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Got "the Bug" Again. Looking For Ec Advice


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#1 seanc

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 01:25 PM

Hi (again) all,

 

 I have once again got the bug for an English. Way back, I had gotten a Jackie (or Jack not sure anymore). I liked it and it made quite a bit of sense to me. But I found that it just did not have enough range.  One thing lead to another, I put it aside and I sold it.

 

I now have the bug again.

 

So, going into it with a bit more info. Any advice? A 48/56 key Stagi? I am assuming the Trinity College are not worth considering. Trying to stay in that sub $1k range. Button box has what looks like a nice used Lachenal but it is $1900.. Better to wait another 6months+ and go for something like that?

 

Thanks!

Sean

 



#2 nicx66

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:59 PM

Greg Jowaisas mentioned that he has several concertina's for sale. I bet he has something with traditional reeds and in your price range. worth a shot. http://www.concertin...showtopic=19720



#3 seanc

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 05:58 PM

In contact with Greg and he has quite a few options.

But just as a reality check. And another piece of help.

he has a brass reed Wheatstone and a steel reed Lanchenal. I think I tend to like the mellower sound of brass. But it seems the consensus is go for steel.. is going brass generally a mistake and to be avoided?


Thoughts?

Edited by seanc, 25 July 2017 - 05:59 PM.


#4 alex_holden

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 01:33 AM

Aside from any actual difference in how brass and steel reeds perform, the impression I have, and I'm sure more knowledgeable folks will correct me if I'm wrong, is that it is possible to make a high quality brass-reeded instrument, and there are still a few of them around, but the majority of vintage brass-reeded ECs are Lachenal's low-end budget models, which were made down to a price using mass production techniques.

#5 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 07:47 AM

I'm sure we'll get a bunch of welcomed opinions  :)

 

My personal experience the past 15 years in tuning and playing close to a hundred brass reed concertinas is that the quality of the reeds varies quite a bit.  The mahogany, english, entree level Lachenals could have the stamped mass produced reeds and not be the greatest players.  However, I've come across examples that played well with decent volume and response rivaling the lower end steel reed models.

 

The 20b anglos are all over the place :wacko:   Some are great, where you thought you were playing good steel reeds.  Some had reeds with terrible tolerances with gaps between the tongue and shoe that you thought you might be able to drive a truck through.  All played, which was probably Lachenal's goal albeit some better than others.

 

As you move up into the rosewood english models I've found the reeds, as you might expect, generally improve.  I've played some sweet, responsive examples.   But I've also found some that seemed to have "bricks " :o for reed tongues.

 

Early Wheatstone reeds can be nice, but again vary widely.

 

I've found that once Chidley took over at Wheatstone and began producing brass rivet reed concertinas the overall response and sound of these instruments is very good to excellent.

 

So there seem to be general trends with some exceptions which leads me to advise folks to evaluate any concertina on its individual merits.  (Some wise person in this forum once pointed out that the individual condition and repair history of a concertina over 100 years can be as or more important than its model ranking or maker's pedigree.)  Was that you, Malcolm Clapp?

 

A word about brass reed instruments staying in tune :unsure:

 

My experience is that brass reed instruments stay relatively in good tune AS LONG AS played within the limits of the instrument.  By that I mean you can't take a brass reed instrument to a session and play as loud as you can, pushing the instrument to an extreme and expect it to stay in tune.  In this regard steel reed instruments are much more tolerant of abuse.  I've found that brass stays in tune if you respect the volume capabilities of the instrument.

 

It is true that brass reeds are not as resilient as steel.  A brass reed, not carefully filed can develop stress fractures and fail.  This is not widespread in my experience but occasionally does happen.

 

To my ear brass reeds can have a certain unique sound and charm.  The overtones seem less harsh and the chords are sweeter.  You may give up some volume and sometimes a bit of quickness but there can be some compensation in tone with brass.

 

One man's experience and opinion ;)

 

Greg



#6 Myrtle's cook

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 09:29 AM

Just to add/support Greg's wise words...

 

If you intend to use the concertina to accompany singing then a decent brass reeded box will serve you particularly well (unless it's with a shanty choir!) as the natural volume and softer tone is well suited to the human voice. As Greg says, the better brass reeds can be very good and not lacking in volume or dynamic range (I have an 1860s Wheatstone baritone with brass reeds which is one of my most responsive concertinas and just about - well nearly - stands comparison to a 'golden period' Aeola). This might all be slightly in the ear of the beholder, but if you can, try out the  boxes in question or get to hear them played.

 

There are also concertinas with 'silver nickel' reeds from the mid 19th century. I understand these are harder to tune from a reparaers point of view, but the better ones also have a very nice mellow tone and good response.

 

Worth bearing in mind that the mellow tone of many of the 'mid-Victorian' brass reeded instruments is as much due to their wider construction. Steel reeded instruments of the period tend (sweeping generalisation) to have a more mellow tone than their C20th descendants.



#7 malcolm clapp

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 11:09 AM

So there seem to be general trends with some exceptions which leads me to advise folks to evaluate any concertina on its individual merits.  (Some wise person in this forum once pointed out that the individual condition and repair history of a concertina over 100 years can be as or more important than its model ranking or maker's pedigree.)  Was that you, Malcolm Clapp?
 

 

Possibly, but I can't recall the context.

 

Certainly, the instrument's "individual merits" at the time when it was originally manufactured is a useful guide, but I've seem many a top quality Wheatstone or Jeffries that have experienced the ravages of time, climate, lack of maintenance and poor repair, to the extent that they would be impossible, or at least, not commercially viable, to restore to anything like a decent playing condition. Often the reply from an owner of said concertinas who is given such news is along the lines of  "I bought it off eBay, and the seller told me it was a top of the range model in excellent condition, with just a few small problems that are easy fixed...."   Ring any bells???

 

On the other hand, it is more likely that an expensive top of the range model may have been better looked after than its cheaper cousins.because of its value, especially when previously owned by the same family through numerous generations.

 

IMHO, there is no hard and fast rule. Treat every instrument on its merits, and consider the purpose to which it is to be put. Brass reeded concertinas can be useful, and even Stagis have their place, possibly as doorstops! I personally wouldn't own either, but perhaps I've just never found one that ticks the right boxes for me personally. Your mileage.....etc.

 

 

(Edited to apologise to happy Stagi owners; I'm sure there are some....)


Edited by malcolm clapp, 26 July 2017 - 11:12 AM.


#8 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 06:06 AM

 

(Edited to apologise to happy Stagi owners; I'm sure there are some....)

 

Thanks, Malcolm! I'm one of them. Not only me, but the members of my folk group.

 

I'd been playing my metal-ended, 30-button Stagi Anglo for years, along with fiddle, guitars,double bass and vocals, when I acquired a Lachenal Crane/Triumph, learnt the concertina parts of our arrangements on it, and proudly presented it at the next practice night.

 

The unanimous verdict was: Keep on playing your old (Stagi) concertina - it blends better with the band!

 

FWIW,

Cheers,

John






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