Chieftain non-tunable V3 Low F whistle

Maker - Kerrywhistles (Phil Hardy)

Material - Aluminum

Dimensions: Length - 19 3/16ths"
                         Distance between 1st and 3rd bottom holes - 2.5"
                         Diameter of 2nd hole from bottom - 7/8ths"
                         Bore - 3/4ths"

Weight - 5.5 oz

Price at time of review - 115 GBP direct from Maker

Phil 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 aptly stands for Version Three). Even though I had sold my V3 low D previously as I was not personally taken with how breathy it's tone was, I decided to try a V3 in F as I liked the sound of one I heard on a demo video off of the Kerrywhistles website.

On a side note, a very informative and interesting video history of the Chieftain line of whistles can be viewed here on the Kerrywhistles website. It is entitled "Know your Chieftain" and is narrated by Phil Hardy himself.


Appearance: 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. 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: While the tone of this whistle is still on the breathy/airy side, it is not nearly as noticeable as it was on the V3 Low D, most likely due to the higher pitch, this whistle really only gets overly breathy on the bottom two notes. Unfortunately this breathiness did keep the low fundamental note from being as full as I would like. On the rest of the notes the purer tone seems to win out or cover up the "white noise" portion of the tone. I did not find the whistle to be overly shrill at all, the combination of lower volume and higher backpressure seemed to lend this whistle a mellower feel.

Volume: One of the biggest surprises about this whistle was that it wasn't as loud as I thought it would be, being in the moderate to quiet range compared to other whistles, and it is certainly no where near as loud as my MK low F.  I would suspect that the bottom octave would get lost in larger session environments, as the bottom octave is considerably quieter than the second octave. 

Backpressure/air requirement: The first noticeable difference between the F and the D V3's for me was backpressure. The Low F has a noticeably high amount, quite a bit more than the Low D. However, I would not say that it has too much, I didn't feel like I was blowing my brains out and the benefit of playing longer phrases with one breath was evident.

Responsiveness: Thankfully, the V3 low F kept the best feature of it's larger Low D sibling,
which was it's incredible responsiveness. Ornaments are lightning quick and ultra snappy. 

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 was very well in tune, even the high octave only hung one or two cents flat. The only noticeable issue was that the E natural was 5-10 cents flat, but the Eb was spot on using the standard OXXOOO fingering.

Sound clip: 

Summary: In some ways I think this is a better whistle than it's low D version. Good tuning, good looks, near perfect responsiveness. Only draw backs would possibly be volume (slightly on the quiet side), backpressure (may be more than some like, but once again, backpressure is a personal preference, not a bad thing in and of itself), and for me the lack of resonance on the low fundamental. Still, in the end it is another well made, high quality whistle from Kerrywhistles. Five holes.