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Tin Whistle Problem

07 Sep 01 - 03:11 PM (#544651)
Subject: Tin Whistle Problem
From: MudGuard

I have a little problem with my new Tin Whistle.

Yes - you read alright - I am no longer a passive musician, I started learning to play the Tin Whistle a few days ago!

Now there is a serious problem with the Tin Whistle. After playing it for a while, the Whistle starts to drip.

Is it water from my breath? Or is it spittle?

Whatever it is - how can I stop this dripping?

Thanks for any hints!


07 Sep 01 - 03:20 PM (#544658)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem

You could stop breathing, I guess...

Not sure what the problem is?

The fact is that (as a human being) if you blow into a tube for a long time, moisture will accumulate.

07 Sep 01 - 04:05 PM (#544710)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: Brían

Just give her a good surreptitious shake between tunes. You can also buy swabs in music stores-stay away from metal ones. You can also cup your hand over the hole and blow soundly to clear it. Just don't do it on someone's fiddle case. Just one of the many hazards of folk music.....


07 Sep 01 - 04:15 PM (#544717)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: MudGuard

So it is not me doing something wrong?

Ok, I will try to avoid fiddle cases and use accordeon boxes instead ;-)

07 Sep 01 - 04:35 PM (#544733)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: Bernard

On a cold day you can see the water vapour in your breath condensing as you breathe out - that's all it is.

You will find as you learn to control your breath that the problem is less severe - simply because you learn to use less air.

Happy tootling!

07 Sep 01 - 04:43 PM (#544738)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: Big Mick

Hi Mudguard. You might want to go to the Tin whistles, tweaking and tuning thread and go through some of the tips in it. In fact, why don't we use that as the official "Tin whistle" thread and try to consolidate tips, questions, etc, there for easy reference?


07 Sep 01 - 05:32 PM (#544768)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: Twiz

Hi Mudguard,

All whistle players suffer from this problem. I myself prefer not to shake the whistle out.. unless of course there is a bad bodhran player downwind! I usually blow through the mouthpiece with the sound hole covered. There are lots of tin whistle sites on the web if you are interested, mine is The whistle workshop There is also a links page to other whistle sites.

Happy Noodlin'


07 Sep 01 - 07:40 PM (#544845)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: SeanM

The only problem that I have (beyond the basic "EWWWW" factor) is the occasional degredation of sound from playing too long without clearing.

Worst case scenario, buy some pipe cleaners. If you feel that the whistle is becoming clogged, you can quickly clean the fipple out with the pipe cleaner between songs.

Further, I do know a couple players who when they're sitting during a gig will drape a towel across their leg at an appropriate point.

BTW - this is a problem with pretty much ALL wind instruments or brass instruments I've heard of. Most of the more complex will have a 'spit valve' for drainage. The simpler just let it fall where it may... my mom has wonderful stories of her band days with the joys of flutes...


07 Sep 01 - 10:12 PM (#544900)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: Melani

Yes, they all do it. Sean, you will appreciate this...last year at the Renaissance Faire I was playing my glass flute on a very hot day and noticed that it WASN'T condensing inside. I knew it was hot out, but if you assume that my breath was coming out at 98.6, it had to be at least that hot or hotter outside. One of the many reasons I sometimes wonder why I work Faire...

08 Sep 01 - 03:06 AM (#545023)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: MudGuard

Thanks for all your advice - I am just a beginner and was worried that I do something wrong. If it is just the way wind instruments work I will find a way to solve the watering problem (shaking, blowing, swabbing, towel-protecting my trousers, ...)

After all your explanations, the physics of what happens is clear, also that it is unavoidable (but perhaps reducible).

Melani, if I understand you correctly, I should heat up the whistle to a temperature above the temperature of my breath to avoid the problem. But that might lead to a different question: what can I do to protect my lips and fingertips from getting burned? ;-)

08 Sep 01 - 03:45 AM (#545037)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: SeanM

I'd suggest a light application of jellied fuel to the entire body of the whistle - this allows not only for solving the drip problem, but then also allows for a spectacular solo number on flaming tin whistle.

But seriously...

I know what you mean, Melani... I also have had the wonderful 'occurence' where I could actually hear some of my whistles drift in and out of tune depending on the heat. I've heard that brass whistles are REALLY bad on that - the two people I most trust on the issue have 'studio' expensive brass whistles that never see the outside of a building, and also a set of 'play' whistles for use in less controllable situations.


08 Sep 01 - 05:22 AM (#545058)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: lady penelope

I used to play the trumpet and on pieces where you got to play more than the odd bar it could get quite embarressing when you suddenly start gurgling through your one and only solo!

Remember to keep drinking during long sessions as you are actually losing quite a bit of water when you play a wind instrument or sing for long periods ( what you drink is up to you, I prefer Fuller's Honey dew or Froach my self........)

TTFN M'Lady P.

08 Sep 01 - 08:38 AM (#545109)
Subject: RE: Tin Whistle Problem
From: Peter K (Fionn)

For seasoned players the problem - ie the moisture - will be confined to the mouthpiece. In this case, better than blowing through the whistle with the window covered is to close all six holes, and also the tube end, then suck sharply through a) the playing end and b) the window.

If you think better of your lungs than to use them as a filter like this, blow instead. but only through the window - blowing through the mouthpiece will make a hideous din. Sucking is best, as the air drawn through is drier, but blowing is still quite effective - you will shift much more than you deposit. But before blowing , spare a thought for where the mouthpiece is pointing.

Depending how large your hand is, you might be able to close the tube-end with a little finger. Those with smaller hands, or trying the technique on a Low D, will need to use their knees instead. (In the case of a Low D, some contortion is called for as well.)

Slightly complicated, but highly effective as a short-term fix. Done regularly it will certainly stave off the day you need to attack your whistle with a pipecleaner. (Perish the thought!)

Or you could simply use a Delrin-lined whistle. My Burke D is thus lined, and it makes a huge difference - I go 30-40 minutes with no clogging whatsoever. I think some other makes are similarly lined these days - maybe the Sindts?