Tin Whistle Buying Guide for Beginners

Are you looking to buy your first tin whistle, or perhaps add another one to your collection? =)

This is a quick guide for beginners for how to choose which tin whistle to buy:

1 – Choose the Tin Whistle Key First

Tin whistles are available in all keys, from low to high. Some of the most common ones are: D, C, Bb, A and F.

The most common key by far is D, which is a good choice for beginners as it is the key used in many traditional Irish tunes.

However, if you’re interested in playing music from other styles and genres, you may want to consider purchasing a tin whistle in a different key.

2 – Consider the Tin Whistle Material

Most tin whistles are made of metal (brass, aluminium etc), but they can also be made of plastic or wood.

Metal tin whistles are more durable and tend to have a brighter, more vibrant sound, while plastic and wood tin whistles may have a warmer, more mellow tone.

It’s a good idea to try out a few different materials to see which one you prefer.

3 – Soft or Hard Blow Tin Whistle

Decide if you prefer a tin whistle with a big, medium or narrow bore (the thickness of the body). Because this affects the back pressure, meaning how soft or hard you need to blow.

If you have a narrow bore you don’t need to blow as hard to get to the 2nd octave and highest notes, but the 1st octave lower notes will be weaker.

This means that it is easy to overblow the first octave by accident, but the advantage is that is is easy to hit the 2nd octave notes.

If you have a wide bore you get a much stronger 1st octave and low notes, but you need to push much more air to get to the 2nd octave high notes.

The advantage is that you get much more expression in the first octave.

The downside is that the 2nd octave high notes will be super loud, and you need a lot of air to hit and sustain those notes.

Finally you’ll also want to consider the price of the tin whistle. While tin whistles are generally quite affordable, you can find them at a range of price points. 

The cheaper tin whistles are often less consistent in tuning, balance etc. High quality tin whistles are also tuneable, which I think is super important.

This is why I always recommend everyone to avoid the cheapest instruments, and invest at least a little more money to get a quality brand.

Quality Tin Whistle Brands for Beginners

Here’s a list of tin whistle brands that are high quality, and may be perfect for your tin whistle adventure:

  • MK Whistles
  • Wild Whistles
  • Carbony
  • Killarney
  • LÍR
  • Susato
  • Tony Dixon
  • Chieftain
  • Alba
  • Goldie
  • Howard
  • Burke