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Choosing a First Tin Whistle (Pennywhistle)

Updated on March 23, 2013
Jerry Freeman Whistle
Jerry Freeman Whistle

The tinwhistle is a great first instrument for anyone who wants to get into Irish Traditional Music. Learning on the whistle first can lead to low whistles, flutes, and uilleann pipes; plus, many accomplished ITM musicians play the whistle exclusively (see Mary Bergin). They are also great instruments for children, as the holes are small and the fingering is easy. In this Hub we will look at some great whistles for under $50.

Tony Dixon Whistles
Tony Dixon Whistles

Tony Dixon whistles are great whistles, and almost every high whistle costs less than $50. The "trad" model is the most often recommended whistle. I have one and it is a great whistle with lots of "chiff" (the attack of a note), without being excessively breathy. This is a great whistle to start off with because of its low cost, and the fact that it won't need to be upgraded later on when the player progresses (just a quick warning - many people who get into whistling buy lots more whistles than they need, but you won't need to upgrade the Trad if that's the way you go).

A Dixon Trad clip

Jerry Freeman Tweaked Whistles
Jerry Freeman Tweaked Whistles

Jerry Freeman Tweaked Whistles

Jerry Freeman is a professional whistle tweaker. What that means is that he takes really inexpensive whistles (like Generations) and makes little changes to them to make them into really nice whistles. And because he isn't actually manufacturing the whistles, he can make them available for under $50. Many people like his Generation tweaks, but some people say that his Blackbird and Mellow Dog whistles are among the best in the world, and they only cost $36. I don't have first hand experience with these whistles, but I'm going to be buying a Bb and a C at least at some point.

Freeman Generation

Other Options

Some other inexpensive whistles are Susato (too loud and "recorder-like" for me), Syn (slightly more expensive), Hoover whistles, and Parks whistles. Of those I only have experience with the Susato.


I hope this helps if you were curious about the tinwhistle. It's a great instrument to get started with. And even if you don't get into it much, you aren't out very much money, plus most of these whistles have a high resale value, so you can get most of your money back.

Happy playing!


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    • redmanca profile image

      redmanca 6 years ago from Clemson, SC

      Thanks Blair. I appreciate your comment.

    • Blair Rockefeller profile image

      Blair Rockefeller 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great hub. Liked listening to the vodeos.