What are the principle differences between tin whistles constructed of brass vs. nickel, other than price. They would be used by beginners. Does either instrument possess a more desirable timbre compared to the other, live a longer useful life, or suffer less tarnish/oxidization? Is either material preferable for beginners?

This page here shows the two varieties in question: https://www.ellismusic.com/search.aspx?searchterm=flageolet

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    I don't know much about the instrument (thus comment vs. answer) but from a metallurgical standpoint, brass may actually contain nickel, but no tin (bronze has some). Nickel is probably more likely used as a corrosion resistant plating than as a solid material for the whistle. Some people are allergic to Nickel, which I suppose could be an issue for fingering the instrument. (Since the linked products have plastic mouthpieces).
    – Theodore
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 18:37
  • Googling provides some subjectives viewpoints all over the map, but several suggesting that the nickel is slipperier to grip. You could order one of each and compare. After all, one often needs several to play in different keys. Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 18:52
  • @Theodore To complicate matters, some of the forums I saw suggested that the "nickel" ones are actually nickel-plated brass! And some seemed to be looking forward to some corrosion as it helped them hold it. Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 0:13
  • @Andy Bonner could you explain what "looking forward to some corrosion as it helped them hold it" means?
    – nuggethead
    Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 1:55
  • @nuggethead I was looking at these two threads: thesession.org/discussions/40942 thesession.org/discussions/31487 Several mention the brass developing a patina, and the nickel being slipperier. In the second thread, one person says the brass, "once the patina of new ones had worn off," slipped less, which seems like a confusion of what "patina" means. Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


The whistles you linked to have been sold under the brand "Generation" almost unchanged for decades. They work well and a lot of players prefer them to much more expensive whistles. The mouthpieces of these instruments are made of moulded plastic and there's a lot of variation from one instrument to the next. If there is a difference in tone between brass and nickel, it's a lot less than the difference between two instruments from the same series. Neither of the two materials lasts longer, and neither of them tends to suffer from corrosion. There's also no difference in playability. Unless you have a nickel allergy, you'll be happy with either one.

  • ...except for the poor guy with the nickel allergy who probably has the harder time playing the nickel whistle.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 12:13
  • @Dekkadeci Thanks, I should have thought of that.
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 9:20

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