Shipping to USA

A note with respect to deliveries to the USA.  We are finding, given the current situation in the USA with respect to Coronavirus, deliveries are taking longer than usual/other places.  We are finding the shipping service is reliable – packages are getting through – but we are finding typical delivery times currently are 6-8 weeks.  We appreciate customers’ patience given the situation as it is.

Whistle Testers Wanted!

We are always looking for testers to try out our prototypes and ideas. If you think you would be a good fit, email [email protected].  Please provide a recording of yourself playing (doesn’t have to be high quality) and tell us why you’d like to be involved and why you’re the right person for the job. 

Thanks !   

MK Whistles Team

Corona Virus Postage updates

Please note: Many thanks to our customers for bearing with us through ongoing delays in some postal networks.  Postal systems are running as usual in many countries, but there are some hold ups, especially in the USA and New Zealand. This is understandable given the continuing world-wide pandemic.

Bronze Mk Pro Low Whistles

We haven’t been able to take studio photos of the newer bronze MK Whistles yet …but here’s one from the workshop in the mean time.

10 Bronze MK Pro Low D Whistles on workbench in workshop

Covid 19 Update

Dear Customers,

This is a message with respect to the spread of Covid-19 and the difficulties it is causing.

Obviously we have a priority with respect to health considerations for our staff and customers.   We have reasonably/safely been able to continue dispatching orders once a week until now (usually on Fridays).   We are going to continue this as far as possible but, due to the situation in the UK, we may not be able to post out on this Friday 24th.   If you do place an order with us we will, of course, dispatch it as soon as possible.  Even if there is a slight delay we will not have forgotten the order!

Useful Key chart

tin whiste Key chart

Free International Postage on orders over £400

Please note: we are currently offering free worldwide postage on orders over £400.

Limited Edition Blue Pro Ds

We have a small batch of limited edition Blue Ds available here.  This is the second batch of blue Ds we have ever made – so they are pretty rare!!!

Loch Ness Monster playing an MK Whistle by Maya

Thank you to Maya for sending us these excellent pictures 🙂

 

MKDesign-1

 

Why are Tin Whistles Rarely Now Made from Tin?

tin-whistle

There are few instruments where the name itself has been derived from the material they are made of.  The Tin whistle is one such- the guitar, piano, saxophone, clarinet, violin (to name just few) never had their names prefixed by the material they were made from.  Perhaps the only other rare example is the instrument family known as brass instruments.

Of course the danger of naming an instrument after the material it is made of, is that sometimes that material changes!  In fact the first whistles were made of hollow plant stalks – bamboo or similar – or sometimes even bone (vultures wing-bones were popular for this use 40,000 years ago).

The cultural history of the whistle, at least in Europe, does owe a lot to tin.  Tin-smithing was an accessible and popular trade which involved an apprenticeship of 4-6 years with a master tinsmith – making cutlery, tin cups, baking tins candle holders and similar items.  Before becoming master tinsmiths themselves many took to the road becoming journeymen and peddlers.  Against this backdrop it’s easy to see how the tin whistle flourished – making use of the skills of the crafts-people while being portable – and the whistle will forever been associated with the traveler traditions of Europe.

So why has tin become less favourable as a material for making whistles from?   If you look at some of the world’s top whistle makers – Chris Abell, Phil Hardy,  Michael Burke, Colin Goldie, Michael Copland, – you’ll notice that none in fact use tin to make whistles from.  The answer is really that the same qualities that made tin the favourable choice of material for several decades – it’s relatively soft and thin meaning that it could be cold rolled as well soldered – became detrimental when the tools available to the whistlesmith evolved.  The advent of machine tools extended the possibilities – the lathe became the primary instrument of the whistle maker.  Even gripping soft, thin, metal like tin, is awkward as the material deforms, never mind cutting it.   Thicker more rigid materials became advantageous because they could be worked on more easily with the new tools available, and the thickness of the material could be used in new ways- to more control-ably form the airway and labium- the critical sound forming parts of a whistle.  Of these materials – brass, steel & stainless steel, silver steel to name a few, aluminium became the most favourable because it is the easiest to form accurately, is strong, and yet light to aid resonance [though whistles rely a lot less on the resonance of the material than many other instruments, like a guitar for example].  In an instrument where the formation of the sound is much more dependent on its shape than the material used, then generally the material selection will be based on which it is easiest to form the desired shape with.

Bernard Overton’s aluminium Low Whistle of the 70s became the blue print for other low whistles- the birth (or perhaps rebirth) of this instrument was inherently linked to adoption of aluminium as a material to make whistles from.  This has gradually filtered back to become the material of choice for high end tin (or high) whistle makers.  While tin/copper or nickel are still used in cheaper whistles, which retain a very important place, the heads tend to plastic molded, and so don’t lend themselves to the iterative or experimental approach required for making high end musical instruments.

Perhaps the best thing however, is that despite the changes in materials over the decades and centuries, the whistle remains a relatively affordable musical instrument.

 




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