Monday, January 23, 2006

Tweaks: Methods of Muffling a Whistle

The Contenders

The Hoover Whitecaps

The Hoover Whitecap is a line of replacement fipples handmade by Mack Hoover, which sell for about $25 each. They're available in "quiet" and "regular" varieties. Pictured at right are both variations. The "regular" model, mounted on the whistle in the photo, has a somewhat larger window than the "quiet" model.

The Blu-Tac™ Tweak

For this tweak, make a small ball of "Blue-Tac"/poster putty and put it in the window of the whistle. The further you put it towards your mouth, the more it quiets the whistle, and the airier the sound.

The Tape Tweak

For this tweak cover part of the window with tape as illustrated. I usually use clear tape, but it didn't show in the photos very well so I've used blue painting tape in the photo at right for illustrative purposes. The more you cover the window, the more it quiets the whistle, and the airier the sound.

The "Joanie Madden" technique

Joanie described a technique on the Chiff and Fipple message board where you place the mouthpiece against your chin, below your mouth, and blow down into the fipple window (almost as if it were a flute). This is very quiet indeed, but I'm not including it in this comparison as it's a different animal altogether; try it and you'll see why.

The Results

(All measurements in dbSPL, A weighted.)

WhistleLow DLow GHigh DHigh GHigh BComments
Un-tweaked Feadóg Mark III7481939394
Un-tweaked Clarke Sweetone7078909093
"Standard" Hoover Whitecap7078809090Best-sounding fipple.
Feadóg with Tape Muffler6876868687Very airy sound. Fiddly.
"Quiet" Hoover Whitecap6169828488Sounds better than un-tweaked whistle. Very low air requirements; harder to play low D and E.
Feadóg with "poster putty" tweak6668798184Airy, mellower than un-tweaked whistle.


Although the Blu-Tac tweak produces the quietest results, it comes with a considerable cost in terms of tone quality. The "quiet" Hoover Whitecap produces the best tone quality of anything other than a non-quiet Hoover, but has different playing characteristics (much lower air requirements, especially on the low notes) than the other tweaks. Finally, none of the tweaks cuts the volume by a huge amount; 84 dBSPL, while quieter than the un-tweaked whistle, is considerably louder than normal conversation.


Anonymous said...

Joanie's method works a lot better if you place the mouthpiece on your bottom lip.

Chris Stephenson said...

If you cut half an inch off a garden hose and then cut a slit in it end to end you form a sleeve that fits over the whistle, covering the out let on the mouth piece. It works well on a Tony Dixon. Regards Chris

Aisling Murphy said...

Thanks for that tip! If it wasn't for these tiny weeny letters on this respond comment box, I'd tell you in more detail
my reason for asking how to silence the volume of my whistle and how your advice helped. Another time perhaps.
Many thanks
Aisling (pronounced Ash-ling)