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Don Taylor

New, Lower Priced Mid-Range Anglo From Concetina Connection?

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I think that the Minstrel is new?

Seems like it is at a price point between the Rochelle and other hybrids like the Clover.

Has anybody tried one?

Added: Looks like the same casework design as the Clover. Maybe with cheaper bellows and reeds?

Edited by Don Taylor

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Since I'm in the market for an Anglo a step up from the Rochelle I inquired and received the following reply from Concertina Connection:

 

"The Minstrel is the economy version of the Clover, it has standard bellows, instead of the Wakker bellows, delrin buttons (vs. metal capped traditional), it has the same reeds and action. The performance values (airflow, dynamics, harmonic spectrum, etc.) is comparable to all the hybrids out there, but at a much lower price.”

 

Promising indeed.

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Perhaps this will bode well for a hybrid English between the Jack/Jackie and the Rose?

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I wrote to Concertina Connection and they told me that they do plan to introduce cost-reduced versions of the Rose (EC) and Peacock (Hayden duet). These will, however, have fewer buttons than their older brethren.

 

No timeline given as they are constrained by production capacity. Actually they did say 'later this year' so not that long to wait.

 

Don.

Edited by Don Taylor

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Great to hear Don. I look forward to this, as it'll be the next in line for me after my Jackie, most likely.

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Posted (edited)

The Busker has 36 buttons from G3 to C6 with no missing accidentals - by my count anyway. A good price for a useful box, especially if you have a Jackie to trade in.

 

No plans for a baritone or tenor version which removes a temptation for me.

 

I would have thought a value priced baritone would be very appealing to someone who already owns a vintage treble.

Edited by Don Taylor

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Posted (edited)
No plans for a baritone or tenor version which removes a temptation for me.

 

I would have thought a value priced baritone would be very appealing to someone who already owns a vintage treble.

 

While you're waiting for one from Concertina Connection, you could consider the Morse concertinas from the Button Box. Their 37-button Albion is available in both treble and baritone versions, and the 45-button Geordie in treble, tenor, and baritone versions.

Edited by JimLucas

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Jim

 

(You mean the Geordie not the Beaumont which is a Hayden).

 

The Morse Albion is 2x the price of the new Concertina Connection Busker. I am sure it is a better box, but not quite the value pricing of the Busker.

 

Don.

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(You mean the Geordie not the Beaumont which is a Hayden).

You're right. I've now fixed my post.

 

The Morse Albion is 2x the price of the new Concertina Connection Busker.

Right again. I had looked at several instruments on both web sites, and I obviously remembered the wrong price when I thought of the Busker.

Thanks for the corrections.

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Speaking as a former maker of R.Morse & Co concertinas at the Button Box (and as someone who has had a good crack at playing the Clover and Rose models sold in the BBox shop, as well as having a good look at their construction inside and out), I've been eyeing the latest releases from Concertina Connection - the Minstrel and now the Busker - with great curiosity as to how their prices are so much lower. Please note that 1) I haven't had a chance to handle, play, or examine a Minstrel or Busker, so all I can do is speculate; and 2) I'm a former (not current) Button Box employee, not speaking for the Button Box or R.Morse & Co in any official capacity.

 

The website spells out a few things, most notably that the Minstrel and Busker bellows are of a different construction. I'm not entirely sure what that means as far as how the instrument plays and feels, or how it breaks in and holds up over time, but it does clearly account for a chunk of the price difference. And the Busker is obviously cheaper than the Rose partly because it has fewer buttons, but the Busker and the Albion are about the same in button-count (while the Rose and the Geordie are about the same in button-count).

 

While differences in components other than the bellows may also play a part in price difference, my speculation is that the bulk of the cost savings is labour: Morse concertinas are made - stem to stern, assembly and almost all components - in Massachusetts, with very few exceptions (Italian reeds being the main one). Most of what enters the Button Box is raw material sourced (entire animal hides, sheets of brass, etc) from within America; most components are fabricated in house; and the ones that are outsourced are outsourced to local master craftsman like Al Ladd who work closely with the Button Box.

 

My understanding is that the Clover and Rose are assembled in America but some of the components are made elsewhere and shipped to America; and my speculation is that Minstrel and Busker are entirely or almost entirely made outside America. (Anybody who has information about this to the contrary, please inform us and I will stand corrected!) This would substantially reduce the cost of the Minstrel and Busker and likely account for a majority of the savings. On top of getting a great instrument when you buy a Morse, you are supporting a small local business (~10 employees), local craftsmen, and local and regional materials suppliers, and that costs a good bit more than Chinese labour; there's just no way around that.

 

I'm not trying to make a political statement or attach an inherent value to this; I'm just pointing out the economic reality that's probably partly responsible for the large price differentials here.

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My understanding is that the Clover and Rose are assembled in America but some of the components are made elsewhere and shipped to America; and my speculation is that Minstrel and Busker are entirely or almost entirely made outside America. (Anybody who has information about this to the contrary, please inform us and I will stand corrected!)

I recommend that you contact Wiim Wakker directly and ask him, then report back to us.

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Regarding the Minstrel (anglo), Busker (English), and Troubadour (duet, available 2018) models….

 

A few facts:
Except for our entry level models (Jackie/Jack/Rochelle/Elise), ALL our models (34 in total; 6 hybrids and 28 with traditional reeds, ranging in price from $445 to $34100), are made here in the USA.

 

The only parts we import are the (accordion) reeds for the hybrid models (we make our own traditional reeds), and the bellows for the Minstrel/Busker/Troubadour models, which are made for us in the UK.
We also import our tonewoods for the Wakker models ourselves from all over the world, because the quality and aging is not available in the US.

 

We noticed that a growing number of (new) players were financially unable/not willing to make the jump from our entry level models to the next model up. We wanted to introduce a concertina line between our entry level (Rochelle, Jackie, etc) and intermediate hybrid models (Clover, Peacock, Rose) that would be

- affordable (starting at $1030 with a trade in).

- dependable: comes with our life time warranty and guaranteed trade in value when moving up.

- comparable to other hybrid models in performance and materials:

 

Materials:
All wood construction (non-tonal), synthetic glues, acoustically invisible finish (ebonized), same (accordion) reeds as you’ll find in all the other hybrids, 6 fold traditional concertina bellows, delrin buttons (like most hybrid makers use), and a traditional rivet action.

 

Performance:
-bellows travel: resistance free travel with standard bellows:60-70% (same as all other rig made bellows), with Wakker bellows: > 90%
-chamber/pitch deviation: <8 cent
-chamber airflow dist.: free to G3, minimal below.
-harmonics: balanced 5th-8th above D4. (= bright)
- equilibrium, dynamic range, reed responds is comparable to other hybrids.

- 6 ¼” across the flats, 2.4 lbs

 

-Available options: metal capped flat or domed buttons (real concertina buttons), and Wakker bellows

 

The lower price is possible because of design and production process changes. Especially with hybrid concertinas, most of the cost is in construction time, not materials or parts, which are only a fraction of the total cost. With dedicated machines and tooling developed especially for this model line, we were able to cut production time by almost 70%... same parts, reeds, etc., but at a much lower price.

 

Wim Wakker

Concertina Connection Inc.

Wakker Concertinas

Edited by wim wakker

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-bellows travel: resistance free travel with standard bellows:60-70% (same as all other rig made bellows), with Wakker bellows: > 90%

Hi Wim, could you please elaborate on what 'rig made bellows' are and how they differ from 'Wakker bellows'? Are we talking folded card vs. individual card construction?

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-bellows travel: resistance free travel with standard bellows:60-70% (same as all other rig made bellows), with Wakker bellows: > 90%

Hi Wim, could you please elaborate on what 'rig made bellows' are and how they differ from 'Wakker bellows'? Are we talking folded card vs. individual card construction?

 

 

Hi Alex,

 

I've enclosed an excerpt from “about Bellows”, a series of short technical articles on concertina construction I wrote. This explains the 3 basic (free reed) bellows designs, The full article also explains bellows evaluation etc..

 

 

Concertina bellows can be divided into 3 classes:

 

Basic bellows

Basic bellows are of the ‘accordion’ type. They consist of folded cardboard panels with leather or synthetic gussets, no inside hinges, linen fold covering and leather or synthetic bindings.

Because the cardboard is folded, there is a certain amount of CT base tension in the bellows. Basic quality bellows are great for basic bellows control. You can control dynamics and they are air tight. Because of the construction and materials, they will get suppler with time, but will also lose some of their stability.

 

Intermediate bellows

Intermediate bellows are of the traditional concertina design. They consist of individual cardboard panels, often connected with leather top and bottom hinges, leather gussets, panel covers and leather bindings. The leather is often sheepskin, which has a lot of ‘stretch’. Glues used are often of the cement type, which have a strong hold but do not harden.

These bellows are (almost) always made on a ‘rig’. This is a ‘maximum stretch’ or ‘50% stretch’ mold on which the panels are connected with the hinges and gussets. After the glue dries, the bellows are removed from the rig and placed in a press or under weights. Because the bellows are made in the open position, they tend to have a lot of CT, caused by tension in the hinges panel tip movement and gusset tension. Pressing the bellows in the closed position stretches the leather hinges and gussets. Rig made bellows usually require a case with blocks to keep the bellows in closed position.

 

High end bellows

High end bellows are also of the traditional concertina design. They consist of individual skived card panels, connected with leather top hinges and hard linen bottom hinges, leather gussets, silk tip reinforcement, leather or leatherette panel covers and leather bindings.

The leather for the gussets and bindings is selected goatskin, which has no stretch, can be skived very thin without losing strength or becoming porous. Natural water based glues are used which harden fully with no shrinkage.

Besides the materials, the big difference is the way they are constructed. No rig is used for high end bellows.

Each set of bellows is measured individually to fit with a perfect ‘waist’ on the bellows frames. The waist determines the panel size. No two sets of bellows are identical in size.

 

All panels are connected by hand, and before the glue sets, moved in the maximum open and fully closed position. This results in hinge connections without any tension. Panel tip spacing and gusset angle is determined by the maker and varies for each set of bellows. Varying factors are the number of sides (6,8,12), thickness of the leather, type of concertina (anglo bellows are different from English and duet bellows), and maximum bellows travel.

Bellows constructed this way have very little travel tension. E.g. hexagonal bellows have a tension free travel of >90%, dodecagon bellows >96%. Standard values for concertina bellows is between 70-80%.

Making high end bellows requires a lot of knowledge, skill and experience. It will take several hundred sets of bellows before you’ve developed any repeatable skills.

 

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Hi Wim,

 

I am a bit foxed by your terminology:

 

CT Tension?

 

Bellows 'waist'?

 

thanks

 

Dave

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