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Concertinas On Ebay Questions


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#1 RELCOLLECT

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 06:43 AM

HELP! I saw 2 auctions on ebay that interest me, and would like some opinions on how foolish I'm being! Item # 7304521046 is "vintage and German", but how vintage? Anyone recognize the maker? Is this worth messing with as an instrument? (I have no interest in a non-functioning museum piece)

Also, I like a 14-button vintage Hohner, item # 7304961586...I've never seen a 14-button...is this junk or worth pursuing?

As always, your help is GREATLY appreciated!

Greg

#2 Paul Read

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 07:15 AM

I've never touched a Hohner so I'll let someone else reply. The German anglos are generally not worth bothering with. In my experience, unless the seller says it is fully restored, expect to do some work on the instrument. If you can get a restored vintage instrument, these usually prove to be playable and also hold their value. A lot of people seem to go the 'Jackie' route when starting out.

#3 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 08:18 AM

# 7304521046 is actually listed as a "Vintage Italian Concertina/Squeezbox", not as German. Though I haven't seen that model before, it appears to be of post WWII construction and may be built like a Bastari (even by Bastari ?), in which case the "missing" buttons may be inside it. You could "get lucky" with this one, or you might not, its a gamble. But bear in mind that these are prone to problems with sticking buttons, and that they are generally considered a "beginner's instrument".

The Hohner, # 7304961586, looks a potentially better buy, but it isn't a concertina at all, it is a ten-key Vienna accordion (often erroneously referred to as a "melodeon") with four basses. At least it clearly has a metal label saying that it has "Steel Reeds", and I suspect that it probably has the metal "action" (mechanism) that Hohner introduced around 1930 (which is about when this was made), and still use today, in which case spares are available.

But buying off eBay, when you aren't really sure what you are bidding on, is potentially "buying a pig in a poke", and either instrument could turn out to have lots of problems, or be nigh perfect. Unfortunately you rarely get a chance to try out before you buy, unless you live nearby and the seller is willing.

#4 Clive Thorne

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 04:06 PM

it is a ten-key Vienna accordion (often erroneously referred to as a "melodeon")


Surely whether this depends on where you come from?

Clive

#5 Ken_Coles

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 05:45 PM

Greg, if you have the itch to try playing as soon as you can (a feeling we all know) and want to scratch it before I or someone else can get together with you, I think there are better ways to spend your money that buying old stuff off Ebay. One would be to call a dealer like the Button Box and rent an instrument (or several in succession). I'm convinced (because of the high proportion of worn out cheap boxes on Ebay) that this is more cost-effective for a typical beginner. Check it out.

Ken

#6 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 07:37 PM

it is a ten-key Vienna accordion (often erroneously referred to as a "melodeon")

Surely whether this depends on where you come from?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well I come from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, though my Chambers ancestors came from Nassington, Northamptonshire. ;)

But these instruments do have proper names, and I find it less confusing to refer to them by the correct ones, or at least explain what they should be called. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the folk revival in England, the name of one specific type (melodeon) was applied to the whole family of button accordions and it now confuses matters.

#7 JimLucas

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 03:27 AM

But these instruments do have proper names,...

Perhaps those instruments did have "proper" names, but if those names have disappeared from common contemporary usage, then they are no longer "proper". Such names may be useful history, but are no longer useful terminology, because few people know even the names, much less the distinctions among them.

A similar, more recent change, is the inclusion of cheap "German" concertinas in the term "anglo". I prefer the earlier distinction, but if I want to be understood, I use "anglo" for the lot.

...and I find it less confusing to refer to them by the correct ones, or at least explain what they should be called.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Stephen, if what is "less confusing" for you is more confusing for your "listeners", does its use serve its intended purpose? If communication is your purpose, I would suspect not.

On the other hand, I would love to have you explain the different early names and the distinctions among them. I think that should include the periods during which the different names were used by the different manufacturers for their various models. (And if Hohner still advertises their little 1-row boxes as "Vienna accordions", I may need to eat some of my words. ;))

Edited to add: After Stephen's response, a couple of posts below this one, I did have to eat my words. A bit tough, but neither sour nor bitter.

Though I couldn't recall anyone else using those terms, Hohner does, so their customers must know the difference. I guess I'd better become familiar with them.

Edited by JimLucas, 05 March 2005 - 03:32 PM.


#8 Richard Morse

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 10:24 AM

I believe that "Vienna" accordions were models that had the bass buttons and mechanism as part of the bass side box of the accordion and NOT as a separate handle/"growlbox" stuck on (as "German" one-rows have). The number of buttons wasn't the determinant, just the placement. Hohner catalogues show one- two- and three-row boxes as being "Vienna" style. The ones with the "growlbox" they call the "German-style" (of which they now only make in a 1-row version but they used to make 2-rows that way too).

#9 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 02:37 PM

But these instruments do have proper names,...

Perhaps those instruments did have "proper" names, but if those names have disappeared from common contemporary usage, then they are no longer "proper". Such names may be useful history, but are no longer useful terminology, because few people know even the names, much less the distinctions among them.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Jim,

Of course words can change their meanings, but I meant "proper" in the sense of "belonging to them", not "obsolete but academically correct" as you seem to suggest. These names are not merely historical, and have not "disappeared from common contemporary usage", though many people new to free reed instruments are not familiar with them, and would benefit from familiarising themselves with them.

A similar, more recent change, is the inclusion of cheap "German" concertinas in the term "anglo".  I prefer the earlier distinction, but if I want to be understood, I use "anglo" for the lot.

I find it confusing, but somtimes I would do the same myself, for the sake of simplicity when talking to people who use the word that way, but it is something that has arisen because people don't understand that there is a difference.

...and I find it less confusing to refer to them by the correct ones, or at least explain what they should be called.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Stephen, if what is "less confusing" for you is more confusing for your "listeners", does its use serve its intended purpose? If communication is your purpose, I would suspect not.

But why should I not explain it, so that people can base their terminology on knowledge, rather than ignorance ?

On the other hand, I would love to have you explain the different early names and the distinctions among them.  I think that should include the periods during which the different names were used by the different manufacturers for their various models.

The terms "Wiener Harmonika" = Vienna (or Viennese) Accordion, and "Deutsche Harmonika" = German Accordion (or Melodeon), are still in use, to distinguish between these models, by all the accordion makers in Germany that I know of, they are also used by the importers and retailers of them.

And many of the people who play them are aware of the difference.

(And if Hohner still advertises their little 1-row boxes as "Vienna accordions", I may need to eat some of my words. ;))

Unfortunately, they stopped making the 1-row Vienna model some years back, before they moved production to China, but the hohnerusa.com website still offers :

HA-2815

The two-row Hohner 2815 accordion offers a two-voice tremolo tuning and traditional styling. This Vienna-style accordion's genuine wood body is enhanced by real leather hand and bellows straps
And :

HA-114

Hohnerís German-style 114 is the preferred model for Cajun music. Available in black with gold trim, with an individual register stop for each set of treble reeds

So what sauce would you like on them, or do you have enough already ? ;)

#10 JimLucas

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 03:26 PM

(And if Hohner still advertises their little 1-row boxes as "Vienna accordions", I may need to eat some of my words. ;))

[At this point Stephen provided a couple of current Hohner listings which use the terms I, Jim, was taking issue with.]

So what sauce would you like on them, or do you have enough already ? ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think I'll sprinkle a few over ice cream, and look for a can of alphabet soup when the stores open again, on Monday. :D

Serves me right for intruding on a subject where I'm only a spectator, and an inattentive one, at that.
(At least I didn't commit my error on melodeon.net, eh? :unsure:)

#11 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 04:06 PM

(At least I didn't commit my error on melodeon.net, eh? :unsure:)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh, I'm sure that the topic could produce plenty of confusion/controversy on melodeon.net.

Maybe we should try it there ? ;)

#12 Clive Thorne

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 09:56 AM

hohnerusa.com website still offers :

HA-2815

The two-row Hohner 2815 accordion offers a two-voice tremolo tuning and traditional styling. This Vienna-style accordion's genuine wood body is enhanced by real leather hand and bellows straps
And :

HA-114

Hohnerís German-style 114 is the preferred model for Cajun music. Available in black with gold trim, with an individual register stop for each set of treble reeds



Well, I'm still confused. So a Vienna accordian can be a one row (as per stephen's earlier post to which I originally responded) or a two row as per the above quote. But from the above quote Hohner don't mention vienna style for the one row four stop. So as far as hohner are concerned does it come down to the positioning of the bass buttons as Richard suggested?


Personally, when I grew up in Shropshire, all button boxes (not concertinas obviously) were refered to as melodeons, unless it had a full Stradella/accordian bass, when it became a button accordian, and by people who knew far more about it than I did then or do now. Its done me for 30 years so I'll stick to that and other people can stick to their conventions, which seems to be the easiest way.


A point of principal: Possibly the phrase "Vienna style accordian" is what its called in Germany (but in German obviously), are we bound to refer to it by the direct translation of the german name? If so then there are many other things that we also use the the wrong name for, 'sleeping car' for example. My current button box was described by the manufacturer as a melodeon, so does that mean I can call it a melodeon, irrespective of what Hohner would call a similar instrument?

Regarding the German concertina; surely by the any normal definition of "Anglo concertina" the german concertina undeniably an anglo.


Note, I wouldn't pretend to know anything like as much about these instruments as others on this site. I'm making the above points based on a "common usage" principal rather than a "historically correct" argument.


Clive

PS. I'm now off for a drive in my "Horeless Carriage".

#13 A.D. Homan

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 12:11 PM

Interesting topic. I sympathize with the desire for clear terms; I also refer to the one-row "German-style" diatonic accordions as "melodeons," and generally I avoid using the term "melodeon" for an accordion that lacks the "growlbox." However, I'd like to add three points for consideration:

1. The evidence that Stephan presented above (from Hohner's describe) still doesn't equate "German-style" with "melodeon" (and "Vienna-style" with "non-melodeon"). It does establish that a difference should be recognized, but it does not indicate which type should be called a "melodeon."

2. The _German_ term "Wiener Harmonika" is translated as "Vienna-style accordion"; in Vienna, this could cause some misunderstanding -- here, I'm reminded of our discussion about Danishes and Frankfurters! -- if the term were translated back into German as "Wiener Akkordeon," which would bring to mind an entirely different instrument! (It would be a B-system 3-row chromatic accordion with limited bisonoric basses!) Among the folk musicians I knew in Vienna and Graz, two-row accordions with the bass on the bass side rather than on a "growlbox" were generally considered to be "Italian-style" -- and this seems to be confirmed by some older German-made accordions bearing the name brand "Venedig" (Venice).

3. Stephan's proposed usage for "melodeon" follows current use of the term among Irish musicians. However, I've also heard of Irish (well, Irish-American) old-timers referring to the older Baldonis (and similar boxes) as "extended melodeons." These feature a home row in D with a second row of smaller buttons, and several bass buttons (often 4) on the bass side (no "growlbox"). A Baldoni with only one row of treble buttons, with 4 bass buttons on the side and no growlbox would also be called a "melodeon." I wonder if Paul Groff could comment on the term "melodeon" among Irish-American musicians -- I've seen him in a documentary featuring some great old-style melodeon players. This also raises the question about whether the "melodeon" term refers more to having one-row (or one distinct "home row") or to the "growlbox." The third feature that I imagine when someone says "melodeon" is also the lack of a grille covering the pallets -- so you'd have to remove the grille from a Hohner HA-114! ;)

Like I said above: I agree with Stephan's use of the terms, since I find that they would cause the least confusion as long as beginners learn those terms. The fact that German-style and Vienna-style were/are distinguished, both historically and currently, is well-established, but I think we still lack a complete picture of the historical and actual use of the term "melodeon." I don't think it's the case that it is largely beginners who refer to two- and three-row diatonic boxes as "melodeons" in England -- sometimes I just wish they wouldn't! ;)
Andy

#14 Helen

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 12:58 PM

Okay, as long as people are still chatting about this after Stephen's illuminating post -

Sorry, I don't understand what is the growlbox.

Thanks.

I realize that this comes from a deficiency in my knowledge and hope someone will take pity on me and explain the term.

I got that the growlbox was involved in deciding which type of accordion. I just couldn't figure out what the growbox was. :(

#15 JimLucas

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 01:57 PM

A point of principal: Possibly the phrase "Vienna style accordian" is what its called in Germany (but in German obviously), are we bound to refer to it by the direct translation of the german name?

No. After all, what New Yorkers call a "Danish pastry" is just one variety of what Danes call "wienerbrÝd" ("Vienna bread"), and I don't remember what it's called in Vienna, but I'm fairly certain the name doesn't refer to either Vienna or Denmark. Then there's what Danes call "fagot", which resembles an English "faggot" (="bundle of sticks"), but in English it's called "bassoon", while the Scandinavian "basun" is called "trombone" in English. Etc., etc.

But I think Stephen's point was that the manufacturer (Hohner) uses the term "Vienna style accordian" in its own English catalog. So it is "current usage", at least among those who deal directly with Hohner.

Regarding the German concertina; surely by the any normal definition of "Anglo concertina" the german concertina undeniably an anglo.

Not by "normal" definitions of 30 years ago.

My point was that language/usage is context-dependent, and varies from place to place and time to time. "Anglo" is an example: How did instruments with a keyboard layout invented in Germany come to be distinguished from those with a keyboard layout invented in England by calling the latter "English", but the former "anglo"?

30 years ago, "anglo" meant a concertina with a German-style keyboard, but English-style engineering. Almost invariably this also meant built in England, since I don't think there were yet any North American makers, and the few makers who lived or had lived in Australia and South Africa generally weren't known outside their own countries. And concertinas that were German-style in both keyboard and engineering were generally distinguished as "German", even if they were made in Italy or Czechoslovakia.

Early in the history of English-engineered (and built) German-keyboard concertinas, they were called "anglo-German", to indicate the combination of features and distinguish them from both the (lower-quality) German-built concertinas and the (less familiar to many) English-keyboard concertinas. Then when English makers added the "accidental" row, they were termed "anglo-chromatic". Two long names being more difficult than one shorter one, "anglo" soon came to be a common term for any English-built concertina with a German-based keyboard.

And so it stood during the British and American folk-revival of the 1960's-70's. But that increased the concertina's popularity, and Bastari (now Stagi) started making concertinas that were "neither fish nor fowl". For marketing reasons, as well as appearance, these were also called "anglos", though their engineering still owed a great deal to the "German" standard (and they were made in Italy). Then when the "Irish" concertina craze took hold, people learned that the well-known players' instruments were called "anglos", so it was a no-brainer to understand that "anglo" must be the name for all "Irish-style" concertinas. Some of us protested the loss of what we considered an important distinction, but we were overwhelmed by the new wave.

So formerly "German" concertinas are now "anglos", even if they were built in Germany and have the 20-button keyboard invented there. That's life.

I'm making the above points based on a "common usage" principal rather than a "historically correct" argument.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You're making the above points based on "familiar usage", i.e., usage that is common among those concertina-discussing people that you are familiar with. I hope the above shows you that "common" need not be either universal or eternal.

Meanwhile, South African concertina players have developed an independent, and very different terminology. :)

#16 Richard Morse

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 03:29 PM

Sorry, I don't understand what is the growlbox. I realize that this comes from a deficiency in my knowledge and hope someone will take pity on me and explain the term.

"Growlbox" is the English equivalent of the German word (which I can't remember is). I was told that the Germans called it than because that construction accented the deep throaty nature of the bass reeds (but that doesn't take into consideration that the Germans tended to make longer scale bass reeds than the Italians do which enhances that sound character...). I hope this cut/pasting of boxes helps!

Posted Image

An interesting thing about the growlbox is how it came to be, which seems to have been from flutinas. They had a similar device on the bass side though it was open and it's main purpose was as a handle for that part of the box. Because flutinas are played vertically (with the treble side upwards hung from a thumbstrap that was attached to a rail that ran under the fingerboard) and the bass downwards (toward your lap), the bottom handle was shaped such to be easy to grab (by your left hand).

It seems to have been sometime around the 1850's that people started to experiment with more controllable ways to play the "clavier melodique" (as flutinas were originally called) by changing its orientation to be played horizontally - with both hands (rather than primarily the right - or lifting - hand). This "new" accordion was called the "accordeon allemande". Somewhere in all that the word "melodeon" gets it's start, possibly because these instruments could play melodies (single notes) rather than ONLY chords as Demian's did.

At any rate, I've always thought that "melodeons" were/are 1-row bisonoric accordions regardless of growlbox. More than one rows were/are button accordions (of which there are many types). To make matters more confusing, here in the US, most people think of a melodeon as being a portable parlor organ (which descriptively reasonable yet technically misleading as organs work on air pressure while melodeons operate on vacuum). Another name for our American melodeon is "harmonium".

#17 A.D. Homan

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 04:46 PM

Another name for our American melodeon is "harmonium."


Bob G. in NY, who repairs dozens of harmoniums, told me that there is a crucial difference between the American reed organ ("melodeon") and harmonium -- something about the direction of airflow on the reeds? I can't recall at the moment.

Rich, I love your diagram about the "growlbox"!!! It's destined to become a classic! I would also add a pic of one of those Dutch boxes with multiple spoon basses.
Andy

#18 Clive Thorne

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 07:03 PM

I'm making the above points based on a "common usage" principal rather than a "historically correct" argument.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You're making the above points based on "familiar usage", i.e., usage that is common among those concertina-discussing people that you are familiar with. I hope the above shows you that "common" need not be either universal or eternal.



Point taken Jim, call it "familiar", or "local" usage, or what you will, but I would point out that the "concertina discussing" people I am familiar with is a reasonably large, and in some cases very knowledgable collection, not just a few mates in a local pub. Also, in all my travels and years I cannot recall ever hearing anyone describe their instrument as a "Vienna style accordian", or seen anyone claim to play such a beast on LP/CD sleeve notes (to be fair I tend to handle mostly english music LPs/CDs).

I did not intend to claim my usage to be universal or eternal, but the point of my original quip response to Stephen's posting was that no-one's usage is; it does depend where you come from, your age, contacts and experience. I regard my usage as a current and valid one, but so too are other peoples usages. As I said, I really don't mind what other people call them where they come from, even if its just up the road, but I'll stick to melodeon as to call it anything else would get me some very funny looks.

Does anyone on this site who plays a "melodeon" actually refer to it as a "Vienna style accordian" in conversation? - time for a poll ?


Clive

PS, Thanks for the E-mail Jim, you'll be glad to know that my carriage is both horseless and whoreless!




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