Jan 26, 2016

Clarke vs Waltons Tin Whistle in D Demo and Review

Quick demo of both the Clarke and Waltons tin whistles in the key of D

Setup: I ran the microphone straight through a mic interface and into Audacity; no post-processing or effects were added except for a very slight delay effect by leaving a fraction of the volume of the computer's recording audio blended with the mic output. [Edit: on certain songs (Yankee Doodle in particular) the exported video amplified the delay quite a bit more than showed up in the pre-processing stage, whoops!]

The Clarke Celtic Tin Whistle is possibly the most popular tin whistle on the market, and is available for as low as $10.  It's rather lightweight and doesn't feel like the strongest construction, but is finished very nicely and looks and sounds excellent.

The tone of the Clarke is clear and pretty, and overall crisp and clean.  It has a tapered design and does not really feel like it "locks in" to notes, so you have relative freedom to bend notes up and down; which may be more challenging for beginners but may also open more freedom for expression.  It is also very strong in the high register and is rather easy to play.

The Waltons tin whistle is also very common and possibly available for even cheaper than the Clarke.  It's construction is great and feels very solid, and has no seam down the back (unlike the Clarke).

The tone of the Waltons is a little dirtier and sound more reed-like, with a little bit of oboe or saxophone sound blended in (even more noticeable when playing it).  It's definitely a different sound and it's rather cool to play.  It locks into notes better, and tends to growl (or squeak) rather than bend when overblown.  It's not as strong in the high register but is maybe a little stronger in the low register.

Build quality:  Waltons

Playability:  Clarke

Tone:  Subjective

Ultimately this is something so close to call that I'll have to give them a tie - I really enjoy playing both of them and each has their own unique quirks.  If I had to choose one, however, I think the Clarke has the edge in playability and clean tone, as well as in the high register.  For the price though, if you get into the instrument much at all, you probably won't regret getting both! :)

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