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20 Button Concertina

Mathew Raymond 17 Mar 14 - 04:31 PM
Richard Mellish 17 Mar 14 - 05:18 PM
The Sandman 17 Mar 14 - 05:25 PM
Richard Mellish 17 Mar 14 - 05:53 PM
Richard Mellish 17 Mar 14 - 06:01 PM
Brian Peters 17 Mar 14 - 06:08 PM
GUEST,Mathew Raymond 17 Mar 14 - 06:27 PM
Brian Peters 17 Mar 14 - 06:45 PM
Phil Edwards 17 Mar 14 - 07:39 PM
GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wrestler (Robin Madge 17 Mar 14 - 07:52 PM
Brian Peters 18 Mar 14 - 07:11 AM
Mathew Raymond 18 Mar 14 - 02:56 PM
The Sandman 18 Mar 14 - 03:30 PM
Brian Peters 18 Mar 14 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 18 Mar 14 - 08:34 PM
The Sandman 18 Mar 14 - 09:57 PM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 04:40 AM
Howard Jones 19 Mar 14 - 05:13 AM
Brian Peters 19 Mar 14 - 05:30 AM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 14 - 06:04 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 08:13 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 08:22 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 08:41 AM
Brian Peters 19 Mar 14 - 08:56 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 09:14 AM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 14 - 09:17 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 09:21 AM
GUEST 19 Mar 14 - 09:26 AM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 14 - 09:31 AM
Howard Jones 19 Mar 14 - 09:35 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 09:56 AM
Howard Jones 19 Mar 14 - 10:25 AM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 12:23 PM
Alan Day 19 Mar 14 - 01:45 PM
Brian Peters 19 Mar 14 - 01:51 PM
Guran 19 Mar 14 - 02:47 PM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 03:04 PM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 03:09 PM
GUEST 19 Mar 14 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 19 Mar 14 - 04:59 PM
Guran 19 Mar 14 - 05:31 PM
The Sandman 19 Mar 14 - 07:27 PM
Brian Peters 19 Mar 14 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,SqueezeMe 19 Mar 14 - 11:36 PM
SqueezeMe 19 Mar 14 - 11:43 PM
Phil Edwards 20 Mar 14 - 04:36 AM
The Sandman 20 Mar 14 - 04:50 AM
Howard Jones 20 Mar 14 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,SqueezeMe (my cookie's gone awol) 20 Mar 14 - 05:18 AM
Guran 20 Mar 14 - 06:13 AM
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Subject: 20 Button Concertina
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 04:31 PM

I have been playing the concertina (20 button anglo) for a few months and I've been able to learn a few tunes. However it being a 20 button concertina definitely limits me (I cant play in the style of peter bellamy)

My question is should I invest in a concertina with more buttons to be able to play a wider variety f music and to play what I already play better.

My concertina works fine for some Ewan Maccoll and AL Lloyd songs, so should I upgrade?


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 05:18 PM

I started on a 20 button German concertina, then progressed to a 30 button anglo, then a better one, then a 40 button. What you need depends on what you want to do. Obviously more buttons give you more scope, but also cost a lot more money.

I use the extra buttons mainly to get notes in the opposite bellows direction from where they are in the basic 20. That allows you to change bellows direction when it suits the phrasing and/or your choice of chord or harmony, rather than having to change to get the next note.

Try to borrow at least a 30 button one, more if possible, to play with for a few hours. Then you'll probably find more things that you can do, and want to do; and if so you know what you need.

If you want to play like Bellamy, that's up to you, but I've not met anyone else who does. The only person who comes anywhere near that style is Robin Madge.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 05:25 PM

all that you need is a 26 key anglo, you do not need 30 keys, most cg 26 button anglos, have the c# that is necesary to play in d.,this enables you to play most irish tunes
peter bellamy played simply mainly up and down the 2 rows, but he also had an added drone button, that can be arranged easily and relatively cheaply.
in my opinion robin madge bears no resemblance stylistically to peter bellamy.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 05:53 PM

> in my opinion robin madge bears no resemblance stylistically to peter bellamy.

There is a slight resemblance in technique in that he tends to play lots of buttons at once, as Bellamy did, and as I have not heard from anyone else. But that's all.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 06:01 PM

> all that you need is a 26 key anglo, you do not need 30 keys, most cg 26 button anglos, have the c# that is necesary to play in d.,this enables you to play most irish tunes

I did say "What you need depends on what you want to do." Playing Irish music in D on a C-G anglo is one of many things that the OP MIGHT want to do.

I use all my 40 keys, though some of them obviously a lot more than others. I can just about manage one key away from the basic ones - A or C on a G-D box - but I need to work out how to play such tunes. As mentioned I use the extras mainly as alternatives.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 06:08 PM

Matthew: There are definite and quite narrow limits to what can be achieved on a 20-button Anglo. As Good Soldier says, you would certainly need more buttons to play Irish tunes, but if song accompaniment is what you want to do you'll need a range of chords, and a 20-button is limited in that respect too. As a teacher of anglo I would say that a 20-button is fine to get the idea of how the instrument works, but if you decide you want to continue with it, you need to upgrade to 30-buttons (not 26, as your chording would still be limited) as soon as you can afford it.

Richard is quite right to say that using alternative notes in a different bellows direction can allow different chording, but Peter Bellamy did very little of that. His style, though original and effective, wasn't terribly complicated technically. He did use drones a lot (specially adapted buttons on the third row), but he also played the tune most of the time along with those chords that came naturally, and these often clashed with the drone to give that dissonant sound so characteristic of his playing. I'm pretty sure he also added extra discordant notes by design. The point is, he played a lot of notes at once, and you aren't going to do that with 20 buttons.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST,Mathew Raymond
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 06:27 PM

Thanks for all of your input. I'm definitely going to upgrade to 30 buttons

Would someone be able to link me a good one on ebay? I want to make sure I get a good one and nobody in my geographical region really plays

I leanred the song Paddy West off of Blow Boys Blow by maccoll and Lloyd but I cant recreate the chords in the verses, I can only do the simple melody. Good for accompanying other instruments I guess but I mostly play alone


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 06:45 PM

It all depends on your budget, Matthew. Experienced players usually prefer hand built or antique instruments, in which case you're looking at thousands. A 30-button Lachenal, the mid-priced, vintage instrument of choice in former years, will now set you back a couple of grand at least. Several US makers make 'hybrid'(accordion-reeded) instruments for the same kind of price. In the cheaper bracket, the Rochelle has its fans, but you do get what you pay for. Really cheap instruments can be badly built that they're physically difficult to play properly. If possible, try it out first - you already have sufficient experience that you should be able to tell a piece of outright junk.

Go to Concertina.net for discussions of instruments currently on sale. You'll sometimes find people on there discussing Ebay instruments along the lines of "That one looks dodgy!", etc.

Where are you located?


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 07:39 PM

Here's a really silly question, from someone who's listened to a lot of Peter Bellamy but never picked up an Anglo. Where do you get the chords? What do you do on a G/D box if you're chording along to a song that's pitched in A or F - or if you need to find a G7 or a Dsus4?

Make that two silly questions. I accompany myself at a fairly basic level on English concertina, and when I listen to a chordal accompaniment on EC I can usually take a stab at what's going on. But when I listen to Bellamy playing On Board a 98 or Death Is Not The End I've got no idea what he's doing; technically it sounds pretty rough, but it's rough in some way I can't begin to imitate (on EC). There seems to be a different chord for every note of the melody line - how was he doing it? Or was he just playing the melody line plus odd thirds and fifths?


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wrestler (Robin Madge
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 07:52 PM

Perhaps I had better put a word in having been mentioned as an example.
I play mainly 40 button Wheatstone pattern instruments but not in fact use as many of the buttons as Richrd does. My style is based upon playing a tune in octave apart fashion with whatever fingers that are left over providing the rest of the chords. I do use a couple of the "extra" buttons from the 40 button layout quite extensively, particularly the middle row right hand button nearest to the thumb end of the row on the pull. I think that Chris Timpson found this one particularly useful after his stroke as it duplicates a note from the left side. Apart from that I use the drone button for quite a few songs so I would say that I can play 95% of my repertoire on 32 buttons, but they have be the right ones!

Robin Madge


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Mar 14 - 07:11 AM

"Here's a really silly question, from someone who's listened to a lot of Peter Bellamy but never picked up an Anglo. Where do you get the chords? What do you do on a G/D box if you're chording along to a song that's pitched in A or F - or if you need to find a G7 or a Dsus4? ...There seems to be a different chord for every note of the melody line - how was he doing it?"

Phil, the first thing to say is that, although Peter was actually a good blues guitar player, I strongly doubt whether guitarist's chord names like 'Dsus4' ever entered his vocabulary or indeed his head. I should also have mentioned before that he had boxes in at least two different keys (probably C/G and Bb/F but correct me if I'm wrong), so playing in a counter-intuitive key was not something he did.

The most basic way to work out tunes on an anglo (as GSS said above) is to stick to a given row and work your way up and down it, which inevitably means a lot of alternation between push and pull - sometimes changing with almost every note. The simplest way to accompany a tune played in this manner is to grab a handful of buttons on the left hand and more or less stick to them, which (because the LH buttons are push-pull as well) inevitably means changes of chord - and quite possibly involuntary discord - on every switch between push and pull. I discourage pupils from doing this since it gives very little control over the chords you're playing, can give quite unmusical accompaniments, and is the opposite of the kind of sustained chording that slow songs in particular often benefit from.

Peter, naturally, broke all those rules. He played the tune up and down the rows and added fistfuls of notes on the LH, along with the drones noted above. This meant that he was, as you suggest, playing a different chord with almost every melody note, and if you'd watched him you'd have seen the bellows moving in and out almost constantly - indeed he made a visual feature of it.

The other thing about a 30-button anglo is that there's plenty of opportunity for serendipity - you hit the 'wrong' button on the LH and a weird combination of notes gives you a clashing or unworldly harmony that sometimes stinks but sometimes makes you think "Hmm, that might come in useful." I certainly don't think Peter's accompaniments were random, but I suspect he devised them after some experimentation in the matter of weird sounds.

If our paths ever cross I shall present you with my best Bellamy impression!


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 18 Mar 14 - 02:56 PM

I'm located in windsor, ontario. Across the water from detroit. Not many concertina players here, so resources are rather limited.

So I take it 20 button concertinas are pretty much starter practice concertinas? Not that I mind, I only paid around $150 for the one I use now and its served me well enough as a beginner


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 14 - 03:30 PM

my point is that 26 key lachenals are the best value for money.
30 key accordion reeded concertinas sound like accordions, even though some of the morses for example have good actions.
or alternatively get a 20 key dg lachenal they are not too common but they exist, the advantage of this is that you can play irish music on a dg 20key, and have lots of alternative directions for the same note, because the 2 rows of dg like cg have many of the same notes in common but in differnt directions


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Mar 14 - 07:21 PM

"my point is that 26 key lachenals are the best value for money."

Well, that rather depends on what you want your instrument to do. My first Anglo was a 26-button Lachenal and, although it was a nice box, I traded it in after a couple of years because it didn't play the chords I needed. I'm not aware, BTW, that 26-button instruments are especially common. There is just one 26-buttoner, a Jones, on Ebay right now, key unspecified, current bid very low, but billed by the seller as a "restoration project". There's also a 30-button Lachenal needing a lot of TLC that might be a better bet for the would-be-repairer.

"alternatively get a 20 key dg lachenal they are not too common but they exist, the advantage of this is that you can play irish music on a dg 20key"

Apart from the fact that few Irish concertina players favour a D/G instrument, our OP Matthew has not said at any point that he wants to play Irish music. He has said he likes to accompany songs.

"30 key accordion reeded concertinas sound like accordions"

I've played several Morse instruments and (speaking as one who usually plays a beautiful 100-year-old Crabb) they sounded nothing like accordions. IMHO the sniffy attitudes I sometimes encounter about 'hybrid' instruments are, more often than not, pure snobbery.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 18 Mar 14 - 08:34 PM

I have to agree with Brian. A 26-key might be value for money if you want to play Irish music as you probably wouldn't use the other buttons much, but if you want to play harmonic styles then you'll miss those low notes. My first concertina was a 26-key and whilst it offers more options than a 20-key I soon found it limiting.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Mar 14 - 09:57 PM

Brian you are entitled to your opinion, but since accordion reeded concertinas are accordion reeds they will sound like single reeded accordions,
they also sound like accordion reed accordions because they are constructed differently, and this is reflected in the acoustic sound, this is not snobbery, you are a good player but you are showing that you understand nothing about the reasons for the construction of the concertina and why the reeds have seperate chambers., and use certain timber for the sound board.
i too have played several morse instruments and because of their construction and the use of inferior accordion reeds they sound like single reed accordions.
of course 26 keys are more limiting than 30 keys, but they are less limiting than 20keys, and cost about 1000 euros rather than 200o plus, so they are better value, if you are on a restricted budget., and offer more option song accompaniment wise than a 20 key anglo.
if the player wants to accompany songs, much depends on what keys he wants to sing in, if he can sing well in c and g, a 20 key will be fine, if he wants to sing in d and g a 20 key dg will do.
if he wants to sing in b flat he would need to get a 30 key.. what is the point of buying an accordion reed concertina which in effect sounds like a single reed accordion when you can buy a single reeded accordion BC, THAT IS FULLY CHROMATIC ,SO THAT YOU CAN PLAY IN ANY KEY FOR SONG ACCOMPANIMENT. MORSE CONCERTINAS, AND ALL ACCORDION REEDED INSTRUMENTS ARE NOTHING BUT GLORIFIED SINGLE REED ACCORDIONS PRETENDING TO BE CONCERTINAS, they do not produce the sane sound as concertina that is constructed with concertina reed and seperate reed chambers.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 04:40 AM

The traditional concertina construction takes longer than making concertinas that do not have seperate acoustic chambers for the reeds, please explain to me why any concertina maker who needed to make a profit on the making of an instrument would push the cost of construction up,if it was not because the quality of sound was better, furthermore the size and thickness of reeds in vintage concertina makes such as Wheatstone are clearly to be seen as superior to the size and thickness of accordion reeds in concertinas.
as far as i am concerned it is of no relevance that irish players do not favour a dg concertina, not many of them [these days favour a dg button accordion because it is not fully chromatic], but when i hear the dg button accordion played by tim edey, it becomes clear that as usual it is not the system but the player that is important, tim edey plays beautiful music on a dg button accordion.
30 key button concertinas with concertina reeds cost 2500 plus. morse concertinas Base price is $2,450.
26 key lachenals[jones can be slow action wise] can be bought in good condition for 100o euros, much depends on the ops budget, but to suggest that the preference for the acoustic sound of traditional concertians is pure snobbery, is in my opinion missing the point as to why they were constructed like that in the past.
finally you pay for what you get and value wise despise it being more limited by 4 buttons than a 30 key, generally these 4 buttons are missing on the accidental row [how many players use the top sounding buttons on the accidental row right hand side anyway very few], the notes i am talking about are rather squeaky
the 26 key is good value and a good compromise, being less limited than a 20 key, and use proper concertina reeds and traditional construction and in my opinion are superior when it comes to acoustic sound. I am flabbergasted by Brian Peters comments.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Howard Jones
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 05:13 AM

I don't agree that hybrids sound like accordions. The sound is affected by other aspects of the construction besides the reed itself, and they have a sound of their own. However it is true that they don't sound quite like traditional concertinas, but it's a matter of personal taste whether that matters. Different isn't necessarily worse. I've heard good hybrids which to my ears sound better than an average traditionally-reeded instrument. The question of reeds aside, he quality of construction of a new hybrid may be better than a 100-year old instrument which has seen continual use.

It all comes down to what style you want to play. If you just play melody (Irish music for example), which is principally played in the middle range of the instrument, you may find you make little use of the additional four buttons, and a traditionally-reeded 26-key may well be a better solution than a 30-key hybrid. On the other hand, if you play chordally those additional buttons come in very useful, especially on the left hand but also on the right, and it may be worth accepting a small compromise in the tone in return for that greater playability.

If an instrument doesn't meet your particular needs then being cheaper doesn't make it good value for you.

For what it's worth, I play 'English harmonic' style, rather like Brian does. I have a 40-key C/G and a 31-key G/D and I make use of all the buttons from time to time, including the 'squeaky' right hand ones but particularly the low notes on the LH accidental row.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 05:30 AM

"I am flabbergasted by Brian Peters comments."

Morning Mr Schweik, nice to see that sticky caps lock key isn't playing up today.

I think I said further up the thread that the best players favour top quality vintage instruments or hand-built modern ones (which of course are fitted with traditional reeds). No argument there. I also said that a good 30-button Lachenal would have been the next best thing, especially twenty-odd years back, before they really started to go up in price. The thing is that Lachenals vary enormously in quality and sound, and the really good ones (which are excellent instruments) have become very expensive. On the other hand, some Lachenals are really not that great. The name doesn't guarantee quality.

'Hybrid' concertinas were developed to fill a gap in the market (your price comparison, incidentally, seems to be in pounds versus dollars, which is a bit misleading). No-one is saying that the sound of a Morse is identical to that of a Wheatstone, but then, Lachenals, Crabbs, Jeffries, Jones and the Dippers of today all sound different from one another, and individual models of the same make can sound very different too.

I don't think I've ever come across a 'single-row accordion' but, even if the player stops down to a single reed (rare in my experience) it's still a totally different instrument to any kind of concertina, never mind an anglo. To say that a Morse 'sounds like an accordion' is (IMHO) plainly untrue.

I'm not sure how we got on to button accordions, but a B/C would be no use for song accompaniment unless it had full accordion basses.

"if he can sing well in c and g, a 20 key will be fine"

Dick, we all admire your song accompaniments on the English concertina, but since we're talking anglos, please pay attention to musicians who have been playing anglo a long time, like Howard Jones and myself. A 20-button instrument has no low F and no middle G (pull) on the left hand, and is thus inadequate for chordal accompaniments, even in its home key of C. A 26-button likewise has no low F. It is limited in terms of song accompaniment. End of.

Lastly, back to Matthew our OP:

"So I take it 20 button concertinas are pretty much starter practice concertinas?"

These days I'd say that's generally true. However, one of the great traditional players, William Kimber, managed to play fine morris dance music on twenty buttons, and when presented with a 30-button instrument carried on playing the way he'd always done, ignoring the extra ten! Listen to him here

Matthew, if you're in Windsor, Ontario, have you come across Robin Harrison and Paul Read in Toronto? Fine anglo players who love English music! And Frank Edgeley in Windsor, who builds good anglos?


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 06:04 AM

Dick..."Single reeded accordions"? I guess you mean the old French accordeon or 'flutina'? Yes, those do sound quite like concertinas.

I didn't think there was only one reed layout for traditional concertinas (pre-WWI?). The German-made instruments, for instance. Were they not the most common distributed in the world during this "traditional" period of which we speak? Why must the German-system concertinas (bisonoric) sound like English concertinas? Why is that timbre better? Is it something to do with the way old posh Britishers talked like their nose was stuffed up? :) Some people think accordions sound nice :-) It makes me think of nice warm beer halls. Concertina is the push pull instrument where you've got single notes on each side...it's not defined as the instrument with reeds made like some English makers did... is it?

I think the English concertina sound, being the historically rarefied and "upper class" sound, is potentially out of place in "folk" music. At least, to put it at the center and to push the popular Anglo/German/hybrid sounds to the curb is not real friendly-like, now is it. Especially since the German-system concertina is just as much an American (etc etc) music's instrument as an English music one. I dunno why I'd be striving for my instrument to sound like the English concertina.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 08:13 AM

"I'm not sure how we got on to button accordions, but a B/C would be no use for song accompaniment unless it had full accordion basses".
rubbish, it depends entirely on circumstance, if the accompanist was playing, with a guitar no basses are required neither is it necessary to use basses for song accompaniment even when playing solo, single harmony can be used, plus melody and right hand chords., basses are not a necessity for song accompaniment.
both you and howard are talking absolute claptrap about concertina construction, do you expect me to say oh yes you are absolutely right, all the old concertina makers were spending extra hours on concertina construction because it made no difference in sound.
"I don't think I've ever come across a 'single-row accordion'"
I said SINGLE REED ACCORDION, check out castagnari lily, if you have not heard of single reeded accordions, you are again showing you are out of your depth in this discussion.



    iris bouebe

   



Castagnari Lilly
RRP £1,735.00

£1,549.00
Discount 11%
Castagnari

Includes FREE Premium Workshop Setup

One of the most popular and best selling Castagnari models worldwide. It is a most attractive lightweight, compact button accordion with a solid walnut or light maple casing. The single bank of handmade reeds deliver a clear powerful sound.

incidentally single row accordions also exist they are also known over here as melodeons, but I was talking about single reeded accoprdions
FINALLY, Brian, and again you are missing my point, of course the 26 key is more limted than the 30 key, but it is less limited than the 20 key, that IS MY POINT, it is also considerably cheaper than the 30 key concertinas with concertina construction, it has a different sound from accordion reeded concertinas, many of which have good actions,but by their nature of construction and superior reeds sound different, END OF.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 08:22 AM

Brian, the fact is i do have anglos in my house and have expolored the finger board, i also have a partner Cathy Cook, and step son, Niall Boyle who are both long time anglo players, they can be heard on Concertinas and, available from my website, so naturally i have discussed anglos and 2o, 26, 30 buttons with them, so your remark was a bit presumptious.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 08:41 AM

in this next clip steve dickinson a concertina maker for many years discuuses concertinas and acoustics, Iprefer to listen to a concertina maker who has made many quality instrumenbts on the subjedt of concertina acoustics,rather than someone who although is a very good player [Brian Peters], appears in my opinion to be misinformed on the subject of concertina acoustics
http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/5148
check out 1.48, to 2 48 talking about frequency.I rest my case


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 08:56 AM

"I don't think I've ever come across a 'single-row accordion'"
I said SINGLE REED ACCORDION


Whoops, my mistake! I did indeed mean to type "single-reed accordion". Very careless. And you are also right that the Lilly is a melodeon (and hence a type of accordion) with single reeds. Not that it sounds anything like a Morse anglo, of course.

Neither Howard nor myself said that the method of construction makes no difference to the sound - rather the opposite in fact.

You could theoretically accompany songs with a B/C accordion but it would be a very strange choice.

I'm aware that there is anglo-playing talent amongst your nearest and dearest, but your remarks about accompanying songs on the anglo suggest that you haven't explored the topic in any great detail. I've only been doing it for thirty-five years, so as you suggest I am no doubt way out of my depth in the discussion.

And I may be accused of presumptuousness, but at least I don't go flinging words like 'rubbish' and 'claptrap' around at anyone who has a different opinion.

PS who is 'Iris Boube' and what's her opinion? If it were Iris Bishop I'd be happy to listen.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:14 AM

Concertina is the push pull instrument where you've got single notes on each side...it's not defined as the instrument with reeds made like some English makers did... is it?
concertinas are both unisonic and bisonic, themost common sytems are english anglo german and duet, here is a duet played by me
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9k0HmPElec


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:17 AM

I rest my case

Nice video, but it's about the English concertina...and playing the "high class" stuff that was played on that instrument in Victorian era. It's not really about the popular German-system concertina, now is it? So it actually seems to make the case even stronger that the idea of a a "proper" (a snobby English word if there ever was one) concertina sound is that one.

Ohh, a "pure" sound, he says. Let me go now and wash myself with Ivory soap, for I am unclean. Really, who seeks to *eliminate* overtones in an instrument? I mean, there is nothing wrong with it if it's what you like, but neither is it the typical or naturally desirable thing. It's desirable for some people because they're used to the sound.

If the Folk Revival people hadn't for some reason gravitated towards English concertina and they'd just gone along banging out the dance tunes on german-system models like their grandparents, would this sound have become so revered?


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:21 AM

Steve Dickinson, a noted concertina maker makes it very clear in the clip i provided.have alisten and he explains exactly why there is a difference in sound, between accordion reeds and concertina reeds and between the two different constructions of concertina. You bande the word snobbery around this is nonsense and claptrap,Steve explains succinctly it is Physics.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:26 AM

Apart from his obvious typo referring to single row accordion as opposed to single reed accordion, I cannot fault anything that Brian Peters has said. Go for the 30 button upgrade, Mathew.

A 26 button is going to be of little or no advantage over a 20 key for song accompaniment, and in terms of build quality I have yet to see a really decent one. It's like sticking a couple of extra wheels on a VW Beetle and expecting it to be competitive in Formula One....

As for negative comments about hybrid concertinas and their perceived "accordion-like" tone, their slight excess (to my ear) of upper partials can easily be removed by fitting cloth baffles beneath the end covers.

And as a button accordion player, I would never recommend a single reed accordion because they sound to me too much like a concertina..... (tongue firmly in cheek!!!)


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:31 AM

"concertinas are both unisonic and bisonic, the most common sytems are english anglo german and duet,"
?? And you read my post but for some reason thought I wouldn't know that?
The point of the sentence you quoted is that concertina is not defined primarily by the placement or type of reeds.
The OP is not concerned with type of reeds/ reed layout, but rather the available pitches on bisonoric models.
But it sounds like you've been hanging around the people who - let's face it, are a wee bit snobby - and so they insert this talking point about the "special concertina reeds in their individual chambers" to show off their knowledge of what is "proper." Yes, that *is* a feature that gives certain concertinas their unique timbre...a timbre that some prefer... but its a bizarre thing to jump in and emphasize when the talk is of the mechanics of playing the bisonoric instrument. Please tell the best woods that your Anglo-playing friends say are the best to make them out of, too. Because that's so much more important than what low notes I can get on the lower row of the the 30 key instrument.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Howard Jones
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:35 AM

I think Dick, Brian and I are all agreed that accordion-reeded concertinas sound different from concertina-reeded ones. Dick thinks they sound like accordions, Brian and I disagree, but even if they do, so what? They don't play like accordions or melodeons, they play like concertinas. Whether or not you like their sound is a matter of personal taste, and just one of the factors to be taken into consideration when choosing an instrument.

I would guess that Dick's partner and step-son play Irish music, in which case a 26-key may well be a very good and cheaper alternative (assuming you can find one), for reasons given in my earlier post. However if you play in the style that Brian and I do it is lacking some essential notes - having played a 26-key for several years before moving up I know this only too well. For these players a hybrid 30-key offers all the notes necessary, at the expense of a slightly different (but not necessarily inferior) sound. For many players, who cannot afford a traditionally-reeded 30-key, this is a compromise they are prepared to make.

Unless money is no object, you have to compromise somewhere. It might the keyboard layout or the sound - only the individual player can decide which choice is right for them.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 09:56 AM

it has nothing to do with snobbery, it is to do with physics and acoustics, the two differnt consructions produce a difference in sound, please take not of steve dickinson who has made hundreds of concertinas, how many have you made gibb? the actions on lachenal and morses are comparable,the action on hohner and stagi are crap.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Howard Jones
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 10:25 AM

The snobbery lies in the implication that the different sound of accordion reeds is so inferior that a player should accept a more limited keyboard in order to achieve the traditional concertina sound.

Dick, your argument seems to stem from your misapprehension stated in your post of 17 Mar 14 - 05:25 PM that "all that you need is a 26 key anglo, you do not need 30 key". That may be true if you play Irish music, it is emphatically not the case for other styles. If you need those additional notes, a 26-key simply will not do.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 12:23 PM

accordion reeds are inferior you only have too see them and try and tune them to be aware of that, furthermore most accordions require 2 or 3 reeds where a concertina[using concertina reeds] will only need 1 reed, to acheive comparable volume
in appearnce the traditonal concertina reed is much bigger and thicker and can take a different method of tuning, filing instead of scraping, it is quite clearly superior in size and thickness.
Howard, you are forgetting that my point was that the 26 was a compromise,but it enables a player to get a quality instrument that has a superior construction and superior reeds and an equal action at a cheaper price, it does not have a more limited keyboard than a 2o, it it has more potential than the very limited 20 key cg. it all depends whether you want to look at as half empty or half full, do you understand that Howard.
you do not need a 30 key unless you want to be fully chromatic, my point is that if we knew what keys the poster normally sings in, we would be able to advise better, if the poster sings in c and g all he needs is a 20 key, if he sings in a flat he will need a 30 key. more information is needed, if he sings in g and d, a 20 key gd will do. Snobbery does not come in to it, if the poster knows what keys he sings in we could give better advice and perhaps save him a spending over a thousand on a 30 key , if it is not needed.
"The snobbery lies in the implication that the different sound of accordion reeds is so inferior that a player should accept a more limited keyboard in order to achieve the traditional concertina sound".
that is your interpretation, that is not what i said, if you want to read that into my post that is YOUR problem, so please do not accuse me of snobbery when i have not said any such thing.
THE REEDS ARE INFERIOR AS REGARDS THE VOLUME OF SOUND.iTHINK THEY SOUND LIKE SINGLE REEDED ACCORDIONS, but i did not say that the quality of sound was inferior, it is in my opinion inferior volume wise, and within that there is a variation, stagis and hohners being very quiet, morses are louder,and are almost up to lchenal cheaper models in volume, because they use better accordion reeds


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Alan Day
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 01:45 PM

I started my concertina playing with a Hohner 20 large white button CG Anglo, purchased for £10 at Bell Accordions.I required it for playing Morris Dancing Music and stuck with it for a number of years.The main reason for this was a question of economics,with a young family I could not afford anything better.There is a hell of a lot of music that can be played on a twenty button concertina.It did have accordion style reeds that was perfectly adequate for my playing at that time and many at an advanced stage of Anglo playing know that across the rows and not playing the bellows forcefully, there are some very nice chords to be found.
Eventually the reeds started to disintegrate and a new concertina was necessary.My advice would be to spend as much money as you can afford.It is also worth considering the different systems available,particularly if you are going down the singing and playing route.I certainly admire what Brian can do as far as accompaniment and singing using the Anglo, a very difficult instrument to achieve this aim. Alternatively the English and Duet concertinas seem to be easier for singing accompaniment cutting out the push pull difficulties that you have with an Anglo.Many a player, when learning, breaths with the direction of the bellows and a long pull, or push sequence ,leaves the singer gasping for air.How do I know that? Because I have done it.
I have played many Anglo concertinas and there are good and bad in the lot.Some Lachenal's are dreadful on the other hand some are superb,the same goes for most makes.My advice would be to play a few and see what you enjoy playing and the sound it creates,it maybe that the more soft sounding accordion reeded concertinas suites your rather soft singing voice.
Al


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 01:51 PM

"if the poster sings in c and g all he needs is a 20 key"

Noooooooo!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 02:47 PM

09:21 AM Soldier Dick said:
"Steve Dickinson, a noted concertina maker makes it very clear in the clip i provided.... he explains exactly why there is a difference in sound, between accordion reeds and concertina reeds and between the two different constructions of concertina".

Hello guys, despite probably annoying some of you this referrence can not stand un-opposed. With all due respect for Steve Dickinson and his unquestioned merits as a maker I am sorry to say that his description in the video really is not quite adequate. With excuses for minor swenglish misinterpretations on my behalf this is what he says:

"…concertinas have a different sound from accordions…what makes that uniqueness?…the sound of the actual reed
is modified within the instrument...the reed itself vibrates within an inclosed chamber…that can be approximated to
a simple harmonic motion by the reed and every space has got a resonance frequency..the (chamber) space is arranged so that its frequency is comparable with that of the reed...the two combine and amplify the sound ...this gives very pure sound whithout any overtones...you don't get this in a melodeon or an accordion because the reed in those operates in a free space...they don't have this chambered arrangement"

There are a some factual misunderstandings here and my guess is that he uncritically has adopted traditional hearsay. He is in good company however in such case...Neil Wayne in "The Wheatstone English concertina" in Galpin soc.March 1991 page 139:said:

"It was Charles Wheatstone's research on the acoustical linkage of tuned pipes and chambers with metal free reeds
in 1828 and 1830 that led to the introduction of tuned reed chambers into his firm's concertinas and as early as 1838
most of his concertinas had at least three or four of their smallest reed chambers fitted with a cork cross piece to
adjust the volume of the chamber and to tune it to the resonant frequency of the reed within the chamber…."

I have heard/read similar reports from others too so it is difficult to explore from where the ideas originate.

First in theory:
The matter of resonance in physics is a highly mathematical issue.The resonance frequencies in the lower octave chambers in a
treble concertina may be around 5000Hz if the chamber is around 50mm while the correspoonding reed frequency is around 200 Hz. The consecutive measures of chambers do not correlate to the sequence of reed frequencies either. You simply can not get the needed size of instrument to execute the assumed "frequency comparable with that of the reed" or "tuned reed chambers" .Even if you calculate with higher resoncance frequences it is impossible t achieve any consequent tuning of the chambers.

Secondly in practise:
The matters of resonance in accordions have been scientifically investigated and documented for example at the old "Institut für Musikinstrumentenbau in Zwota". I did some tonespectrometric studies myself in the 1980s with concertinas and did not manage to reveal any significant resonance phenomena at all, neither from the chambers nor the box..
The maybe most obvious proof that there is no amplification from the chamber or other coloring of the tone from the chamber acting on the individual reed comes from the Anglo as there is no major difference in sound between push and pull notes acting in the same chamber while the note frequencies may differ considerably.
The presence of the reed chambers IS the same with all squeezeboxes and the true technical function is to separate the air flow between the reeds and to offer efficient pressure and air flow conditions ! NO acoustical intention with them at all BUT they do modify the sound more or less still - seemingly primarily by absorption of higher (overtone) frequences.
It is of course obvious however that most "concertina reeds" sound differently from "accordion reeds". The influence from box factors may be considerable too. For instance does the exactly same reed produce a different sound in a common treble vs in a big baritone or baritone-treble.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 03:04 PM

Irem ember harry boardman po laying and singing cob coaling on his anglo sounded like he was playing straight uop and down the rows. heres peter bellamy playing straight up and down the rows,this can be played on a 20 key.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhQMsONIwng
the answer is YES., as ilustrated above
Brian, you could at least have the grace to admit that Steve Dickinson, has made it clear why the concertinas were constructed as they were and that his explanation regarding acoustics, has nothing to do with snobbery.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 03:09 PM

GURAN you have been remarkably quiet for a long time, I was concerned you may have passed on to another world.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 04:03 PM

Dick, as so often appears to happen, you seem to be finding an argument where there is none.

No one has disputed that accordion reeds are different. I wouldn't even try to argue too hard that they are not inferior - they are certainly easier and cheaper to make, which is of course the point. The question is whether they are fit for purpose. As someone who plays melodeon as well as anglo (as does Brian Peters, of course) I can attest that I have had no more problems with durability or tuning from accordion reeds than I have with concertinas.

I'm sorry if I misunderstood your point, but for most of this thread your objection to hybrids has been that you believe they sound like accordions. I now understand it is lack of volume which you find the problem. I don't agree with you about volume - it depends on the reeds. My Castagnari Mignon single-reeded melodeon is a real screamer which is easily comparable in volume to my Crabb and Dipper concertinas, and louder than my Lachenal.

As for hybrids sounding like an accordion - I suspect I couldn't tell the difference between a single note played on an accordion and on a hybrid, but in practice they sound completely different because they are played differently. A hybrid sounds different from a traditional concertina, but it still sounds more like a concertina than an accordion. Individual accordions of course all sound different, as do individual concertinas.

Using accordion reeds makes 30-key instruments just about affordable, when the price of traditionally-made instruments has gone through the roof. The hybrids I've come across have all been of very high build quality, and the only compromise is in the reeds. Of course this affects the sound, and if you don't like the sound then there's no more to be said. For very many players it is a compromise they are prepared to make in order to have an affordable instrument which meets their requirements.

That last point is crucial. I have never disagreed that if you don't need the extra buttons then a traditionally-made 26-key might be the better choice. I'm glad you have now recognised the corollary point, which is that if you do need the extra buttons then a hybrid is really the only affordable option.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 04:59 PM

Dick / Schweik:

I have no argument with Steve Dickinson, an excellent builder, but then he's never told me that another manufacturer's concertina is NOTHING BUT A GLORIFIED ACCORDION.

Harry Boardman was a good friend who I heard perform every Saturday night for several years. I loved and respected his music, but concertina song accompaniments were not his strongest suit.

I've already explained that Peter Bellamy played up and down the rows, and why he couldn't have done what he did on 20 buttons.

Now please stop digging, and misleading the OP.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 05:31 PM

DICK... I stayed quiet for a some time hoping that THIS world might get wiser meanwhile but if it hasn't I felt urged to interfere:-)
It is funny how quite experienced and knowledgable people sometimes are surprisingly blindfolded from obvious facts and even fooled by some kind of traditional confusion.Handmade musical instruments have always been subjects to much superstition ( like other handicraft in guild-spirit)even before Stradivarius and C Wheatstone is our example.
He was a notable inventor no doubt but it is known nowadays that he was not much involved in actual production of concertinas while many people in the "concertina world" still speak of him doing this or that when "making concertinas".

It would be very interesting to ask Steve directly from where he got this: "...the two combine and amplify the sound ...this gives very pure sound whithout any overtones...you don't get this in a melodeon or an accordion because the reed in those operates in a free space...they don't have this chambered arrangement"

Do you have any contact nowadays so you can ask him? I don't blame him at all - I have met experienced accordion makers believing that the accordion sound comes from the vibration of the reed and that the
pan on which the reed blocks are assembled operates like a resonance board of a piano...


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 07:27 PM

I am not misleading nyone , the accompaniment peter bellamy played on the fox jumped over the parsons gate can be played on a 2 row anglo concertina.
I disagree, harry boardmans accompaniment to cob coaling was fine, he accompanied his singing perfectly.
I have not said that anyones concertina was a glorified accordion, I have talked about construction of concertinas ,i have praised the action of the morse,but nowhere on this thread have i said it was a glorified accordion. Brian Peters has mentioned snobbery about accordion reeded concertinas and seems to have taken exception, to me providing back up to my point by providing a video of Steve Dickinson,talking about the construction of concertinas and their related acoustics.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 08:00 PM

GSS, 19 March 2014, 07.27 pm:
"I have not said that anyones concertina was a glorified accordion"

GSS, 18 March 2014, 09,57 pm:
"MORSE CONCERTINAS, AND ALL ACCORDION REEDED INSTRUMENTS ARE NOTHING BUT GLORIFIED SINGLE REED ACCORDIONS PRETENDING TO BE CONCERTINAS"

Step away from the spade, sir.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST,SqueezeMe
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 11:36 PM

The OP doesn't say what make of concertina he currently has, but decent 20 and 26 button ones, be they made in the England, Europe or China, are rarely of good quality (though I have encountered 20 and 26 key metal ended Jeffries and a 20 key Wheatstone Linota which are exceptions).

Almost any English-made or hybrid 30 button concertina will be of a far better quality than a 20 or 26 button, irrespective of whether the "extra" keys are useful at this time. For that reason alone, and if finances allow, seriously consider an upgrade to a 30 key (unless you happen to be the lucky owner of the above mentioned Jeffries or Linota).

Good luck Mathew, and if you find some of the crap posted on this thread to be a bit daunting, can I suggest asking for some advice at www.concertina.net


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: SqueezeMe
Date: 19 Mar 14 - 11:43 PM

That should be http://www.concertina.net/forums/


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 04:36 AM

Before this thread went mad, Brian wrote:

The most basic way to work out tunes on an anglo (as GSS said above) is to stick to a given row and work your way up and down it, which inevitably means a lot of alternation between push and pull - sometimes changing with almost every note. The simplest way to accompany a tune played in this manner is to grab a handful of buttons on the left hand and more or less stick to them, which (because the LH buttons are push-pull as well) inevitably means changes of chord - and quite possibly involuntary discord - on every switch between push and pull. I discourage pupils from doing this since it gives very little control over the chords you're playing, can give quite unmusical accompaniments, and is the opposite of the kind of sustained chording that slow songs in particular often benefit from.

and I've been thinking about it, with particular reference to the choppy (in fact harmonica-like) accompaniment Bellamy put to songs like Death is not the end. It struck me that, if you're playing a tune in C on one hand, holding down C and G on the other hand is always going to give you something - it may be a sus chord (C/D/G), it may be a minor seventh with a note missing (A/C/G), but it'll sound "chordy". If, when you hold down C & G on the push, you're also holding down G & D on the pull, so much the better - again, you're always going to get something.

And I guess that is more or less what Bellamy was doing. (Incidentally, I hadn't realised the two sides of an Anglo were so close together tonally - I'd assumed the LH would be big, throaty baritones like the LH on a Duet.) Duplicating the effect on the EC, ironically, would take some very nifty fingerwork.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 04:50 AM

squeeze me, I disagree ,in my experience 26 key lachenals[not jones] are of reasonably good quality and have actions that are better than most accordion reeded concertinas.
One indicator, apart from the use of ears and playing the instrument, is the detail in the fretwork, a good rule of thumb is this the more intricate the more likely it is to be better, mahogany concertinas were generally the cxheapest rosewood were the next up the ladder
Brian,it is not snobbery, the sound is different, the reasons were explained by steve dickinson, you are wrong but do not have the grace to admit your error.
I gave an example of Bellamys playing which on the occasion was a song that could have been played on the 20 key, the op seemed to express some sort of experience of Bellamys playing, the clip seemed appropriate.
much depends on how much money the op has to spend.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 04:50 AM

Peter Bellamy's style was extraordinary. It really shouldn't work, but in his hands it was somehow amazingly effective as an accompaniment to his equally extraordinary but also amazingly effective singing. I know he wasn't to everyone's taste, but he was an incredibly talented interpreter and creator of songs.


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: GUEST,SqueezeMe (my cookie's gone awol)
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 05:18 AM

Dick said "...in my experience 26 key lachenals[not jones]...have actions that are better than most accordion reeded concertinas."

I believe you are mistaken. Most, if not all the hybrids have a riveted action, similar to your Wheatstone. I would say that the Morse action in particular is as fast, accurate and quiet as any bone buttoned Jeffries.

You are correct though that mahogany ended concertinas were generally a cheaper grade than rosewood. However, most of the 26 button Lachenals I have seen (and that's quite a few) have mahogany ends and little fretting, so that speaks volumes doesn't it!


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Subject: RE: 20 Button Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 20 Mar 14 - 06:13 AM

SqueezeMe: "Most, if not all the hybrids have a riveted action, similar to your Wheatstone"

One little detail on actions must be commented. Among various kinds of superstition... the misunderstandings are common regarding possible differences between riveted lever/post connections and hook/saddle connections.There is no general superiority of riveted connections except making it easier to handle the parts when removing the ends and putting them back


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