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"accordion" Reeds Vs. "concertina" Reeds


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#37 bill_mchale

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:19 PM

And the more I think about it, this follows the course of this hybridizing trend. Not only are the carcasses constructed along vintage lines, but now accordion reeds are hybridized towards concertina design too. At some point rather than hybrids being a clear species, the better ones will creep into the realm of vintage concertinas.

I guess the question is at what point do we consider that as having happened? I know Frank Edgley and Bob Tedrow do this to a certain extent, and I think Herrington does as well... and from comments made here and elsewhere that you might as well.

Here is an interesting (if somewhat disturbing) thought experiment. If the market for all concertinas except the low end concertinas was to crash again thus driving all the modern makers of both hybrids and genuine concertinas out of business and then was to revive again in 10 to 20 years. How would the best of the current crop of hybrids be judged? A revived concertina market in 20 years might judge them far more favorably than we tend to now (simply because they have accordion reeds).. at least that is my thought.

--
Bill

#38 tomlaw90

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 03:04 PM

I thought maybe it was about time I followed up my own thread... I posted to get people thinking about it, to provide some food for thought, and to get some reactions, food for my own thought, as it were. That has happened nicely. I have come to my own philosophy about it, so to speak.

Now one thing I want to mention, since some people may have the wrong idea. I do like the Dipper and have no plans to part with it. I'd have to say I prefer the Edgley, I've never tried another concertina besides Edgley's (Dipper, Jeffries, or otherwise) that felt as good to play. I just feel like everything is perfectly in the right places, and I have total control, and the more subtle voice really fits with my concept of music. This could well just be me (hence the universal advice to try as many concertinas as you can before buying). But the Dipper Clare is also a lot of fun to play -- a little harder for me than the Edgley, but with it's own charms.

For me, what I've basically concluded is the Dipper is a stage instrument. An analogie for you Uilleann pipes aficionados: it's like one of those big honking Taylor sets made for unamplified halls. The penetrating tone of mine really works well playing for Ceili or set dancing, and especially for hard-shoe step-dancing, and will be getting a work-out in such applications. But in the kitchen it's a bit anti-social. For the kitchen sessions, the Edgley's more subtle, less penetrating tone wins the day. Not that the Edgley is all mellow, the attacks have plenty of bite, so it does adds that unique concertina feel to the session, but doesn't overpower like my Dipper does. For solo performance, it will be the Edgley, because I feel so comfortable and able to express with it.

As far as the other concertina players who were assessing the Edgley vs. others, I'm afraid I didn't ask details about their comments, so we can only speculate there. Next time I'll ask for specific critique.

Incidentally, as far as reed response and dyanmic range goes, my take for my 2 particular instruments is this. Both can play quietly. In scientific terms, the Dipper's reeds may extend to slightly lower pressures, but musically in session, I've found the Edgley is much more controllable at low volumes, the Dipper wanting to get very loud very quickly. For dynamic range, the Dipper can go much louder. For quickness at typical Irish playing volumes, I don't see any significant difference between the Dipper and the Edgley. It feels like in measurable terms the Dipper's reeds are a bit faster (Actually, after trying Jeffries and others, it feels like Dipper's reeds are the fastest ever), but the difference does not seem to be significant musically, as I am able to get ornaments so quick on the Edgley that they are nearly clicks without discernable pitch, like on the Dipper. I think the slightly gentler response of the Edgley makes the sound a little more rounded sweeter, and in actual fact, I prefer that because I feel it opens up a new realm of expressiveness and control vs. the Dipper where the cuts are kind of binary (on, then off), and I can't control texture as well.

So that's just my take on things, opinions and experiences of one peculiar musician, offered up for what it's worth, with no guarrantee of applicability to anyone else's situation.

Tom Lawrence

#39 bill_mchale

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 04:05 PM

Tom, I never really expected that you would sell the Dipper (sigh) but you never know, perhaps with the right combination of brain damage and alcohol and other mind altering substances you might have been persuaded :).

I really like you analysis and comparison between the Edgley and the Dipper. It really provides some perspective on the state of the hybrid instruments. I honestly think it is no longer completely accurate to consider some of them to be merely mid-range instruments.

--
Bill

#40 John Wild

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Posted 14 December 2004 - 06:36 PM

Three teenagers under my roof and one starting college in the Fall preclude any such foolishness

I only need ONE - bank manager!

= John ;)

#41 stuart estell

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 03:30 AM

I honestly think it is no longer completely accurate to consider some of them to be merely mid-range instruments.

I would definitely agree - I've only played I think four other anglos that have made me think that the difference between them and my Norman instruments was enough to make me want to "upgrade" and to justify the price difference for me. Two were Dippers, one a 46-key Crabb that was simply amazing, and the other was a glorious 38-ish key Jeffries in Bb/F.

#42 Richard Morse

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 08:22 AM

About many other anglos have you played and what were their qualities?

#43 bill_mchale

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 12:28 PM

Stuart, I am not sure the standard you set it enough to prove my point. I am sure there are many concertina players who would love to upgrade to a Jefferies, Wheatstone, Dipper, Suttner, etc. but simply can't justify the price difference between them and the hybrids. At least for me, I feel for my point to be truely made that it has to be more akin to Tom's attitude; that there are no instruments he would rather have than his Edgleys regardless of whether he could justify the price differential.

If I understood Tom correctly, in a perverse Universe where he was allowed to have only one concertina, he would have an extremely hard time choosing between the Edgleys and the Dipper and the Edgleys would probably win.

For my point to be made, I think that would have to be true of a fairly large percentage of concertina players. If we were to do a poll of players who own both hybrids and more traditional instruments about what their favorite instrument was, at least say 30% would have to say that their favorite was the hybrid.

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#44 Peter Brook

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 12:53 PM

Just to defend Stuart - although I'm sure he can do so ably enough on his own. At the last Concertinas at Witney, Stuart played in the evening concert on a bill also including Alistair Anderson and John Kirpatrick. Stuart's concertinas sounded just as good in my opinion as the instruments played by others. In a concert setting there was no discernable quality differential in terms of sound and tone. Surely that is the ultimate test?!

I don't know anything about Alistair Anderson's instrument, but John Kirkpatrick told me that Colin Dipper estimated that to build a concertina similar in quality to John's (ie a 40-key Crabb C/G with aluminium ends) would be well over 6000!!!!

Money unfortunately is always a consideration and can not be ruled out of the equation, and for some people "owning a piece of history" is a consideration. BTW Tom great topic :)

#45 bill_mchale

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 01:23 PM

Just to defend Stuart - although I'm sure he can do so ably enough on his own.  At the last Concertinas at Witney, Stuart played in the evening concert on a bill also including Alistair Anderson and John Kirpatrick.  Stuart's concertinas sounded just as good in my opinion as the instruments played by others.  In a concert setting there was no discernable quality differential in terms of sound and tone.  Surely that is the ultimate test?!


Please don't misunderstand me, I was not attacking Stuart. We have all had, I feel at least, a very cordial and interesting discussion.

My specific point was that Stuart seemed to say (though perhaps he meant otherwise) that he felt that most traditionally made high end instruments did not offer enough over his Norman to justify the difference in cost. That is often true of many musical instruments, that each tiny improvement in the instrument is accompanied by an enormous increase in price. However that does not mean that the traditional instruments are not in fact better than then hybrids.

Tom specifically said that he preferred the Edgley and that he felt it allowed him to be more expressive.

Obviously sound and tone is to a large measure a matter of taste (heck there are those who prefer the tone of a Stagi) so it would be hard to judge instruments on that basis. In objective terms the real issue is the response and expressiveness of the instrument. Of course tone is important to the individual buyer.

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Bill

#46 Richard Morse

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 03:05 PM

If I understood Tom correctly, in a perverse Universe where he was allowed to have only one concertina, he would have an extremely hard time choosing between the Edgleys and the Dipper and the Edgleys would probably win.

For my point to be made, I think that would have to be true of a fairly large percentage of concertina players.  If we were to do a poll of players who own both hybrids and more traditional instruments about what their favorite instrument was, at least say 30% would have to say that their favorite was the hybrid.

Interesting idea - and easy enough to see where this leads. I invite folks to participate in this Concertina Switch poll. If money were not an issue, would you switch? And to what?

This is intended to elicit responses for what a PLAYER would like to play, not what a listener would like the player to play.

#47 Mark Evans

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 03:27 PM

Went off to our seisuin last night with this topic on my mind. I switched instruments with the other concertina player and gave it a good going over. Sure enough, that old Wheatstone takes very little air to move the reeds to life (as I think Mr. Morse was suggesting). Different feel from which I have as a matter of course compensated for with my instrument.

Hybrids... it feels like my beloved instrument is being referred to as if it were one of those electric/gas powered cars :blink:.

#48 Mark Evans

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 03:34 PM

Oh, I'd like to have a goal at the poll. One or the other, all considered I'd stay quite comfortably with the Morse. Roars like a lion and purrs like a kitten. Frankly a beautiful work of playable art...and I can pay me bills to boot! If it holds up as has been suggested by the Button Box, it will be my last concertina. What happens after I've bitten the big peach is none of my affair.

#49 caj

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Posted 22 December 2004 - 03:14 PM

Oh, I'd like to have a goal at the poll. One or the other, all considered I'd stay quite comfortably with the Morse. Roars like a lion and purrs like a kitten.

Heh heh, the Morse that roars.

So, right now I'm in the process of sawing a bunch of old accordion reed blocks in half, lengthwise of course, so that I can make a pair of experimental reedpans for an experimental concertina layout. There is no other way, because each button must have push- and pull-notes that are a 4th or 5th apart.

I first remove one reed tongue, then saw away the metal around the empty reed cavity. The metal is so soft that even with great care the surviving reed can be rendered unplayable, as its own reed cavity gets bent out of shape. Thankfully there is a simple remedy, because the cavity always deforms the same way; clamping one end in a vice and pushing the other end with a thumb will bring it back to normal.

Just thought I'd share.

Caj

#50 Mark Evans

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 11:56 AM

Caj, I know how "cute" it must sound to say my little Morse roars, but it sho' nuff' do!

Once a month I go to a monster-sized Bluegrass jam session. This old 1700's stagecoach inn is taken over by the New England Bluegrass Association. Each room is filled with folks beatin' away at banjos, dobros, mandolins, stand up basses, big Martin guitars and loud singing.

For the past three sessions, I've taken the Albion (just leave my banjo in the case). The fiddlers flock over and we get busy (how many times can a fiddler stand Foggy Mtn. Breakdown before becoming unhinged). At last month's session a banjo player from the next room shut the door on his room full of head-banging, pump-it-out volume bluegrass. Later in the evening, he caught up with me and apologized, saying my Tina was so loud from the other room that I was distracting him. He said futher that even with the door closed the little roaring Morse was clearly audible. Have not had the same reaction at my weekly seisuin however.

Edited by Mark Evans, 27 December 2004 - 11:57 AM.


#51 Robin Tims

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 09:50 AM

As an infrequent visitor to these hallowed columns I hope I am not going over old ground when I say that my Morse Albion (151) seems to have changed noticeably during the 18 months or so I have had it.

It is no secret to say that in the early days I was less than happy with the tone (to the point of contemplating an early disposal), tho' delighted with the fast easy playing. Having an Aeola and a 50's Wheatstone 2E to compare it with, I found the tone lacking in punch to say the least. Somehow there was a rattly harmonic as well, on some notes, which irritated enough for me to experiment with playing in various rooms and in various distances from the walls, but with no improvement. I continued to play it regularly at home anyway.

There was a problem with the top C on the pull, which sounded 'strangled' (Jon McNamara had the identical problem with his and on the same note). However I was a good deal happier with the Albion Baritone (155) , which I loved from the start.

Recently, recovering from a disc op on my back and dying to get back to some concertina, I picked up from first choice the Albion treble, 6 fold bellows and no leaks, light and easy to play standing upright. As I gradually resumed the familiar tunes I realised that the 'rattly' harmonic seemed absent, the top C was perfect, the tone sounded much better, and further the volume seemed to have increased too.

I was so delighted about this that unusually I took it to a session on Boxing day (the first for many weeks). Within 5 mins my local friendly fiddler lady commented on 'the lovely tone of your new concertina' . Today, it still sounds as good (so it was not the red wine) compared with it's stablemates.

Yes, heap scorn if you will (and I would ) but this box has definitely changed with playing over many months, a not unheard of phenomenon with free reed instruments. Is it work hardening of the reeds ? Is it to do with temperature/humidity ? Whatever, I am so glad that I still have it.

Your point being, Robin, oh, ...........er Happy New Year everyone, especially Rich Morse, and Gill Noppen-Spacie at The Music Room..

Robin Tims

#52 Robin Tims

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 09:56 AM

It occurs, rereading my last, that maybe they fixed my ears, along with the disc op.

Robin T

#53 Ken_Coles

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 10:16 AM

Recently, recovering from a disc op on my back and dying to get back to some concertina, I picked up from first choice the Albion treble, 6 fold bellows and no leaks, light and easy to play standing upright. As I gradually resumed the familiar tunes I realised that the 'rattly' harmonic seemed absent, the top C was perfect, the tone sounded much better, and further the volume seemed to have increased too.

I was so delighted about this that unusually I took it to a session on Boxing day (the first for many weeks). Within 5 mins my local friendly fiddler lady commented on 'the lovely tone of your new concertina' . Today, it still sounds as good (so it was not the red wine) compared with it's stablemates.

Yes, heap scorn if you will (and I would ) but this box has definitely changed with playing over many months, a not unheard of phenomenon with free reed instruments. Is it work hardening of the reeds ? Is it to do with temperature/humidity ? Whatever, I am so glad that I still have it.

I was under the impression that part of this effect is changes in the wood (selective stiffening?) as with a guitar. Guitars that are well-played-in are considered more desirable than new ones (if well made) for this reason, and removing and reapplying the guitar's varnish is considered destructive of this aging. What the counterpart of revarnishing would be on a concertina I don't know!

My Morse has definitely mellowed in 3-1/2 years of heavy use. And I'll note Chris Timson's reported experience that installing baffles is another way to mellow a new instrument.

#54 Chris Timson

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 12:37 PM

My Morse has definitely mellowed in 3-1/2 years of heavy use.  And I'll note Chris Timson's reported experience that installing baffles is another way to mellow a new instrument.

I should add that my Morse was bought second hand after having spent some time in this country as a demonstration box, so by the time I had it it was probably well played in. This would explain why I have not noticed a significant change.

In general I am a fan of baffles aand have fitted them to vintage concertinas as well as hybrids, but they are definitely worth it for hybrids. I would like to suggest that Rich and the other makers consider supplying them as an optional extra.

Chris




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