The Brinklow Pipe

The idea for the Brinklow Pipe was conceived by Bernard Overton. He wanted a single reed instrument with a clarinet-like tone that experienced whistle players could use in folk music without having to learn complicated fingerings. It had to be able to play in the keys of C, D, G, and associated minor keys (Am, Bm and Em) and cover the range of the commonest Northumbrian pipes, without overblowing. This is because a normal clarinet plays a 12th rather than an octave above the overblown note, which causes problems for whistle players because of the fingering implications. The Brinklow Pipe fingering is very similar to that for a whistle, with a range of nearly two octaves (not chromatic) without overblowing.

The notes that can be played without complicated cross fingerings are d, e, f#, g, a, b, c, c#, d, e, f, f#, g, a, b

This makes it very usable in most folk music.

Construction & Craftmanship

The Brinklow Pipes are made from hand turned English Box wood.  This keeps the weight of the pipe down unlike, for instance, a black wood clarinet and makes the instrument extremely light and manageable. English Box wood is also an excellent tone wood. As Paul says …

“Because it is rare, and partly because you lose a lot in the manufacturing process, English Box wood is not often used for pipes, but we wanted a great sounding wood that would keep the instrument light like a whistle.”

The keywork has been kept to the bare minimum to keep the pipe as simple as we can. Made from brass, and hand mounted, it keeps with the traditional look and feel of the instrument and complements the Box wood finish. The pipe comes fitted with a standard clarinet mouthpiece, reeds and some cork grease, in a fabric pouch.


The Designers

Bernard Overton and Paul Windridge started developing the Brinklow Pipe in the summer of 2006.

Paul Windridge
Paul studied Woodwind Making and Repairing at Newark College in the early 1970s and gained their diploma with distinction.

He then went on to work for Rudall Carte flute makers in London for some years, and then for Boosey and Hawkes when the two companies joined.

After running a small independent workshop in Churchgate, Leicester, Paul became a repairer in the woodwind workshop at Sheehan’s Music Services, and remained there for 15 years from the start of that business in 1984.

Paul now works independently as a Woodwind Instrument Maker and Repairer and his web site can be found at:-

Bernard Overton is the reknown developer of Overton Whistles. The Overton whistles were designed in the late 60s and in that time have become a most sought after item for the whistle player. The Overtons offer a range of whistles from high F (Soprano) all the way down to Low G (Bass Baritone) including all flats and sharps. All whistles are made of an aluminium alloy. Each whistle is hand made so no two are identical and you can be sure to have your own unique instrument although they all have the unmistakable OVERTON sound.

The Overton Whistles web site can be found at:-



These drawings show the design in some detail. There are links below to download the original technical documents and a 3D display that will run on a MS Windows computer.

Technical Documents Downloads

PDF Documents

Medium Quality PDF
(974 Kb)

High Quality PDF

3D display E-Drawing

Click here to download the display program

This file is an executable program that will show the Chalumeau rotating, allowing you to see the whole instrument.
(MS Windows only)


The chalumeau (plural chalumeaux; from Greek: kalamos, meaning "reed") is a woodwind instrument of the late baroque and early classical era, in appearance rather like a recorder, but with a mouthpiece like a clarinet's.

The word "chalumeau" was in use in French from the twelfth century to refer to various sorts of pipes, some of which were made of cane and featured a single "reed" cut into the side of the cane itself (see Similar instruments).

In the late seventeenth century an improved form of the chalumeau was developed. This baroque chalumeau represents the link between the recorder and the clarinet, and is essentially a cylindrical bore recorder with a mouthpiece like that of a clarinet and two additional "throat" keys controlling notes at the top of the fundamental register. The chalumeau continued to develop for several decades alongside the clarinet, and it has a large repertoire in 18th century orchestral and chamber music.

The clarinet was developed from the chalumeau primarily by displacing the B? key up towards the mouthpiece, reducing the size of the hole and inserting a register tube; here it still produces B?, but functions in addition as a register key, allowing the upper range to be easily sounded. In addition the clarinet's mouthpiece was modified to improve performance in the upper register, and the chalumeau's straight foot joint was replaced by a flared bell.

Audio Samples

Performer: Gerard McChrystal "I loved the range on this instrument because I can play the majority of the folk tunes I know without too much over blowing. The tone is so consistent "  

Tune: Sample - Noodles
Time: 0:24

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Tune: Sample - Shetland
Time: 0:20

Click to play ...

Tune: Sample - Paul
Time: 0:48

Click to play ...


Overton Styling Model