Overton "short-reach" non-tunable Low D whistle
Maker - Overton (Bernard Overton) www.overton.de
Material - Aluminum
Dimensions: Length - 23 2/8ths"
Distance between 1st and 3rd bottom holes - 2 6/8ths"
Diameter of 2nd hole from bottom - 3/8ths"
Bore - 7/8ths"
Weight - 7 oz
Price at time of review - 185 euros direct from Maker, 140.00 lbs from distributor
purchased this whistle used via the Chiff and Fipple forum. I was
excited to finally own not only an original Overton Low D (the whistle
that all other low D's have sprung from), but also one made by the
father of low whistles, Bernard Overton (see History
section). This particular model is called the "short reach" Low D, as
the bottom three holes have been moved closer together for ease of
playing. It came with a certificate of authenticity signed by the man
himself, and a nice cloth bag with velcro closure.
some would say it just looks like a metal tube with holes in it, I find
that there is something aesthetically appealing about the simplicity of
its construction. I think it has a very zen feel to it.
Tone: Some astute whistler, or
perhaps a poet who will live forever in infamy, came up with the
perfect descriptor for the distinctive tone of Overton whistles,
calling it the "Cosmic Drainpipe" sound. This of course is one of those
phrases that only makes sense after you've actually heard one, making
it somewhat limited in usefulness when trying to describe the sound to
someone who hasn't (Of course once you have heard one, you will realize
that cosmic drainpipe is the perfect moniker!)
octave of this particular whistle is very pure and sweet in tone, and
does manage to avoid being overly shrill, with the possible exception
of the high B note. The bottom octave has more of a breathy (but not
overly so) and sonically turbulent. The whole range has a pretty
significant amount of chiff. The low fundamental note is pleasingly
full, but does break somewhat easily. The second note (E) is also much
weaker and breathier in tone, especially when compared to the other
notes. This whistle sounds best when fully warmed up, which is
generally true of most aluminum whistles. Unfortunately, it is hard to
keep warmed up, and can take some time and effort to get it warm
Volume: I would describe the
volume of this whistle as being medium-loud in comparison
to other Low D's I have played. It is not particularly well
balanced, as the second octave is fairly loud while the first octave
would be lost in most session environments.
Overtons are known for having a decent amount of backpressure and this
whistle is no exception, as it has moderate (although I certainly
wouldn't say high) backpressure. This slightly decreases the amount of
air require to play it in comparison to other low D's. As mentioned
under tone, the second note (E) is weak, and breaks very, very easily.
One needs to back off considerably breath wise in comparison to other
notes. Even the low fundamental note under it allows for more breath. I
would note that a standard Overton Low D that I had played previously
did not have this issue.
Responsiveness: As mentioned, I
had played a regular/standard Overton Low D before, which I found to be
quite responsive. So I was surprised to find that this whistle could be
a bit sluggish when performing ornaments. This whistle is also very
touchy and unforgiving, and will squawk most unpleasantly if your
fingering is not spot on. Nor would it let me bend or slowly slide
notes in the second octave without squawking either. The first and the
third holes on the whistle seem much smaller in comparison to other low
D's, indeed they look like the belong on a high D whistle. I am not
certain (as I am definitely Not a whistle maker), but I think this may
be due to moving them closer together to decrease the finger stretch.
Unfortunately, a negative side effect of this is that finger vibrato
just doesn't seem to work or sound good due to these smaller holes.
Clogging: I did not experience
any clogging issues with this whistle once it was warmed up, but it
would occasionally clog if I tried to blow the whistle when it was cold.
Tuning: This first octave of
this whistle is pretty spot on tuning wise, but in the second octave
from the F# on up, it tends to hang around 20 cents flat. Now you can
of course compensate by blowing harder, but this just makes the volume
discrepancy between the octaves even more evident, and can make the
higher notes start to sound screechy. The C natural is just slightly
flat using the standard OXXOOO fingering. This can be corrected by
dropping your third finger (OXXXOO), but the difference is so slight I
personally don't think it is necessary. (On a side note, the low E
sounded so weak and odd, that my tuner couldn't even identify the
Sound clip: Si beag Si Mor
Summary: Having high
expectations, I have to admit that in the end I was quite disappointed
with this whistle. While it did deliver on the distinctive Overton
sound, issues with responsiveness and the low E note force me to give
this whistle only three and a half holes. I doubt I will keep it in my
collection. I definitely want to note however that this specific
whistle is not typical of my experience with other Overton brand