The amazing thing about fifes is that a cheap one does play pretty well. I learned to play on one of those plastic fifes! Later on, I got a rosewood fife and had the same experience you did - the high notes were hard to play and unclear. I don't know what became of that instrument, but it was a real disappointment.
Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
"We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
-Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty