12 - 11:06 AM
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Subject: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:27 AM

I am at best a novice with whistles. I know enough to completely cover the holes and blow steadily. So why do some still sqeak at the most in opportune times. I have Generations. I supose some day I'll be able to afford better but just now those are the tool of choice.

Can the Generations be tweaked it in anyway? I know they'll never be Copelands but it seems the sound could be improved upon.

Don


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:46 AM

Time was, you could go through a whole box of Generations before you'd find a good one*; these days you can't do that because of Health & Safety, which is fair enough, but no good when it comes to buying whistles! Try Clarkes, which can be tweaked, but are in any case less prone to anomalous harmonics such as you describe; and an old Carkes C is worth it's weight in sherbet, but not much use in a session where everyone's playing in D. Never got round to any of the expensive whistles because I spend all my pocket money on expensive Jew's Harps, but my favourite standard D remains my 1983 Faedog that came through in the first batch (allegedly) & it still plays beautifully - & I wouldn't part with my old Generation Bb bought from Rothbury Festival in 1984 for all the tea in Wigan.

*My standard test for a good Generation is if it can carry the old Abbots Bromley Horn Dance melody (aka The Wheelwright's Tune) without cracking up in the top end.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:54 AM

You can sometimes make a poor Generation (though not a stiff- necked one) better if it has a lot of moulding flash in and around the fipple- remove it very carefully with a very sharp craft knife. Be careful not to remove too much, just any obvious stray plastic. But keep practicing breath control and make sure you are covering the holes securely. Most whistles are pretty dodgy at the top end anyway, but I've played Generations for, well, generations now, and I find them as good (when good) as almost anything else. The quality control does seem to have improved somewhat in the last few years.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 May 08 - 10:09 AM

Too much breath pressure amy force a squeak, just like with a recorder.

The 'squeak' caused by not having the finger holes sealed properly, is because you get 'pitches outside the design paramters for the diatonic scale intended'...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: GUEST,Dave_
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:00 AM

Heat some water fairly hot to boiling, place in a mug, insert fipple end of whistle to melt the glue.
Adjust mouthpiece to suit, use a tuner if poss to tune it.
See if that helps.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Escapee
Date: 30 May 08 - 08:47 PM

The holes are punched from the outside side of the sheet metal. This leaves a burr on the inside of the whistle. I roll up a piece of sandpaper and polish the bore of my whistles. A de-burring tool would help too. I also follow Paul Burke's clean-up procedure on any plastic mouthpiece. It doesn't make me play any better, but it keeps me from sounding worse.
Fair winds,
SKP


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 31 May 08 - 06:28 AM

Any hope for a Clarke that got sat on? I has been straightened out, sort of, but it's a bit scrumpled looking and doesn't have the tone it did.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 06:58 AM

One've me fave sweettones started acting up a while back.

I'd 2, a D & a C. The C one's still fine but the D looks like some sort've corrosive's been poured on it & the paint's melted & re-dried.

Keep all the blowers in the top've me melodeon bag where there's a bit've spare space.

Taking the squeezer uot the bag t'other day, the mouthpiece of the D Sweettone had by now completely detached itself from the body which showed definite signs of rust - never known anything like it!

Luckily a fiend'd given me a new Waltons D for me birfday so still up & running.

Anyone else had experience like this?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 02:25 PM

No, but I'm not surprised. Is there any instrument as cheap as a low-end whistle?

I took one apart once and found that the edges of the holes still had steel fragments clinging to them from when they drilled. I removed them, but it didn't seem to help.

Leaving that topic, other suggestions:

Blow into the side of the whistle, as if holding a ciggie at a rakish angle. This diminishes the air stream and can help.

Know the tune by heart and subtly shape the notes in your mouth and throat, so that the whistle doesn't have to do all the singing. Let it be an amplifier rather than a voice box.

At the beginning of a high note, make a very delicate 'tee' sound with your tongue. This is called articulation. Saying 'tee' will flatten your tongue and aim the airstream in a ribbon down the tube. It seems to help.

For best music-making, get a nice recorder. If you need it to look Celtic, paint it silver and tell everyone it's a Generation II.

My sister-in-law went to a whistle class at Milwaukee's Irish Fest once. She told me, 'He played so beautifully! Of course, he had a $150-dollar penny whistle.'

Allowing for inflation, it may be that the way to get a high note out of a whistle is to spend $200 on it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 02:31 PM

Why whistles squeak?


'Cos you blow into 'em.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 04:33 PM

Does the material they are made from make much difference in the tone?
I have contemplated making one from sterling.

Don


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: gnu
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 05:05 PM

The best way to stop squeak is to be born with lots of patience, skinny fingers and no arthritis. (A joke... maybe a poor one...)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 05:48 PM

Squeaking is usually a case of minor over blowing ! I find that even I get the odd squeak , especially when playing outside and trying to be as loud as possible .
And Leenia , the guy doing that workshop is a Twit ! When I do workshops I use a Generation , rather than any of my 'fancy' whistles
precisely to stop comments like your S i Law's .
I also try to have few spare 'tested' Generation D whistles for sale , for any one who hasnt got a working whistle !
'Working' for me means two clear octaves plus the extra note at the bottom of the third octave .


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 06:14 PM

"Working' for me means that I can get the extra 1/2 third octave easily - did you realize that doing the 'tabor' trick - keeping the top 3 holes closed and just over blowing, can sometimes make the second octave easier. It is of course the way the 3rd octave is produced, so you just keep working on the overblow technique, so you keep improving that.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 08:22 PM

The bottom note in the third octave wakes the dogs up , so going any higher would be ear splitting ! And the control is VERY dodgy up there too !!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 11:26 PM

It is much more than a drinking toast...

There is a reason (much broader than the puckered lip kind) for the expression to:

WET YOUR WHISTLE

Dip your wood or tin in a glass of water...AMAZING results!!

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Many have said it in other threads and groups years and years before ... I learned when mine fell in a hidden, cold, high-mountain lake.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Escapee
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 11:45 PM

Those highest notes happen too close to my ears.
   Hello DonMeixner, I have an aluminum whistle that sounds very different from the "tin" ones. It has a plastic mouthpiece and a cylindrical bore like my other whistles, so the tone change must come from the material, right?
Speaking of bore, a Clarke has a tapered bore, which would be difficult to fix if it was sat on. You'd need a metal or other hard piece the same taper as the whistle, so I don't have much hope for your injured Clarke, Mo the caller. If the bore is straight sided you can drive a dowel or similar object through the whistle and straighten it out pretty well.
My best to all,
SKP


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 11:55 PM

YOu can get tapered metal gadgets - mandrels I think the word is - intended for making/sizing rings. Dunno how the taper would relate, but it may help. Doubt that they are all that cheap though - available from jeweller suppliers - if you know a manufacturing jeweller, you might get him to try assist you.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 03:17 AM

Perhaps the material does make a difference to the tone Don, but that will only be after everything else is right first- the fipple angle and proportions, the hole sizes and positions, the cleanness of the airflow and so on. And don't assume that there's something special about precious metal that makes things sound better- that's a good example of sympathetic magic.

I'm told that an Irish piper back in the fifteis or sixties (one of the Dorans perhaps) made a lot of money from his scrap business, and had a set of pipes made from silver (boxwood or African blackwood is a bit more normal) by a famous instrument maker. They cost a fortune, but those who heard them said the tone was awfully harsh.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 01:12 PM

Hi Paul and SKP,

I only mentioned sterling because I am a silver smith and have silver. It would be as easy for me to make a sterling whistle as one of any non ferrous metal. I have made whistles out of copper tubing and they sound pretty OK. Warmer than some Generations I have heard.

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply, I appreciate it very much.

Don


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 02:10 PM

Sterling might be a bit too soft. Silver is often used for flute headjoints, but the body is usually a harder alloy (my alto flute is made tbat way). Metal whistles have thin walls, and a high-silver alloy would wear too much at the fingerholes.

Accuracy is the main thing that determines how good a whistle is. If Don's good at working silver he'll get a good result. It also has the advantage that you can melt your mistakes. But get some very very good plans first.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 09:19 AM

This is a somewhat old thread, but one I missed before it got tired.

I've "played with" whistles some, but my real expertise came from playing a saxophone as a youngster. (hard to remember that I once was one, by now.) A friend induced me to go to a lecture by a "famous unknown saxophonist" by the name of Sigurd Rascher, whose main pitch was that the 2.5 octave range usually quoted for a saxophone was bullshit, and that any decent player should learn to play "all 4 octaves" that he demonstrated were "easily played" on the instrument.

A "lesson" that he stressed was that the pitch of the "inside of your head" has a great deal of influence on the pitch sounded by the instrument. A saxophone is, of course, at a low enough pitch that "inside your head" extends down to somewhere in your lungs, and it takes some practice to "tune it" all for optimum effect, but for whistles in the normal pitches it's pretty much "in the mouth."

If you can "whistle a tune" without a whistle, you may have figured out that you change the pitch by changing the "volume" of your mouth. If you blow a whistle with your mouth "pitched as if the whistle wasn't there," you get a very stable pitch with the whistle, with few squeaks. While there is a minimally higher effort (pressure, air flow?) needed for higher whistle notes, the difference required between octaves is minimized if you "play the inside" of your head in synchronism with the fingering of the whistle.

Tentative conclusion 1 - you could get a squeak if you moved your tongue wrong (and thus changed the resonant frequency of your headbone).

The finger holes on most whistles are pretty small, and really precise placement of the fingers isn't needed if you have flabby fingers, but that also means that few whistle players pay "more attention than necessary" to precise finger placement. This suggests that even though it "feels right" it's possible that you are getting a small amount of leakage at one or more of the finger holes that's "tripping" the pitch to a harmonic of the note you expect.

Tentative conclusion 2 - "Any leak can cause a squeak," and the likelihood of leakage is greatly increased if you lack the flabby fingers ideal for the whistle, and instead have the horny (calloused) fingers of a string player. (I've always assumed that's what the girls meant by "all guitar players are horny" but I might be wrong.)

I've seen the suggestion from a couple of "classical" players of open-hole instruments that "sandpapering" the finger tips before a critical concert was part of their routine, to make sure they had nice soft tips.

You might experiment with less drastic flabbification by soaking your tips (just the finger oones) in warm water for a half hour before playing a tune you've had squeaky difficulty with. (Please let us know if that appears to help. I've always wondered about that theory.)

Tentative conclusion 3 - The presence of "hanging burrs" at the finger holes being common in whistles has been mentioned. It's been demonstrated that a sharp edge on a hole can trip the air column to a harmonic (a squeak) more easily than a smooth hole, although it does still require that there be a leak. Most of the "theoretically useful" methods for removing such burrs "on the inside" of something are complex and prone to destroying the hole if misused. My suggestion would be using a bore swab that's a decent fit to the bore in question, coated with a "polishing abrasive" and spun in the bore of the whistle with an electric (hand?) drill. Swabs of this kind are called "caterpiller swabs" by some, or "corncob swabs" by others, and are probably not easy to find in some places, so you might use a more common "patch" or a bronze bore brush, but neither of these is quite as suitable for using the bit of "rouge" or other "buffing compound" you probably would want to produce a really smooth hole.

Most metal whistles probably have a lacquer coating in the bore, and it may take longer to remove the lacquer than to remove the burr after you get to it. (Hard bits are easier to abrade away than the soft gummy stuff.)

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 09:40 AM

How I got the loose burrs out of my whistle:

1. With a fine-point Sharpie, I drew a line on the metal body to record how far down the plastic mouthpiece came.

2. I soaked the mouthpiece in hot (but not boiling) water till it came off.

3. I ran a recorder swab through the bore. I also passed a powerful magnet near the holes. Then I held the tube up to the light and made sure I couldn't see any more obstructions.

4. I put the mouthpiece back on.

5. It still squeaks, so I play recorder instead.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Why whistles squeak?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 11:06 AM

My approach is to take the body off and shove a wad of steel wool dusted with Barkeeper's Friend down the bore with a piece of dowel while holding it under the tap. This eliminates burrs, rust and lacquer in one go. It sometimes makes the whistle sound better, and "sometimes" is the best you can hope for.


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