20 Best Tin Whistles for Beginners to Pros (2024)

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  • Post last modified:July 19, 2024
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The modern tin whistle, also known as the penny whistle, traces its history back back to 1843. It is a staple of folk music, and traditional Irish music in particular. First conceived by Robert Clarke, the Clarke Tin Whistle holds the claim of being the ‘original’ tin whistle. But the Clarke is not the only tin whistle out there. Indeed, there’s a whole world of tin whistles out there to discover, with each brand bringing its own unique sound and style.

With so many tin whistles on the market today, if you’re looking to buy your first whistle – or perhaps to upgrade to a more professional tin whistle – it can be hard to know where to start. Don’t worry. In this guide, we offer a run down and quick review of the best tin whistles for beginners, as well as the best whistles for those who are looking to take their whistling to the next level on a ‘professional’ level tin whistle.

Which Key of Tin Whistle Should I Get?

Before we dive in, let’s get first things first. Beginners to tin whistling often ask if they should get a tin whistle in C or D. We recommend you go for D, since the D major scale is the most commonly used in folk music, and the generally the most common key for a tin whistle. Start with a D, and branch out later to either a C, F, or G.

The Best Beginner Tin Whistles

The beauty of learning the tin whistle is that the barrier to entry is really low. There’s a reason why the tin whistle is also known as a penny whistle – many of the brands are cheap, with some inexpensive whistles available for as low as £6/€7/$8. Of course, we hope that the first whistle you buy will be the start of a wonderful whistling journey for you. But the good news is that, if you don’t take to it, you’ve really not lost anything. For this reason, too, whistles make a great first musical instrument for kids who are just getting into music. Traditionally, tin whistles are in the key of D, and if you are buying your first whistle, we recommend you stick to that key. In our opinion, the best economy tin whistles are Clarke, Feadog, Generation and Waltons. Read on to find out more.


From its origins in Suffolk, to their first factory on the outskirts of Manchester, the Clarke whistle carries a lot of history with it. The Original Clarke Tin Whistle comes with a wooden underlip, and either a natural finish, or black and gold finish. The bore is conical. The design is unmistakable. The Clarke Sweetone is a slightly cheaper alternative, with a plastic mouthpiece. Both look and sound great, and carry the unmistakable Clarke brand.

Material: Tin

Price range: £8.50-£14/€10-€16.50/$12-$20

See all Clarke Tin Whistles.


feadog brass d

Made in Ireland, Feadóg whistles trace their history back to 1978. Because of its Irish heritage, Feadóg lays claim to the title of the original Irish tin whistle. As well as carrying that weighty title, Feadóg whistles come in a range of beautiful colours, and they offer excellent value for money. If you want to go one-up from the Feadóg High D Black Pro whistle is very popular, offering improved playability and tone. They come with a brass or nickel-plated bore and plastic mouthpiece.

Material: Brass or Nickel-Plated

Price range: £7-£12 / €8-€14 / $9.50-$16.50

See all Feadog Tin Whistles.


Generation D Nickel

Tracing their history back to Oswestry, England, Generation made their first whistle in 1966. The Generation whistle, sometimes referred to as the Original Generation Flageolet is now recognised around the world as a quality, affordable whistle that’s perfect for anyone starting out on their whistling journey. As well as the original Generation whistle, the new Generation Boho range offers these whistles with a beautiful paisley design, and improved playability. Generation whistles come with a brass or nickle-plated bore and plastic mouthpiece. They also produce a very wide variety of keys, if you’re looking to branch out from your D whistle.

Material: Brass or Nickel-Plated
Price range: £5.50-£11 / €6.50-€13 / $7.50-$15

See all Generation Tin Whistles.


The lesser-known Waltons tin whistle is equally worthy as the famous Clarke, Feadog, and Generation brands. The Waltons High D Mellow whistle is particularly popular with its slightly mellower tone. A slightly shorter body and rounded bore make this one of the softest sounding whistles on the market, whilst still retaining the livery you expect from an Irish whistle.

Material: Brass

Price range: £7 / €8.50 / $10

See all Waltons Whistles.

The Best Professional Tin Whistles

Instrument makers have been building on the tin whistle for decades now, using new materials and design innovations to improve and vary its tone and texture. So if you’ve tried your hand at a beginner whistle, and want a whistle with a richer tone, there’s a world of professional tin whistles to choose from (not to mention the wonderful world of low d whistles). Here are some of our recommendations for anyone looking to branch out.


Dixon is a firm favourite at the more affordable end of the professional tin whistle market. Tony Dixon produces both high and low whistles of polymer and aluminium, and the quality you can get for the price point is astonishing. The Dixon High D One Piece whistle offers exceptional value and a wonderful tone. And for not much more, you can buy a tuneable Dixon high D.

Material: Polymer and aluminium

Price range: £14.50-£50.75 /€17-€60 / $20-$69.50

Browse all Dixon Whistles.


shush whistle polished brass

The New Improved ‘Shush’ Whistle is a fantastic upgrade from a starter whistle. Based on the Feadóg whistle, the Shush benefits from a serious amount of innovation that significantly dampens and also greatly enhances its tone. With an emerald green plastic mouthpiece, and brushed brass body, the whistle benefits from a special acoustic compound, as well as the distinctive ‘Sh’ blade, which is essential to the sound of the whistle. Not only is it a fantastic, quiet practice whistle – it offers a lovely tone in its own right. Unbeatable value for a great-sounding and remarkably quiet tin whistle.

Material: Brass or nickel

Price: £40 / €47 / $54

See all Shush Whistles.


Shaw High D Whistle

The rustic-looking Shaw is a handmade whistle that takes a traditional design, built in rolled nickel plate, with a conical bore and wooden underlip. The design affords a soft, warm tone that is particularly breathy. All the whistles are handmade by master craftsman Dave Shaw. These are excellent value whistles, with a really distinctive tone.

Material: Rolled nickel

Price range: £25 / €29.50 / $35

See all Shaw Whistles.


O'Briain New Improved High D Brass Whistle

Based on the Feadog high D, the O’Briain new improved high D brass whistle is one of the best high D whistles on the market, and for not much more cost than the beginner whistles reviewed above. Manufactured by Cillian O’Briain in County Kerry, Ireland, they offer consistent and accurate voicing.

Material: Brass

Price range: £32-£53 / €38-€62.50 / $44-$72.50

Browse all O’Briain Whistles.


ivolga wooden whistle VD-02

If you’re interested in the soft tones of the wooden whistle, then iVolga is a great place to start. Based in Russia, iVolga’s beautiful high D wooden whistles come in stabilised maple or padouk, and are finished with brass fittings – available either as tuneable or non-tunable. These wooden whistles offer excellent value for money, and a warm, woody tone.

Material: Wood (padouk, stabilised maple) and brass

Price range: £30-£60 / €36- €71 / $40-£80

Browse all iVolga Wooden Whistles.


Parks Black Every Whistle G2

Manufactured by Kerry Parks in the USA, Parks whistles are known especially for the unique tone ring design, which enables you a good deal of control over the volume of the whistle – handy if you are looking to for a quieter whistle for practicing. Made from PVC, they offer a fantastic dynamic range, and an excellent tone for a very reasonable price. Parks’ combi sets also allow you to change pitch – C, D, or Eb.

Material: PVC
Price range: £68-£86 / €80-€101.50 / $93-$118

Browse all Parks Whistles.


One of the newer brands on this list, Lír whistles have risen to huge popularity in recent times. Manufactured in Mayo, Ireland, Lír whistles are based on the famous design by John Sindt. These whistles are fully tuneable, and are available in a wide range of keys, stocked at Big Whistle. Made from brass, the whistles are plated with silver, giving them a very attractive finish.

lir high bb image

Material: Brass, silver-plated

Price range: £85-£115 / €99-€135 / $119-$144.50

See all Lír Whistles.

Sopros by Rui Gomes

Rui Gomes is a highly talented whistle maker, creating a wide range of excellent-sounding and affordable whistles. These humble whistles do not boast a fancy finish, but they offer exceptional tone and great playability. Whether in brass, aluminium, or polymer plastic, Sopros whistles are extremely approachable, and reward with a gorgeous soft tone.

Material: Plastic, brass, aluminium, bamboo

Price range: £55 – £150 / 55 – 149 / $60 – $160

Browse all Rui Gomes Whistles.


Syn High D Tuneable

Syn is another professional-level brand that offers very good value for money, and excellent tone. Manufactured in Australia by Erle Bartlett, the whistles comprise a polished aluminium body, brass tuning slide, and delrin head. Since they require a little more breath, they are not recommended for beginners – but they do offer a beautiful full-bodied tone.

Material: Aluminium

Price range: £100-£155 / €118-€183 / $137-$212

Browse all Syn Whistles.


harmony d whistle ash wood

From the workshop of Anastasia and Pavel Mirra in North Asia, Harmony Flute manufactures an impressive range of affordable wooden flutes and whistles. Big Whistle stock their high D whistle in both ashwood and rosewood. A great mid-range option to consider for anyone who enjoys a woody tone.

Material: Ashwood, rosewood

Price range: £130 – £160 / 129 – 158 / $140 – $172

Browse all Harmony Whistles.

Erik the Flutemaker

erik flutemaker high d

Based in Florida, USA, Erik the Flutemaker is known for producing a wide variety of whistles and flutes in a range of materials. Although Erik often works with wood, we rate his carbon fibre high D whistle as an excellent session whistle. As well as being extremely durable and unaffected by temperature fluctuations, Erik the Flutemaker’s high D whistle offers a strong, loud, and clear tone, without being shrill.

Material: Carbon fibre

Price range: £220 / 218 / $237

Browse all Erik the Flutemaker Whistles.

Thornton Whistles

Thornton whistles take their name from the place of their origin – Thorntown (pronounced “Thornton”), in North County Dublin. Crafted to meticulously high standards by maker Tommy Martin, these are wooden whistles of the highest grade. Tommy works with a range of different woods, using delrin heads. These are excellent quality wooden whistles for those of you looking for a high-end wooden whistle.

Material: African blackwood, cocobolo wood, katalox wood

Price range: £225 / 268 / $291

Browse all Thornton Whistles.

MK Midgie

MK is a brand best-known for its low whistle. Many whistlers were therefore delighted to see MK launch the Midgie high D whistle. The aluminium whistle, available in a range of colours, boasts excellent playability and minimal blocking. The Midgie offers a full-bodied yet sweet tone, and is finished to a superbly high standard.

Material: Aluminium 

Price range: £265 / 263 / $286

Browse all MK Whistles.


Colin Goldie remains a giant in the world of whistles, manufacturing some of the best high and low whistles that money can buy.  Goldie makes batches of the high D with different blowability – with the soft, soft/medium, and medium blow the most popular. Produced in small batches from his workshop in Germany, Goldie’s whistles sell like hotcakes, thanks to their unmistakably beautiful tone.

Material: Aluminium

Price range: £240 / €283 / $329

Browse all Goldie Whistles.


Crafted in Oregon, USA, by Rob Gándara, Carbony™ whistles are made from an innovative carbon-fibre composite. These specialist musical instruments produce a fast note response for improved articulation, and an extremely consistent and stable tone. The Carbony Standard High D and Carbony Session High D are the ones to check out – there’s a reason why they’re amongst the most expensive whistles on the market!

Material: Carbon fibre

Price range: £260 / €307 / $356

Browse all Carbony Whistles.


Manufactured by Michael Burke in the USA, Burke offer some of the finest whistles on the market. Burke offers high D session whistles in either aluminium or brass, and these whistles simply ooze quality. Extremely playable, and with a stunning tone, these whistles are an absolute pleasure for both the whistler and the audience.

Burke High D narrow bore whistle brass

Material: Brass or aluminium

Price range: £310 / €362 / $389

Browse all Burke Whistles.

Which Tin Whistle Should You Buy?

There’s always the matter of personal preference, but here’s our opinion. If you’re a beginner, we recommend a high D from FeadogGeneration, or Clarke. Once you’ve got to grips with one of these, you might want to try your hand at one of the mid-range professional high D whistles from brands like Syn or Parks. If you’ve enjoyed the high D, then definitely think about exploring the lovely tones of the low D, by exploring our guide to the best low D whistles. Still stuck, or got more questions? Get in touch! We’d be happy to help.

Feadóg vs Clarke Tin Whistle

The main difference between a Feadóg and Clarke Tin Whistle is that the Original Clarke has a wooden fipple and a breathier tone. Both are popular beginner whistles. Complete beginners sometimes find it hard to make a Feadóg sound good, but returning to it after acquiring a little skill, it sounds a great deal better.

We hope this guide has helped. If you have any questions about any of the whistle makers mentioned above, do get in touch and we’d be pleased to advise you. Alternatively, view the full range of high whistles and filter by brand, pitch, material and more using our high whistle finder. Happy whistling!

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Colin Robinson

    I am an aged beginner but have played clarinet as a youngster, now belong to two ukulele groups, would like to introduce the whistle to play melody with the ukes, What do you suggest?

    1. Mr Wetyer

      Hi Colin. Thank you for your question. As you wish to accompany a ukulele, you might want to match the key you are playing in. I believe the standard uke tuning of gCEA lends itself to the key of C major (D major is the most common whistle key); we sell a number of whistles in C major. The other consideration is whether or not to get a tunable whistle. Brands like Dixon will offer whistles with a tuning slide. This is helpful for matching pitch between instruments more exactly. Most beginners will try out a high whistle initially. If you end up wanting a low whistle, consider your hand size and whether or not you could adopt a piper’s grip to play a low D or low C. Thanks. James

  2. Colin Robinson

    James, your comments were most useful, cheers

  3. Anne Wright

    I play whistle with my ukulele group and use C and D Susato whistles very successfully.

  4. Anne

    Hi there, I was looking at your high D Carbony whistles. Please could you explain the difference between the ‘Standard’ & the (7 hole) ‘Leading Tone’ model please. (I couldn’t see the high D Session model mentioned). Also, which note is the extra 7th note playing please?
    Much appreciated.

  5. Gareth braithwaite

    Hi thanks for your article. My task is to learn to play Fairy Tale of New York before the next season. Which PRO whistle will best suit this. Thanks Gareth

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