Friday, April 27, 2007

Penny whistles and iceberg docks

Hmm, after Minstrel Boy recommended the penny whistle ("tin whistle", "Irish whistle"), I find that Wikibooks has the beginnings of a book on the subject and there's entire web sites devoted to the instrument. There are literally dozens of penny whistles available for cheap from $3 and up from lots of places.

Reading various reviews on various sites it looks like lots of people like the Clarke's Meg whistle for beginners because a) it's cheap ($3?!), b) it's easy to play, c) it sounds quite, well, Irish. For an even more Irish sound some folks seem to like the Feadog (available for under $10), but apparently it is somewhat harder to play for a beginner. Crap, I'll spend $3 for a whistle and five times that for instructional materials just to have another musical instrument around the place (it's not as if I have any shortage of the things anyhow, though of course Minstrel Boy's guitar collection is probably bigger than my whole instrument collection, but then I think he has a room of his house for his guitars :-).

Anyhow, just wish to thank Minstrel Boy for introducing me to the penny whistle. I suspect I shall be practicing Gaelic airs in California canyons shortly :-).

Regarding an apartment or house to dock my iceberg, I may just re-sign to the current dock. Yeah, they're raising the rent by $135 per month. But looking around at the local market, it looks like this isn't much above market rate, other than the crazy anti-cat-lady-who-advertised-cats everybody else seems to be advertising about $100 per month less than the new rate, which doesn't make it worthwhile to move. Plus I note that I get a "free rentable storage unit" if I renew before May 19. Hmm. I need to see exactly what that means. Maybe a place to store these new musical instruments...

-- Badtux the Homeless Musical Penguin


  1. FWIW, my son is carefully looking through the area for a place for you. Although he's a mechanic in Berkeley he has a wide range of acquaintances. I'll keep you advised.

    I have nothing humorous or useful to contribute on penny whistles.

  2. Well, as a longtime tin whistler, I can recommend any in the Clarke line; they are the original pennywhistle and still among the best and easiest to play.

    The most commonly used cheapo whistle among professional players is the Generation whistle, because it comes in a wide variety of keys. Problem is, the quality control is crap; some Gens are really good, and some are just unplayable.

    There's also a brand of slightly more expensive whistles called Susatos; they're made out of PVC and sound really good. However, you have to blow them harder than some others and they're LOUD!!!!

    In sum, I'd definitely go with a Clarke of some variety for your first. Buy one in D; you might then want to add a C at a later time. Happy whistling!

  3. i will absolutely second the good mr. scoville's endorsement of the clarke line. they are what i have and play. when i am out wandering the woods or the desert on horseback i always have one or two. guitars are beautiful but don't travel well at all. i tried out one of the martin "backpackers" and it sounded small and crappy and no amount of shimming and fudging could make it play well. and even scaled down it still took up far more room than i was willing to spare. i do have a room dedicated to instruments, and recording. i call it the "sweatshop" because that's where i make most of my money. i have also, using the wonderful little wood hanger thingies you can get for under $10 have at least one guitar hanging on the wall in just about every room of the house (except bathrooms and library). that way, when the mood strikes all i have to do is take one down and start in. my latest obsession though is my Line6 Variax. i can change digital sound signatures, tunings, and amp models with a few clicks. i've had it for a couple months and am still riding the learning curve.


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