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Silvertone Anglo Concertina


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#1 Phate

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 10:45 PM

Hi:
I hope you folks are open to new members and ones who are concertina 'novices'.

I have always wanted to learn to play the concertina so have started with a somewhat modest instrument. Which I would like to know a little more about.

I have acquired a 1905, 20 button Silvertone, Anglo Concertina that I believe was made in Italy.

Beyond this I know very little including the reported quality of the instrument (as concertinas go); the companies history etc.

I have attached (or hope I have) a small pic of this instrument.

Are you able to help me out?

Phate

#2 David Barnert

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 11:01 PM

I have attached (or hope I have) a small pic of this instrument.


No pic came through. Usually this happens because it is too big. Make sure it's not bigger than 120K and try it again.

#3 Phate

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 09:27 AM

Hi Dave:
The pic notwithstanding, are you able to respond to my questions?
;)

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#4 dbowers

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 10:11 AM

From the general design, and especially the lettering, I'd seriously doubt the 1905 dating. In fact I'd be skeptical of 1950.

This appears to be a German-style, Italian-made instrument of fairly recent vintage.

#5 David Barnert

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 11:04 AM

I agree with the other DB. 1905 is out of the question. It's a mass-produced 20-button Italian Anglo-German (whew!) concertina from the mid-to-late 20th century. Its only strong point is likely to be the price. While some folks are happy with instruments like this, many find it discouragingly limited. If you feel you're getting nowhere with it, borrow a hand-made Anglo and see what you've been missing before deciding that the concertina's not for you.

As my father used to say, "Cheap is cheap."

[Added after:]

To address your other question, I never heard of "Silvertone" before.

Edited by David Barnert, 30 September 2003 - 11:07 AM.


#6 Michael Reid

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 11:30 AM

Perhaps "1905" is the manufacturer's model number. :rolleyes:

#7 Paul Groff

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 12:08 PM

Hello

The "Silvertone" label was used by Sear Roebuck & Co. for musical instruments made by other manufacturers and sold by them. Many Silvertone guitars, for example, were made by Harmony, although I have an awesome Kay Silvertone Jimmy Reed style electric (actually the Kay model name is "Thin Twin") made in the mid-1950s and with a logo identical to your concertina.

Paul Groff

#8 shipcmo

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 12:09 PM

"Silvertone" was a trade name used by Sears Roebuck on musical instruments ca 1950. That particular instrument looks like a post war Scholer, with totally wooden ends (no separate endplates).
Cheers,
Geo

#9 dbowers

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 12:39 PM

To follow up on Mr. Barnerts post (we DB's have got to stick together) this sort of instrument is useful for finding out if you'd like to play Anglo, but it won't get you very far.

My first instrument was a Klingenthaler. I noodled around with the thing for several years, getting nowhere. Then a chance meeting led me to try a really good Wheatstone. It was a revelation. I'm now playing a Morse Ceili as my primary squeeze and loving it.

The Klingenthaler fetched nearly its original purchase price on E-Bay.

#10 Sandy Winters

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 08:32 AM

Phate, Don't be disheartened by some of the comments here concerning the quality of your instrument. Just keep playing. You'll upgrade when you feel it is necessary.

I started playing concertina several decades ago and my first instrument was a beat up Bastari that had been in a house fire. I got it in trade for letting a friend (a notorious 'picker') borrow my pick-up truck for a weekend. I have since been thru several Lachenals and Wheatstones (currently an Aeola). But I still have that Bastari and I still play it every day. I leave it at my woodworking shop as a 'shop' instrument along with a very beat up $50 Yamaha guitar (My Gibsons, Martins, Guilds, and Gurians stay at home with my Aeola).

Incidently, I started playing the guitar in the fifties and my first instrument was, you guessed it, a Silvertone.

#11 Henk van Aalten

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 11:45 AM

Phate

Recently I saw a similar Silvertone on e-Bay, including an instruction book from 1905. Maybe you bought this one? My conclusion was that the book might be from 1905, but the concertina certainly was not.
Anyway do'nt worry too much. Just start playing and find out the peculiarities of an Anglo. When you think you master some tunes, find some-one with a better concertina and try it. Feeling and hearing the difference will give you an idea to consider buying a better instrument.

succes
Henk

#12 Paul Groff

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 12:54 PM

Sandy, Phate, and all,

My first guitar was also bought from Sears (with chore money that accumulated VERY slowly). A plywood-top sunburst F-hole American-made Harmony, playable (thank heaven for the adjustable bridge) and, despite its thunky tone, a miracle to me. Can we take a minute to reflect on what a great service the music department of this company provided over many decades? Somehow they managed to supply a wide range of musical instruments from bugles to combo organs and (except for the cheapest ones -- then as now, probably the biggest sellers and barely functional) many of them were really good value for students. Even Sears' "Best" instruments were never the highest quality, craftsman-made type that have appreciated the most in the "vintage" market, but the catalog with its pages of shiny instrument "pinups" must have encouraged millions of kids to dream about making music.

Some of the old catalogs have been reprinted. In those from the early 20th century you see lots of imported German melodeons and concertinas (some impersonating the English makes) and at the top of the price ranges, English-made concertinas. It would be very interesting to look in detail at the changes in models and quality. I suppose these changes would reflect the change in German export taxes, the political and economic consequences of wars, alliances, depressions, and booms.... But I suspect they mainly reflect a decrease in individual, family, and group music-making as the phonograph, radio, and television took over more of the society's attention. Even today, after "folk revivals," "guitar booms," and the glamorization of popular musicians, so few American families entertain themselves with their own music. Imagine a 21st century in which every Walmart (or some similar pretender to the title of America's general store) had a selection of decent instruments of all types (including, of course, concertinas). Only demand from the American consumer would ever bring this about. Evidently, the modern consumer DOES want the wild west anarchy of ebay, representing perhaps the modern paradigm that we have maximum access to more and more information of wildly fluctuating reliability. Gone are the "Good, Better, Best" selections made by a canny business well acquainted with music, instruments, and musicians and careful of its national reputation as a general goods retailer. In their place is the auction format that may tempt the unwary with the hope that they can "cheat the seller" by getting an item for "a steal."

I am not trying to glorify Sears (or even less Walmart), or to denigrate auctions (or community recycling centers for that matter) as a potential source of bargains. Even in Sears' musical heyday, anyone in a city would probably have been better served by a specialist music retailer. And even today there are "deals" in as-is instruments, when the buyer for some reason values the instrument much more than the seller realizes, or the seller is forced by circumstances to sell at what he knows is a bad price. I only note a change in who we are, musically, and how this in turn has changed the way so many youngsters learn about, and dream about, the instruments that they might someday play.

This website and others like it have great potential to educate and encourage new musicians; this is one reason I am so distressed when (even very fair and reasonable) discussions of instrument prices, quality, and longterm value are taken negatively by newcomers to the concertina. This reaction is usually due to a basic disappointment about the way the world is -- i. e., you probably won't (anymore) get a great concertina that works and sounds well, a "Best" Jeffries or Aeola, for pocket change. If you did, the seller, maker, and/or restorer would have lost his fair pay. The "golden period" for buying cheap second-hand concertinas was the same period in which long-established London makers were forced to slash quality and/or go out of the business. The advantage to one part of the concertina community was cannibalistic, at the expense of another (perhaps more crucial) part. Before there were makers, there were no players.

Some have written that the American music consumer wants to be told beautiful lies (think of "The Music Man"). For my part, all these years later I want to thank and salute Sears for managing to chart a pretty honest, helpful, and encouraging course through the music business for much of the 20th century. Your Silvertone concertina is part of that history.

Paul

#13 JimLucas

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 03:10 PM

My conclusion was that the book might be from 1905, but the concertina certainly was not.
Anyway do'nt worry too much. Just start playing and find out

I doubt that the book was from 1905, either. I think that's when it was *first* published, and that nothing has been changed in subsequent editions, including the date. In fact, I believe it's still in print, carrying the same 1905 "publication" date.

#14 Phate

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 09:01 PM

:rolleyes:
Again One and all many thanks for your helpful and enthusiastic comments. Much appreciated.
In light of your comments and further readings and discussions with the seller of the Silvertone, I have been able to re-consider my purchase.
To this end, I am back in the market place looking for a concertina. The difficulty of course is having an opportunity to hear and try a variety of instruments.
The demand in our area for this instrument is limited (as are dealers).
Based upon my experience (albeit limited) and readings I continue to want to start with a 20 button Anglo Concertina in the key of C/G.
I am seriously looking at a new Stagi C1 ($375 US) or C2 ($425 US). The price is at my upper range as a staring instrument.

I am open to comments if you would care to offer them.

Also a couple of questions:

[1] The significant difference between the C1 & C2 (for those that are familiar with the Stagi)?
[2] What greater flexibility in my playing will I eventually realize by going from a 20 button to a 30 or even a 56 button instrument?
[3] In my exploration of Concertinas I have discovered an extreme range in prices what value does one realize in an instrument priced at $3000+ range? Is it features, sound quality, aesthetics,.........?
[4] If you were to suggest the best self teaching book for a beginner learning the 20 button Anglo Concertina, what would you suggest?

Again, many thanks for all your help.


<_<

#15 JimLucas

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 02:36 AM

Based upon my experience (albeit limited) and readings I continue to want to start with a 20 button Anglo Concertina in the key of C/G.
I am seriously looking at a new Stagi C1 ($375 US) or C2 ($425 US). The price is at my upper range as a staring instrument.

I don't know where you're located, or where you would purchase at those prices, but if it's the Stagi you want I recommend that you buy from the Button Box (www.buttonbox.com). Even including shipping costs, their prices appear to be lower ($295 for the C1 and $335 for the C2). More importantly they specialize in concertinas, rather than being a music store that just happens to carry a couple of concertinas among many other things. The Button Box will insure that the instrument is in the best possible condition -- including being in tune -- before shipping it to you, and they stand behind what they sell. This is worth much more than the convenience of a local dealer, who is unlikely to know how to service a concertina.

Bob Tedrow's Homewood Music (www.homewood.net, I think) is another reputable dealer, but I don't see Stagis listed on his site these days.

Both Homewood and the Button Box also build their own "mid-range" concertinas, which are excellent if/when you want to upgrade.

The significant difference between the C1 & C2 (for those that are familiar with the Stagi)?

I think the folks at the Button Box could help you there. But from their web site I see that the C2 has two octave-tuned reeds per note. I.e., it's a very different sound, more like what most people associate with accordions. It adds a richness which some people like, but you can't switch it on and off, and it's a sound you can't get from the higher-quality anglos, unless you go the Chemnitzer/bandoneon route. (I know, I've just set you up for a whole new set of questions.)

What greater flexibility in my playing will I eventually realize by going from a 20 button to a 30 or even a 56 button instrument?

Going to a 30-button anglo you'll go from being able to play in 2 major keys (and their relative minors and modes) to -- in theory-- all keys, though the harmonic and even melodic possibilities vary from key to key. On a 20-button C/G, by the way, you won't have the C# needed for playing in the key of D. Depending on what sort of music you want to play and whether you're playing with others, a G/D instrument might be a desirable alternative.

As for 56 buttons... there you're most likely looking at an English-system concertina, not an anglo. As different as a fiddle and a banjo in terms of how you play them and the sorts of music and arrangements they're most suited to. Anglos with more than 32 buttons are relatively rare, with more than 40 extremely rare.

If you're willing to go to $425 for a 20-button anglo, you should note that the Button Box lists the 30-button W15 at $565, and they currently have a 30-button W15-LN for $545. A little more expensive than what you indicate, but much more versatile. And while I'm not personally familiar with the W15-LN, it appears to be similar -- in size and type of buttons -- to the more expensive instruments, which could be a plus if/when you want to upgrade.

In my exploration of Concertinas I have discovered an extreme range in prices what value does one realize in an instrument priced at $3000+ range? Is it features, sound quality, aesthetics,.........?

Construction quality, reflected in playing response, sound quality, durability,... you name it!

#16 Richard Morse

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 08:50 AM

I am back in the market place looking for a concertina. The difficulty of course is having an opportunity to hear and try a variety of instruments.

If you are unable to visit a store which has all three types in various qualities, and have no folk festivals near to see/play them, or folks in the area who are amenable to sharing their experiences, I suggest renting a concertina rather than going to the expense of buying one and then realizing that it was the wrong choice for you.

Narrowing down your choice is helpful.... and by letting us know what type of music you envision playing and with whom will also help us help you. Also check out the WikiTina Buying Advice page.

Jim has well answered all your other questions though I'd like to add: that most people move on from a 20-button anglo fairly quickly. This move could take as little as a couple of weeks (mostly for folks that already play other instruments) to several months (newbies to music making who finally get to try a better instrument). People move on because they 1. loose interest and move on to another type on instrument. 2. Want a more flexible/responsive/appropriate concertina.

In either case (and particularly if you already play music) it may not make a lot of sense spending several hundred dollars on a 20-button anglo when one of those $50 eBay anglos will "last you" a comparable length of time. The major differences between the eBay and the Stagi C1 is that the Stagi is a bit better made, will have been checked over for leaks, playability, and tuning (at least when sold by a reputable shop/person), and will come with a warranty and returns policy.

Actually, a note of "playability" may be appropriate here.... EVERY Stagi we sell NEEDS leak chasing, action adjustment, and tuning. EVERY ONE OF THEM! And we do it as we don't consider the instrument "salable" without such work. At one time we sold those cheap Chinese 20 and 30 button concertinas, but they needed so much work to make playable that we weren't able to keep the price low and make a profit on them. On top of that, customers found them very troubleprone, requiring constant adjustments to fairly major repairs (which we did under warranty). Needless to say we quickly stopped carrying them.

If you're seriously short on cash and are mechanically inclined - go for the eBay cheapo. If you want a decent learners instrument, rent or buy a Stagi. Expect to "move on" from a 20-button pretty early on.

#17 Sandy Winters

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 12:14 PM

Paul, your observations about the role of music and music manufacturers/retailers in society are insightful.

Just as an anecdote, I grew up in a rural setting a few miles from a small town of 1300 people. That town in the 50's and 60's had 3 full service music stores where one could buy everything from guitar strings to grand pianos, as well as 45 rpm and LP records. Without those stores my life would have been radically different.

Today that same town (now population 23,000) has NO music stores and NO record stores. The closest music store is about 20 miles away and is not anything close to being full service.

Sad but true.

Phate, Follow Jim's advice and you won't go wrong.




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