Ross Ainslie – Homemade tunes

One of Scotland’s most respected instrumentalists, Ross Ainslie, recently released a book of his own tunes.  Ross plays with the Treacherous Orchestra, Dougie Maclean, Salsa Celtica and India Alba amongst others.   Here’s a crazy video him playing with Guitar, pipes and beatbox – check it out!

His tunebook is available from his website – http://www.rossainslie.com

 

Unbelievable!

Unbelievably we actually have some instruments in stock ahead of Christmas this year!  (there’s a first time for everything).

Workshop Repair Work!

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Some nice green Ds finished today.

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New roll bag on it’s way!

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The Perfect Whistle

Having spent a large part of the last few years trying to keep up with orders a large component of what I’ve been doing is to work out nice ways to make things – to both maintain quality and not be too time consuming.  It has been a real challenge – far harder than working out how to make the first MK Whistle.  In fact all that hard work that goes into perfecting those first few instruments comes back to bite you on the bum, simply because the higher the standards you set the more difficult it is to maintain them.  I could never have imagined it would have taken so long, and on reflection, had I not been absolutely clear on what I set was setting out to – to make really good quality low whistles available and affordable – then it might well have fallen flat on it’s face!

That process is almost at it’s end – with the exception of one stage (which remains horribly time consuming) I can look at the way each process is done and say it feels right.

This will allow a little more time to getting some of the other keys sorted out.  The Low G is close, and Low A not far behind   …while the High D still has a bit to go.  In addition to this though, I would like to return to making custom and one-off instruments.  I’ve had time (10 years) to mull over the original Mk Design, and it does seem there’s space for improvement.  Even if  some of the crafting processes involved are time consuming – surely they are justified in the quest to find the perfect whistle?

 

Deutsche!

We are just putting the finishing touches to a German translation of the MK Website.  Translation was done by Alina Soboth ( alinka [at] gmx.de ).  Click here to see the site in German.

Zac Leger on MK low D whistle with Quinn Bachand on guitar

Is Purple here to stay?

We needed extra security to get the Purple low whistles back from the anodisers without loosing a few to anyone with sticky fingers.  Everyone who saw them had something to say.  It’s probably true purple isn’t everyone’s cup to tea  … but whichever way, it seems you’ll still stand back and marvel at these.

When I checked the to see who had placed an advance order for one I found that the waiting list stretched back to 2007!  making it the longest anyone has had to wait for an MK Whistle (not including the keys we aren’t making)

The question however is are they here to stay?  The Blue Low Ds were run as a limited edition about this time last year, and we haven’t done any since, despite occasional enquiries.  From my point of view keeping even three colours (red, green & black) in stock in quite a challenge, but these more exotic colours (the red, blue and purple particularly) do have something special about them – an extra magic.  Sometimes one comes off the workbench and I just stand there looking at it.  Even before it’s first breath it’s singing, and I languish for a few seconds before going back to filing, cutting, setting, gluing, etc etc.

What do you think? should purple stay?

 

Stuck low whistle tuning slide

How to fix a seized whistle tuning slide

(please note this applies to metal tin whistles and low whistles -not wooden ones).

A seized tuning slide has long been a problem on many woodwind instruments.  I thought I’d take the time to talk through the ins and outs of seized tuning slides – an age old curse of woodwind musicians including low whistle players.

First I feel it’s worth mentioning that the best solution is to prevent the tuning slide seizing in the first place – as obvious as it might be to say so!   Contrary to popular belief tuning slides rarely, if ever, seize as a result of dirt getting trapped in the slide.  The two parts actually get stuck because the surface of metals corrodes as it reacts with air – in a similar process to steel rusting.  This reaction on the surface of the two adjacent and touching parts causes the parts to fuse together.  Some metals suffer more from this phenomenon than others.  Aluminium or steel are quite reactive in air and therefore fuse relatively quickly.  Brass and titanium are relatively stable (or ‘inert’) in air and will therefore take much longer to react.

The simplest way of stopping the two parts seizing together is to stop the reaction at the surface of the metal.  This is where tuning slide grease (or cork grease) comes in very useful – it coats the surface of the parts and creates a barrier between them and the air, hence stopping the reaction.  The handy thing is that putting a little on can last for long time.

So you didn’t use any Cork Grease and you have a seized tuning slide?

The tuning slide on your prized music instrument is seized – what should you do?  The first thing to remember is don’t panic!  …or start twisting it with massive pliers or hitting it off things in a blind rage!  The trick is to break the bond which has developed from the corrosion.  The easiest way to do this is heat the outside part.  When you do this, the outside of the slide  expands quicker than the inside causing the bond to break.  After doing this you’ll be amazed at how easily the parts come apart.  It’s a little like using hot water to heat your breakfast bowl to get dried cornflakes off it!

So how do you heat the outside of the slide?

By the far the best way to heat the outside of the slide is with a heat gun.  This, however, is not always readily available to us.  A compromise can be to run boiling water over the outside of the part at the tuning slide.  Care must be taken during this not to burn your hands – as the parts do heat up it can be a good idea to use gloves – ideally wool gloves though even rubber washing up gloves are a good start.  This wont always work but it is a good starting point.  In extreme cases, where you don’t have access to a heat gun, using a blowtorch at a distance and sparingly will break the seal, though many would prefer to send the instrument to an instrument maker before reaching this point!

Of course once you’ve unstuck the tuning slide, make sure to keep some grease on it so it doesn’t happen again!

***If you think it would be beneficial for this article to be published as a video please let us know – if there’s enough interest we’ll publish it as an instruction video.




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