Situated in the historically rich Ocean City of Plymouth (South West of England), traditional craftsman James Wilkinson meticulously fashions every instrument by hand in his small workshop built specifically for producing Low Whistles and Penny Whistles. Employing traditional values of workmanship with a preference to use vintage machinery and tooling ensures each instrument is brought to life with the honesty and integrity every fine Master crafted instrument deserves.
James has a unique set of skills and knowledge to bring to the table
drawing upon his previous trades as a toolmaker, Goldsmith and sound
engineer. His working life began designing and building
injection mould and press tooling working on high profile projects
including the front grill for the Aston Martin DB7, engine
components for Rolls Royce, the very first thermal imaging cameras
used for search and rescue operations which have become standard
issue equipment, mould tooling for the early Nokia mobile cellphones
and Olympus cameras plus the very first commercially available
virtual reality headsets to name a few. His precision engineering
experience steams further into special purpose machine design and
build through to private commissions making custom parts for local
businesses including hand crafting new parts for vintage vehicles. In
2002 James capitalised on his hand skills to secure a new career as a
Goldsmith/ jobbing Jeweller with the Southwests most exclusive
jewellers where he was also being trained one day a week to become
the company’s certified watchmaker. Unfortunately after 5
years of service James was made redundant as a result of the 2008
credit crunch recession. After a few years of unemployment and
working in various engineering companies it was decided to build upon
his knowledge and skills in sound engineering and music production.
James left the security of full-time employment in 2011 to return
back to education to study at a private sound engineering college
(dBs Music Plymouth) where he achieved a triple distinction* on the 2
year BTEC Extended Diploma in music technology and creative sound
Engineering. The next year he returned to the same college and
completed his FDA degree in Audio and Music production with his final
year studied on the BA (Hons) Music technology programme at Plymouth
University graduating in 2016 with an additional school award for outstanding work in music technology.
As part of the first year FDA degree James designed and made a Low D Whistle to satisfy the criteria for the principles of sound module. After sharing this instrument on social media he was soon inundated with enquiries regarding how much these instruments were and requests to make custom models. Over the last three years of his University education James has slowly built a specialist workshop where he now hand crafts each instrument to the highest standards in both performance and aesthetics. His precision engineering experience has given him the ability to design and build specialist tooling for producing these fine instruments including designing and building a custom process for lacquering each instrument to preserve the mirror finish he achieves by hand; a result of unique skills gained throughout his Goldsmithing career. Finally, James's life long passion for music production coupled with his seven years worth of education in music technology and sound engineering has given him the experience and skills necessary to accurately measure and fine tune each instrument to unparalleled accuracy.
James's interest in Low Whistles goes back to around 2000 - 2001 where he was active in the local open mic night scene. It was during this time he came across the Low D Whistle played by one of the regulars. James was asked to make a copy of his original Bernard Overton Low D in Brass with specific requests to bring the intonation and tuning in line. This Overton Low D was taken home and measured ready to make a copy and fine tune but unfortunately this project never came to fruition due to a lack of understanding in musical instrument physics. The original AutoCAD plans produced from measurements taken of this Overton Low D take pride of place in the workshop to remind James of where this Journey in Whistle making originated from. To this day, JPW Instruments standard models share similar bore size and wind-way heights as the original Overton's with further refinements to the mouthpiece design and finger hole dimensions to bring the performance attributes in line with customer expectations. This Whistle making journey has be fifteen years in the making with continual research in musical instrument physics and customer expectations to ensure these instruments perform to musicians ever changing needs and expectations.