Also called soprano whistles or high whistles
Irish whistles and flutes fall into the same category of instruments because they have the same six fingering holes. In general, it is called a whistle if you put the mouthpiece into your mouth to blow, and it is a flute if you blow across a hole. This means that the cheapest penny whistle is a close relative ofthe most expensive concert flute.
Penny (tin) whistles are also called high or soprano whistles; this is to distinguish them from low whistles, which are twice as long in the same key. For instance, a D penny whistle is called a high D whistle and is half as long (and a lot thinner) than the low D whistle. The Irish mostly play D whistles in their music.
Penny whistles have become a veryimportant part of the Irish music scene, and it's amazing how great they sound in the hands of an expert. James Galway, the famous Irish flute player, plays it; we remember seeing him play a penny whistle on the Johnny Carson show, and it sounded fabulous.
Whistles that fall between the high and low categories are called alto whistles; our G and F whistles are alto whistles; they are listed on the lowwhistles page. Many Irish whistle players add a G to their collection of whistles and flutes; the F is less common.
There are whistles in other keys; one of the common ones is key of C, and many whistle players include a C whistle to their collection of Ds.
The very large whistles, called low or concert or tenor whistles, plus the alto whistles, are on our Low Whistles page.
ImportantInformation if You are Buying Your First Good Whistle
Sometimes we receive complaints that our better whistles do not play well in the low notes. This usually comes from people who up to then had only played the cheap whistles, and who now had just bought a better one. The answer is that good whistle technique requires that you change your mouth shape as you go from the bottom notes up to the top. Themouth is wide and relaxed for the bottom notes, and gradually narrows and tightens as you go up the scale. (Cheaper instruments appear to be more forgiving of players who do not change their mouth shape on the notes when they play.) Good whistle players, and players of other instruments such as trombone etc, do this mouth change automatically and do not always think of telling beginners to dothis. In any case, this is how to get good bottom notes on your whistle. If you are having trouble, play in front of a mirror and watch your mouth shape.
We often get asked about the quality and weight of these whistles. We've added the weight to the description of each D whistle. Since the C whistle is slightly longer than the D, it will weigh a bit more.
Waltons Penny Whistles
Made in IrelandThese inexpensive whistles are popular with teachers for music classes. We try to maintain good stocks of these to accommodate last-minute quantity requests. However, at times our supplier, who depends on monthly containers to arrive from Ireland, is out of them and we have to wait to get more. If you need these for a certain date, we suggest ordering two months in advance if possible.
PW3A. TheWaltons Little Black Whistle: This traditional metal whistle is lighter in weight than the two whistles below. Key of D. We'll include a simple fingering chart if you request it. Weight: 0.5 oz. $6
PW3B. Waltons brass whistle (shown at left). This traditional D whistle is made of brass-plated metal, heavier than the Little Black Whistle above, with a green plastic mouthpiece. We'll include asimple playing chart if you request it. Weight: 1.3 oz. $9
PW3C. Waltons nickel whistle. Nickel-plated D whistle looks like the brass whistle above, with green mouthpiece, but is slightly heavier in weight. We'll include a simple playing chart if you request it. The nickel finish on this whistle is more durable than the finish on the two whistles above. Weight: 1.2 oz. $12