The Questions People Ask a Whistlemaker
Misha Somerville answers questions often asked about an unusual and incredible profession.
Products that can be added to the shopping cart are generally in stock and available for order. Note: this information is updated daily and will be much more current than anything you may have read on other websites/forums (which may be months or years out-of-date). If we are out of stock of a particular whistle then we will generally have it back in stock within the following time frame. Please note these can be considered as a guide to maximum waiting times (because the item may have been out of stock for some time prior to you trying to order).
Key D - 3 weeks
Key F - 4 weeks
Key G - 7 weeks
Key A - 9 weeks
You can check for any postal service updates on our news page and on this page.
You should be aware that packages can't always be tracked all the way from the collection to delivery.
Economy Shipping Services
Our economy shipping services make use of national postal networks. These packages will be passed from the UKs mail network (the Royal Mail) to the national postal network in the/your destination country. These packages may not always be able to be tracked all the way from collection to delivery. The map below shows the different service provision for different areas of the world. The areas in red indicate where shippign may not be available. Generally postage to all these areas is still reliable however - in fact in some areas national post may be the only reliable network.
The tracking number which we provide for our economy services is an international tracking number and can be used on royal mail's tracking page your national postal network also. So for example, for a package going to Canada, the tracking number we give you can be used on Canada post's website. It can be worth checking this for your local postal network even if your country is shown in red below, although it may show anything.
Here are some some tracking pages for postal networks we commonly use with our customers.
Epress Shipping Services
For our express postal services we use a range of postal carriers depedning on where in the world you are. For Europe and North America we typically use DPD. For Asia we typically use DHL or Fedex. Here is the tracking page for DPD and the tracking page for DHL and the tracking page for Fedex.
We usually dispatch orders twice a week - on Monday and Friday. This is sometimes reduced to once a week due to external pressures (e.g. pandemic). Although typical delivery times are less than this, please allow the following for delivery.
UK - 3 days
Europe - 10 days
Worldwide - 20 days
Typical postage rates (actual shipping rates are calculated at checkout and depend on package weight and current exchange rates)
UK - Free Shipping
Europe - €15.50***
Worldwide - $23.50***
Please bear in mind that worldwide postal services are very good. We send hundreds of packages a year and it is very, very unusual for one to go missing. Sometimes there are delays due to worldwide circumstances (e.g. pandemics, postage fluctuations like Christmas) or local circumstances/fluctuations. Tracking allows us to check the whereabouts of a package but, unless your package has been delivered to a neighbour without you knowing, tracking a package doesn't speed up the delivery itself, it just allows us to check its whereabouts in countries where postal tracking is available. This page has further information on which zones of the world have tracked shipping (please note: we find postage is still reliable in the 'signed for' zones).
We normally dispatch twice a week. Although typical delivery times are less than this, please allow the following time frames for delivery.
UK - 3 days
Europe - 10 days
Worldwide - 20 days
These are meant as a guide - delays are possible depending on how quick your local postal service is. We do find, even if there is a delay, that postal services around the world are reliable in terms of getting the package to you. We have found postal services in some countries are slightly more prone to delays (Russia, USA, France) but it's generally a very small number of parcels that are affected. In any case, we ask that you bear with us and with the postal services while your package is delivered.
Yes. Shipping to your door in insured.
When ordering it possible to mark the order 'for collection' in the shopping cart. You should be aware however, that we are a busy workshop rather than a shop and an appointment will need to be made for the collection to double check we will be open when you come to collect. As we offer free UK postage many people do find that easier, although do feel free to email us if you do want to try arranging a time for the collection.
The best way to change your order is to contact our support or simply give us a call during our business hours +44 (0) 141 816 0084. If an order is shipped, we won't be able to make any changes to your order and we will need to organise a return or exchange.
Carrier tracking would provide you with up-to-date information about your package. If it gets stuck or never gets delivered to you, please contact our support and we can assist you with the next steps.
Only our UK customers have to pay VAT (but other customers may be liable for a customs charge depending on the import policies of your country/economic market/zone).
Our shopping cart automatically calculates whether VAT is applicable and clearly displays it when you go to checkout. Sometimes it requires confirmation of which country you are in, in which case it waits for the delivery address to be entered in the checkout process.
You will not be unfairly charged sales tax of any kind. We are required to charge VAT to our customers within the United Kingdom. Outside the UK, customs charges may apply (which are roughly equivalent to the 20% sales tax UK customers pay).
UK customers pay VAT and packages entering other countries may have a customs charge applied according the local import policy.
Customers in the EU may pay customs duties on orders over €150, but we will not charge you VAT when you make your purchase (our shopping cart calculates it automatically). In other words if you pay customs charges it will be roughly equivalent to VAT you pay on items from your home country or within the EU.
Customers outside Europe may pay a customs charge roughly equivalent to what European customers pay. Packages entering North America including USA and Canada rarely have any customs charge to pay.
You can login to your account to downlaod an invoice for your order.
login [ top right hand corner website / menu bar]
Order history > Click on order > Download invoice [ red button top right on page ]
Like when learning many musicial instruments, it is very common to get some discomfort when learning to play. It takes a while to develop strength and suppleness to reach difficult chords on a Guitar, for example. Because whistles seem to be simple instruments, many people expect to be able to pick up and play them straight away, but there is some practise and play-in time required and that can lead to some discomfort before hands and muscles devlop to overcome initial challenges.
Some discomfort when learning can be expected irrespective of hand size, age or gender, but it is perhaps a question that more often comes up for women who suspect smaller hands might affect ability to cover the tone holes, which is understandable. Women tend to be more supple than men however, and we don't actually see any correlation along gender lines.
In the several decades we've been making them, we have had very few Low D's returned because of hole spacing ...and it's extremely rare that we get a smaller/higher key of whistle ( < low D) back for this reason.
Generally, be prepared to put in a little practice and, unless you are very unlucky, you should be fine. Using the technique known as the 'pipers grip' can help. You can read more about this here.
Here is a datasheet for a mk Pro D
Here is a scale drawing of an mk Pro D. You can print this out to scale [make sure you have scaling turned off on your printer] and wrap it around another whistle or something cylindrical to get an idea of finger-spacing.
If you were to have issues then make use of our returns policy.
The most obvious difference is the tuning slide, which for those that are performing is often a necessity. The tone holes on the Kelpie are also optimised for ergonomics, whereas the Pros are optimised for tuning. Both are, however, great instruments and if you look at the price of other musical instruments you get a lot for your money. For this reason people often just decide to treat themselves to a Pro, though there is also a lot to be said for starting on a Kelpie to see how you get on, and then if are using it a lot, then you can treat yourself to a Pro or another Key knowing that it's going to get some good use.
We sometimes get asked if offsetting toneholes is an option. We understand some advice does suggest that having offset toneholes can be benefical during the early stages of learning to play, but we have spent a number of years experimenting with offset toneholes and the results are in some ways surprising and at odds with the perception that offset toneholes are more ergonomic and easier to play with...
Perhaps countintuitively, offsetting toneholes does not actually bring toneholes closer together - it actually makes them further apart!
Furthermore, in terms of the ergonomics, becasue our hand position is not defined when we play a low whistle, it is actually at least as easy to find a good/comfortable position with straight alligned tone holes. This is true irresepctive of our stage of development - beginner / intermediate / advanced. If there was in fact any advantage then higher end whistles would adopt offset toneholes, but actually the opposite is true.
It's certainly understandable how offsetting toneholes might seem better or more sophisticated, but this is one area where keeping it simple is actually more effective.
The colour anodised finish is an extremely tough protective layer. It is not a coating like paint which can chip off, the anodised layer is actually part of the material itself, intergrating on a microscopic level. The coating effectively stops corrosion of the aluminium and preserves the longevity of the instrument. It is very hard and durable and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, IPA or alcohol based cleanign solution (like meths).
Of course we would love to be able to stock all mk whistles in a wide array of colours. To be able to make mk whistles economically, we must anodise 10 whistles at a time of the same key. This means that making a one-off becomes considerably more expensive (typically +50% the base cost of the whistle). Making 10 of a more specialist key in a specific colour becomes more diffcult to justify.
For the standard keys we aim to hold all colours, and certainly for all whistles we would like to be able to offer something besides black and silver. If you are looking for a specific colour of a certain key, which we only currently offer black/silver, then please get in touch to register your interest. We do also consider one-offs but they would be considerably more costly as noted above.
Chameleons come with a hard aluminium case and see through tray.
All other mk whistles come with a thick real-wool felt sleeve.
You can actually tension the tuning slide yourself to make it tighter. Here are instructions for tweaking the tuning slide.
It is common for brass to 'tarnish'. When it tarnishes it takes on a slightly blackened look. This doesn't affect the funcationality of it at all, but it does affect it visually. It is possible to restore it using a brass restoring solution like 'Brasso'. There is no need to do this but if you decide to restore the slide visually, put a little electrcial/insulation tape over the anodsied body of the instrument to protect it. Use a cloth or paper towel, aplly brasso and rub the brass slide to restore it's apearance. Make sure to clean the slide afterwards with some meths, IPA or a alcohol based cleaner to clean the surface of the brass.
D whistles - either high or low whistles - generally are the starting point because they tend to offer the ability to play in more social/common keys of music, which comes into it's own when playtign music with other people.
The usual route is to learn a little on a high D whistle to learn breath control, the basic fingering patterns and some ornamenation. This can then be taken forward to low whistles to get comfortable with covering toneholes while making use of the skills developed on the high D. Some people are however much more motivated to learn low whistles than high whistles, and there's not any particular reason not to start on low whistles. So like many things there is no definitive answer to this question.
In terms of which keys of low whistle to start on, people do often start on Low D because it is the original Low Whistle. This means developing suppleness in the hands early on, which then makes jumping on the smaller whistles between the high and low D easy. That said, again there are no rules here, and it is possible to learn in between keys first.
Generally though, in most genres, if you will be playing music with friends and musicians, it's good to give preference to the High/Low D initally, and then augment the range of keys you can play in at a later date.
We accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover etc. Please note that the available payment methods may change depending on your region.
We currently do not offer cash on delivery when you purchase online.
Yes, although we don't receive many, we welcome returns. We will happily refund the cost of the instrument, or replace it if you need to try another. To register a return or exchange, please visit this page.
If you are having a techinal issue please make sure to check our instrument care or FAQs pages or conatct our support [firstname.lastname@example.org] as there is often a good/easy fix.
We offer free returns within 30 days of the date you received it. Once the return is registered, we will approve the return and shipping instructions will be issued. Please make sure you put items back in their original packaging before you send them back to us. All products are subject to inspection once we receive them. It may take 7-10 days for the inspection to take place, and then the refund will be made to the same card you made your original payment with.
Once we receive your item, a refund is initiated immediately. All major credit card providers generally take 5-7 business days to process your refund before it appears in your bank account.
Chances of receiving defective item is very rare but it could happen. Please take pictures of a product which shows defect clearly & contact our support to check if it's eligible for replacement.
Misha Somerville answers questions often asked about an unusual and incredible profession.
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