Make Your Whistle Tunable


Most metal whistles with plastic mouthpieces can be made tunable. We recommend that you don't do this if you only have one whistle - there is a risk of doing irreversible damage to your whistle!


Note that many/most metal whistles with plastic mouthpieces do not have the mouthpiece glued on!
Generation whistles are an exception; Generation mouthpieces are glued on. You'll find that the Nickel Generations mouthpieces are a little more stubborn than the Brass ones.

If your mouthpiece is not glued on, you should be able to move it without using the steps shown below (some are a little more stubborn than others...). If your mouthpiece is not glued on, but won't move, use your thumb to gently press the mouthpiece side to side, then twist it, it should start moving. Do this carefully; you don't want to crack your mouthpiece...

For glued-on mouthpieces:

First, you'll need to break the glue seal. You can do this with hot water. Heat a cup of water in the microwave, making it about the temperature of a hot cup of coffee. Don't make it boiling, or you could melt your mouthpiece.

   Next, place your whistle - mouthpiece first - into the hot water. Most whistles only need a few seconds to break the seal. Some whistle (Like Generations C's) can be much more stubborn. Take it out of the hot water and - using a towel, because the whistle may be hot - twist to remove the mouthpiece. Note that leaving it in the hot water longer doesn't usually help - leave it in for just a few seconds; if you can't break the seal, make the water slightly hotter and put the mouthpiece back in for a few seconds again.

   Wipe any excess glue from the mouthpiece and whistle. You may need to dip it in the hot water again to loosen the rest of the glue.

   Test for fit. To make the mouthpiece slide more smoothly, you may want to use a dab of cork grease (made for clarinets, etc. - you can now order Cork Grease from our New Items Page). If the mouthpiece is now too loose, you can use a little plumber's tape. Your goal is to make the barrel slide smoothly inside the mouthpiece, but not so easily that it may move when playing.

One thing to keep in mind is that these whistles were designed to be in tune with the mouthpiece pushed all the way on. This means that once made tunable, you'll be able to tune the whistle to a flatter tone, but not to a sharper one (but there's a way to fix this too - see below...).

Your Whistle "More Tunable":

As mentioned above, we recommend that you don't do this if you only have one whistle - there is a risk of doing irreversible damage to your whistle!

If you've now made your whistle tunable, but you find that the tone is too flat, you can make it tunable in each direction by cutting a little off the length of the barrel*.

IMPORTANT NOTE - DO NOT cut AT ALL from the "lower end" of the whistle!!!

If you were to cut from the lower end of the whistle, you'd ruin the intonation of the whistle! You'll need to shorten the end of the barrel that goes inside the mouthpiece (see the picture below):

After you've made your nontunable whistle tunable by following the instructions above, take the mouthpiece off again, then cut a little off the end of the barrel that goes into the mouthpiece. Just cut a little at a time - it's much easier to cut more off later if needed than to buy a new whistle because you cut too much off!!! Start by cutting just 2-3mm or so and see if that's enough. We'll say it one more time here - DO NOT cut the lower end of the barrel!!!!

There are numerous ways to cut the metal whistle barrel:

  • You can use a pipe cutter (small pipe cutters are very inexpensive; you can get one at your local home center). Make sure that you don't tighten the pipe cutter too quickly as you're cutting, or you'll distort the barrel.

  • Or, you can use a hacksaw to cut the barrel (again, make sure that you don't use too much pressure, or you'll distort the barrel).

  • Or, you can set a piece of sandpaper on a flat tabletop and sand the end of the barrel down (this takes longer, but it's very easy to see how much you're taking off as you go). If you use sandpaper, make a small mark on the barrel (with a pen, pencil or marker) at the point that you want to shorten the barrel to. Then just sand it down to that point.

Ideally, you want your whistle to be "in tune" with the mouthpiece pulled out slightly (so that you can tune a little either way, when needed)

Most whistles that are designed by the whistle maker to be tunable are in tune with the mouthpiece pulled slightly out, so that you can tune the whistle a little sharper or a little flatter, as needed.

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