Praise Whistlers Abroad

Low D Whistle
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Author:  Megan S [ Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Low D Whistle

I hope I am not repeating a topic that has already been discussed, but I need advice! I am hoping to buy a Low D whistle this summer and am leaning towards the Burke Low D Viper, but have some concerns about the spread and my hand size. I do not have particularly small hands, but have not really heard much from women who play the Low D, only men. It is not that I object to the advice of men, but am looking for others with smaller hands to give their two cents! I hate to spend almost $300 on something and not have it work out, but I live in Nome, Alaska, and can't really try a whistle out any other way than to order one. I just have fallen in love with how the Burke sounds- it is just what I am looking for. Some of the other forums have mentioned that anyone should be able to play the Low D of any style, but that the style might affect how fast or well one could play. Any thoughts? Are there other women or folks with small hands that play the Burke and swear by it?


Author:  IrishLass [ Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle


This is probably not much help, but a few years ago my daughter had a Dixon Low D. I have small hands, but I could play it using the Piper's grip, but it was not easy for me at all. She has bigger hands, and could play it easier, but got frustrated with it because it was harder, so we sold it to someone here on the PWA board (a guy). I have not played a Burke low D, and I am not saying that you won't buy it and love it. But, if you could somehow try one out first, that would be my recommendation.

If you post something on the regular board, someone may have one, and may let you try it out if you offer to pay for shipping both ways. Just a thought. :)


Author:  Adrian [ Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Hi Megan and welcome to PWA!

I have a Burke Viper low D and it is a superb instrument. I don't have large hands but I can play it quite easily with piper fingering. It is a three peice instrument so the foot joint can be rotated to make the bell note easier to play.

I'll ask Susan to play it tomorrow and see what she thinks of the finger spread.

Author:  fancypiper [in Heaven] [ Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

I have short, stubby fingers and I have no problem with my older version of his low D. Mine has a division between the top and bottom hand and I rotate them so I can use the piper's grip and have my elbows dropped to my sides.

Michael has a money back satisfaction guarantee that used to be on his page, but I can't find it on his new page. I think it is a month in length.

Drop him an e-mail and he will be glad to inform you.

mdburke at

Author:  Megan S [ Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Thanks for all of the help! It sounds like if I get one and am not happy with it, I can send it back. Now I wish my birthday was sooner.......

Author:  jimwasson [ Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

If the primary thing you are concerned about is the finger spread, you might find out about the size of the various holes, their spacing, and the diameter of the aluminum tubing used for the whistle. You could then get a wooden dowel of comparable diameter and mark the holes (or even drill them if you have access to a drill and bits.) Another option would be a pipe of similar diameter with the holes marked. This would at least show you whether you'd be likely to cover them with your fingers, but would not be the same as sealing the holes on a whistle.

I also have one of Mr. Burke's low D whistles made prior to the Viper; can play it reasonably well now, but it did take a while to get rid of most of the 'squawks', as piper's grip was new to me. You'll likely also need a little while to adapt to a Viper; if a month is still allowed, that should be plenty of time to tell.

Author:  Lyn D [ Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Hi Megan, Welcome to PWA.

I have tried the Burke Viper and the Reyburn low D. I have a good stretch for a woman and even with the piper's grip, they both were quite a stretch for me. They hurt my wrists (could be arthritis), so I didn't keep either one. The one I found best, is the Sweetheart Resonance low D in laminate. I use a small, relaxed piper's grip. It has a nice flutey sound. I also have a Susato low D and I need to use the piper's grip. The Susato's reach is farther than the Sweetheart's. It (the Susato) hurts my wrists too, but, I can have up to 3 keys put on it, which I'll have to do, if I want to keep it. The keys will shorten the reach. The best way to try a whistle is to buy one somewhere where you can return it, if it doesn't work for you. Good luck in your quest.

Author:  Susan [ Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Megan, welcome to PWA.

I tried Adrian's Burke Viper low D this morning and had no problem with the stretch. I was able to play it straight off, using piper fingering. I do play the tenor recorder regularly so that probably helped me. My hands are a medium size I would say.

Author:  Lyn D [ Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Hi Susan,

The minute I read that you could reach the Viper, I thought......She plays the tenor recorder and already has the stretch, even before I read your mention of it. I have long fingers and a wide stretch, but I get pain in my wrists, which is most likely arthritis, and pain going up my forearms, which is most likely from the ruptured discs in my neck. So, I don't play them very often.

Author:  LisaD [ Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Hi Megan,

I owned a Burke Viper low D for a while. It's a lovely whistle, and it's playable with average hand-size using piper's grip. I guess the main issue is ... how much time will you have to practice? I found that I didn't have the time to put into becoming familiar enough with the feel of the instrument, so the large hole-size and finger spread was a constant impediment to me. In other words, it's not a whistle that you can just pick up, reach the holes and start playing well.

I've also played an Overton low D. It was more challenging breath-wise, but had a gorgeous, complex sound, smaller holes and a smaller finger spread. I believe that you can specify one with less back-pressure, which would make it easier. If I were to buy a low D, it would be one of these.

Also, I've tried a Sweetheart Resonance low D (wood whistle). It's conical, so the holes are small and much closer together. I could play this one with ease the moment I picked it up (even faster tunes). I much prefer the Overton sound, but many people love the sound of the Sweetheart as well as its easy reach.

Hope that helps,

Author:  Megan S [ Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

I am no closer to deciding than I was! Everyone has had such great comments and thoughts! I really like the way the Burke sounds, but I am worried about the wrist pain that some of you have talked about, since I just broke my wrist a year ago. I actually still get pain and stiffness when playing my normal sized 'D'! I am going to look more into the Sweetheart Low 'D'. I have had GREAT playing time with my Sweetheart Mellow 'D'. Oh no, it's happening! My husband just called and asked why I don't just try a Low F, or a Low C, or...or....or..............It will never end, will it? Thanks to all for the advice. I'll keep you posted as to what I end up getting.


Author:  jimwasson [ Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Low D Whistle

Be very careful. Such thinking can lead to...flutes!

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