Howard MusicHoward Music - Maker of Irish Low Tin Whistles since 1974
4.9 Stars - Based on 10 User Reviews
Daithí Mac an AircinnDaithí Mac an Aircinn

It is the best whistle I have bought now on my fifth make. This one just has such a lovely pleasant sound I love to get any opportunity to play it. It is just a beautiful instrument.

Jamie WJamie W

I bought a Howard low whistle as my first attempt at playing any wind instrument and haven’t regretted it.

The craftsmanship is there to be seen, heard and felt even for a complete beginner.

The tone is lovely with an almost wood-like organic sound.

I was concerned that my fingers wouldn’t stretch to reach the high D as they are on the smaller side, but with a little practice they can now reach there comfortably.

The gold that glints through the holes really compliments the main black colour and makes this whistle look professional.

Michael was extremely helpful (and quick) in answering any queries I had and the customer service/delivery was up there.

All in all, very happy with my purchase and sure that I’ll be getting another one in the near future!

Abraham ZettekAbraham Zettek

Superb low D flutes, and top notch customer service. Had a small issue that occurred in transit, and it was made right and then some. Highly recommend these gorgeous, easy playing, and - most importantly - awesome sounding instruments. Would recommend these low D whistles hands-down!

Etienne GuilpartEtienne Guilpart

I have tried many low whistles, and I have finally found THE one!
The Howard Sylver Low Whistle has a powerful and beautiful sound. It's quite light, and fingers easy fall under holes.
I really recommend it!
And more, David answers very quickly to any questions. Don't hesitate to discuss with him.
Thanks for all,
Etienne

Steve JonesSteve Jones

I have a Howard low D whistle which is a lovely instrument. Simple but with a great sound and good looking too. It's tunable which is an advantage if you find yourself accompanying a slightly out of key piano!

Abe ZettekAbe Zettek

An awesome low D whistle - very well made with excellent materials, and a super sound that plays very easily. I love the thin brass tube, and the subtle engraving contrasts very aesthetically with the black and red finish of the two whistles I ordered. Customer service is amazing too - I had a small issue that occurred during transit that was more than made right by David in a friendly and courteous manner. I would not hesitate to buy another one day - and probably will. A Howard low D will be my top recommendation moving forward!

Peter OlahPeter Olah

A professional company with professional service. The D wistle sounds great, it is beautiful.

Ed HallEd Hall

I got my nickel Howard Low D whistle a little more than a week ago. Looks great and has a beautiful tone. I can't put it down. I have been playing a High D whistle for many years, and I am already getting the hang of the Howard Low D whistle.

Karen Keeton PalmerKaren Keeton Palmer

It is very well made and has a beautiful tone. It doesn’t take much air.

Ian JonesIan Jones

I wrote a very long and comprehensive review of my Howard Low D whistle on the Howard website. To sum it up here, it's a fantastic whistle. The craftsmanship is superb and it has a beautiful sound. I heard someone describe the sound as haunting, and I think that fits it nicely. I would highly recommend this whistle to someone wanting to make the switch from High D to Low D. That's what I did and I couldn't be happier.

Side note: their communication is fantastic. I have had a few correspondences with them and have nothing but good things to say.

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Review by Ian Jones – Google reviews

This is a fairly long review of The Low D whistle by Howard but it’s comprehensive. Please, bear with me.

As my first Low whistle, I can say that the learning curve from High D to Low D was not as bad as others have made it out to sound, at least not with this whistle. Yes, the pipers grip was a little challenging, but after just a few hours I was able to reliably get the low d to sound. And what a beautiful sound it is!

I scoured the internet for reviews on many different brands and decided that the price was right and, from the sound samples on youtube, this one had the sound I was looking for. I noticed a lot of other whistles kind of faded out a bit in the low end and I wanted a powerful sound down low. This whistle has a very robust low end with a sort of haunting overtone. In my opinion, this whistle has just enough chiff/breathiness. It is still present but not overly so, this keeps it from having a recorder or clarinet sound. The low D note has a bell like quality, very pure and sweet with a nice resonant sound. The tone is solid throughout its range, and the upper octave is very pleasing, it doesn’t get overbearing or shrill in any way. I don’t have a dedicated tuner, but the tuner app on my phone says that it’s no more than 10 cents sharp or flat between notes all the way through its range.

I am truly impressed with the craftsmanship and attention to detail on this whistle. When I first unboxed it I immediately ran my finger along the bottom edge of the brass body. It is incredibly smooth and well rounded (seriously, it’s impressive). The holes are all nicely finished with the color of the body turning to the inside edge (not sure if it’s paint or enamel). This makes them very comfortable for the fingers with no rough edges. The inside of the body almost has a mirror like finish, not a scratch on it or a fleck of the body color. The head is very comfortable, both shape and feel, as well as air pressure/volume required. I am used to playing the High D whistle and I think the Clark Original D (the one with the wooden fipple) has a greater breath demand than this low D whistle. The tuning line is nicely engraved at the top as well as the Howard logo. It has a nice feel in the hands, being made of brass it feels very solid, but it’s not as heavy as I was expecting. I’ve played for hours straight and have not felt like it was too heavy (my hands hurt a little, but that’s because I’m still adjusting to the pipers grip). Overall a very nice presentation.

Communication is something that is usually not a factor in a review, but David has been such a pleasure to speak with, I have to bring it up. I found a molding mark on the head and thought it might be a crack. David responded back that day and assured me it was just a remanent of the manufacturing process. He sent me a link to a video on how they make the heads. But the real reason I bring this up: he offered to send me another head, just so I could compare them and be sure. That’s how customer service is supposed to work. You can really tell he cares about your experience with his instrument.

Overall, I would, honestly, give this whistle 10 out of 10. It has a beautiful sound, is well built, easy to play, and even though it is brass, it’s not very heavy. Bonus: you can actually communicate with, not just someone who cares, but the person who actually made the whistle. If you are thinking of picking one up as your first Low D whistle, as I did, you will not be disappointed. If anything were to happen to this one, I would replace it with another Howard whistle without hesitation.

 
David R.David R.

This is a very nice whistle, great sound and great finish, and very fast shipping to the US. After receiving this I bought the Low C from them.

Birgit Z.Birgit Z.

howard low whistle black

Karen P.Karen P.

I am new to the Irish whistle, my first a Killarney D, I’ve been learning to play for just a few
months by watching players online. I have fallen in love with the low whistle however and recently purchased a Howard low D and low C. I was nervous about learning the pipers grip but after just a few short weeks I absolutely love them both. I’m still playing slow airs (no jigs and reels yet) but the whistles are great. Very well made with a beautiful tone and they don’t require large amounts of air to get a great sound. I would definitely recommend Howard whistles! And their customer service is great!

Jamie W.Jamie W.

I bought this whistle as my first attempt at playing any wind instrument and haven’t regretted it.

The craftsmanship is there to be seen, heard and felt even for a complete beginner.

The tone is lovely with an almost wood-like organic sound.

I was concerned that my fingers wouldn’t stretch to reach the high D as they are on the smaller side, but with a little practice they can now reach there comfortably.

The gold that glints through the holes really compliments the main black colour and makes this whistle look professional.

Michael was extremely helpful (and quick) in answering any queries I had and the customer service/delivery was up there.

All in all, very happy with my purchase and sure that I’ll be getting another one in the near future!

MichaelMichael

Requires very little air and easily gets to the 2nd octave. Beautiful smooth sound. Easy to tune and very well made. My new favorite.

Abe Z.Abe Z.

An awesome low D whistle - very well made with excellent materials, and a super sound that plays very easily. I love the thin brass tube, and the subtle engraving contrasts very aesthetically with the black and red finish of the two whistles I ordered. Customer service is amazing too - I had a small issue that occurred during transit that was more than made right by David in a friendly and courteous manner. I would not hesitate to buy another one day - and probably will. A Howard low D will be my top recommendation moving forward!

SusanneSusanne

I bought my low D whistle around Christmas in 2017.
it’s been a faithful companion so far! Good quality and beautiful sound 🙂

Ian J.Ian J.

This is a fairly long review but it’s comprehensive. Please, bear with me.

As my first Low whistle, I can say that the learning curve from High D to Low D was not as bad as others have made it out to sound, at least not with this whistle. Yes, the pipers grip was a little challenging, but after just a few hours I was able to reliably get the low d to sound. And what a beautiful sound it is!

I scoured the internet for reviews on many different brands and decided that the price was right and, from the sound samples on youtube, this one had the sound I was looking for. I noticed a lot of other whistles kind of faded out a bit in the low end and I wanted a powerful sound down low. This whistle has a very robust low end with a sort of haunting overtone. In my opinion, this whistle has just enough chiff/breathiness. It is still present but not overly so, this keeps it from having a recorder or clarinet sound. The low D note has a bell like quality, very pure and sweet with a nice resonant sound. The tone is solid throughout its range, and the upper octave is very pleasing, it doesn't get overbearing or shrill in any way. I don’t have a dedicated tuner, but the tuner app on my phone says that it’s no more than 10 cents sharp or flat between notes all the way through its range.

I am truly impressed with the craftsmanship and attention to detail on this whistle. When I first unboxed it I immediately ran my finger along the bottom edge of the brass body. It is incredibly smooth and well rounded (seriously, it's impressive). The holes are all nicely finished with the color of the body turning to the inside edge (not sure if it's paint or enamel). This makes them very comfortable for the fingers with no rough edges. The inside of the body almost has a mirror like finish, not a scratch on it or a fleck of the body color. The head is very comfortable, both shape and feel, as well as air pressure/volume required. I am used to playing the High D whistle and I think the Clark Original D (the one with the wooden fipple) has a greater breath demand than this low D whistle. The tuning line is nicely engraved at the top as well as the Howard logo. It has a nice feel in the hands, being made of brass it feels very solid, but it’s not as heavy as I was expecting. I’ve played for hours straight and have not felt like it was too heavy (my hands hurt a little, but that’s because I’m still adjusting to the pipers grip). Overall a very nice presentation.

Communication is something that is usually not a factor in a review, but David has been such a pleasure to speak with, I have to bring it up. I found a molding mark on the head and thought it might be a crack. David responded back that day and assured me it was just a remanent of the manufacturing process. He sent me a link to a video on how they make the heads. But the real reason I bring this up: he offered to send me another head, just so I could compare them and be sure. That's how customer service is supposed to work. You can really tell he cares about your experience with his instrument.

Overall, I would, honestly, give this whistle 10 out of 10. It has a beautiful sound, is well built, easy to play, and even though it is brass, it’s not very heavy. Bonus: you can actually communicate with, not just someone who cares, but the person who actually made the whistle. If you are thinking of picking one up as your first Low D whistle, as I did, you will not be disappointed. If anything were to happen to this one, I would replace it with another Howard whistle without hesitation.

EtienneEtienne

I have tried many low whistles, and I have finally found THE one!
The Howard Sylver Low Whistle has a powerful and beautiful sound. It's quite light, and fingers easy fall under holes.
I really recommend it!
And more, David answers very quickly to any questions. Don't hesitate to discuss with him.
Thanks for all,
Etienne

Monte l.Monte l.

I love the haunting sound of Howard whistles so much I purchased a C,C#and D. my only issue was the D was a little unpredictable on the top end of upper octave.
If it did work(rarely) the A and B would be too loud and sharp.So I sold the d whistle. but the problem was that was the key I played the most.I recently purchased a
D Howard whistle with new improved mouthpiece. WOW! It is the same haunting whistle with the upper octave issues corrected.Now my Howard low D is being used for live performances.Something I would never do before for fear of choking on the upper A and B notes.

Steve J.Steve J.

I looked at lots of D whistles but this one was a great choice - it has a nice sound, looks good in black and is tunable. Easy to play and responsive.

FrankFrank

beautiful sound, excellent finish with love for detail, clearly one of the best low d whistles on the market regarding price/quality and top notch service!

Harri R.Harri R.

The sound of the whistle is full and the tuning system is good. I like it very much!

KamilKamil

The sound remembers me of uilleann pipes sometimes,reedy but very clear in the upper octave.Solid made instrument,easy to tune and handle.Classic old school look,comes in a practical plastic protection box.For me the sound is like of breton tunes,irish airs,but works great for irish reels and jigs.Good as a go-to session instrument for uilleann or scottish small pipe players,for jamming with others or recording.Stands out in the crowd of other brands as it is the oldest and continous made low whistle on the market.

AustinAustin

When I first started playing the low D penny whistle, I went on a bit of a spree and must have purchased in the region of 40 – 50 in my first few years.  Having played saxophone many years ago when I often paid £100.00 or more simply for the mouthpiece I was amazed to discover I could now buy a WHOLE instrument for that (and it didn’t require an annual service, re-pad, new springs etc every year)

I had plastic, metal, tuneable, fixed, factory made, handmade etc but I soon found I had certain preferences:

An ABS or Delrin head; I don’t feel comfortable placing metal in/near my mouth for the health implications, and I don’t care for the warming up/clogging issues associated with metal.

I prefer a brass bodied whistle; perhaps it stems from my sax days but I feel ‘proper’ instruments are made of brass, aluminium is a nasty reactive metal prone to corrosion (from saliva) and oxidation and although a plastic body is suitable for a starter/practise instrument I wouldn’t use one as my main whistle, I also think that brass imparts unique overtones/harmonics that you don’t find with any other material.

A strong bottom D and E; these notes were fragile on far too many instruments I tried, either very quiet or prone to breaking into the second octave too easily

Volume balance between the octaves; I realise that acoustics mean that whistles will always be louder in the upper octave, but some whistles I tried the difference between the two octaves was VAST.

I discovered that only one whistle offered all me these, the Howard and it’s been my whistle of choice for some years. It’s not perfect, no whistle is and there will always been some compromises, but with a Howard I have; an ABS head, a hand finished brass body, a very robust bottom D and E and the closest octave volume match on any whistle I’ve played.

And there is also something special about the Howard tone, I don’t know if this is imparted by the head, the body or some interaction between the two but the lower octave has an almost organic  ‘woody’ quality and the upper a flute like sweetness quite unlike any other Low D I’ve played.

So as a long time Howard devotee I was firstly saddened when Brian Howard (the eponymous maker of the Howard Whistle) closed the business and retired to Gibraltar (where he still makes his famous chanter reeds) and excited when Howard Whistles was re-launched by Brian’s apprentice David O’Hagan.

A very professional new website appeared announcing the ‘improved’ Howard Whistle range and despite having a perfectly adequate Howard Low D (and I’d promised myself I’d never buy another Low D) I succumbed and purchased a new ‘improved’ Low D in nickel.

Have to admit I was more than a touch sceptical about the ‘improved’ claim, my ‘old’ Howard did all I asked of it, I failed to see how this could be improved but how wrong I was. On removing it from the package I could see immediately that David had done a lot of work improving the finish of the instrument; the Howard logo, tuning line, are now laser etched, rather than simply stamped or a sticker as before, but the biggest change is the head, it’s beautifully smooth and polished with no trace of moulding lines, it has less bulk at the windway and now tapers slightly making it incredibly comfortable in the mouth.

But although they are not visible to my untrained eye after a few seconds of playing its obvious some changes have been made to the innards of the head as it now has:

Better backpressure.

An easier transition to the second octave.

An even greater balance between the octaves.

Stronger than ever bottom D and E.

In a word, it’s lovely and I’ve barely put it down since I bought it. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a whistle that ‘plays itself’, to get the best out of it (especially at the very top of the second octave) you need a decent embouchure and breath control BUT put the work it and you will be rewarded, I promise.

For £120.00 or so you are getting a superb hand crafted instrument (and it is ‘hand crafted’ the only thing ‘automated’ is the laser etching and coating, everything else is done by David in his workshop) so if you are looking for a Low D, try a Howard, you won’t be disappointed.

Finally; I actually felt a bit bad that my ‘old’ Howard was now being neglected but after jokingly telling David this by email (without wishing to embarrass him, David is great bloke and his after sales service is brilliant, VERY responsive to emails/texts) he very kindly sent me a new head free of charge as he wanted some feedback on the changes, apparently this is a further ‘improved’ head so be warned you may have to endure another indecently long review very soon.

Daithi A.Daithi A.

Since I got I so love playing, it has such a wonderful melodious sound. This my fifth whistle and 3rd low D. I only play my Howard whistle now.

PGáborPGábor

Howard Low D Irish whistle, brass, tunable
Characteristics:
two parts, hand-crafted instrument
Pitch: D (~voice flute baroque recorder), sound scale: d1-e3[f3] ; manually tuneable with a tuning slide
Materials: brass and ABS resin, not or difficult to oxidize
Tube: polished brass with (medial) thin wall, the diameter is normal, the length is smaller than usual (1-2cm - playability)
Holes: round, perfectly developped bore, suitable for half-fole playing, and for trill, sound vibrato; fingerhole placement is usual but a bit closer (mm)
Mouthpiece: solid ABS resin, removable, easy to clean; nice, blockflöte-like design with relatively large/wide window and at the end with a small upward arch, beak: moderately narrow, comfortable; windway: straight. Summarize: suitable for sensitive, sophisticated playing (of course within the Celtic style)
Intonation: reliability (notes), ’clear&traditional’, soft tone
Tone/timbre: beautiful, deep, refined, velvety, “mystical, fairy tale-like”, rich in overtones and bass recorder-like (mainly in the first octave)
Back pressure, air requirement: in first octave medium pressure force, second octave relatively strong (but lighter than the thick-walled high ones); octave change, sound leap requires some experience
Playability: technical level easy, overall (artistical) level medium. The instrument player also has a lot to do to show the characteristics of the instrument.
General feel: It feels great to play on it. The style of the instrument is between traditional and sophisticated, meditative Celtic music, especially suitable for slow, lyrical tunes (airs). It may also be interesting as participant instrument of transitional genre (Celtic and other folk music, world music, baroque music: Turlough O'Carolan).

JonJon

First a disclaimer: This is my first Low D whistle so I'm not in a position to compare with other makes and models. I am however an experienced musician and sound engineer so I know what to look for with regards to pitch, timbre, build quality etc.

For my first low whistle I opted for a Howard B-Stock since the instruments had consistently good reviews and the £80 price tag was very competitive. Having received it and been playing for a week I can safely say this was an excellent investment!

Delivery: The whistle arrived in a basic plastic sleeve for protection and entombed in a hefty layer of bubblewrap. Also included in the package was a roll of tape for the mouthpiece/barrel connection and a 'Howard' sticker. Nothing fancy, just the basics of what you need

Build Quality: In terms of build, tone and playability the B-stocks are identical to the full price instruments, just with some minor cosmetic blemish e.g. scratched paintwork. In my case the Howard logo engraving was a bit squiffy and inconsistent but still visible. Certainly not a problem there! The main body of the whistle is a surprisingly thin, straight-bore brass tube. The finishing is very nice, no sharp edges or anything anywhere and the inside of the whistle alone feels very smooth and polished. The abs resin mouthpiece feels very smooth and has a slight wood-effect on the outside which is very pleasant to touch. The whistle is tuneable and a small strip of tape is included to ensure a proper air seal (a roll of tape is included in the delivery) The tuneable mouthpiece has a firm enough grip that it won't slide around unless you want it to, and moving it is smooth and easy to precisely adjust. The engraved tuning line is an excellent help for this as a visual reference. The paintwork over the barrel was even felt good in the hand without being too slippery

Playability: Again, I'm very much a beginner but found I was able to cover all the holes effectively and got the hang of the pipers grip within a day or two. The holes seem quite large; I'm a 6ft tall man with fairly average hands for my size, but somewhat slender fingers. It was a little tricky at first trying out the pipers grip but that seemed likely down to my novice technique. I'm not experienced enough to comment on backpressure but I've found it very easy to access both octaves whilst playing and it all feels quite natural and intuitive. Air requirements are minimal to get a note out of it, as far as I can tell

Tone: Very impressive! Volume seems even between both octaves, though I do struggle a bit still getting the high A and beyond, though that's likely down to my technique. As other reviews note, there is a certain reediness to the sound that I really like, and it's backed up by a surprisingly fat fundamental tone, with less breathiness than I've heard from other low whistles in videos. I use quite a bit of tongueing in my playing and at times the sound coming out resembles a Japanese Shakuhachi to my ears! Some notes also sound like a concert flute as well, overall a very pleasing sound

Conclusion: I absolutely love my Howard whistle and would recommend it to anyone. The B-stock is an absolute steal but after playing one I would confidently buy one at full price. Overall the whistle seems very well made, suitable for recording and performance. It sounds great and makes me want to practice more.

tony m.tony m.

enjoying my new low D down here in oz.Its always a challenge to take on another instrument,but the sound that this whistle produces is well worth the effort.Good music from good practice.Highly recommended.Thanks again.

Peter W.Peter W.

As an instrument maker myself, I can see the quality of the craftsmanship is superb. Once you get used to the pipers grip the whistle produces a great sound over both octaves. The tuning allows a great deal of latitude for the player to adjust to other musicians. Postal service was very fast. Thank you for a brilliant instrument.

David W.David W.

B stock with no noticeable flaws. Lovely sound and solid build quality. Easily played in tune. I'm very happy with the instrument.

Mr M.Mr M.

quick service received a b grade whistle with very little noticeable defect to powder coating which was a little small dimple patch, many friends do not notice this so otherwise a great sounding whistle and easy to play and great value and very quick delivery

Eric M.Eric M.

I have a few other low D whistles, one cheap PVC, one moderately priced heavier PVC, and a nicely built thicker ABS plastic tunable. The cheap one sounds cheap but is relatively easy to play. The moderate priced one is easy to play due to finger hole arrangement (piper's grip not required), but is a bit out of tune with a weak E. The ABS is hard to play for the low D and E - just a little too much air pressure breaks the notes to higher octave and just right pressure sounds good but very quiet.

Still looking for the “perfect” low D, I decided to give Howard Whistles a try. I opted for the B stock since I don’t really care what it looks like (but the whistle they sent me in white is absolutely gorgeous - I can’t tell what makes it B stock). It plays wonderfully using the piper's grip. Tunable and the low notes come through nice and strong without too much breath control. The higher notes take a fair amount of air pressure to sound good, however. And the fipple tends to clog after a tune or two. Thus, the four stars.

This is definitely the best low D I’ve bought to date. It may even keep me from chasing the unicorn (i.e., the perfect whistle) - for a while, at least.