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do the high notes not sound right on some tinwhistles because the tinwhistle is cheap?

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Most likely it does not sound right because it is being blown too hard (or softly) or some hole(s) is not being covered with a complete air seal. Also, defective whistles are not impossible to find, if you are asking about a specfic whistle. The hole spacing could be off, or there could be some defect in the fipple, or the body might have been cut off short, or something else. Even cheap tinwhistles typically do not sound bad if played right, until you get into those litle blow-moulded plastic ones that cost less than $10.00, and are intended more as party favors than instruments. Susato, for instance, polishes the insides of their bores, which improves sound and playability some. And there are a dozen design features, such as size of the holes, shape of the holes, shape of the mouthpiece, etc. etc. that will make a $50 whistle sound or/and play better than a $20 whistle. In general, however there will not be that much difference between sound of a $20 whistle and a $50 one, if they are made from the same materials. Material the whistle is made from has a MUCH larger effect than any other design feature. Wooden fipples sound different from plastic or metal ones, and same with bodies. Steel, brass, aluminum, polymer (essentially PVC), and Blow-Moulded Pretzel Plastic will all produce different tones and volumes.

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