Since Tony Dixon has been making tin whistles and flutes for over 20 years, he has earned a great reputation. Polymer high D tin whistles are among his most popular models, and for good reason. As you’ll see below, it’s a great tin whistle for beginners and experts alike.
Keep in mind that Dixon’s various high D tin whistles follow the same basic windway design. Some of their tin whistles even have interchangeable heads. However, the bodies can have very different tonal characteristics, so the tin whistles will sound very different. As an example, the heavier brass Dixon tin whistle is much louder than this one.
If you’re looking for your first tin whistle, or just want to try something new, read on for my review of the Dixon polymer high D whistle (DX004).
Dixon’s polymer high D is made from ABS, a lightweight, but durable plastic. Its hardiness was inadvertently tested when it was stepped on early on, and it appeared unharmed. Although I wouldn’t recommend stepping on it to see for yourself, it’s a sturdy tin whistle nonetheless. In addition, it’s quite light, much lighter than comparable metal whistles.
Unlike a metal whistle, ABS will not rust, corrode, or otherwise react with moisture or oils. The tin whistle won’t dry out or crack, unlike wooden whistles. ABS whistles keep on working regardless of humidity. Also, they work well in cold weather, when metal whistles are difficult to tune and wooden whistles tend to crack.
The situation differs, however, when the weather is hot. If ABS is exposed to temperatures like those found in a car during a hot summer day, it will warp. If you live in a warm climate, you should not keep your Dixon polymer tin whistle in the car.
Regarding where you should keep your tin whistle, I highly recommend getting the version with a tuning slide. The tin whistle will easily come apart into two pieces not only because it will help you stay perfectly in tune (more on that later). It will fit comfortably into the front trousers pocket of most men. I usually carry my Dixon with me throughout the day. You never know when you might need it!
The Dixon 2-piece polymer tin whistle also boasts the advantage of being very easy to swap heads and bodies. Dixon even makes a piccolo head for the same body, so you can have two instruments in one. Be careful, however, as the piccolo head is much, much louder than a tin whistle. Unfortunately, my ears (and my roommates’ ears) learned that the hard way!
The model with a tuning slide is preferable to the one-piece fixed-pitch polymer whistle, as I mentioned before. Even though this tin whistle won’t change pitch as much with temperature as an all-metal whistle like the Chieftain high D tin whistle, it’s good to have a little wiggle room.
With the tuning slide, you have plenty of wiggle room on both sides of standard pitch. With the tuning slide, I have perfect intonation throughout the entire range. There is a tendency for the second octave to push sharp if you blow too hard, but it is relatively easy to stay focused. It’s pretty much spot-on to use OXXOOO for C natural.
The Breadth Requirement
Dixon polymer sips air, in contrast to louder tin whistles like the Susa to Kildare and Chieftain high D. You won’t have as much trouble breathing when playing this tin whistle as you would with another model. There is, however, a requirement for some breath control, since it’s fairly easy to overblow. The blast does not need to be so intense that your lungs are being blown out.
There is a lot of debate over whether tin whistle material affects the volume or tone of a whistle. Dixon polymer whistles, as compared to the Trade and other Dixon high D whistles with the same head shape, are a good comparison. In general, it’s a quieter whistle with a volume that’s lower than average for tin whistles. Even a small session can be cut through by the second octave. However, in all but the quietest contexts, the first octave will be drowned out.
There is more to this than just the material of the Dixon polymer whistle. The slightly narrower bore certainly contributes to the reduced volume. However, this isn’t a particularly loud tin whistle.
Dixon Polymer High D Whistles.mpg
The tone is sweet and chirpy, with just enough chaff (in my opinion). There are neither the purest nor the comfiest tin whistles out there. Those who enjoy Generation’s “traditional” sound will probably enjoy this tin whistle as well. You might want to look elsewhere if you’re looking for a more recorder-like tone.
Despite its top octave, the second octave is incredibly sweet, and doesn’t get harsh at all. It’s one of the funniest tin whistles to play on high because of this.
Dixon’s polymer high D whistle would be a good first tin whistle, or a nice upgrade to a cheaper brand. It has a beautiful, sweet tone and is tuned perfectly. This tin whistle requires a relatively low amount of breath, making it ideal for those who run out of air on other tin whistles.
Moreover, its sturdy ABS construction makes it an excellent travel or carry-around tin whistle. You should be able to use it for quite a while as long as you don’t leave it in a hot car.