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Tradewinds Ted

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About Tradewinds Ted

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    Chatty concertinist

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Folk Music, incl. Banjo, Whistle, Dulcimer, Singing, and Dance
    Anglo Concertina
  • Location
    Now in Wisconsin! formerly in Lancashire.

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  1. Tradewinds Ted


    I find that instead of pushing in with the heel of my hand against the instrument, I instead make some contact against the hand rest with the edge of my palm farthest from my thumb, and also some contact with my thumb against the instrument on the strap, and by arching my hand slightly I create just a little tension with the back of my hand against the hand rest. This way there is very little slop in the movement of my hand relative to the concertina ends when changing from push to pull, as if the straps were tight. But just a slight change in the shape of that arch allows my hand to move around as needed, because the straps are actually somewhat loose. This completely fails if the straps are excessively loose of course. So the end of the hand rest closest to the thumb is some distance away from my hand, most the time. I am intrigued by shaped hand rests that Jake offers as an option at Wolverton Concertinas. https://wolvertonconcertinas.com/concertina-ergonomics/ I have never tried one of these instruments, but would strongly consider one if in the market for another instrument in future. These look made to fit that slightly arched shape under the palm, which I think if properly fitted would reduce the pressure I feel on the outer edge of my hand after a while, by spreading that contact over more of the palm. It might also mean less pressure against the thumb, although I haven't thought about that often. The joint of my thumb seems to fall directly on the strap rather than the edge, so the leather acts as a cushion for me, instead of an irritant.
  2. Tradewinds Ted

    What material to cover ends of a Lachenal concertina

    Vintage concertinas often had either true vellum, or very fine goat skin. I'm not saying that you need to do the same, but it is likely this is what was in your other concertina. My 20button Lachenal has this in red, just as you describe. If you are adding something like this yourself, pay attention to the clearances at the edges. Very little clearance is required at all, but don't make the ends completely air tight. If you use silk or anything more porous this isn't an issue. I have seen a fine screen used too, perhaps a scrap of tulle fabric, which wouldn't dampen the sound or prevent the feel of air on your hands, but would be enough to keep bits of fluff and bugs out.
  3. I read the original question to be why were the NICE 20 button anglo concertinas made? The implication being that they would not have been bought by the poorer end of society, since these would be more expensive than other more basic 20 button anglos, and the customer who could afford one could probably instead buy a 30 button of more basic construction for a similar price. I can say that there is a pleasure in playing a good quality instrument which can outweigh the utility of additional buttons. So if money is not quite as tight, but a high quality 30 button is out of reach, the high quality 20 button can be a better choice than poor quality 30 button. That matches my own experience. I chose a sweet vintage rosewood 20 button Lachenal, rather than the more versatile but less charming 30 button Rochelle as my first concertina, after trying both at the same shop.
  4. The question then becomes why is Anglo concertina used for Irish music? The historical availability of more affordable Anglo instruments early on, meant it became the traditional choice. There have been many discussions about whether the English concertina is appropriate for Irish traditional music, often mentioning how the bisonoric nature of the Anglo provides bounce or drive. (The melodeon does the same, although the relative arrangment between the rows is different.) But really, there isn't any reason why the English concertina couldn't serve the rhythm of the music perfectly well; after all, a skilled musician can produce that same drive on a fiddle, whistle, or pipes, so there is no reason the English concertina can't do so too, and there are some great examples of players who do it well. BUT because of the history, the Anlgo has become the tradition, and we are accustomed to the particular sound and bounce of the Anglo in Irish music now. That historical difference in price has reversed a bit by the way. At least a few years ago vintage Anglo instruments had become more expensive than vintage English instruments of similar quality, because of the higher demand for the Anglo. More recently though, that demand seems to have driven more availability of new Anglo instruments than new English instruments. The bisonoric pattern of the Anglo can also be helpful when playing by ear, at least for traditional tunes, particularly when played in the home keys, because appropriate notes and harmonies just tend to fall under the next finger more easily. That doesn't quite explain why the C/g instrument it traditionally used to play in D, but then perhaps we are back to intrument availability. Personally, I theoretically would make a perfect candidate for the English, because I read music and prefer to learn that way rather than learn a tune by ear, and I like playing a variety of musical styles, and to accompany singing, I would like to more readily play in different keys - which is what the English naturally does. I covet the ability to play any note or combination of notes in either direction. I borrowed an English concertina before I learned the Anglo, but I found the alternating left-right button pattern baffling in practice, even if in theory it correlates to the lines and spaces on the musical staff.
  5. Tradewinds Ted

    Anglo Concertina Button Layout

    Yes there is a good reason for those two common variations in the draw note on that lowest button on the G row: 1) With a "D" on the draw in that position, the pattern of the notes in the scale is almost* identical for both the C and G rows, which makes transposing between these keys simple, when playing along the rows. 2) The downside of this arrangement is that the "D" on the draw in the same octave is already available from the 3rd button in the "C" row, so the "A" on the draw is often more useful. That is particularly true for a 20 or 26 button instrument, where the low "A" on the push in the accidental row doesn't exist, so the low "A" at the bottom of the G row completes the scale. * Occasionally when there is a "D" on the draw, there is also a low "G" on the push, which makes the pattern exactly identical between the two rows, so transposing between rows becomes truly identical if playing along the rows. But that low "G" on the push s already available from the 2nd button in the C row, so the "B" which you show is more useful, and more common. Of course there are also variations in the accidental row which you show in green, with the most common two being the Wheatstone arrangement you show, and the Jeffries arrangement which changes the right hand notes to allow a C# in both directions. (and sometimes also changes the highest button on the G row in the right hand) The charts are very attractive, and I don't see any mistakes, but be aware there are other variations. One thing that is missing are indications of which octave each note is in, so when the same letter is shown in several positions it isn't immediately obvious which are true duplicates and which are in different octaves. I don't know about the note positions for the extra buttons for the 40 button which you show in blue, but I expect there is even more variation among these!
  6. Tradewinds Ted

    Fun Tunes. What's your favorite C/G anglo

    This thread might better belong in the "Tunes" category rather than "General Concerina Discussion" But a couple of English tunes that come to mind recently are "Jamaica" and "Galopede" and I also like to play Cajun tunes, such as "Oberlin Waltz" or "Bayou Pon Pon"
  7. Tradewinds Ted

    Concertina Bow Arm

    My comment about having heard "some people mention Noel ..." was intended as a joke. I hope nobody thought otherwise. Actually, I fully agree that anchoring one end helps with bellows control, but I just didn't see why the end which moves should necessarily be the same end as the air button, to get that benefit. A comment or two in this thread since then have suggested reasons why anchoring the left on the Anglo might be a better choice, so that is something to think about, thanks! For myself, I find switching to anchoring the left at this stage feels rather awkward, and I think my efforts are better focused elsewhere. At least I am anchoring one end!
  8. Tradewinds Ted

    Concertina Bow Arm

    Personally, I either keep the entire instrument up off my knees either when standing or when seated but close to a table. (not just for snacks, I like to practice my sight-reading, and can't be bothered to drag out the music stand.) When my chair is pushed back from the table, I most often rest the right end on one knee. But even when playing standing, I find I do more of the bellows work with my left hand, and I suppose that means I brace my right elbow slightly against my side to keep it stable. I am right handed, so that breaks the pattern that Ann has suggested. But I do find I prefer to play more in the lower register, and therefore much of the time I play a greater portion of the tune with the left hand. Not sure how that plays into the right knee preference, as I would have expected that keeping the busy hand stable might have proven more useful, but that isn't what I do. Since I control the bellows with the left hand, maybe I should take up the Melodeon?! I'm not at all clear why Noel Hill would consider that the location of the air button on the right end should mean that the right hand is therefore the bowing hand for the concertina, although I've heard some people mention that he has made a pretty good show of playing the instrument!
  9. Tradewinds Ted

    Concertina Bow Arm

    The Button Box has it listed on their site but it appears to be out of stock. Bertram Levy has a link on his own site bertramlevy.com/concertina-tutor
  10. Tradewinds Ted

    Concertina motif accessories

    Thank you for checking.
  11. Tradewinds Ted

    Concertina motif accessories

    I took a look at the website and they look nice, and in my case 20 button Anglo is just what I would look for. My wife has started taking up my 20 button lately, and I would like to give her a little something to acknowledge the accomplishment. I can't figure out if it is possible to order these for delivery in the USA, though. Although the home page and the item categories are in English, everything on the order page is in Japanese Kanji characters, and as far as I can tell with Google Translate, there is no option to select the country, just prefecture . Is there something I'm missing?
  12. Tradewinds Ted

    20 button anglo - low G row variation.

    That D on the pull isn't really so rare, many other instruments have the same. The G on the push isn't really that rare either. I have a 26 button Jones, and it originally had the same G/D for the lowest button on the G row. I had Greg Jowaisas here in the USA swap these reeds out for B/A vintage Jones reeds when I bought it. Perhaps one of the several excellent concertina repairers in the UK have some spare Jones reeds and could the same for you. Two possible advantages with the original G/D reeds on the low button: 1) The G row has exactly the same fingering pattern as the C row, so if you play along the rows then anything you can play on one row can be played on the other row a 5th higher (or lower) with exactly the same fingering. 2) The lowest three buttons on the row offer a simple chording harmony: PUSH give you a "power" 1st chord (open tonic with no third) and PULL give you the major fifth chord (dominant) without even thinking about it. These are the same two chords offered on the push/pull with the left hand button of a single row melodeon (like a Cajun accordion) and will carry you a long way through many folk dance tunes. With your instrument in harmonic pitch and possibly in mean tone tuning, leaving it at is to get these chord options might be the way to go. But as I already said, I had the reeds for that button changed to B/A on the instrument I bought (which has steel reeds.) I did this for much the same reason you have already pointed out. Getting that low A is more useful there to me than having a third way to play the same D note, and I was already used to the B on the push in that position from another instrument, and thought it more valuable than having a third way to play the low G.
  13. Tradewinds Ted

    Is The Concertina For Me?

    The "oom pah" chord examples that Gary Coover attached for the 30 Button Anglo (in the key of C/g) assumes you have the key to the tab system which is given in each of his books. a) The button numbers are written below the staff, which means these are for the left hand. (the same as you assumed in your chord diagrams) The buttons are numbered 1 through 5 for the middle row - the "C" row; 6 through 10 for the inner row - the "g" row, and 1a though 5a for the outer row - the "accidentals" or "extra" row c) The lines above the staff indicate to play with the "pull" on the bellows, otherwise where there is no line play on the "push" The notes on the staff only indicate the root note of the chord; you have to look at the button numbers to work out the rest, so it looks a little odd here. He uses that same system throughout his books, so that the melody line is written simply on the staff, without all the clutter
  14. Tradewinds Ted

    ‘Thin’ Sounding 4R Push

    Generally, diagnosis and simple repairs can be done by the player, rather than going to the trouble of taking the instrument to a repair shop. You can gain a greater appreciation for the instrument in the process, and the experience can serve you well to allow quick repairs if needed in the future, so you have a chance to get the instrument back in at least serviceable order if anything happens during a musical occasion when you don't want to wait to go to a repair shop. You might find it useful to obtain a copy of David Elliot's book on concertina repair. Most of the example photos are of antique instruments with concertina reeds, rather than hybrids, and many are of the English layout rather than Anglo, but that doesn't matter much at all. Really quite a lot of it would apply to your instrument. Of course, if you are unsure about anything, it would be wise to at least talk with a repair shop, or the store where this was purchased, particularly since this is a new instrument where a warranty would likely apply. If you are reasonably certain that the silent note did previously sound, then it is likely that the problem is a tiny bit of fluff or debris caught on the edge of the reed. The clearance around the reed is very small indeed, and doesn't take much to stop the sound. If this was mine, I would try to check that first. First you have to get to the reed though! To do that: 1) undo the adjustment screw holding the leather strap on that end. 2) carefully remove the 6 screws holding that end on. Be sure you have a very good quality small screwdriver to fit the screw slots, as you don't want to mess up the slots on the screws. You'll be glad of this small investment! I suggest loosening each of the six screws slightly, before fully loosening or removing any one of them. Place these where you won't lose them! I generally push them through a piece of scrap paper so they can't roll away, but that is also because I have two antique instruments and I want to try to put the same screw back in the same hole, just in case they aren't identical. That ought not to be an issue for your instrument. 3) make a note of the orientation of the filigree end cover, and then remove it. 4) note which hole the pad and lever are lifted off when you push the button for the note you are interested in. 5) make a note of the orientation of the action board, with all the buttons and levers, and carefully remove it. 6) note which set of reeds were beneath the hole identified above. The offending reed will be one of these two, possibly on the underside of the reed pan. 7) make a note of the orientation of the reed pan and lift if out, if needed. 8) Even if there is debris caught in the reed, it may be so small that you can't see it. To clear the reed, you can slip a piece of paper under the reed and move it carefully about. Don't bend the reed though, and don't try to pry out anything with even a jeweler's screwdriver. You can also try blowing sharply on the reed by mouth, from both sides. I would probably do both just in case, particularly if I couldn't see anything wrong. However, I would not try to do anything that disturbs the reeds more than that. If more is required then it is time to call in a professional, or at least come here and ask more questions. So now it is time to reassemble, in approximately the reverse order: 9) Carefully align and replace the reed pan in the same orientation as before. If you get the position wrong here, nothing will work correctly when fully assembled, or the two ends will be at different angles! 10) Carefully align the action board in the same orientation as before, replacing it with the holes over the correct sets of reeds. 11) Carefully align the filigree end cover as before. This will take some effort to get all the buttons into all of the holes at the same time. Holding the instrument up so that the buttons hang down helps to keep them aligned, and then you can put the end into place from below. But even that doesn't always quite work, so I generally get as many as I can lined up, push the cover on just a little so the buttons that do line up start to show through the holes, and then gently push any reluctant buttons into place one at a time with the end of a jeweler's screwdriver stuck in from the side. 12) replace the 6 screws that hold on the end. Don't overtighten these! I suggest just getting each one started for few threads, not tightening them at all. Then gradually go around several times and tighten them a each a little, progressing in a star pattern, much as you might when tightening lug nuts on a car wheel. 13) replace the screw holding the end of the leather strap. Now you are ready to test to see if this helped. (and if you made any mistakes.) I suppose that may sound like quite a bit, but really it doesn't take all that long, once you are used to it. Again, if that doesn't do it, then it is time for consultation with a professional. If it was a bit of fluff, you might someday consider installing a bit of fine screen or thin open cloth behind the ends, to catch any bits of fluff that might try to get in next time. some instruments have this and some don't (some antique instruments actually have fine goat's leather baffles that the air has to get around, but that is another matter) Good luck!
  15. Tradewinds Ted

    Improvers Concertina. Recommendations Please.

    If you want a new instrument rather than a vintage instrument: In the UK, wolvertonconcertinas.com offers very nice looking instruments for just a bit above your stated range. I've not tried one, but did have discussions with Jake a few months ago, and he is very good to work with, and the reviews I've seen here have been very good. I would be interested in purchasing one of his when the time comes to buy. Also in the UK, marcusmusic.co.uk offers the standard model for a very similar price as above. I tried one of these in a shop in Cleckheaton (shop closed now though) and liked the sound of it, was very tempted, but not prepared to buy at the time. And from the USA, you may have noticed recent positive discussion of the concertinaconnection.com new offering the "minstrel" which is targeted at the mid-range. Price in dollars in the USA converted to pounds sterling would be in the low end of your range, but with import fees and shipping, it might be at the top end of your range instead.