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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Manufacture process

Well this year sees the manufacture of whistle process take a few turns on the Impempe front. A new milling/lathe combo machine was purchased after the sale of a set of bagpipes.
Not sure if it was worth it as the fellow that bought the pipes had me send them to Scotland for refurbishing - wow, what a set. anyway, I couldn't justify having 5 sets of pipes, you can only play one at a time! So the new machine now allows me to do a bit of R&D which is what I really enjoy - improvements and new designs etc.
I have never had a milling machine before and so it has opened a whole new area of experiment. I have also found a new engineering firm to do the 'donkey work' for me. Running off a 100 items of the same cuts is kind of mind numbing to say the least and so with a CNC machine being used for these items, it will bring a continuity and hopefully a consistancy to the whistles being made. It is always nice to customise a whistle, however most folk want a whistle that they know will behave in a certain way as there is usually no easy way of trying before you buy. These guys are great, proffesional and really a pleasure to work with. I few changes here and there and off we go....
Anyway folks, Christmas is nearly upon us - get your order in quick if you are wanting a Christmas present - chances are it may miss the deadline tho!

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