Impempe Whistles

the whistle of note


 Welcome to the homepage of Impempe Whistles!

     Makers of fine handcrafted Aluminium Whistles, situated in Hilton in the beautiful midlands of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The misty mornings in the lush green foothills give one a sense of the Scottish landscape and the call of the fish eagle confirms the african-ness, bringing a blend of Celtic and African traditions which are epitomized in the Impempe whistle.

We build handmade whistles in a variety of keys, and have whistles both Low and high, with a slightly different approach to both.  The whistle is a great starting point for musical instruments and a great alternative to the traditional recorder.  Once you have mastered the whistle, the possibilities are endless.  Don’t be fooled by the seemingly innocent title of “penny” whistle.  This is no cheap toy.  It is a genuine musical instrument that has tugged many heart strings.  Think of the Titanic movie theme, Braveheart etc. Come to think of it how about South Africa’s own Mango Groove, Big Voice Jack, and Spokes Mashiane.  The whistle has a rich heritage in South Africa with the Kwela genre having brought a special happy, catchy vibe to the world but filled with history and destiny.

Soprano D

The whistles are made of Aluminium with a curved windway.  which helps deal with moisture and condensatiopn.  They come with a tuning slide which needs a touch of tuning slide grease or equivalent to help with a smooth slide and prevent from siezing.  The whistles are tuned with close attention to balance across the octaves as well as a comfortable reach for the fingers.  Each whistle is tested and played before being shipped and ensured that it is in good order.  After extensive development, this new shaped windway has brought about a change in the design with better intonation and focus but not losing the traditional Impempe sound.  Each one being handmade means that there are no two whistles that are exactly the same, however the quality and final product are never compromised.

The Whistle is an instrument of ancient origin having found a home in not only Celtic traditions, but Asian, African and American as well.  It is known by many names the most common ones being the Irish Whistle, Penny Whistle, Flageolet, Tin whistle and of course the Zulu name Impempe.

For any further information or details please conatact Ian Turnbull on:
+27 33 3434737(h) +27 82  5713177 (cell)



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Music and more music

So I have managed to get some whistles made without having actual orders - woohoo! Great to have a few spare whistles lying around and to help folk out with a quick delivery.

I have been enjoying a new group that we have been growing with scottish/irish trad tunes. We have a fiddler, a bodhran, smallpipes, whistles, guitars and piano accordion - how cool is that! we have done a gig or two and looking for places to perform when we can all actually make it.

Bagpipes take up a good portion of my time with tuition as well as band work and weddings etc.. Our pipe major is on his way to emigrating next month so that is really sad to say farewell to a wonderful musician.

Trumpet was on the back burner for a couple years but after having had my arm twisted I have taken on a few students and enjoying the thrill of hearing the students start to make some good sounds. I managed to get ahold of some organ and trumpet music with backing tracks and have been extending my range and my enjoyment of the classics. A change from the scottish trad that is so engrained.

My mate Shaun Bisset has been making Highland bagpipes and yesterday we fired up a set that he turned with african blackwood and aluminium mounts - absolutely stunning sound and what a looker! What an artisan!! I have been inspired to extend my machining skills and so have a couple of thoughts in the "pipeline" for future instrument making.

So if you want a whistle in D or Bb, I have a small stock at the moment....always up for a chat on music so feel free to contact me.


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