O'Brien tunable Low D whistle

Maker - O'Brien Pennywhistles (David O'Brien) www.obrienwhistles.com

Material -
Anodized Aluminum with Delrin mouthpiece

Dimensions: Length - 22"
                         Distance between 1st and 3rd bottom holes - 2 11/16ths"
                         Diameter of 2nd hole from bottom - 7/16ths"
                         Bore - 7/8ths"

Weight - 6 oz

Price at time of review - $150.00 USD direct from maker.

This whistle was originally kindly lent to me by David O'Brien for the purposes of review for this website, however, I ended up liking it so much I bought it from him!  David is based in Canada and makes a line of high whistles out of wood, aluminum and brass. He is known for his rover and collapsible stowaway whistle models. 



Appearance: The body of this whistle is anodized aluminum, but unlike most other anodized whistles which tend to be colored, this one is anodized a shiny, almost mirror like silver. While pretty, this surface unfortunately tends to show scratches easily. The black delrin head/mouthpiece design is rather ingenious. Unlike most plastic head whistles that tend to have a large head that fits over the outside of the body (like a Howard or Kerry), it's outside contour is flush with the whistle body and the bottom of the head forms the female part of the joint/tuning slide which fits inside the body of the whistle. This means that the aluminum body itself required no work or shaping in the creation of the whistle, something I'm sure went along way to keeping the overall cost of the whistle down. The mouthpiece itself is also very comfortable. The one big issue I had with this whistle visually was that the finger holes were not lined up straight in line with each other and they were somewhat roughly/unevenly machined to boot. Overall though it is a nice looking whistle, I especially like how the head maintains the dimensions of the body, lending it the sleek look of the more typical, all aluminum whistle designs.

This whistle has a gorgeous, sweet, pure tone in both octaves with very little breathiness. The low fundamental is not as resonant as I would like but still retains the sweet tone of the rest of the whistle.

Volume: I would describe the volume of this whistle as being soft to moderate. The second octave is slightly but noticeably louder than the first. While it's sweet tone carries, it is not a loud whistle overall and would most likely not work well in a session without amplification. Perfect practice whistle though.

Backpressure/air requirement: This whistle has low to moderate backpressure. Overall it takes a very light breath to play, and the cool thing about this is that the amount of airpressure required is very consistent throughout both octaves, unlike most whistles that require less breath pressure on the bottom notes and more at the top. This makes the whistle feel almost effortless to play. While the slightly low backpressure usually causes a higher air requirement, the low amount of breath needed to play the whistle mitigates this effect. The low fundamental is a bit touchy and can break easily, but this isn't too much of an issue for as mentioned the whole whistle requires a lighter breath anyway.

Responsiveness: This whistle is moderately responsive. I would not call it sluggish by any means at all but ornaments can feel just slightly slow compared to more responsive whistles. However the whistle itself responds very well/quickly to a light breath pressure, and  transitions effortlessly between octaves.

Clogging: I had no clogging issues with this whistle, most likely due to the head material and design.

Tuning: All notes on this whistle were within a 10 cent tolerance except for the second octave D and B, which were around 20 cents sharp. C natural was OK with OXXOOO fingering. 

Summary: I really liked the tone and playability of this whistle, and that coupled with it's low cost made me initially think it would make a great beginners whistle. But after additional consideration, it's low breath requirement is not typical of most other makes of low whistle, which might cause difficulties for someone who learned on this whistle to move/graduate to another make/model later on. I do think this would make a great practice whistle for more intermediate and experienced players, as it helps you work on your breath control. If one wanted to be really picky, you could possibly criticize the overall craftsmanship of the whistle, but this is certainly and understandably mitigated by the low price point. That aside, I really liked this whistle and enjoyed playing it allot, and would recommend it to any low whistle player looking for something different to try. Four holes.