Chieftain non-tunable V3 Low D whistle
Maker - Kerrywhistles (Phil Hardy) www.kerrywhistles.com
Material - Aluminum
Dimensions: Length - 22 15/16ths"
Distance between 1st and 3rd bottom holes - 3"
Diameter of 2nd hole from bottom - 1/2"
Bore - 7/8ths"
Weight - 7.5 oz
Price at time of review - 115 lbs direct from Maker, $187.00 US from distributor
Hardy has made many changes and improvements to his well known
Chieftain line of whistles over the years, but none perhaps as extreme
as the latest version, the V3 (which coincidently stands for Version
Three). As my main personal Low D of choice has been, and remains at
the time of this writing, a Chieftain OS (Old Style), I was excited to
get my hands on this whistle. When Phil announced that the first US
distributor to carry the V3 would be Lark in the Morning, I immediately
called and placed an order, although it seemed that I knew they would
be getting them before they did!
On a side note, a very
informative and interesting video history of the Chieftain whistle can
be viewed here on the Kerrywhistles website. It is entitled "Know your
Chieftain" and is narrated by Phil Hardy himself.
This whistle takes my favorite "tube with holes in it" zen aesthetic to
the extreme. The head/mouthpiece is just a continuance of the cylinder
shape of the body, with no demarcation of where the body stops and the
head starts. The head is the biggest change from the old Chieftains,
featuring a curved labium/blade, curved windway, and a rounded/sculpted
mouthpiece, compared to the old, square cut style. This
mouthpiece is the most comfortable of any low D I have yet played. The
end of the whistle tube has also been nicely rounded, indeed the blade
seems to be the only sharp edge on the instrument, and even that is
curved widthwise to fit inside the tube. This curved roundness,
along with the new shiny aluminum finish, give the whole whistle a kind
of modern, urban style/feel.
Tone: This is the one place
where I felt the V3 let me down. Compared to the OS and NR (New Range)
model Chieftains, the V3 is very breathy. To me it almost sounds like
the tone of my OS covered by allot of breath/wind noise. Now this in
and of itself is not a bad thing, more just
a matter of personal preference. I personally like at least some
breathiness in my low whistles, as I feel it is idiomatic to the
instrument. But the V3 manages to have just a bit more than I like. I
have played two different V3's and heard recordings of a few others,
and this seems to be a consistent feature of all of them. It also
seems that this breathiness is more evident to the player than a
listener across the room. Now I again want to stress that this is
just my personal preference, and I would not say that it is a "Bad", or
negative problem/issue with the whistle itself. Others may like it.
This whistle has a moderate amount of chiff. The second octave was not
overly shrill, and the first octave, while not huge by any means, was
pleasantly full. Much like other aluminum whistles, the V3 definitely
sounds best when it is fully warmed up. Unfortunately, I found it took
some effort to get it warmed up and then to keep it warmed up.
Volume: I would describe the
volume of this whistle as being medium/moderate in comparison
to other Low D's I have played. It is fairly well balanced between
octaves, but would likely be lost in most session environments. Due to
the aforementioned breathiness, this whistle can give the illusion of
sounding muffled and quieter than it actually is.
This was hard to peg, as unlike most other low whistles, the V3
responds to a wide range of air pressure. I thought it sounded best
when blown harder, which consequently gave it a pretty high air
requirement. This could
be somewhat annoying , as I tended to run out of air a bit quicker than
usual, but the benefit is that you can really push the notes around
considerably without worrying about them breaking. This also makes it
so you don't need to worry about breath support any where near as much
as on other low whistles. It feels like all you have to do is just blow
into it and there it is, no squawking, breaking or other such
unpleasantness. Words like effortless come to mind. This whistle
almost seems to play itself!
Responsiveness: Without a
doubt, the best feature of the V3 is it's incredible responsiveness.
Ornaments are crisp, fast and clear, and as previously mentioned, you
can really play with the volume, shape and quality of each note using
just your breath.
Clogging: I did not experience
any clogging issues with this whistle once it was warmed up, but it
would clog right away if I tried to blow the whistle when it was cold.
Tuning: This whistle did have a
few small tuning issues that were not overly audible but did show up on
the tuner. In the second octave, all the notes from the F# on up were
around 20 cents flat. These of course can be pushed with breath support
and/or velocity to somewhat compensate, but this can effect the
tone. The C# was 20 cents flat as well, but the C natural was spot
on using the standard OXXOOO fingering.
Sound clip: Si beag Si Mor
Summary: I really wanted to
like this whistle, and for the most part I did. I just can't tell you
how responsive and easy to play this whistle is. Unfortunately, I just
personally didn't care for the tone. However, it definitely looks
and especially plays like a professional, high quality whistle. Five