Vintage concertinas certainly don't all sound alike. I myself like variety, preferring the sounds of different instruments for different types of music, individual pieces, differing acoustic environments, or just my mood of the moment. Unable to afford all the variety I would like, I have at various times nevertheless been quite happy with each of several different vintage instruments as my one "good for all". And while I generally prefer the sounds of the "concertina-reeded" vintage instruments, I don't dislike the "hybrid" sound. (Nor do I run from the room when somebody starts playing a melodeon or PA.)
The relative importance of different factors -- I've already mentioned action and response, in addition to tone quality and dynamics -- also varies among individuals. Steve Mansfield has mentioned yet another:
Jim - I think I've played all of the modern hybrids. You're right, there are differences, but they are hard to describe.
As you said, the Morses are highly standardized. I've played a lot of them, starting with their early prototype, and I see remarkably little difference in sound and feel.
In my experience the Tedrows have the most variation, both in sound and action (not surprising, since Bob is a creative innovator). I hung out with Bob when he was manning a stall at a harp convention in the DC area and played a bunch of his concertinas; I remember there was one (a "Zephyr," I think) that was absolutely superb; if I had had the money, I would have bought it on the spot. Several others were good but not great.
I had an early Herrington which I liked a lot. It had the most accordion-like sound and was a wonderful player, but with a much firmer action. I still play in a band whose leader regularly chastises me for getting rid of it because he loved the sound.
The Edgley I once owned felt and sounded similar to the Herrington. I remember playing at a Morris ale alongside another Edgley player whose box sounded very different from mine.
Actually - and I think I mentioned this before - the hybrid that to my ears sounded most like a traditional reeded concertina was the Guens Wakker, no longer made, but I assume which was a predecessor of today's Wakker Clover. I've only played one Clover, and really liked the feel and sound, which to my mind resembled the Morse.
In the traditional reeded grouping, I've played a lot of Jeffries, and while I can usually tell a Jeffries by its sound, there is significant variation in sound between various examples, even more in action - not surprising since most have been worked on many times over the years.
After following this thread, what I'm wondering about most is the tonal differences between Anglos and English concertinas - differences apart from the smoothness v. punchiness factor. I'd ask this of Wayman , Greg and the other builders/overhaulers: are there structural differences between the two responsible for the differences in sound? We now know there are for the Morses; is this true for vintage instruments like the Wheatstones and Lachenals?
Edited by Jim Besser, 19 August 2014 - 04:25 PM.