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The Trouble With Anglo Concertina Availability


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#19 Kurt Braun

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 09:41 AM

Does someone need to inform Willie Nelson that he deserves and can afford a better guitar? Do you think his values are messed up?

#20 Richard Morse

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 09:44 AM

I'm not sure why there aren't more high-end concertina makers out there. The demand is there. Even someone like Wally Carroll, who's new compared to Dipper, has a years-long waiting list. Presumably it has something to do with the difficulty in construction and lack of documentation on how to do it.

You've pegged it there, but most folks don't realize how extreme the situation is. It takes many, many years to amass the knowledge and skills to be able to make a good vintage quality concertina AND it takes specialized equipment/machinery to make concertina reeds.

Perhaps prices must rise to encourage new makers to come out of the woodwork.

Most likely NOT (IMHO). Even doubling or tripling the price of high end concertinas won't encourage new makers as it still wouldn't be profitable.

What is the cost of several years of apprenticeship (providing that you can even get such) and skill building worth? Add to that outlaying tens of thousands of dollars for the equipment/machinery plus setting it all up, adjusting, jig-making, supplier finding, prototype making, getting the shop space etc. and you're well over 100 grand (US dollars) before you make your first box. And then add in the cost to hire/train staff to make them. A single person can make perhaps a dozen concertinas/year. More staff can make more, but then there's the expense of training those employees, upgrading the facilities to (legally) accommodate them, dealing with related issues and taxes, etc. so that while you'd be able to produce more/year, you also have more expense as well.

There just is no reasonable payback scenario even at three times the current concertina prices. Profit is not a motivation for making concertinas. Anyone getting into making good vintage quality concertinas has to be rich or otherwise supported/endowed. And that's how the "new"makers are arriving. And with that sort of entry situation, there are precious few that can/will do it.

So I have no qualms about paying $7000 for an instrument. What irks me is the wait and the underlying reasons for it.

You can be a part of the solution by helping current makers (or new ones to come to the scene to) make more by offering monetary support (or organizing for others to supply the dough) for equipment/machinery, setup and training - for those interested in making larger quanitites of concertinas. I note that most (all?) established makers and most (maybe all?) new makers of good vintage quality concertinas ELECT NOT to produce many. They prefer to work solo (or with a single helper or two).

-- Rich --

#21 Martin Milner

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 09:59 AM

So, you have a few options:

1) Get on the waiting list of a top maker NOW and start saving - by the time your order is ready in a few years time, you'll be able to afford it.

2) PAY the price you say you are willing to pay now on eBay, and have the concertina you think you deserve.

3) Whine about the fact that everybody else got in the queue before you and see if you can jump the queue.

4) Take up concertina making and head your own queue.

5) Take up the button accordian and get something top of the line for less.


The question of how much a beginner should pay for their instrument comes up in relation to every instrument, and the best answer is usually that a beginner should buy the very best they can afford, and grow into the instrument. If at a later stage they want to sell, the instrument will have have a better market value, and may indeed have increased in value.

The Stagis are really good for people who want to dip their toes in the water before diving in, but they don't have much resale value, so they're a bad investment musically and financially.

#22 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:02 AM

I am one of the people who has been attending Noel Hill's class since 1996 and DPMCCABE's assumptions about the class are incorrect but would neverthelss be irrelevant. Most of the students in the early classes were Intermediate or higher. Some people had waited years for a special concertina they had ordered some time before. A few had been lucky enough to find a fine concertina at a reasonable price, and others had merely paid what the market demanded at the time to have a quality instrument. All shared some degree of devotion to the music and the instrument and generally tried to obtain the best instrument they could afford. Others decided that they didn't need a high-end instrument and were happy with much less. But each type made their own decision regardless of skill, talent, or NEED.

I very well might have the wrong idea about the level of instruction at the workshop, but why do intermediate -and-above players require instruction in the skills that were mentioned in the article? Maybe the article was skewed, but perhaps you could clarify? I also stated that reading it was just my motivation for writing this. I'm basing my opinions based primarily off of observations of current market conditions, discussions with other musicians in similar positions and firsthand experience.

For someone else to assail these people saying they are not worthy to have these fine instruments is pure rubbish. There are always a few people who believe they are "entitled" to something and they denigrate those who have what they desire but cannot either acquire or afford. Most of the inhabitants of the developed world have more than they "need" but that is a characteristic of a capitalist economy. I would much rather have that type of economy with its quirks and supposed inequalities than any of the others that have been tried and failed in this world.

Let me make this clear: I am not on some vendetta just because I can't find a Jeffries for $5000. This has been the plight of many aspiring musicians in Ireland and the U.S. The only sense of misplaced "entitlement" I see here is by those who think they should have something just because they can afford it and they want it. Of course people will have more than they need. This is no truer than here in the U.S. What I'm asking is that people make some small attempt to make sound decisions on buying a suitable instrument.

One feature of our little concertina world is that supply and demand is not always in balance. The fact that an instrument can be delivered one day by Dipper or Suttner or any of the other fine makers and be resold the very next day for a much bigger price suggests that the makers are not getting the full market value for their instruments. They could employ different sales practices and likely obtain a much greater return for their hard work. But this would favor only the most wealthy, so it seems fair to conclude that these makers have made a commitment to an instrument and a type of music that they love. They would rather have their instruments in the hands of those willing to make the commitment to wait for that special concertina.

And what of the commitment to the study of the instrument itself? Have we, as a society, so devalued hard work and practice as to make it a non-issue? From your argument, it seems as if time and money should be the only factors. I think they currently are, but they shouldn't be. The makers can't order their queues based off of any other qualities, so that's why I've asked people to more carefully examine their needs and act accordingly. This is something that must practiced on an individual level.

In any free-market system, when resources are scarce, people are encouraged to conserve. Somehow, we're seeing the opposite here and I'm not entirely sure why. Even if new high-end makers are coming out as we speak, it could be decades before a more reasonable balance of supply and demand exists.

#23 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:05 AM

If Suttner, Dipper, Carroll and the others were depending on PROFESSIONAL concertina players for their market, they'd be out of business. There aren't enough of them. These guys are working fulltime, and I dare say none of them are making as much as your average auto salesman or plumber.

Concertina has become extremely popular in Ireland among young players. I feel that there is plenty of demand out there when considering only dedicated players. This is difficult to quantify and it's just my opinion, though.

#24 Martin Milner

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:28 AM

The only sense of misplaced "entitlement" I see here is by those who think they should have something just because they can afford it and they want it.


That's the market economy we live with in Western Society, better get used to it.

#25 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:28 AM

I appreciate that you were careful in raising this subject to present a thoughtful and reasoned argument. I am struggling to respond in a similar manner and not share the anger and amazement at what I consider to be a thoroughly offensive, elitist and exclusionary argument.

Don't take this personally, but go to hell!

I'd advise you to hold your tongue in the future if you feel the need to escalate what I started as a "thoughful and reasoned argument" to personal attacks. And yes, telling someone to go to hell is a personal attack. Your misplaced outrage makes me feel as if I just called up Charleton Heston and told him I was going to take away his guns.

So that's where I am. I have an instrument that is better than I can play, but I'm investing the time to get better.

Great. As long as you feel that you can someday take advantage of the concertina's capabilities it's a perfectly suitable instrument for you. I have a problem with people who order an instrument who either know full well that they'll never be able to do that or have deceived themselves into thinking so. Most of these peoples' instruments end up sitting unused.

Now here's what I find so offensive about your argument. You seem to be blaming amateur muscians like myself for having the audacity to enter into the field that you have made your life's pursuit and than having the nerve to buy instruments that exceed our skill level.

I have no problem with people entering the field and there's nothing wrong with encouraging it. Let me ask you, though, whom does Colin Dipper have in mind when he designs an instrument? The player who has shown a certain degree of dedication to his instrument and will do such a work of art justice. Not the casual consumer of expensive instruments who just wants the best that money can buy.

My musical choices are none of your business. You seem to be saying that my participation in music on my terms is messing up your livelihood. Wrong and insulting.

How often have I heard similar arguments used by people who buy expensive, wasteful cars and say that it's their right to do whatever they want with their money. You must understand that your actions affect others in your community. In our community, if a certain subset depletes a resource, it affects the entire community in a very negative way. You don't have a Jeffries at home and a Dipper on the way or anything, so I hardly think your purchase of a Guens-Wakker will prevent some musician from getting that instrument with which to record his first CD. However, there are casual musicians and collectors--collectors, there's really no excuse for them--who are buying instruments made by the small circle of top-level instrument makers. The combined effect of these individuals is significant.

#26 Geraghty

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:36 AM

Great. As long as you feel that you can someday take advantage of the concertina's capabilities it's a perfectly suitable instrument for you. I have a problem with people who order an instrument who either know full well that they'll never be able to do that or have deceived themselves into thinking so. Most of these peoples' instruments end up sitting unused.

How do you know? (please read that as an innocent question, not sarcastically or anything.) How do you know who is ordering one just because it's a conversation piece and it "looks nice" versus who is ordering one because they want to play, or because they have a relative who wants to play?

#27 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:37 AM

So, you have a few options:

1) Get on the waiting list of a top maker NOW and start saving - by the time your order is ready in a few years time, you'll be able to afford it.

2) PAY the price you say you are willing to pay now on eBay, and have the concertina you think you deserve.

3) Whine about the fact that everybody else got in the queue before you and see if you can jump the queue.

4) Take up concertina making and head your own queue.

5) Take up the button accordian and get something top of the line for less.

1) On the list already. Three and a half years to go.
2) I only see top concertinas (e.g. Jeffries and Suttner) on eBay a couple times a year. It's always an option, though.
3) Queues are there for a reason and must be respected, even if I don't like it. As much as I'd like to bend the rules for myself, for all I know the next person on the list could be a better player than me.
4) Few have the time or resources to do this (see Morse's post).
5) I'm as competent on fiddle (was actually my first instrument) which I'm very grateful for.

The question of how much a beginner should pay for their instrument comes up in relation to every instrument, and the best answer is usually that a beginner should buy the very best they can afford, and grow into the instrument. If at a later stage they want to sell, the instrument will have have a better market value, and may indeed have increased in value.

Well, that's the problem. Many beginners, especially adults who were not already musicians, probably do not understand that they'll never be a top player worthy of a Jeffries. That takes an unbelievable amount of practice, dedication from an early age, and some genetic luck. And what about the instruments that aren't sold once they're essentially discarded? There are far too many of these and it's not easy to find them.

Edited by dpmccabe, 27 October 2006 - 10:47 AM.


#28 Geraghty

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:41 AM

And what about the instruments that aren't sold once they're essentially discarded? There are far too many of these and it's not easy to find them.

Sorry, what? I don't understand this comment..

Edited by Geraghty, 27 October 2006 - 10:41 AM.


#29 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:44 AM

Great. As long as you feel that you can someday take advantage of the concertina's capabilities it's a perfectly suitable instrument for you. I have a problem with people who order an instrument who either know full well that they'll never be able to do that or have deceived themselves into thinking so. Most of these peoples' instruments end up sitting unused.

How do you know? (please read that as an innocent question, not sarcastically or anything.) How do you know who is ordering one just because it's a conversation piece and it "looks nice" versus who is ordering one because they want to play, or because they have a relative who wants to play?

Well you can't know for sure. A maker can only fulfill the orders as they come in. But it's reasonable to assume that there are a lot of great concertinas out there that have fallen into disuse. There was an interesting thread a while back on the number of Jeffries currently in existence that gives me the impression that there's a huge gap between the number of Jeffries in use and the number that exist.

#30 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 10:46 AM

And what about the instruments that aren't sold once they're essentially discarded? There are far too many of these and it's not easy to find them.

Sorry, what? I don't understand this comment..


Sorry, again referring to instruments that just sit in a closet and are rarely, if ever played. These need to get out in the open and to the people who will play and maintain them.

#31 chris

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:15 AM

Hi
I have this problem. I wish to buy a new car but I don't know where to get tested to see if my driving warrants a new and more powerful car. Is it at the same place that I must go in order to get tested to see if I qualify for an upgrade to my guitar? Is this the normal procedure for determining the right level of equipment to own? Am I allowed to own the 2 concertinas that are in my care? I am now worrying if I'm allowed to own anything without justifying my ownership!
Fortunately I own English concertinas so maybe this whole question may not really concern me. Or anyone else really ;)
chris

#32 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:20 AM

Hi
I have this problem. I wish to buy a new car but I don't know where to get tested to see if my driving warrants a new and more powerful car. Is it at the same place that I must go in order to get tested to see if I qualify for an upgrade to my guitar? Is this the normal procedure for determining the right level of equipment to own? Am I allowed to own the 2 concertinas that are in my care? I am now worrying if I'm allowed to own anything without justifying my ownership!
Fortunately I own English concertinas so maybe this whole question may not really concern me. Or anyone else really ;)
chris

Is there an extremely limited supply of powerful cars? No. Is there an extremely limited supply of guitars? No. Is there an extremely limited supply of English concertinas? Not so much. Is there an extremely limited supply of anglo concertinas? Undeniably yes. I hope you can see the difference now.

I've rebuffed this approach in previous responses already.

Edited by dpmccabe, 27 October 2006 - 11:20 AM.


#33 chris

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:34 AM

Hi
Why not start making Anglos yourself? This may help to alleviate the shortage that you are so concerned about.
good luck in your new manufacturing venture.
chris

#34 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:39 AM

Hi
Why not start making Anglos yourself? This may help to alleviate the shortage that you are so concerned about.
good luck in your new manufacturing venture.
chris

Thanks for the tip. I think I'll begin by scrapping your Englishes for parts.

How old are you, 12? Try posting something constructive for a change.

#35 CaryK

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:40 AM

So I have no qualms about paying $7000 for an instrument. What irks me is the wait and the underlying reasons for it.


I upgraded from a Stagi, which I still use, to a wonderful A/E Edgley and the difference in my ability to play Irish tunes is tremendous. I don't think I will ever be able to afford an instrument more costly than a Kensington, and that only after many months of saving. I don't begrudge those that can afford more, regardless of their playing ability.

I have to say, I'm irked by your willingness to judge the motivation of others (the "underlying reasons" as you call it) in wanting to own the most instrument they can afford. Your basic assumption, that your use of the concertina is more important to society than someone else's use is just plain egotistical. I wholeheartedly disagree with your assumption that because you are a "professional" musician, you are more deserving of a fine instrument than a concertina "enthusiast" who plays for his or her own pleasure only. What a crock.

Get off your pedestal of self-importance. If you picked the wrong instrument and can't abide the wait for an upgrade, then you have yourself to blame for poor planning.

#36 dpmccabe

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:46 AM

I upgraded from a Stagi, which I still use, to a wonderful A/E Edgley and the difference in my ability to play Irish tunes is tremendous. I don't think I will ever be able to afford an instrument more costly than a Kensington, and that only after many months of saving. I don't begrudge those that can afford more, regardless of their playing ability.

I have to say, I'm irked by your willingness to judge the motivation of others (the "underlying reasons" as you call it) in wanting to own the most instrument they can afford. Your basic assumption, that your use of the concertina is more important to society than someone else's use is just plain egotistical. I wholeheartedly disagree with your assumption that because you are a "professional" musician, you are more deserving of a fine instrument than a concertina "enthusiast" who plays for his or her own pleasure only. What a crock.

Get off your pedestal of self-importance. If you picked the wrong instrument and can't abide the wait for an upgrade, then you have yourself to blame for poor planning.

There's going to be a generation of excellent young musicians coming up in Ireland and abroad who are unable to find quality instruments because most are going to people who barely use them.

Nowhere in your acidic response do I see a justification for these people buying the best instruments around. Well, except for "because they want to". Now that's egotistical.

I'm happy enough with my current instrument but know that to make professional recordings, compete, etc., it will be hugely beneficial to have the Suttner I have on order.




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