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Terence

Beginner Question : Vintage Or Cheap Hybrid ?

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I've tried to get a chance to play every Anglo that has come near me over the last 10 or more years. Some of my favourites have been hybrids, and so have some of the worst. Some of the best have been vintage, and so have some of the worst. I have heard beautiful music made on an instrument that I considered unplayable. There is so much that is personal about the choice.

My experience exactly. I set out 20 years ago to try everything available (and continue to do so). There were fewer dealers/shops then, but also fewer brands, as the hybrids were just appearing (Herrington was first that I recall, circa 1996). It took me several years and a lot of travel on two continents. No easy answers here, so good luck and keep your eyes and ears open.

 

Ken

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From the web site of The Irish Concertina Company:

There are some dealers out there who are charging 1990's prices today for old Latchenals etc. Prices have come down a lot on old concertinas as there are more people like myself making new concertinas.

 

Prices on vintage concertinas "have come down a lot" since the 1990s? I seem to recall the opposite.

 

What do the rest of you say?

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Posted (edited)

Hi,

I understand well that the choice is hard to make, and so personal... It would be much better if I could go to a vintage dealer and play every concertina before to choose.

 

But here are some sure things :

- I'm living in the center of France, and for some family and professional reasons I won't make a trip to another country or region (except this town 2h far from me where there is a Concertina Connection dealer) in order to find my first concertina.

- For "family budget" reasons we won't have more than 500 or 600 € to spend for my concertina

 

Therefore, I think my choice is limited to Rochelle (either bought online or not), Wren 2 or Tina hybrids (I would love to see on C.net a feedback about the last two), or 20b Lachenal vintage models.

 

What I understood thanks to you all is that the Rochelle is trusty as a beginner instrument, and that "refurbished" vintage (coming from trusted dealers) can lead to a cheerful experience.

Before to buy, as I won't be able to play a "cheap" Lachenal (still coming from, for example, Barleycorn) whereas I will be able to play a Rochelle, I'm just wondering now about the "pros" and "cons" for my personal point of view. Would I prefer to feel a "bulky but new with accordions reeds" on my knees, or a "cheap old but with concertina reeds"...
As Arti and others said, it seems that I will need to use a "trial" offered by a dealer to see more clearly.

 

Thanks for taking the time to add your comments so far. I'm looking forward to read more reviews : even if it cannot be clearly seen here, it helps me a lot for my incoming choice ! :-)

 

 

PS : I don't want to have any regrets ! ;-) https://youtu.be/PfkJEn5nuSQ

Edited by Terence

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I won't be able to play a "cheap" Lachenal (still coming from, for example, Barleycorn) whereas I will be able to play a Rochelle....

I recommend that you contact Chris Algar (Barleycorn), by phone (or Skype) if possible. The experience of myself and more than one friend is that 1) he will question you about your needs and desires to determine what will best suit you, and 2) if he doesn't have something that he feels will suit, he will say so, and he will not try to sell you something unsuitable just to make a sale.

 

My best story (I've told it before) is of a friend who wanted an English concertina. She had the advantage of having tried a few of mine (which weren't for sale), and they discussed what she wanted. A couple of weeks later, Chris contacted her and described three instruments he thought might suit her. She then picked one, and Chris said it happened to be the one he had thought would be best for her. He sent it to her. Not only was she pleased, but... She subsequently went to the concertina weekend at Witney, where there were several (a dozen?) vendors in the hall with many (altogether 50 or so?) English concertinas for sale, and regardless of price, she didn't find any (including those Chris had for sale there) that she liked better than the one Chris had sold her.

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Posted (edited)

Vintage instruments might require extra care and repair but if given a choice, I would rather play a refurbished old Lachenal clunker over a new Rochelle. Get a 30 button instrument if you can, but there is lots of great music to be played on a cheaper 20 or 20+ button squeeze box, then upgrade when you can.

 

Of course, every instrument is it's own thing and my opinion is just a guess about what you might find for your box of choice.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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Posted (edited)

This was written by someone who obviously has a financial interest in discouraging sales of vintage concertinas (he makes new ones) and doesn’t know how to spell “Lachenal” or “advice.”

 

Just sayin’...

 

 

I noticed:

 

"...There was a few other minor problems..."

"...a lot of people are been ripped off and my adverts are been removed..."

"...Some concertinas were made with rivited levers..."

 

plus several other schoolboy howlers.

 

I guess I'm just a reactionary old fart fuddy-duddy...

Edited by lachenal74693

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Posted (edited)

Duplicated post deleted - sorry folks...

Edited by lachenal74693

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Vintage instruments might require extra care and repair but if given a choice, I would rather play a refurbished old Lachenal clunker over a new Rochelle. Get a 30 button instrument if you can, but there is lots of great music to be played on a cheaper 20 or 20+ button squeeze box, then upgrade when you can.

 

Of course, every instrument is it's own thing and my opinion is just a guess about what you might find for your box of choice.

 

Last night I fell asleep at the end of a long working day as I was about to suggest the same thing myself. I would very much prefer a vintage Lachenal which will draw you into the concertina universe in an aesthetically pleasing and thus quite natural way.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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As you already play melodeon you should find the anglo concertina relatively easy to pick up. Of course, it is really only up and down the rows that they are similar, and cross-rowing is quite different, but at least you have a head start over someone with no previous experience of these instruments. The inexpensive hybrids are a good starting place for complete beginners, but I think you would get more out of a vintage instrument. 26 buttons offers a lot more than 20, and other things being equal it's worth paying more for additional buttons, but this has to be balanced against the quality of the instruments.

 

It is difficult if you can't get to a dealer and try out a number of instruments, but I would certainly agree with the suggestion to phone some up and discuss your needs. In my experience they are usually very helpful.

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Note that in getting advice from Jody Kruskal, you're getting advice from a world-class Anglo concertina player, and one of the most respected voices on this forum. However, as he (along with everyone else) states, it's a personal thing, so it's up to you.

 

Whatever you get, it will be a great adventure. Enjoy it for what it is, and if you soon "outgrow" it--congratulations!

 

Mike

(not an Anglo player)

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Posted (edited)

-someone posted " Brass reeds are usually a bad idea."

 

I soooo disagree.... (have both, steel reed aeola and brass Lachenal)

Edited by harpomatic

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Wow , reading these things written in the website of the Irish Concertina Company about vintage concertinas makes me think twice...http://www.theirishconcertinacompany.com/products/advice-on-old-concertinas/

I guess that shops I listed above are doing things right, like changing everytime pads and valves,

This was written by someone who obviously has a financial interest in discouraging sales of vintage concertinas (he makes new ones) and doesn’t know how to spell “Lachenal” or “advice.”

 

Just sayin’...

 

I am sooooooooo with you, David.

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David, Perhaps you could elaborate by describing and comparing your experiences with both brass and steel reeds.

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-someone posted " Brass reeds are usually a bad idea."

 

I soooo disagree.... (have both, steel reed aeola and brass Lachenal)

I am sooooooooo with you, David.

David, Perhaps you could elaborate by describing and comparing your experiences with both brass and steel reeds.

 

Is harpomatic’s name also David or are you asking me? In the middle quote above, I believe h. is saying he agrees with me, not signing his name “David.” I have no experience with brass reeds to speak of.

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Posted (edited)

Rod, I (Mike,"harpomatic"), can surely compare and contrast both, steel and brass. Let me first describe two instruments:extended (custom)range amboyna aeola in perfect condition (it doesn't get any better), and 1860 or so Lachenal "tutor" model with original wood baffles, the most basic of "vintages"(can surely be called "antique" by all definitions of the terms). If you can make the instrument air-tight, and I did in about 40 minutes, by making a one piece gasket to go over the reed pan "web" of chamber dividers and bellows frame, simply laid between the reedpan and its corresponding end (action/palette board), the true sound and response can be compared, indeed. It is all about the sufficient air delivery to the reed, without that factor there is nothing to talk about. Now, when both of my concertinas are equally airtight, here's what I get:

1) no rust or corrosion on brass reeds - reeds look brand new with just a swipe of a brass cleaner

2)reed responsiveness is the same on both instruments

3) dynamic range is the same (will elaborate a bit further on that)

4) sound is indeed, very different.

5) volume is not as different as it seems, and as common opinion would have it, and here comes my "elaboration":

While, indeed my steel reeded aeola is a bit louder than brass Lachenal, at its extreme upper limit, the brass one can be played much more quietly at the extreme low volume limit (whisper level, you can play next to someone sleeping, without waking them up). Thus, the dynamic range is virtually the same, if we're talking about the "range", as such. To put it simply, where Aeola extends up, Lachenal extends down... Most playing resides somewhere in the middle, and there - both instruments are the same. However, it really doesn't seem so. The reason for a seemingly louder steel reded Aeola is a completely different sound. It is brighter, the difference being similar to the difference between a steel string guitar and a nylon string. In both cases, (concertina and guitar), steel will seem to be much louder than it actually is. Now, if I describe the sound of brass, it is just as "traditional concertina" as steel, but "warmer, woodier, darker, a bit more mellow - same set of descriptions could be used on nylon vs steel guitar. Beyound that, words fall short of an adecvate descriptions. As a harmonica player, I simply love the sound of a brass reed, it's as authentic as it gets. The ability to play extra quietly is more useful to an apartment dweller late at night than wining volume wars that cannot be won anyway. My final observation:the Lachenal has a couple of replacement steel reeds(it had a long life), from the start I made an effort to NOT remember which ones, so that I could objectively compare the sound difference. Now, I still have no idea which ones those are, as there is no difference whatsoever. Makes me think that its more about the rest of the instrument's construction that ultimately shapes the sound that one hears....

Ps. I have nothing to gain by convincing you and the greater concertina community that brass is good - rather, I'd have you all convinced that they are garbage, so you all start selling them off at rock bottom prices, thus providing me with a greater choice of great antiques. Vintage vs "cheap hybrid" there is no contest, if we're talking about Chinese or those "italian"(also Chinese) cheapies that range from $700 to 1,500.I hope one day such sums of cash will seem small to me, so I can also think of those as "cheap".

Edited by harpomatic

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Hi,

thanks Jody and Wolf ; I'm indeed inclined to think these days I'll be happier with a vintage instead of a new beginner hybrid.

Mike Franch and Howard : I'm quite confident to be helped by my little experience of push-pull with two diatonic rows, yes. But I'm also sure I'll be very surprised ! :-) Learn to play well concertina won't be easy for sure...

Mike "Harpomatic" : I deeply thank you for having written this detailed post about reeds metal. Very useful.

 

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