Best Low D whistles can be used to create haunting melodies due to their evocative sound. In addition to being one of the most popular instruments in Irish music, it has made its way into many world music and folk recordings. No matter how tough your eyes may be, the best low D whistles can make them weep.
The cost of handmade whistles can exceed hundreds of dollars, but there are some great options to suit every budget. Read on to find out what the best low D whistle is!
Thunderbird, the Chief
Summary: A powerful low D whistle
Best for: Someone who needs lots of volume
You can read my in-depth review of the Chieftain Thunderbird low D whistle.
Bernard Overton, the man who invented the low whistle, taught whistle maker Phil Hardy his trade. Hardy’s Chieftain line of high and low D whistles is entirely made out of an aluminum alloy. Synthetic cork tuning slides are the only non-alloy parts on the tunable models, and they work exceptionally well. There is very little you have to do to maintain Chieftain whistles, other than maybe adding a bit of oil to the slide every now and then.
Chieftain Thunderbird whistle is considered one of the loudest whistles in the low D range. With a delicate balance of chiff, it has a husky, full-bodied tone. Low D whistles don’t make great session instruments because of their volume, but Thunderbirds can hold their own in smaller settings. That’s one of the few things you can say about low D whistles.
There is a big air requirement for that big tone. There is no way to sip air on the Chieftain low D. It also has a fairly wide bore, so those with smaller hands might have difficulty covering the holes completely. Beginners will likely find it challenging to begin with, but if they stick with it, the rewards will be well worth it.
There are two main types of chieftain whistles: tunable and non-tunable. Their tuning can be greatly affected by temperature changes, since they are made entirely out of metal. Especially in a cooler room, you’ll find that they slowly rise in pitch as your hot breath warms them up. I strongly recommend investing in a tunable model because of this. When playing with others, this is especially important.
- The tone is powerful
- A lot of volume
- Solidly built
- It takes a lot of air to do it
- Small hands might find it difficult to reach large objects
Low D Whistle by Susato Kildare
Featuring a strong, pure tone, the polymer whistle
Best for: Those who prefer a purer, recorder-like tone to chiff
Brasstown, North Carolina, is home to the Kelischek family, who make Susato whistles. The company makes a variety of historical and folk instruments, and is well known to musicians of all genres. Their whistles have a unique, recorder-like sound that sets them apart from many other whistles. Susato whistles have a reputation for being among the loudest whistles available.
Many of these characteristics also apply to the Susato Kildare low D whistle. One of the greatest things about Susato’s Kildare whistle line is that you can buy one in every key from high F to low C and get a remarkably consistent playing experience. Low whistles often have weak lower octaves, which makes the Kildare low D whistle especially useful. It’s not quite as loud as the Chieftain Thunderbird, but it has a purer tone, which helps project the sound.
A beginner will need some time to adjust to the Kildare, which also requires less breath than the Thunderbird. As a result, it’s a fairly forgiving whistle, with both octaves being remarkably stable and in tune.
The Susato Kildare whistle is made out of polymer and is lighter than many metal whistles. It also has a thumb rest which makes it fairly comfortable to hold. While the reach may be difficult for smaller hands, it is also common with many low D whistles. Though it’s more comfortable than the Thunderbird, it’s still a stretch.
- Pure, strong tone
- Susato whistles pair well with other items from the same manufacturer
- Beginners may find it difficult to reach
Whistle made of Dixon Polymer Low D
Summary: A low whistle with a soft voice and an easy grip that is a great value
Best for: Anyone with small hands or a limited budget
Tony Dixon has been making whistles in England since 1997, and you can find his whistles in shops all over the world. They are manufactured in a process that combines mass production with hand finishing. In the end, this is a well-made, professionally finished instrument that is still very affordable.
Dixon Polymer Low D whistles are one of the most popular low D whistle for beginners because of their affordability. It’s not just its affordability that makes this low D whistle so popular. Furthermore, the small holes and slightly tapered bore of the Dixon polymer whistle allow even the smallest hands to easily wrap around it. Dixon polymer low whistle is a great choice if you’re looking for something that’s easy to grip.
As a result of the small holes, the Dixon has a softer, quieter voice than other low whistles. The low D whistle won’t be heard except during the smallest of sessions. In particular, the lower octave is very quiet, although the tone is lovely. To be heard in a crowd, you’ll definitely need a microphone.
Dixon’s polymer low D whistle is available in both tunable and nonrunnable versions, much like the Chieftain Thunderbird. The tunable model is always recommended, but given the very budget friendly price of the non-tunable model, it is worth considering if you are just planning on playing alone. In addition, Dixon makes a “flute/whistle combo” with one body and two heads (one whistle, one flute).
- Easily accessible
- Breadth requirement is low
- There is a low volume