It took me a while to write this review, because even though it was a second-hand whistle, I treated it as if it were new, giving it standard new-wood-whistle oiling and limited playing break-in period. I figured it was safest to do this, as I had no idea how travelling through the mail affected the whistle's water/oil balance.
The whistle construction looks a whole heck of a lot like a Thin Weasel (no surprise there...most will recall that Paul learned the craft from Glen). Because of this, I will offer comparisons between the two as they strike me.
I've played the whistle outside, played it at sessions, and played it at a gig. For the last 2 months, my "reach for" whistle (Burke Al-Pro) had been missing, so I've been giving equal time to this whistle and my Copeland brass D.
I'm posting my review in the usual format. I didn't invent this format, but I find it a good one for whistle reviews. If I could remember where I first saw it, I'd give credit where credit was due.
Volume: This whistle plays on the medium side. The second octave is quite a bit louder than the first, but over all, this whistle is much quieter than a Weasel, and is similar in volume to the Acorn, Walton's and Feadan I pitted it against. Larry Mallette prefers the much louder Weasel. A number of folks, myself included, will prefer a more "blending" instrument in session, though this whistle would probably be a bit lost in a truly loud session. This whistle's definitely louder than a Burke Al-Pro. At gigs, the volume really doesn't matter that much since we're amped 99% of the time, and I can always account for an individual whistle's volume.
Responsiveness: This whistle is highly responsive. I had absolutely no trouble at all with this whistle coming up to speed on any of the notes, including the bell note. The ornaments were crisp, and any mushiness I attribute entirely to my own playing. On some whistles, it may take a micro-second for some notes (esp. the bell note) to smooth out...not so on the Busman.
Tuning: The instrument, when blown with the proper breath control, is in tune. There's a bit of a breath-pressure gap between E and F#--taking a bigger jump in breath pressure than from D to E or from F# to G--but it's only slight. One would easily adjust their playing style to this as they grew into the whistle. My only complaint about this whistle's tuning is the same complaint I had about the Weasel. The tuning slide is not firm. I'm not sure what Paul (and Glen) use on the inside of the whistle for grippage, but when I play the whistle, I tend to push the tuning slide closed a little bit when I play more aggressive tunes, sharpening the thing up as I play it.
On the Weasel, I fixed this with a turn of teflon tape, and will likely employ the same approach here. It does mean I have to take greater care with tuning this whistle than whistles that incorporate rubber O-rings (Burke, Susato, etc), since once those are set, they tend stay put better. Speaking of the tuning slide, when the whistle is all the way closed, the tuning is about 45 cents sharp, a good thing. All the way open, it's 20 cents flat...of the next lower semi-tone! That's a lot of range!
C-natural: OXXOOO produces a flat C-natural (-15-20 cents or so on this whistle) with the expected breath requirements. Blowing harder will bring it into tune. OXOOOO on the other hand, produces a C-Natural that's more centered in the breathing range, and easier to push sharper or flatter with the breath.
Hole size and placement: This whistle has holes are medium-sized. I wouldn't expect most people to have problems with hole size or placement.
Air volume requirements: Average. I didn't note that this whistle took any special amount of air to keep playing. I didn't run out of breath especially soon, nor was I able to play for especially long periods between breaths. It's a solid average in this regard.
Air pressure requirements: Slight side of medium. This is less than my Weasel took. The Weasel required playing with a lot more aggression and confidence, especially in the second octave. The Busman requires less from the whistler in this regard, but I would guess that this is also why the whistle is a bit quieter. There is a small but satisfying amount of back pressure that lets you lean into the whistle a bit.
Clogging: Like the Weasel, the Busman has a very narrow-heighted windway. It's curved, which helps dribble moisture away, but like most narrow-windway instruments, the slightest amount of clogging is detrimental to this whistle. I haven't yet Jet-Dried this whistle, probably because it's wood, and I tend to be more gun-shy about that kind of thing than with aluminum. I think I'll wait until I get some AntiCondens, which I know is made for woodwinds, and see what the packaging says. Because of that, the Busman got only limited use at my last gig.
Wind Resistance: This whistle does not like wind. Some whistles are excellent outdoors whistles (my Silkstones, my Sweetheart, and my Copeland, for instance). This isn't one of them. The slightest cross wind cuts this whistle out, and I find myself constantly doing the "wind dance" when playing this whistle outdoors. As a concequence, I probably won't be playing it at the Renaissance Festival this year, though I'd love to.