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CONCERTINA Advice Solicited

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Uncle Jaque 05 Sep 00 - 10:31 PM
Bob Bolton 05 Sep 00 - 10:54 PM
CarolC 05 Sep 00 - 11:50 PM
Musicman 06 Sep 00 - 12:15 AM
CarolC 06 Sep 00 - 03:56 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Sep 00 - 04:19 AM
Jock Morris 06 Sep 00 - 07:43 AM
oggie 06 Sep 00 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 07 Sep 00 - 07:11 AM
Bob Bolton 08 Sep 00 - 03:23 AM
Uncle Jaque 08 Sep 00 - 12:16 PM
oggie 08 Sep 00 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,Alex 08 Sep 00 - 11:04 PM
Bob Bolton 09 Sep 00 - 03:52 AM
Uncle Jaque 09 Sep 00 - 09:41 PM
Bill D 09 Sep 00 - 10:13 PM
Jock Morris 12 Sep 00 - 10:47 AM
GeorgeH 13 Sep 00 - 11:11 AM
oggie 13 Sep 00 - 01:47 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Jan 04 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,pavane 07 Jan 04 - 07:42 AM
Bob Bolton 07 Jan 04 - 09:53 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 08 Jan 04 - 05:49 AM
treewind 08 Jan 04 - 03:22 PM
bazza 08 Jan 04 - 03:38 PM
JWB 08 Jan 04 - 05:00 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 08 Jan 04 - 06:17 PM
GUEST 08 Jan 04 - 08:08 PM
Bob Bolton 08 Jan 04 - 08:49 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Jan 04 - 06:47 AM
EBarnacle 09 Jan 04 - 02:46 PM
Bob Bolton 10 Jan 04 - 07:40 AM
JWB 10 Jan 04 - 11:56 PM
Bob Bolton 11 Jan 04 - 12:52 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Jan 04 - 07:58 PM
Gurney 12 Jan 04 - 04:53 AM
Bob Bolton 12 Jan 04 - 06:26 AM
GUEST,MacCann player 12 Jan 04 - 07:57 AM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Jan 04 - 08:02 AM
alanww 12 Jan 04 - 08:11 PM
Bob Bolton 12 Jan 04 - 08:37 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 13 Jan 04 - 12:42 PM
JWB 13 Jan 04 - 01:30 PM
Bob Bolton 13 Jan 04 - 07:36 PM
Gurney 14 Jan 04 - 04:31 AM
Bob Bolton 14 Jan 04 - 07:05 AM
The Fooles Troupe 14 Jan 04 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,HughM 15 Jan 04 - 08:13 AM
Bob Bolton 15 Jan 04 - 10:03 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Jan 04 - 02:30 AM
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Subject: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 10:31 PM

Having developed a bit of an affinity for Nautical Folk Music / Sea Chanteys, and finding it a little awkward to play my pennywhistle and sing at the same time, I've been casting about with the concept of aquiring a restorable utilitatarian (affordable?) concertina and teaching myself how to play it (?). It seems that not many guitars or banjos went to sea during the age of sail, and this instrument lends itself well to a credable period Chanteyman impression. I would appreciate any advice, tips, warnings and the like from current Concertinists as to the viability of such an endeavor, where to obtain a usable instrument, and about how much I should expect to invest. I'm figuring that a run down to the local Music Emporium to pick up a copy of Mel BAY's "Fun With the Concertina" should pretty much cover essential technique, no? Assuming that I do find a flea-market beater, does anyone out there restore them, who is willing to advise a Yankee Tinkerer how to go about it? Thanks in advance, Mates!: Yer Auld Uncle Jaque from Maine


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 10:54 PM

G'day Uncle Jaque,

I'm inclined to believe that the portable instruments used by sailors were pretty much in the same line as we see here in Australia for our 19th century settlers. Our settlers had to come in little ships and had the same restrictions for space as the sailors.

The concertina - mostly the cheap German models with brass reeds (don't rust) - were the most common and you needed to be well off to afford an English made instrument and to risk rust, rot and theft at sea. The German system - the push-pull, 2 key arrangement was fine for dance music, but could force you to choose between two equally uncomfortable keys (say, C or G ... or their related minor and Dorian modes).

In later years we see more of quite small button accordions (often illustrated with sailors in catalogues) and models like Kalbes 'Little Lord Fauntleroy' were as small as a concertina, but very few are made this small today (and those that are cosy inordinately large sums!).

The best compromise for a reasonable player is the Anglo-chromatic concertina, with its third row of accidentals allowing any key (with enough skill and practice). This is the favoured concertina for Irish playing and is consequently in high demand. I would suggest starting with a G/C Anglo-German (2-row), either a new European made Stagri or Hohner and looking about for an affordable example of and English made Lachenal, Wheatstone &c.

I play 3 Lachenals - a 22- key G/C and a 20-key that I have reorganised and made into a D/G. I have a set of Bb/F reeds and reed pans waiting to go into another 20-key body I should be restoring. I also have a couple of 'Bastaris' (now sensibly calling themselves 'Stagri' which I also play for their quite different tone. They are way short of the quality of the English instruments, but broaden the sound of a group well. I also play 1, 2 and 3-row button accordions for dance music.

As I mainly play Australian dance music, these suit me well. The Bb/F is for when I get really accurate about 19th century keys and rope in some woodwinds to play a more accurate 'German' influenced style of the day.

I don't personally go for the English tuning system - totally different instruments made for wonderful stage virtuoso work and concertina band playing. These were not the common person's instruments but can play marbellous music ... but not authentically for you type of sailors' music.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: CarolC
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 11:50 PM

Uncle Jaque,

I can't give you any technical information, but I can put you on to a good resource site. The House of Musical Traditions has a good website, an excellent store, and they sell, repair, and can give advice on these instruments. I'm pretty sure the web address is hmtrad.com If you have any trouble with that address, just type the name of the store into a search engine. (Sometimes I don't trust my memory for web addresses.)

Good luck and best wishes,

Carol


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Musicman
Date: 06 Sep 00 - 12:15 AM

Uncle Jaque:

alas, I too am a concertina, although I play a Wheatstone, chromatic concertina. I mostly play Irish music with it, do a little bit of chording, but I know people who do chord alot, and it works quite well. I am fortunate in that my instrument was handed down in my family (I can trace it's ownership back to 1906). I have had it retuned my Frank Edgley in Ontario, but I know that there are people in the eastern states who do the same. There is another link for a great concertina page at the home of Don Nichol's. Lots of information there....

Enjoy, they are a great instrument.....

Musicman


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: CarolC
Date: 06 Sep 00 - 03:56 AM

Me again. There is another thread currently active that is called "Can we talk about accordions please". Many fine people have posted there, and quite a bit of the information applies to free reed instruments in general. If you take a look at it, you might find some information you can use. I will be refreshing the accordion thread for you so that, hopefully, it won't be too hard to find.

Carol


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Sep 00 - 04:19 AM

Saw (and played) a rather nice sounding Gremlin Anglo over the weekend at the Hobgoblin stall at Fylde. Very good value for about £350 new and in Hobgoblins catalogue.

Not sure if an anglo or english is more appropriate for sea songs and shanties but the guy on the advert that gets his concertina cut up and then starts playing a mouth organ plays an anglo while singing a shanty and it sound fine.

If you already play mouth organ btw I would suggest an anglo as it is basicaly the same (suck/blow) principle.

Cheers

D the G


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Jock Morris
Date: 06 Sep 00 - 07:43 AM

I've done a bit of concertina repairing and restoring so PM me if you want some advice. There was a thread a couple of months back about concertinas in which I gave some advice to folk, but I'm darned if I can find the thread.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: oggie
Date: 06 Sep 00 - 02:04 PM

I would suggest a 2 or 3 Anglo for shanties. Dependent on your vocal range either c/g or g/d (a c/g gives more options when played in c, a g/d more when played in g). Unless you are very lucky you might as well buy a new Stagi or Gremlin 3 row. Good condition older Anglos are now quite expensive and repairs can add a lot to the price (a new set of bellows is around £150). Check out www.the-music-room.com or www.concertina.net amongst others.

The beauty of the Anglo system is you can learn it yourself by trial and error whereas the English or Duet systems (really designed for Victorian and Edwardian parlour musicians and the Salvation Army) are much more complicated and to my (biased) way of thinking illogical.

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 07:11 AM

There is a local guy here who has button accordion and who arranges Gordon Bok sea chanties for it--very effective!!

Murray


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 03:23 AM

G'day again Uncle Jaque,

I think Oggie's right to go with the Anglos - especially for authenticity, but I love the gutsy style of their push-pull action. The English System and the duets are actually far more logical ... if you are of a far more logical mind than the average folkie.

The English appeals to music readers because it places all notes between the stave on the right hand and the notes on the lines are on the left. This apparently makes great sense to piano playes and other classicists ... if not to horny-handed folk like me!

The duets are indeed designed for Victorian stage virtuosi, except for the so-called "Triumph" or "Crane" (actually designed by Butterworth, introduced by Capt. Crane and branded Triumph by the Salvation Army Stores). These are great for hymns - and not at all bad for folk songs ... but you have to wait for someone to die before one comes on the market!

A lot of the early revival players, here in Australia, took up the English system because they misunderstood what the old country players told them: "You don't want those German concertinas ... get a good English one..." meaning a good Anglo-German model ... not an English system. Notwithstanding this, because they learned the music from real old players, they can still sound good - if you really know what you want to do, you can do it on anything (well ... almost anything).

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 12:16 PM

I just found an ad in a local swap/trade rag for:

"Concertina - German made, Milano 1930's v-good condition - $85 ..." Called the number given for more details, but no answer; will try again later tonight or tomorrow (09/10/2K). Does this sound like a deal worth furthur investigation? Are there any pertainant questions I should be asking the seller prior to making the aprox. 2-hour treck to meet this concertina in person? On the basis of advice already generously provided, I am leaning towards an "Anglo" in G/D since these are the primary keys I use for guitar accompaniment.

Thanks; "Uncle Jaque", Yarmouth ME


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: oggie
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 06:14 PM

Before you buy play each note - are they clear? do they buzz? Check for woodworm! (Honest) Take the ends off and check how the reeds are attached, if there are problems and the reeds are rivetted to a block (usually about 20 reeds per block) I would reject. If the reeds are individually mounted on seperate blocks they're easier to sort out.

CHECK THE BELLOWS!! Small holes can be cured with electrical tape (my C/G has survived 20 years like that) but larger holes are trouble. If any notes sound without a button being pressed reject it (or offer a fiver)

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GUEST,Alex
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 11:04 PM

I play a Bastari English and wish I could afford a Wheatstone. The English system makes for a more fluid style of playing as you are not constantly jerking the bellows out and in. You also don't run out of air as Anglos tend to do (then you have to hit the air button with a rather unmusical "Whoosh!"). Once you get used to it the arrangement of buttons is not hard to get used to. The natural notes are all in the middle two rows (of four rows) and alternate. Staring with C on the left hand, D is on the right, E is on the left, F on the right and so on. The outer two rows on each side are the sharps and flats. Being chromatic, you have all the keys (although some are a bugger to play) C is the easiest (all on the middle two rows), then G, D etc (The more sharps and flats the more you are of the middle rows). Chording is easy as amost any two ajacent buttons (in a lot of cases three) on the middle rows of one side will give you a chord. Also, Uncle Jaque, Germans and Italians sometimes call button-key type accordions "Concertinas" they are big and square, not the six-sided instrument you are looking for.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 03:52 AM

Uncle Jaque,

Be very cautious about old German instruments - they were made for a very cheap end of the market (except for the bandoneons - the multi-multi buttoned square monsters beloved of Argentine tangoists- who call them concertinas - and mid-westerm Polish polka players). The top quality is found in English-made instruments but at a vastly greater price. Old ones that have survived from the 19th century are going to stay around for a lot longer. The Italian factory instruments of today are not too bad but a lot less lasting, with bellows that won't last as long and some dubious key actions (some importers do some degree of rework on 'special' models).

If you want an anglo based around a D/G structure you are only going to find that in a new and very expensive English-made 30+ key model (Thousands of dollars!) unless you have the skills (or helpful friends) to rebuild a 20-key G/C to a D/G as I have done.

BTW: Never patch bellows with tape - when it does finally fail ... with mastic destroying all the previously redeemable fabric ... your concertina repairer will beat you to death! A bellows infected with tape can never be redeemed.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 09:41 PM

That "Concertina" advertized turned out to be no concertina at all, but a small accordion... so I'm still shopping. One source advised not to look at a potential buy without an experienced concertinist in tow. I only knew one in the State of Maine, and have not seen him in years! Any Maine squeezeboxers out there I can call on in a pinch? All this expert advice is really helpful - much obliged, Mates! "Uncle Jaque"


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 10:13 PM

here is a local friend's Concertina page ....lots of info & links. He can be emailed and has many sources...


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Jock Morris
Date: 12 Sep 00 - 10:47 AM

I wouldn't reject a concertina just because a note played without a button being pressed. That's probably just a pad loose or missing, which is cheap and easy to repair. The Wheatstone English I restored last winter came with splits in the bellows, broken springs, missing pads, one button missing and broken wrist straps. £75 for the box, £150 for parts and 40 hours of TLC later the box sounds beautiful and is valued at £800.

Jock Morris


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GeorgeH
Date: 13 Sep 00 - 11:11 AM

Two points I'm surprised no-one has mentioned . . there's an excellent Concertina FAQ which gets posted to rec.music.folk from time to time. There's also an excellent rec.music.makers.squeezebox (IIRC!!) newsgroup which would be a good source of info (and which I THINK is the home of the faq just mentioned).

G.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: oggie
Date: 13 Sep 00 - 01:47 PM

OK - on a potentially good box like a Wheatstone I would allow more latitude on sounding notes etc, on a german or similar no-name box I would be ultra cautious even though I can do most of the repairs my self. If you have the knowledge to identify the problems and remedies you are in a reasonable position, for a novice I would take a more cautious approach. Hence my somewhat draconian comment!

All the best

Steve

PS I know infecting bellows with tape should be a capital offence, in my defence I can only say it worked and at the time it was all I could afford!


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Jan 04 - 05:57 AM

Add me to the list of beginning concertina players. I am currently trying out a rented anglo Stagi and a borrowed "Mayfair" English. I love them both, but need to settle for one.
I want to accompany singing, play ancient Irish airs and English country dance tunes, accompany my students when they dance, and probably assist the morris musicians eventually as well. I see advantages in both English and anglo. Any advice?

My current plan is to keep squeezing away at both until I am given the opportunity to own a better model of one or the other, then stick to that one. Various possibilities are floating around in my future, I just have to be patient!

Thanks for the above discussion, and for all future advice!

Allison


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 07 Jan 04 - 07:42 AM

And if you want help with playing tunes, my program HARMONY does tablature for Anglo concertinas and similar instruments (from, for example, abc tune files). You need to provide a definition file for the specific instrument, but there is already one for 30-key Anglo in C/G.

You can download from
www.greenhedges.com to try it out.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 07 Jan 04 - 09:53 PM

G'day Animaterra,

With your list of musical interests, I would say that ... all other things being equal (as they never are!) ... go for the Mayfair (or a better English, if one turns up). They are late into Wheatstone's decline period ... and made pretty cheaply, but they are still of more sound and repairable design than a Stagi.

As well, you will probably be happier with the chromatic, same-note-in-and-out English ... unless you are an experienced push-pull player (Anglo / button accordion / mouth organ). As well, the English should play fast Irish tunes quicker and smoother than any Anglo (but the Irish will hate you for it!).

I play Anglo because I'm deeply committed to Australian folk tunes, songs and styles ... and have played button accordion for forty years - and mouthorgan for 39 of those years. However I was the recipient of a kind donation of an English system Lachenal (needing a fair bit of work, but "A good concertina lasts for ever" [George Bernard Shaw] and it's about time I explored the other possibilities of that system.)

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 05:49 AM

Thanks, Bob- that's the direction I'm leaning towards, but I also very much like certain features of the anglo. Although I'm not a player, something about the Anglo seems more intuitive to me... until I want a key that's cumbersome or impossible!

Allison


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: treewind
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 03:22 PM

Keith Kendrick plays both English and Anglo systems! But he's the only person I know who does.

If you have played a keyboard, the anglo's bass in the left and treble in the right have a certain intuitive feel. I play a C/G anglo and I love the instrument, but I sometimes wonder what would happen if I had started with an English.

Whichever you choose, spend some time time trying to make it sound like the other. You learn a lot that way. Similarly my favourite anglo showpiece is an adaptation of what's better known as a duet concertina tune!

Anahata


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: bazza
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 03:38 PM

there is an anglo called the Shanteyman model made by Colin Dipper,its in the keys of F/C,I expect you could have one made by one of the accordion reeded makers in this which would not cost as much and have a much shorter delivery time .


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: JWB
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 05:00 PM

The Button Box in Amherst, Massachusetts, has a good selection of new and used squeezeboxes. They are manufacturing very nice mid-priced Anglo and English concertinas, too. You can find them on line.

I've been working on making my Anglo sound more like an English, as treewind suggests. It's fun and I think I'm actually growing new brain cells as a result of the concentration. The technique I'm after is the Irish style of playing -- "out of the rows" I think they call it. For example, playing the G major or C major scales without changing bellows direction (I have a C/G box). But I dearly love the punch I get from the old in-out in-out, playing chanteys and such. And it's more aerobic, too.

Comprimere in aeternum,

Jerry


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 06:17 PM

I'm renting the anglo from the Button Box! Doug was a friend of my sweetie. He's given me excellent advice.

Allison


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 08:08 PM

In fact a number of people do play both systems .....I do. Not because of any innate talent but rather that 25 years ago I couldn't decide which system I liked and I still haven't ! There is no conflict in playing both and I love 'em both.
            However,given the broad range of music you want to try,let me suggest the English.Chromatic,chords but less successful for Morris.
       Anglo is great.....yes more intuitive....but if you want to play tuned with chords you're pretty much tied to specific keys.ie I have a C/G,G/D with a B Flat/F coming soon.
               Also consider a duet,...people say they are difficult to learn but I've seen people play violins....a fiendish instrument,and I've actually seen people playing pianos where one hand is doing something totally different from the other .Amazing!!
Its all relative...if you practice on a duet you'll be able to play it wonderfully.
   Finally ,be prepared for other concertina players to take exception to everything I've said.They are a contentious lot,but unfailingly courteous. I love them too.
          But make sure you play one .
                         Regards Robin


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 08:49 PM

Well, I won't contradict GUEST (Robin) ... but then I also have G/C and D/G Anglos ... and a set od Bb/F reeds that will (one day) get into another Anglo body that I should be restoring ... and a Lachenal English I should also be restoring!

Many prior years of playing button accordion and mouthorgan predispose me to Anglo ... as well as the fact that this was the most common "folk" concertina - but my first concertina was a Lachenal in Wheatstone duet tuning. I know very well that all the duet systems can play wonderful music ... but I despaired of my ever doing so, after I heard what ~ 80-year-old retired Salvation Army Officers could do with them!

Concertina repairers/resellers suggest that the "sleeper" of the duet world is the MacCann (or it's earlier form, the Wheatstone Duet) ... that is, it's the system in which you will buy the most capabilty for the least price. Richard Evans, who repairs concertinas in the Blue Mts, behind Sydney, makes new Anglos ... but plays a MacCann.

I guess it all comes down to what you want to do ... and in what key. The MacCann is fully chromatic, but does favour some keys - obviously starting with those nearest to C major. I should ask Richard which keys work best on the MacCann!.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 06:47 AM

I have a McCann. Fiendishly clever design, I mustn't be as clever as I thought I was.... :-) Being a Piano/Pipe Organ trained muso, I find the Piano Accordion is perhaps my "natural" instrument...

Robin


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: EBarnacle
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 02:46 PM

Bob, perhaps you could be induced to part with that Wheatstone....I am always looking for a not too expensive backup insturment for when Virginia gets a case of sick reed. Eric


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 07:40 AM

G'day EBarnacle,

No! I was given it un-asked ... but I think my Muse has dictated that I need to broaden my concertinism ... probably for my narrow Anglo-phile sins ... but still inevitably! (OK ... various questions - and some answers - about Wheatstone's original system have been theoretical for too long.)

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: JWB
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 11:56 PM

I tried out a Stagi Hayden-system duet at the Button Box last week, and it made sense to me, much more so than the McCanns I've tried.

And Robin, with a little finger flexing it's possible to chord on the C/G Anglo in keys like D, F, Dm, Cm even A. Can't do chords with melody too well in those outer keys, but there's enough there for accompanying singing.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 12:52 AM

Gday Jerry,

The Hayden System may well be very logical ... Richard Evans, in the Blue Mts behind Sydney, is thinking of making one ... I'll have to try it out if he does.

(I must say, I suspect that the layout of the Continental Chromatic Accordion/Chromatica could be well adapted to a duet concertina - but I haven't gone so far as to lay one out to see how practical it really would be! Ayway, there seem to be more systems already in concertinas than almost any other instrument!)

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 07:58 PM

Wish I had the money to get an English...


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 04:53 AM

I've wondered (as you do) how the concertina became so associated with sailors. It was always a fragile piece of damp-vulnerable machinery, and if I was going to sea I'd take something much less vulnerable, like a bone whistle.
In my reading, the most-mentioned instrument at sea is a cigar-box fiddle, which could be made and repaired with a knife and determination. Not that I've made a study.

Mine is a Lachenal english-system. I got it from Ron Shuttleworth of Coventry Mummers in his Attics-to-Addicts days, 30 years ago.

For interest, the first 'concertinas' weren't. They were a kind of boxy button-operated mouth-organ.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 06:26 AM

G'day Gurney,

Wheatstone's fingering prototype for his original "English System" (The Symphonium ... ?) was, indeed, mouthblown ... as was the Chinese "Sheng" of the previous 2½ millennia!

The Sheng was what the European instrument makers had only discovered after China expelled Jesuit priests (and their pilferings), around 1780. Once they worked out what it did - and how, they turned it into accordions, concertinas ... mouth organs ... then the harmonium (and lots of really weird side trips!).

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GUEST,MacCann player
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 07:57 AM

Playing a MacCann isn't as hard as people make out, as long as you're focussed on what kind of music you want to play.

For example, I can knock out morris tunes and they sound much more dance-y than on English or even Anglo.

The Hayden system is even better, because it's easier to play different keys, but finding or waiting for a decent one ....

The MacCann is best in C, G, D, A minor, E minor. Away from them it gets harder.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 08:02 AM

You should look up the Bluesbox" - it's mentioned in my "Accordion for Recycled Musos: thread... :-)

Robin


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: alanww
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 08:11 PM

Allison
I have a lovely Lachenal Edeophone English concertina c1905 with metal ends.
Every time someone says that it sounds beautiful (which is often - on Saturday at the Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival, for instance!) I think how lucky I am - I can play it for morris (the metal ends mean that it has a "bright" sound), it is a joy at sessions (where it is heard even when the melodeons are in town!) and I can accompany myself when I am singing (in any key I am good enough to play in!), as it contrasts with my deeper voice tones ... But I am still learning ...
However, as other people have said before, you have to decide what you are wanting to do and stick at it! Oh and, of course, you need to practice, practice, practice ...
"Playing and singing ...!"
Alan


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 08:37 PM

G'day aagin,

I just took in Bazza's post of 4 days back:
" ... there is an anglo called the Shanteyman model made by Colin Dipper,its in the keys of F/C,I expect you could have one made by one of the accordion reeded makers in this which would not cost as much and have a much shorter delivery time ..."

Charley Noble - who sings shanties over there in chilly Maine - has a C/F Stagi ... which I understand to have been made to order. I guess he might be able to give you a better idea of the cost and time factor (Charley ... Are you out there ... ? - or you could PM him, now he and Judy are back from the Antipodes!)

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 12:42 PM

alanww, I am leaning towards the English. Even though the anglo seems to be more intuitive for me to play, I'm beginning to see the advantages of the English system. What I really want is to learn both! But I can only own one at a time. I'm hoping in a few months to acquire one and until then, I'll practice on the loaners (squeak squeak!).

Thanks for all the advice!

Allison


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: JWB
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:30 PM

Bob,

Speaking of chromatic concertinas, I was recently re-reading my old issues of "Concertina and Squeezebox" magazine, and came across an article that mentions an Anglo concertina, 20 button, in A/A#, which is fully chromatic like a button accordion in similar keys. Stinson Behlen of Texas was making them, but I've never seen or heard one. Have you?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 07:36 PM

G'day Jerry,

I've never come across a 2-row chromatic arrangement as you describe, but it is obviously possible. I don't think I would bother with it because, while it would let you play in any key - as long as the melody could fit into the (~) two octaves of the two hands, it would not offer any possibility of useful chording away from the home keys.

Even if it was done as a C/C#, it would still leave me thinking that I would be better off playing on a more "logical" chromatic - particularly a "duet" system like MacCann/Wheatstone or Triumph (Crane .../Butterworth). However that just betrays my preference for a full performance with chords (after all, it is a damned concertina!). As well, I see the duets as the most logical melody/chord instruments because they have a pretty natural split ... the right hand playing melody while the left plays chords. (But that didn't stop me selling my Lachenal-made Wheatstone Duet back in '70s ... and taking up the Anglo, as the most "traditional" option!)

All that said ... I would not be all that surprised at anything that Stinson Behlen might make! (Is Stinson still in business? I haven't heard from him for nearly a decade. I think his last letter was bitterly decrying the demise of Concertina and Squeezebox magazine.)

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Gurney
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:31 AM

Does anyone Know if that short-winged guy who was in Swan Arcade is still performing? He tucked his Duet in his oxter and played better than most with two hands.
A search with Webferret showed several American concertina manufacturers, who produce mostly Anglos. Depending on how you word the criteria, you could stay amused until it isn't funny any more.....

Bob, I've heard the story of how the reed came from China, but do you know if the provenance includes woodwind reeds?


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 07:05 AM

G'day Gurney,

No! The woodwind (beating) reed was well known all over Europe ... and most other places ... right through the middle ages. It could be as simple as a section of the same 'reed' that constituted the body of a simple reed pipe - loosened to vibrate enough to set up waves that could be tuned by the finger holes.

The metal "free reed" is a totally different principal - the metal tongue vibrates freely at a frequency determined by its length / weight / other subtle 'tuning' factors. Its great point was that each free reed was free to join in with others ... producing the world's first powerful, yet portable, harmony instruments (that's really before they redesigned the fiddle ... and classical types rarely play "double stopping" - or harmony styles on 'violin').

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 05:38 PM

Some Concertina manufacturers use "Piano Accordion Reeds" instead of traditional "Concertina Reeds".

Technique: Piano Accordion for The Recycled Muso

Tom Tonon's BluesBox™ Piano Accordions:
See here for details and sound files.
If it is still online, see here
for relevant L.A. Daily News Article.

There is some discussion about the "free reed" - a limited amount of which is in the Accordion PermaThread&trade:, and why although Piano Accordions used an asymmetrical "two ganged single action reeds" form of the reed - in the Sheng in the original oriental instruments, the reed was a single one per pitch "double acting" - i.e. worked in both directions.

The BluesBox™ uses a "double acting" single reed per pitch. This makes it able to be bent in pitch, unlike normal accordion reeds, which only bend in pitch if something is wrong. Wheatstone had woken up to the possibilities in some of his patents, but like the Victorian Computing Machine, the technical problems of designing a working machine eluded him. Piano & Button Accordion manufacturers atuck with the "Classic" form till today.

Makes one wonder whether the current dislike of Accordions - due largely to the fact that the public has an aversion to an instrument so mal-used by many inadequately trained players using poorly maintained out of tune instruments would be better or worse if the pitch could be distorted on purpose as well. But I suppose that the existence of similar sorts of things hasn't really dented the popularity of the guitar in the last fifty years...... :-)

And the possibility of using BluesBox™ reeds in Concertinas in the future - now must not be overlooked. Some predictions of the resistance to change by "Trad & Folk" musos are mentioned on their site.

Robin


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:13 AM

One thing to beware of when buying a concertina is that not all of them are tuned to concert pitch. This is no problem of course when playing solo, but if you try to play with other musicians and your concertina is in "old pitch" it will sound hideous! Re-tuning the instument takes a lot of time and patience.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 10:03 PM

G'day HughM,

What's even worse is that there is not a single "Old Pitch". Although the most common is "Kneller Hall pitch" ... old British Army standard, at A = 456 Hz, my circa 1930 Wheatstone catalogue offered five different pitches! (Old Philharmonic .. New Philharmonic ... &c).

If you buy an old concertina, you must expect to face some tuning costs on all the reeds ... and, probably, valve and pad replacements. But then, it should work very well, if it was a good concertina in its day.

Regards,

Bob Bolton.


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Subject: RE: CONCERTINA Advice Solicited
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 02:30 AM

Bob,
do you have a exhaustive list of the various pitch standards? (and their pitches, of course!)


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