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I have kinda of general question, what type of whistle is the best for a person to start with

who has never used one before? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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Plastic. They're affordable, at least until you get good enough with it to start trying other materials.

A

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When I got mine I ordered and plastic and a stainless steel Montana Lite whistle to try out from Border Collies in Action. I really can't decide which I like better. The plastic whistle is much lighter but it's also thicker and bulkier and I had a harder time getting used to that. When starting out I had an easier time making sounds with the metal whistle but generally I can make a steadier sound with the plastic one mostly I think because of the heavier weight the metal whistle will shift in my mouth. Sooo... I reckon it's all up to personal preference. The plastic whistles cost two bucks, the Montana Lite was twelve.

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The metal ones are easier to learn to make a sound on. But I get a better range from the plastic and they are still my favorite. I don't know why, but the ivory ones spcifically seem to work best for me - the plastic is very slightly different somehow. The plastic being cheaper, I don't weep bitter tears when I break my lanyard and drop it in a hole, in tall grass, down a ravine, in a pond, down a grate - yup, they've all happened - although I got back the one dropped in tall grass at a friend's farm, almost a year later, much to my friend's amusement. I also can carry spares everywhere and give them away "for keeps" with no problem, without breaking the bank.

 

They are not "cool" but that's not a priority for me, obviously. :rolleyes:

 

YMMV - everyone has different preferences.

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:rolleyes: Thanks for all the great information and ideas on whistles.

I have purchased a new whistle recently and find it alot easier to get proper tunes.Its aluminium, its called the A1, its expensive but at least I am getting somewhere with it.I find the ordinary plastic whistle impossible, I couldnt get the same tune everytime. But I am finally happy with the A1.

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I was a volunteer at the National Finals this past weekend where I actually was on the trial field during the Double lift finals. My dog and I were there to prevent the first packet of sheep from drifting where they were dropped off. Anyway, I got to listen to the Big Hat's whistles from the dogs point of view. It was quite a treat. After I left the field, I noticed the type of whistle each handler had (I tried to be somewhat scientific)

 

Far and away, without a doubt the loudest, clearest most consistent whistles, other than the finger whistlers, came from a handler with a plastic whistle. The plastic whistle was very close to the finger whistlers. To me, the metal whistles sounded awful.. weak, inconsistent etc. No contest (to me).

From experience, the plastic whistles are harder to work but they are worth it in the end.

 

The finger whistlers sounded superior and clear. i.e. David Henry, Alasdair, Scott, Tommy..

 

However, no matter the whistle type it did not seem to matter to the dogs. They obviously aren't as discerning as I! The only thing that I saw hurt people, was if they had to shout a verbal command for the look back.

 

Moral of the story...IMO Use what works for your dog... Not what sounds good to you.... I have been told that fingers are the best out West where the winds are strong and loud.

 

fwiw.... I began with a stainless whistle and eventually learned to finger whistle.... no contest to the emotion, strength, communication you can do with your fingers. Maybe to a fault???

 

my .02

 

Dan

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I agree with Dan--if you can learn to finger whistle, the shading and nuance you can get in your commands is just amazing. I also agree that the whistles of finger whistlers carry further as well. But unfortunately, those of use who are too lazy or incompetent to learn to whistle with our fingers have to make do with shepherd's whistles of whatever sort. I learned on a plastic whistle, but switched to a stainless steel whistle for no particular reason other than it's what my mentor used. I think what you start with might be what you get used to and then anything else may seem odd (well, that and who wants to spend a ton of $$ trying out every different whistle available?). I just bought a brass whistle--an exact replica of my SS one--after talking with its maker, who pointed out that there's a reason mouthpieces of musical instruments are brass (purer tone). I will try it and see if I agree. I do think that the advantage finger whistlers have is related to their ability to get purer and warmer tones, but in the end, I think if your dog responds well to your whistles, then you're doing okay. Now maybe I'll spend some time trying to learn to finger whistle, but given that I can't even pucker up and whistle the normal way, I sorta doubt I'm going to be real successful. But you never know! :rolleyes:

 

J.

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I was a finger whistler. I get the best tone and consistency using my fingers, however, when I am out there trimming hooves or vaccinating or whathaveyou, and then moving sheep around to this pasture or that pen, I happened to notice what my hands were touching before and after my hands were going in my mouth to whistle to my dog.

 

After getting thoroughly grossed out, I switched to a plastic whistle (which I had a heck of a time getting a consistent sound out of), then to a metal whistle (which makes me crinkle up my face every time I accidentally tap it against my teeth), then to my personal favorite ... the buffalo horn whistle. I loved the tone, pitch and volume of this whistle -- right up until I fell asleep on the couch for two minutes, and woke up to one of my dogs chewing it to bits. I was in the process of replacing it, when I ran across a website of someone who carves antlers ... and wondered what a whistle out of antler would be like. Does anyone know? Has anyone tried this? I wrote to the guy and he's willing to do a prototype. Because buffalo horn is like fingernail (dead skin, basically), it has that funky taste at first. But antler, from my understanding, is bone. So it wouldn't have that taste. But would it be too brittle? Could you drop it on pavement without it shattering into a bazillion pieces? Would it stand the test of time?

 

Jodi

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I am fairly familiar with the properties of both horn and antler. I can not imagine that antler would be very durable as a whistle. It would have to be cut too thin to be sturdy. It would most likely warp or fracture. I have seen several Buff horn whistles that were "curling" or warped.

 

Jodi-You do bring up good point about finger whistling. It isn't super practical when doing farm work. Both of my hands are usually full or filthy. It is also hard to work drills with your dogs as it is hard to use a training wand/crook and whistle at the same time.

 

Julie P. and any one else interested... I'll be happy to give a finger whistle "How To" class at any of the Virginia trials this Fall. Just ask. If I can do it anyone can. One catch...just have to do it before we use the porta-potties :rolleyes:

 

Dan

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I One catch...just have to do it before we use the porta-potties :rolleyes:

 

Dan

 

Dan, eewwwww. I was thinking the same about finger whistling. I bought a plastic whistle at Gettysburg and have been practicing in the car on my way to work. It is difficult to reproduce a tone when you "hit the right spot". I'm sure that it takes weeks if not months of practice.

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Hi Dan! It was great to meet you at the Finals!

 

I've managed to finger whistle once. Only once. Haven't been able to replicate the magic since. That said, I agree with the superiority of finger whistling, but being a total germophobe I don't think I'd manage to do it on a regular basis unless I always had a sink and soap handy -- fat chance.

 

I started with a plastic whistle, but was never able to get a consistent sound out of it. Then I got one of Ray Coapman's buffalo horn whistles, and I really like it. I eventually ran across one of his Corian whistles and started using that one in lieu of the buffalo whistle, not because it's better but because it's what I had on my lanyard. For me it handles the same as the horn, with a slightly thinner sound, and I'm not as worried about breaking it.

 

I like a thicker whistle, and shelled out for a Brass Blaster while I was at the Finals. I've only used it a couple of times yet but so far I really, really like it. Very consistent sound and very, very loud. I got the "Maxi" size because it was the closest in shape to the half-moon whistles I favor and it works great. The only drawback is it's very heavy hanging around my neck.

 

I have a stainless half-moon but have never really liked it -- the range of sounds you can get out of it is great, but it's too thin for my mouth and it's not very loud. I use it as as keychain so I always have a whistle on me in case of emergency.

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Patty, and anyone else trying the mechanical whistles.. It takes a while before you can begin to get a good sound out of a whistle. (Unless you give one to a kid). I floundered for several months before I could make some nice sounds. I kept Alasdair's cd in the player back and forth to work and whistled along. Never could whistle "Dixie" on one.

 

Melanie, An honor to meet you. I hope my girls can help you out with your research. Looking forward to hearing more from you on that.

 

I was trying to remember the substance type and couldn't, of the kind Ray Coapman made/makes. Yes, the Corian whistles are very nice. Should be very durable. My wife did not like the taste of the brass whistles. I think she ordered a stainless one at the Finals. I tried a half moon once and they ended up flying out of my mouth. I needed those "catches" on the sides of the whistle. Like the Montana lite.

 

Once again, I don't think the dogs care about whistle type as long as you are consistent with whatever you have.

 

Good luck

 

Dan

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At the Finals, Bordercollics Anonymous had the best selection of whistles AND you could try them out! I have wanted that opportunity for a long time. Actually, they were camping right next to me in the campground.

 

I got the regular-shaped brass blaster. After buying a couple of Montana Lights, an A, and a plastic (which I promptly lost), and none of which I was happy with, I tried the Blaster and think it will do the trick for me. It seems that the thicker whistle is what I needed rather than a thinner one. I can blow most commands now but still have tremendous problems with the "stop" whistle, but I'm working on it.

 

Dan - I don't think the Corian is made any more. I was thinking that Ray said that the material had changed in composition and was no longer suitable. I think that Corian whistles are now a collector's item and guarded carefully by those that have one.

 

I would LOVE a finger-whistling lesson! I've tried from written directions but it's been an absolute bust. There are times when, without a whistle present, an alternative would be nice. Besides, there are many times that my hands are clean enough. We're not touching our cows as much as you guys touch your sheep, I guess!

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Dan,

I'll definitely take you up on a lesson. Alasdair actually gave a good lesson at one of Sam's trials a couple of years ago, but I wasn't sufficiently motivated at the time to follow through with it and actually learn to do it. So maybe this time I'll actually get it! :rolleyes:

 

J.

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I tried a half moon once and they ended up flying out of my mouth. I needed those "catches" on the sides of the whistle. Like the Montana lite.

 

That's my problem with the half moon ones. They go flying out of my mouth. I have enough problems remembering what I'm doing without having to worry about groping around to put my whistle back in my mouth. :rolleyes: I like the Montana lite though. While I feel like I get less on the higher range with it than the half moon, it stays where it should.

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After reading these posts about whistles I ordered the Montana Lite and a couple of plastic whistles. I had heard that the former was one of the easiest to learn to use and that the plastic whistles were harder.

I found the opposite to be true. To my surprise I easily learned to use both but found the plastic was easier to learn to whistle tunes with. I also liked the feel of the thicker plastic whistle in my mouth and that it had no taste.

I keep my whistles in the car and practice using them while driving. BH

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Hum, At home I always whistle through my teeth or lips and or whistle with my fingers. I also whistle through my fingers with one hand, as I got to be able to whistle from my horses back.

I carry a little metal whistle which I use occassionally as I sometimes get inconsistant at trials when my nerves make my whistles weird.

 

Most of the time I am not whistling with my fingers when doing anything hands on with the sheep, as I am close and there is no need. I can whistle through my lips or teeth if there is a need. So my clean hands are not called upon.

 

At trials my hands are clean.

 

When I am on the horse they are pretty clean and I guess I am not very hygenic.

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