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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Already nearly halfway through the year....

Well it was a slow start to the year, but it sure has picked up momentum with all kinds of musical activities. The local market for whistles has suddenly increased which is great as my heart is to get the instrument into the hands of locals to make music with the simple yet beautiful penny whistle.

Many weddings and memorial services playing pipes and then some. Our little band that we decided to call Fret and Fipple for a gig at the end of last year is plodding along with practices when we can make it - everyone seems to have such busy lives flitting around the world and the country that it is hard to pin down a time when we are all there. Perhaps we should have gone with the name "sometimes seven" but our Accordion player is having to go back to the Netherlands due to work visa complications, so we would have to rename it to "sometimes six" Anyone have a suggestion for a band name and any buddying accordion players?

I am really bad at doing the news thing but I always like to see the personal side of the instrument makers so think its only right to give folk a glimpse into the life of a whistle maker, piper, tutor and technician.

I have had so many queries about making security/police whistles that I am considering offering them - totally unrelated to music but the principle of the air being split by a blade is still the same. My love of music may just hinder this...

I continue to make soprano whistles and the very occasional arm twist for a low whistle sneaks through. I am just loving the whistles that are coming through the workshop and enjoying playing them. Each one unique in its voice and flavour and wonderful to get feedback from flk that are enjoying the fruit of the labour.
Whistling wishes!

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