Jump to content


Photo

Anyone Prefer Morse Instruments To Vintage/trad?

hybrid Morse traditional reeds vintage

  • Please log in to reply
44 replies to this topic

#1 MatthewVanitas

MatthewVanitas

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 544 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Montreal, Quebec

Posted 14 August 2014 - 01:18 PM

I started out on an CC Elise Duet, got a Morse Beaumont, and now am both on Wakker's waitlist for a trad-reeded Hayden and also playing around with a vintage Crane. Still pondering out how I feel about the leap to trad reeds, whether by getting the Wakker or by getting more seriously into a vintage Crane.

 

I notice the Morse instruments are pretty popular overall, even amongst the players who can/do own trad-reed instruments. Do some folks find the Morses as good as or better than trad-reed for some purposes? Do you keep a Morse around so you aren't risking your "nice" ones, or because it's more reliable/durable, just for a change of pace, or because on some level you find it "better" than other options?

 

Has anyone tried both hybrid and trad and come to the conclusion that you're just happier with a Morse?



#2 Steve Mansfield

Steve Mansfield

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 607 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire

Posted 14 August 2014 - 01:43 PM

I tried out several quality antique baritone ECs before settling on a Morse Geordie, and have never regretted it.

 

My treble is an antique Wheatstone and I'm in two minds whether to go for a Type 21/Type 22 or an Albion if/when I upgrade. 

 

The main thing for me is the sound of them - I'm probably going to be excommunicated for this, but I really think I prefer the Morse reed sound to a more traditional steel-reeded EC. The other factor is that I love my Wheatstone treble but it is a bit delicate and high-maintenance, whereas the Morse is always on and ready to play whatever I choose to throw at it.

 

And they smell just gorgeous for the first few months - a friend bought a Martin guitar, and used to regularly put his nose to the sound-hole and just inhale. I always thought he was mad until one day I caught myself opening the Geordie case and just luxuriating in that aroma of newly-minted Morse ... 



#3 Ken_Coles

Ken_Coles

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1665 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Logansport, Indiana, U.S.A.

Posted 14 August 2014 - 01:52 PM

My Morse C/G anglo probably gets more playing time than anything else.  Close behind is my Kensington.  It's not some choice about use or preservation or hazard; I just enjoy playing them.  We have a lovely old Lachenal that sounds great to me when my wife plays it in the next room (fair to guess she is more into old instruments), but I've noticed I prefer having access to the makers (and warranties) when needed.  Very individual, others here will feel differently and that's great too.  Someday the right old box might change my preferences...

 

Ken



#4 Jim Besser

Jim Besser

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2363 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington DC metro area

Posted 14 August 2014 - 02:40 PM

I started out on an CC Elise Duet, got a Morse Beaumont, and now am both on Wakker's waitlist for a trad-reeded Hayden and also playing around with a vintage Crane. Still pondering out how I feel about the leap to trad reeds, whether by getting the Wakker or by getting more seriously into a vintage Crane.

 

I notice the Morse instruments are pretty popular overall, even amongst the players who can/do own trad-reed instruments. Do some folks find the Morses as good as or better than trad-reed for some purposes? Do you keep a Morse around so you aren't risking your "nice" ones, or because it's more reliable/durable, just for a change of pace, or because on some level you find it "better" than other options?

 

Has anyone tried both hybrid and trad and come to the conclusion that you're just happier with a Morse?

 

I have both and use both, as you know.

 

I strongly prefer the sound of the vintage instruments. 

 

That said, I use the Morse C/G as my primary instrument for Morris dance playing. It's very loud, it's very light and I don't worry as much about theft or damage.   My Morses plays as easily as the best vintage instruments; their lightness makes them a lot kinder to my tendons.  

 

And I really like their virtual indestructibility.  I've had one of my Morses for about 10 years, the other for 3 or 4; both have been subjected to the usual Morris dance abuse (playing with extreme vigor, playing in bad weather, getting knocked about in pubs, etc.) and neither has ever been opened for repairs.  Wish I could say the same of my vintage instruments.

 

For sound - no contest: vintage wins.  For specialized purposes, ease of playing and durability  - the Morse is increasingly my choice.


Edited by Jim Besser, 14 August 2014 - 04:07 PM.


#5 Mike Franch

Mike Franch

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 465 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Baltimore Md. USA

Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:16 PM

Matthew asked a good question and got some good answers. 

 

The this short discussion follows the arc of many of our discussions, on many different topics.  There are various "hard" factors one can take into consideration (e.g., weight, reliability, etc.) and "soft" factors (preferring one or another type of sound).  But ultimately one likes what one likes.  That's the standard, and I think it's a good one.

 

Unfortunately, we all can't afford what we like, in this, as in so many aspects of life.  And sometimes it's possible to have multiple instruments, as Jim does, admiring one for one set of qualities and one for another!

 

Mike



#6 Jody Kruskal

Jody Kruskal

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1590 posts
  • Location:New York City

Posted 14 August 2014 - 10:02 PM

I've got a Morse and several vintage Anglos. My take on it is that both types sound good. In listening to recordings, it's not easy to tell the difference in a blind test. The playing experience feels different surely, but as to the sound... I can't hear much. What does make a vast difference in the sound of the concertina though, is the musician doing the squeezing. 



#7 Jim Besser

Jim Besser

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2363 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington DC metro area

Posted 14 August 2014 - 10:33 PM

I've got a Morse and several vintage Anglos. My take on it is that both types sound good. In listening to recordings, it's not easy to tell the difference in a blind test. The playing experience feels different surely, but as to the sound... I can't hear much. What does make a vast difference in the sound of the concertina though, is the musician doing the squeezing.


Jody - is your Morse cg or gd? I find my cg sounds much closer to a vintage box than the gd.

#8 ceemonster

ceemonster

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1320 posts

Posted 14 August 2014 - 11:20 PM

is your question specific to morse, or is it about preferences between concertina reeds versus any good-quality accordion-reeded concertinas?  i DO often prefer good accordion-reeded concertinas to concertina-reeded, and the good accordion-reeded concertina i happen to be playing a lot just now is indeed a morse, a morse geordie EC tenor.  my only complaint about it is that it isn't the loudest concertina on the block and does not "cut" well at session---a fellow sessioner with a wood-ended aeola ec compared my morse geordie's lung capacity to that of a brass-reeded concertina.  but that is my only beef about it (ok, that and, pads have been falling off since the second month i had it.  where the levers stick into those loops, were not properly glued or anchored).   if i could get andrew norman to give me a custom metal end upgrade on his tenor ec, i might add that to the stable, and am also looking at the metal-ended marcus ecs...

 

i guess i'm finding i often prefer the voice character of accordion reeds in concertinas for just about all genres but irish trad. and for irish trad it'd be a tie, concertina reed sound for emotional reasons.  the only concertina-reed sound i am really liking for the full spectrum of european/eastern-european/appalachian instrumental dance-based genres would be the fat, brassy jeffries-ish, crabb-ish sound, and accordion reeds.  

 

during one discussion on this theme, wim wakker put in the view that accordion reeds will never give the dynamic spectrum that concertina reeds will. and as the lucky housemate of a dipper county clare anglo, i think that is true. but....provided that your accordion reeds are high-grade and responsive, they will be plenty responsive ENOUGH even if concertina reeds technically have a wider range of dynamic gradation.


Edited by ceemonster, 14 August 2014 - 11:24 PM.


#9 derekc

derekc

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 52 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches, UK

Posted 15 August 2014 - 01:04 AM

Currently - Morse Ceili G/D for 80% of playing - admittedly though the competition is a bit limited with a C/G Wheatstone Mayfair,  C/G 20 key Lachenal and a C/F Hohner Liliput melodeon requiring attention. And it may be that IMHO G/D is a far better key for an anglo, so this makes it preferable over a C/G. However it plays extremely well and the sound has its own character. If I was ever to replace the Morse, I would probably choose another modern concertina.



#10 Bill N

Bill N

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 509 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hamilton, Canada

Posted 15 August 2014 - 05:37 AM

I have a Morse G/D and a Kensington C/G (traditional reeds).  Both a joy to play-bellows and action as good or better than anything else I've tried.  I mostly use the Morse for English Session playing and playing for my Long Sword Side. I'm using the Kensington for learning Irish and Newfoundland stuff.  I play the Morse more, as my repertoire and occasions to play English style are greater, although as an exercise (in frustration  ;) )  I'm relearning some tunes on the C/G.  

As Jim says, the Morse has been bomb proof over 5 years of rough service-still perfectly in tune, but starting to "clack" a little bit.  When playing both at home, they sound quite different to me- the Morse is warmer and richer, the Kensington purer and cleaner.  I notice the difference less in a session, although the Kensington is easier to hear.    I recently made a demo CD for a folk duo I play in using both boxes.  As a test, I asked some musical friends to tell me which I was playing on each track.  They really couldn't.

 

I really love the way each box sounds, and don't prefer the sound of the trad reeds as much as I thought I would (although I do a bit) I love my Kensington-it's a miracle for the price.  And if I needed to replace my G/D tomorrow, I'd happily buy another Morse. Different horses for different courses. 



#11 MatthewVanitas

MatthewVanitas

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 544 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Montreal, Quebec

Posted 15 August 2014 - 10:44 AM

is your question specific to morse, or is it about preferences between concertina reeds versus any good-quality accordion-reeded concertinas?

 

I suppose it applies equivalently to higher-end hybrids, I just used Morse because that seems the most prolific brand of quality hybrids across all three systems. I've been really impressed by my Beaumont, particularly in how light they kept a somewhat large (7") box, and the smoothness of the action.

 

if i could get andrew norman to give me a custom metal end upgrade on his tenor ec, i might add that to the stable, and am also looking at the metal-ended marcus ecs...

 

I have had moments where I've pondered how costly it would be to get someone to CNC-machine brass and plate it to make fitted custom metal ends for my Beaumont, in hopes it would sound a little louder, and more strident/concertina-y.

 

 

I'm really going to have to play all these things side-by-side before deciding to buy a trad-reed Hayden. I've had points where I've convinced myself that reed type is a small nuance, particularly since we have a few posters here whose bandmates ask they use Stagi for recordings since it "sounds better". But just recently when I play my Lachenal Crane, side-by-side with my Morse, I do end up wishing that I had reeds like the Crane in the body of my Morse.

 

In the meantime I suppose we're all just waiting for one clever guy to have a Newton moment and suddenly figure out an inexpensive way to produce true concertina reeds.



#12 Jim Besser

Jim Besser

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2363 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington DC metro area

Posted 15 August 2014 - 06:30 PM

 

I'm really going to have to play all these things side-by-side before deciding to buy a trad-reed Hayden. I've had points where I've convinced myself that reed type is a small nuance, particularly since we have a few posters here whose bandmates ask they use Stagi for recordings since it "sounds better". But just recently when I play my Lachenal Crane, side-by-side with my Morse, I do end up wishing that I had reeds like the Crane in the body of my Morse.

 

In the meantime I suppose we're all just waiting for one clever guy to have a Newton moment and suddenly figure out an inexpensive way to produce true concertina reeds.

 

 

This is all so subjective and so much a matter of personal preferences.. And it's compounded by the fact that we, as concertina fanatics, hear nuances in sound that  others don't.  I hear a world of difference between my Jeffries G/D and my Morse, but I've played with people who can't tell them apart.

 

I find that the difference between the hybrid and traditional sounds varies by acoustic environment. In some rooms - an echoy gym, for example - the difference seems very noticeable; in others less so.  Run thru a big PA system at a dance, you can't tell the difference. Differences also diminish when the sound is recorded and played back.

 

For Anglos, key is a major factor.  My C/G Morse sounds much more like a 'real' concertina than my G/D, which has a more complex, more accordion-like sound.

 

If you're doing a test to compare hybrid v traditional instruments, don't just play the boxes yourself; bring along another player and listen. What you hear when playing isn't the same as what a listener hears.

 

Matthew, I'm surprised your Beaumont is quiet. My Morse boxes are incredibly loud. I wonder if something in the design of their Hayden mutes sound. Or maybe you're just hearing it as quiet. Come over sometime and we'll do some side by side tests. (I have a decibel meter iPhone app).

 

But the bottom line: these are all fine concertinas, and what really matters is the skill of the player, as Jody says.  Differences we sense as huge because we're concertina fanatics may not loom nearly as large to our audiences.


Edited by Jim Besser, 15 August 2014 - 06:33 PM.


#13 ceemonster

ceemonster

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1320 posts

Posted 15 August 2014 - 07:02 PM

[[[Matthew, I'm surprised your Beaumont is quiet. My Morse boxes are incredibly loud.]]] 

 

really?  i also have a morse anglo (that probly will be for sale before long), and like my morse geordie ec, it is not terribly loud.  two players of wood-ended ECs who tried my morse geordie ec at session noted that it was not very loud, and as i mentioned, one compared its lung power to that of a brass-reeded concertina.   (oh, and both ooohed and aaaahed over both its response and the its tone personality.)

 

ha, i, too, have idly wondered if one could have metal ends cut for the morses....

 

yes, all are fine concertinas.  i think the reason the discussion continues is that even well into the era of high-quality "hybrids," there continued for some time to be a stigma against the accordion-reeded instruments.  it is only quite recently that a shift has been discernible.    i believe it was the crash and the recession, as much as anything else, that has prompted a paradigm shift into a more open-minded or open-eared view...

 

[[[Differences we sense as huge because we're concertina fanatics may not loom nearly as large to our audiences.]]] one may go  farther stilll, i believe---i'm not sure who it was, but some years back a poster did a "blind test" between an accordion-reeded and a concertina-reeded to listeners who were not players.  and the preference vote ran either 100% or very close to 100% in favor of the accordion-reeded instrument.  and i do believe the accordion-reeded instrument in this test was a morse.


Edited by ceemonster, 15 August 2014 - 07:04 PM.


#14 Jim Besser

Jim Besser

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2363 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington DC metro area

Posted 15 August 2014 - 09:21 PM

[[[Matthew, I'm surprised your Beaumont is quiet. My Morse boxes are incredibly loud.]]] 

 

really?  i also have a morse anglo (that probly will be for sale before long), and like my morse geordie ec, it is not terribly loud.  two players of wood-ended ECs who tried my morse geordie ec at session noted that it was not very loud, and as i mentioned, one compared its lung power to that of a brass-reeded concertina.   (oh, and both ooohed and aaaahed over both its response and the its tone personality.)

 

 

I wonder if there are structural differences between the Morse ANglos on one hand and their English and duet boxes on the other. Every Morse Anglo I've played  has been a screamer. But I haven't had experience with the English and duet concertinas. so they well may be quieter. If so, I wonder why. Maybe one of our Button Box experts can shed some light.


Edited by Jim Besser, 15 August 2014 - 09:22 PM.


#15 ceemonster

ceemonster

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1320 posts

Posted 16 August 2014 - 04:09 AM

the ac norman metal-ended anglos are "screamers."  in a good way, provided that is what you want.  look, over the years i've seen posts on these compare-the-hybrid threads by folks who will say they chose their morse precisely because because they wanted something mellower, and it was less strident than this or that other brand.  that goes for anglos as well as unisonorics.  perhaps individual examples vary. morses get a lot of love---whether people like the "mellower" sound, or the light weight, or that fast action mechanism, they get love.  i take mine to work and all over the place to snatch tunes at off moments, and i'm very attached to it.  i am looking for a louder metal-ended tenor or tt, be it accordion reeded or concertina reeded. but the morse geordie isn't going anywhere.


Edited by ceemonster, 16 August 2014 - 04:16 AM.


#16 Dana Johnson

Dana Johnson

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 663 posts

Posted 16 August 2014 - 08:33 AM

I have a number of students who got their Irish Trad. start on Hybrids, mostly Morses, one Marcus and one Edgely. I generally like the Morses for consistency, and they play very well, but the others can be good too. I think loudness as mentioned by a few others is partly determined by surroundings and what people expect. Concertinas radiate differently and a player is rarely the best person to judge the volume. Concertinas with a lot of edge in their tone may not measure all that loud, but can stand out in a session on a tone basis alone. I teach Irish Trad. Almost exclusively, and even though most of the Hybrids have sounded good enough, I my students who play or played hybrids have a great deal of difficulty getting much if any dynamic effect out of them. It may not matter so much in Morris tunes or other genre but dynamics really bring the rhythm of Irish music to life. The hybrids will play the tunes just fine, but falter when asked to put some life in the tunes. Nearly all of my students eventually switched to good concertina reeded instruments. Even these can vary a lot in their dynamic ability. I'd take a good hybrid over a poor vintage or modern one with concertina reeds that are poorly made, but a good concertina reeded, ( not accordion reeds shaped like concertina reeds like some old Marcus's) concertina is hard to beat.
I think it is tricky to compare the tone of the two types of instruments. Tone character varies widely in both kinds and often with the octave you are playing. On average, you might be able to make some starting statement that is useful. But it would likely be wrong for any individual instrument. I have no trouble telling the difference between recordings of different vintage concertinas. Hybrids and regular concertinas tend to have a similar tone as the notes get higher, the differences showing up in the midrange and below, but it all depends on the choices the maker made in the individual design. This holds true for both kinds of instruments. What a practiced ear can hear will be missed by a general listener for whom any difference disapears for lack of experience, like a southerner compared to an Eskimo with dozens of words for different kinds of "snow".
Dana

Edited by Dana Johnson, 16 August 2014 - 08:35 AM.


#17 Jim Besser

Jim Besser

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2363 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington DC metro area

Posted 16 August 2014 - 04:45 PM

I have a number of students who got their Irish Trad. start on Hybrids, mostly Morses, one Marcus and one Edgely. I generally like the Morses for consistency, and they play very well, but the others can be good too. I think loudness as mentioned by a few others is partly determined by surroundings and what people expect. Concertinas radiate differently and a player is rarely the best person to judge the volume. Concertinas with a lot of edge in their tone may not measure all that loud, but can stand out in a session on a tone basis alone. I teach Irish Trad. Almost exclusively, and even though most of the Hybrids have sounded good enough, I my students who play or played hybrids have a great deal of difficulty getting much if any dynamic effect out of them.

 

Agree that hybrids have significantly less dynamic range. Much more of a problem for Irish players than Morris musicians!



#18 Mikefule

Mikefule

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 645 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lincolnshire, UK

Posted 17 August 2014 - 06:06 AM

There are plenty of poor Morris musicians about - some are dreadful - just as there are plenty of people who play Irish tunes as a monotonous diddlydiddlydiddly as fast as they can, speeding up on the easy bits.  But a good musician plays with plenty of dynamics whether it is Irish, Morris, Scottish, blues, ragtime or any other style.  It's far too easy to dismiss Morris music out of hand and assume without evidence that Irish is somehow inherently more subtle.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: hybrid, Morse, traditional reeds, vintage

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users