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Recommendation For A Louder English Concertina


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#1 RWL

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 02:18 PM

I have a steel reeded Lachenal concertina with wooden ends that I think is a Tutor model circa 1932.  When I finally took it to an old time session, it struck me as being too quiet.  What ECs are known for their loud voice?   The two people I've met with concertinas at a regional folk music gathering both had metal ended instruments.  What should I be looking for?  What is the price range for those instruments?  Is there any downside to a loud instrument?

 

 



#2 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 02:42 PM

The obvious downside, if it's just loud and not, say, piano-forte, is the drowning of one's singing voice...

#3 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 03:15 PM

You want an instrument that is loud enough so that you can hear it when playing with other people and, as Wolf so correctly says, an instrument that has a resonable  dynamic range.

Metal ended instruments are generally louder than their wooden ended counterparts but some of them can be  sharp ( harsh) sounding... for most purposes I prefer a strong sounding wooden ender.

 

Sounds like you'd want an up market model... a Wheatstone model 21 or 22  or a Lachenal  'New Model' ... the wooden ended New Model is a nice instrument but the metal ended ones can be a  wee bit too loud sometimes... you'll need to go and try some.



#4 spindizzy

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 03:46 PM

I have a steel reeded Lachenal concertina with wooden ends that I think is a Tutor model circa 1932.  When I finally took it to an old time session, it struck me as being too quiet.  What ECs are known for their loud voice?   The two people I've met with concertinas at a regional folk music gathering both had metal ended instruments.  What should I be looking for?  What is the price range for those instruments?  Is there any downside to a loud instrument?

 

 

 

Also  - get a second opinion from someone else at the session. 

The person least able to hear a concertina is the person playing it  - all the sound goes out sideways (is the person beside you wincing :-) ?)

I have a favourite session spot which is the corner seat - it's the only place in which I can hear what I'm playing if the session is a noisy one.

 

Chris

 

(Aside from that - a tutor model Lachenal, even if it steel reeded probably isn't the loudest concertina in the world though the one that I started playing on, which I still have as a backup, is in the medium range and not particularly quiet.) 



#5 RWL

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 04:31 PM

I'm no longer sure it's a Tutor model.  I posted a query elsewhere in the forums to identify it and other say it's a step up from the tutor because it has rosewood ends and five fold bellows.  It would be nice if there were someone near me in central PA where I could listen to several different models, but that's a pipe dream.  The players in the Washington DC area would like to try a squeeze in this summer, but no date has been forthcoming yet.  I may register for THE squeeze in in Mass in Sept. and I can see a few more there.  The only two EC players I know are  a few hours away from me, and both have metal ended instruments.  The point about asking others at a session whether they could hear me is a good one.  Nevertheless, I had difficulty hearing myself there although I could hear some of the notes. (It's not as though some notes don't sound though - I hear them all fine at home.)

 

I'm going to wander a little off topic, but I notice that some of the refurbished instruments have 6 or even 7 fold bellows.  That likely wouldn't contribute to more sound, but how much advantage is there to having an extra fold or two.  All things being equal, would you choose  5, 6 or 7 fold bellows?

 

 

 



#6 d.elliott

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 05:01 PM

What makes you think that this concertina is a tutor model, remembering that there never was a tutor model, just a low grade model at a relatively low cost to make the concertina available to the working masses?  If you say the coloured bone buttons, think again, they were optional on high build instruments too.

 

Naturally these starter models were bought by beginners as well, but I have never seen any listing of a tutor model from Lachenal.

 

I suppose you could learn to drive in a Jaguar car, but most  learn on a little town or small family vehicle.

 

Dave E



#7 RWL

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 07:05 PM

I had originally thought this was a Tutor model based on something I had read over a year ago.  I was doing it from memory.  Until the other discussion about identifying my instrument for sure, I didn't realize that it was the step above the lowest end model.



#8 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:20 AM

I guess it might be be put that way: the approach you seem to follw at the moment doesn't make that much sense... As Dave pointed out, there never was a thing like a "Tutor Model", this concept is no more than an abbreviation for saying a given instrument is rather a cheaper one, made available for learning without having to invest too much money.

Even such an instrument doesn't necessarily have to be a bad one. Every concertina is different and to be judged on "her" own merits. If you have, say, ten (generally expensive) Aeolas in front of you, you will almost certainly find out how different they are: in terms of overall quality, playability, but principally sound (which is of course very much a matter of personal preference).

Quality depends on a lot of aspects: indivudual craftsmanship, available material, just coincidence (and not to forget treatment over all these decades, by owners, repairmen...), so don't be obsessed with the concept of a "Tutor Model", or compare the looks of instruments for judging the sound, before having found out what your very instrument is in fact capable of!

Hope you don't mind me saying is...

Best wishes - Wolf


Edited by blue eyed sailor, 08 June 2014 - 04:23 AM.


#9 Christian Husmann

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 04:39 PM

My point of view,

 

I´ve got two concertinas, both Lachenal New Models, one is metal-ended the other has wooden ends.

 

I just recently played the metal-ended one in England, not many players but noisy pub. I could clearly hear every single note I was playing but people started moving away from me. A metal-ended instrument, and I´m afraid I´ve got one of those, can be very loud, almost harsh and trumpety.

 

The wooden-ended one is much much softer but has a very good dynamic range. It  can be played very softly and is as well a good session instrument. Although the metal-ended one has a good dynamic range as well, it will always sound, well, very dominant.

 

Best thing (when having the chance next time) is to try different instruments and choose which one suits you best.

 

Christian



#10 Mike Franch

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 06:14 PM

And note a previous discussion, started by Jody Kruskal, about how an apparently soft concertina to the player can be heard a considerable distance away.



#11 RWL

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 09:42 AM

 

Also  - get a second opinion from someone else at the session. 

The person least able to hear a concertina is the person playing it  - all the sound goes out sideways (is the person beside you wincing :-) ?)

I have a favourite session spot which is the corner seat - it's the only place in which I can hear what I'm playing if the session is a noisy one.

 

Chris

 

 

And note a previous discussion, started by Jody Kruskal, about how an apparently soft concertina to the player can be heard a considerable distance away.

 

 

 

It took awhile to find the post by Jody Kruskal,  but here it is:  

Concertina Sounds Travel Further Than String Instruments... Why?       http://www.concertin...al,#entry154986

 

 

I will have to take it to the old time session again and see if others can hear me.  Similar to Jody Kruskal's experience, in recordings I have of an open contradance band in which I play fiddle once a year, the leader, who plays a metal ended Wheatstone stands out above the fiddle section.   The group leader (Rachel Hall of the Philadelphia area for those who know her) has inspired several of us to play the English concertina.  Those who have followed in her stead - at least those of us who attend Juniata Folk College - have eventually purchased metal ended instruments.  



#12 Christian Husmann

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 03:08 PM

 

  Those who have followed in her stead - at least those of us who attend Juniata Folk College - have eventually purchased metal ended instruments.  

 

 

It is a matter of preference. The reason why I bought a second concertina, a wooden-ended one, was that I wanted a soft and pleasant tone.

But I have to admit: when it comes to the look of a concertina I was and I am a big fan of the metal-ended instruments...



#13 ceemonster

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 05:10 PM

the op's plaintive cry is mine as well.  all i ask is an EC that's as loud as a loud, fat, brassy anglo, but largely speaking, they're not.  i don't believe it is impossible to design and engineer this. i think that due to the EC's history as a parlor instrument for the gentry,  the attention just hasn't gone into optimizing it as a ceili/sesh instrument (at least, to the degree that a concertina can be).  a lot of EC players want them as background for singing. it's too bad, because the EC has fantastic potential as an instrumental dance-music instrument imho.   i have confirmed with other sessioners that my morse geordie Tenor EC, which i otherwise really like, is not a big-voiced instrument.  It is noticeably softer than the voices of two wood-ended concertinas among my local sesh crew, one a wally carroll anglo, the other a 1939 aeola treble EC.  both of these players were very impressed with the response and tone personality of mine, but both noted the lung power was not great, and the aeola player compared mine to to a brass-reeded ec in terms of volume. 



#14 conzertino

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 04:33 PM

I started off on exactly the same Lachenal rosewood-ended bone-button 5 fold-bellow instrument ( 1975 ;-) - and I loved it! A year later I was able to acquire a Boyd-Wheatstone - which is as shrill and loud as they come. Shortly after Steve Chambers sold me an ebony-ended Aeola ( 31xxx ) with quite enclosed fretwork, which is really loud but has a soft quality to it's sound. I never played a box like it...

 

The ends make all the difference: I once swapped one end of a Wheatstone Model 22 ( very loud box! ) against a matching end off an early six-sided dot&comma Aeola ( extremely soft ). The reeds or bellows didn't make any difference - just the ends!

 

But there is hope: 10 years ago I sold a nice model 22 to my friend Rainer Süßmilch, who does a lot of singing, especially jazz. So he successfully experimented with leather under the fretwork to baffle the sound. You can hear him here with the instrument:

 

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=IqnNN59vQvU

 

I currently have both a Wheatstone model 21 ( six folds ) and a model 22 ( 6 folds and leather baffles ( Rainer played it for a while ) ;-) for sale ( both of course metal ended ), but unfortunately I live on the other side of the big ocean...

 

Unless you really want to invest in a good Aeola I can highly recommend the model 22 - and the option with the baffles lets you define your own favorite sound...



#15 Mark Rosenthal

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 04:10 AM

One thing to pay attention to is the size of the fretholes.  I have two tenor-treble Aeolas of roughly the same vintage.  One's from 1918, the other's from 1924.  Both have steel reeds in brass frames.  Both have ebony ends.  And the wood used for the reedpan and the action board in both looks the same to me.
 

WheatstoneAeolaTenorTreble27910-RightEnd-IMG_7893.jpg         WheatstoneAeolaTenorTreble30112-RightEnd-IMG_8429.jpg

 

The one on the left is much softer and I think has weaker overtones.  The one on the right is the louder one.  The only significant difference between the two is the fretwork.
 

 



#16 ceemonster

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 07:06 PM

very interesting. it does seem as if the ones whose ends have the jeffries-ish  all-over vine patterns may bark and project more than the ones with solid ends with a circle of fretwork...but i've been wondering a lot about venting, venting from the pan or soundboard area, as mentioned by geoff earlier...


Edited by ceemonster, 08 July 2014 - 07:07 PM.


#17 frogspawn

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 11:25 AM

It may be possible to play a potentially loud concertina quietly, but the converse is obviously not true. None of my duet concertinas can hold their own in a session. I don't want to dominate. I just want to be able to hear myself *at all*.

 

Putting aside previous discouragement I went to a session only a few days ago in a renewed quest to gain some experience of playing with other people, but the room was full of melodeons and a couple of loud anglos. First I retreated to a back corner, then I gave up altogether. To have taken part in this session I would have had to have been in the next room, or, maybe, the next pub.

 

Owning duets, I could play in octaves. I also have a large metal-ended duet, but I cannot approach the same volume levels.

 

I've been wondering whether there is some ready-made miniature/cheapish monitor which would allow me to mic my right wrist and convey the sound to an ear-phone? A hearing aid perhaps? Has anyone experimented with that?



#18 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 01:59 PM

I have used a small  portable guitar Amp to boost the sound of one concertina that just does not 'cut it' in a heavy session or in the dance band... purely so's I can hear it myself.  The smallest unit I have is a Roland 'mini-cube', this will run on bateries and is the size and weight of a medium  concertina, there is a plug for  headphones too.

Mostly I used a larger Amp ( size of a Melodeon) and placed it behind my chair without using head phones. Now I have a LOUD concertina and dispense with the aids.

 

Loud concertinas are usually small with metal ends.... large metal ended Duets  have power if you have the strength to press them but that becomes uncomfortable very quickly.  I think my Wakker 46k Hayden would  have sufficient loudness for a session if it had metal ends. So I'd suggest looking for a small metal ender... don't think I've ever seen a Crane like that though.


Edited by Geoff Wooff, 10 July 2014 - 02:01 PM.





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