The best Irish tin whistles

Written by cynthia smith
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The best Irish tin whistles
Small fingers can easily manoeuvre the holes on an Irish whistle. (Getty Thinkstock)

Often called penny whistles, some Irish whistles will set you back a few hundred dollars to purchase. These so-called "tin" whistles are not made of tin, but other materials including brass, wood and plastic. Many Irish tin whistles are not made in Ireland either. Whether you play one or not, you can appreciate the characteristics which make a 6-hole, end-blown flute the best (or worst) Irish tin whistle on the market.

Affordable Irish Tin Whistles

Generation whistles are made of brass or nickel-coated brass. These inexpensive instruments have red plastic mouthpieces that are favoured by some professional players, who may customise their tuning since the factory tuning is said to be somewhat unreliable.

Feadog whistles have mouthpieces of green plastic with a cylinder made of brass. A professional player and reviewer of tin whistles marked this as a well-tuned and easy-to-play instrument, remarkable for the small pricetag.

Oak makes nickel-plated, cylinder whistles with a black plastic mouthpiece. Their Acorn model got an unfavourable review.

Walton (formerly Soodlums) whistles are brass or nickel-plated with a green plastic mouthpiece. Generally, these cheap whistles are well-respected in their field.

Susato's have a removable head and are made of plastic. They have a full-bodied sound and are easy to play.

High End Whistles

Abell Blackwood whistles have a conical wooden bore. The mouthpiece is silver. It is an expensive, good-looking, loud instrument that a number of professionals own and play.

Copeland aluminums are fine instruments for the advanced player.

O'Riordan makes a brass-lined wood whistle with a loud, clear tone, but while pretty to behold, they may not be worth the exorbitant cost.

Overton whistles are aluminium and handmade. They are variable in how they blow, so it is not advised to buy one without trying it first.

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