Penny whistles are a specialised kind of fipple flute which comes in a variety of keys, all of which are played with the same basic fingerings and techniques. A fipple is the technical name for the mouth piece found on this family of wind instruments. What distinguishes a Low D whistle from whistles made in other keys is the location of the finger holes. The spacing between holes, the size of the hole, and the distance between the hole and the fipple all contribute to the unique sound the whistle makes. It is important that measurements be carefully executed in order to build a pipe that has a clear and accurate pitch.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 9/16 inch dowel rod
- 12 inches of 9/16 brass pipe.
- 1/8 inch round file
- 1/8 inch flat file
- 17/64 inch drill bit
- 3/16 inch drill bit
- 15/64 inch drill bit
- 13/64 inch drill bit
- Masking tape
- Sand paper
- Electric Drill
Run a length of masking tape down the 12 inch piece of brass tubing. Put a vertical mark in a very straight line down the centre of the tape using the pencil. This marks the line along which the fingering will be arranged.
Mark the finger holes along the masking tape. Measure the distance to the holes from the bottom of the pipe, placing an x at the appropriate place for each hole. Distances are measured in millimetres for improved accuracy. Mark holes at 42.5, 70.5, 92.5. 116.5, 140.5, and 153.5mm.
Drill out the two holes nearest the bottom of the pipe with a 17/64-inch drill bit.
Drill out the third hole with a 3/16-inch bit.
Drill out the fourth and 5th hole with a 15/64–inch drill bit
Drill out the 6th and final hole with a 13/64 –inch bit.
Use the round file to clean up each hole. Run it through the hole several times to smooth out the metal edges and remove any burs.
Sand the dowel rod to reduce its diameter so that is can be pushed into the pipe end. The plug should have a fit snug enough to require pressure, but not so snug that it must be hammered into place. Sand the dowel by wrapping coarse sand paper around the dowel and closing your hand around it to apply pressure. Then rotate the dowel rod so that it is sanded evenly. Check the fit frequently to prevent over-sanding.
Cut a 1 inch length off the sanded end of the dowel rod to form the plug.
Create the flat of the plug. Sand off 3/32 of an inch from one of the rounded verticals of the plug to create a flat side. You may want to measure and mark a line to sand to, or you may choose to sand and then measure repeatedly, until an appropriate fit is made.
Measure 22mm down from the top of the fipple and make a mark. This is the location for the window.
Cut a rectangle that is 3/8 of an inch tall and 19/32 of an inch long. You can cut it away with a dentist drill, dremel tool, or jewellers’ saw. You can also drill out a small hole in the centre of the area and use a flat file to expand and shape the hole until it reaches the appropriate dimensions.
Coat the still rounded sides of the plug with a non-toxic craft glue and push it into position. Allow time for the glue to dry completely before working further with the whistle.
Remove the masking tape from the pipe.
Cut the pipe and plug at an angle to create a mouthpiece. There is no specific measurement to follow. The angle should be visually pleasing and should create a comfortable mouthpiece for the individual player.
Use sand paper and a file to smooth out the mouthpiece, removing any burs or splinters.
Push down the metal just below the window to form a lip. The height of the lip should bisect the airway. Use the eraser end of an unsharpened pencil and a hammer to gently tap down the window's lower edge. Check the position by looking down the fipple, through the hole that you blow through. Continue tapping down the lip until it bisects the airway, or cuts in half the light entering the fipple.
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