Prices

We’re expecting some prices to rise a little around early 2015.  Although price increases won’t be massive, if you’re looking to buy an MK Whistle you may want to do so before then!

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.

Here they come

Fruit on the G Tree?

The Whistle at the End of the Universe …by Ian Nicholls

The West Coast of Scotland has to be one of the most amazing places in the world. All year I had been looking forward to another few weeks exploring it on a very special little ship, The Hippo-owned by a friend. Sailing ensures that things aren’t seen to quickly and the world goes by a sensible natural pace. The sea is not our natural habitat, and this is brought home effectively when whales would overtake us, and dolphins would come and go as if my magic.

Our destination this year was to be St Kilda, right on the edge of the Scottish West Coast, and having assembled a mix bag of sailors and musicians, we met in Castlebay on Barra.

Our experiences were mad, beautiful and mystifying. In my mind recording these is all part of journeying. In this modern world the click of a digital camera is now the accepted norm. Not always. For years traditional music told stories of joy, happiness, shipwreck…the list is endless. For me I wasn’t going anywhere without my fiddle and my MK Low D.

St Kilda had a profound effect. A new tune “Village Bay” tries to conjure up the wild eyed sheep, the incredible cliffs and amazing struggle of St Kilda, however trying to fit it all in is still very much work in progress…I’m not sure a single tune will suffice…

Stuck up a water tower in Timbuktu by Misha Somerville

I decided to climb a water tower.  Half way up I started to question my plan; perhaps unsurprisingly ladders always seem to get more difficult as you get higher.  I avoided looking down until some locals started shouting at me.  I looked up to see how much further I had to go and spotted four or five owls higher up on the ladder where it was enclosed by the water tank.  Just at that second a volley of owl shit rained down on me.  I laughed at the absurdity of the situation – covered in owl shit and stuck half way up a water tower in Timbuktu – I had just wanted a good view from the top of the Water Tower.  In any case it became obvious that climbing back down would probably be a good idea.
Such was Timbuktu – you’ve got to make your own entertainment.  Fortunately I had good company; I’d met a French guy Damien on the cargo boat, and had been sharing laughs and hassles since then.  Later on I was playing some music – a few tunes on the whistle, out on the roof of one of the village’s mud houses.  As it turned out Damien was a really good juggler and there was soon a crowd of people watching us.  They stood keeping a distance, watching us like we were some sort of wild animal, until one little boy plucked up the courage to come closer.  He walked slowly, stopping every so often until he was up on the roof and a few yards away from us, and there he stayed – mesmerised – while the others dared not come any closer.   Although interesting to me at the time, I didn’t realise how much this little experience might influence and inspire ideas in the future.

I decided to climb a water tower.  Half way up I started to question my plan; perhaps unsurprisingly ladders always seem to get more difficult as you get higher.  I avoided looking down until some locals started shouting at me.  I looked up to see how much further I had to go and spotted four or five owls higher up on the ladder where it was enclosed by the water tank.  Just at that second a volley of owl shit rained down on me.  I laughed at the absurdity of the situation – covered in owl shit and stuck half way up a water tower in Timbuktu – I had just wanted a good view from the top of the Water Tower.  In any case it became obvious that climbing back down would probably be a good idea.

Such was Timbuktu – you’ve got to make your own entertainment.  Fortunately I had good company; I’d met a French guy Damien on the cargo boat, and had been sharing laughs and hassles since then.  Later on I was playing some music – a few tunes on the whistle, out on the roof of one of the village’s mud houses.  As it turned out Damien was a really good juggler and there was soon a crowd of people watching us.  They stood keeping a distance, watching us like we were some sort of wild animal, until one little boy plucked up the courage to come closer.  He walked slowly, stopping every so often until he was up on the roof and a few yards away from us, and there he stayed – mesmerised – while the others dared not come any closer.   Although interesting to me at the time, I didn’t realise how much this little experience might influence and inspire ideas in the future.

Extract from Bamako Boom Boom by Misha Somerville.



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