I have been using a D pennywhistle for a few years now. Mine is just a standard tin type. There are some custom wooden models that go for about $300. It is possible, but tricky, to play chromatically on them. They're really fun to play.
There is a very haunting military like pennywhistle line in the movie Gangs of New York. I can't remember much about that movie, but those two notes that were played on the Pennywhistle always pop into my mind from time to time. Funny what sticks in your mind.
I know it seems odd to think of shelling out serious cash for a whistle, but anyone who has will tell you it is well worth doing. 10 years ago I spent about $1000 building a small collection of really nicely made whistles in various keys. It's an investment I have never regretted - they inspired me to practice them hard, because they sounded so good. I quickly developed another performing genre, and the skill I gained at whistling improved my sax technique as well.
I know it seems odd to think of shelling out serious cash for a whistle, but anyone who has will tell you it is well worth doing. 10 years ago I spent about $1000 building a small collection of really nicely made whistles in various keys.
If you're asking for recommendations for high-end whistles, Abell or Burke are popular choices. The Burkes are my favorite. Copeland whistles have also been very popular, but the company recently went out of business.
It should be noted that some of the best and most respected whistle players DON'T play expensive whistles. The Generation whistle is still the quintessential traditional-style instrument and costs less than $10. Conventional wisdom is that you have to try a lot of them to get a good one, but a good one is really good.
Susato's Kildare whistles are a great choice for an in-between whistle. They are very consistent, play perfectly in tune, come in ALL keys, and are quite reasonably priced.
I play Chieftans, which I know some people don't like. I bought mine sight unseen from various sources in the mid 90's, and they're all great, but I think the quality of manufacture may have reduced over the years. Overton have a great reputation, so I'd probably steer you in that direction.
Absolutely true. Thankfully I'm neither proficient nor respected for my whistling:-D
Mine is a tale of personal inspiration found through equipment that inspired me. I'd never actually sat down and practiced with my cheap whistles (none of which played very well at all). When I got my first Chieftan - a Low D - I was driven to practice it. When I later got my hands on a Chieftan soprano D, I was amazed by how much more sound there was inside that big bore compared to my anemic cheap whistles.
I went whistle shopping yesterday, as I found out I need a C whistle for Pirates of Penzance.
The Susato whistles Bret mentioned are my fave all round whistles, but the only place in Toronto that carries them was closed yesterday. Since I was just in town for the day, I went to Long & McQuade's instead, since I need the whistle for a rehearsal tomorrow.
Tried some Generations - the C whistles were all terrible. However, I did find and buy Generations in Eb, F and G - all of which played very nicely.
The C whistle I got is the Chieftan. Two piece metal, tunable, very good sound.
I'd still like to get a complete set of Susatos. The D and low D instruments I play were made by them, and they both sound really great. 1/3 of the cost of the Chieftans.
In my absence from this forum I did get a bit into whistling. The guys over at http://www.chiffandfipple.com/ have been pretty supportive of Jerry Freeman, who doctors up plain Generation whistles into better playing shape.
I've bought (and was gifted) a few of his whistles, and they are measurably better than the off-the shelf stuff you'll find at music stores. He sells on ebay and I've been plenty happy. http://www.freemanwhistles.com/