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March Hare

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Posts posted by March Hare

  1. A tuned-up 20 key can be a good option.  I bought a basic mahogany Lachenal CG from a stall at Sidmouth a while back and Concertinas UK fettled it and put it up to DA.  It plays well and is quite bright.


    I did a quick recording of Staffs Hornpipe on my phone: 




    So, as suggested above, worth thinking about.


    Good luck.








  2. Hello Mikefule and thank you for opening this thread.

    I am a devoted 20k player and Barleycorn customer so, over some decades, I have worked up from mahogany ended Lachenals, RW ended-, to an early Jeffries/Crabb instrument - early, basic and lovely to play.

    More recently I saw a Wheatstone 20k on the Barleycorn site and thought it was too good to miss.  It is a Linota from 1929, with RW ends and metal buttons in vg condition - it plays superbly as the very best Wheatstones of that era do, and I am very lucky to have it.

    So I agree with your findings:  top quality 20k anglos are rare but worth waiting for.  If you are looking you will find what you want eventually, I'm sure.

    Perhaps I should add that I have owned Anglos with more keys and, for me, they have their places and uses.  But for English tunes my home is a 20k anglo, and that is where I spend many hours, and never get bored.

    Best wishes to all.



    • Like 3
  3. Hello Ciaran,


    Great to read your posts.  Very best wishes to you on joining the family firm.

    A visit to Chris at Barleycorn is always a real treat, and owning and playing his wonderful concertinas gives me such pleasure.

    And of course I recommend Barleycorn Concertinas totally - no question.


    And can I add, you bring such experience and accomplishment as a brilliant professional musician to the firm.  Your dad is lucky to get you - and then he is a fine musician and songwriter too.........


    Again, very best wishes, Steve (Sidmouth)



  4. This Roylance treble came back from Concertinas UK recently and may be of interest.


    As always, Nigel Sture did a wonderful job of restoring, fettling and tuning, and he turned a wreck into a lovely concertina.


    It came to me by chance.  I bought a couple of Lachenal 20 key anglos last year, and this English treble came with them in the cardboard box.  The fretwork was damaged and missing in places, the thumb and finger rests were gone, and a lot of the buttons were broken or lost.   


    Not for me, I thought…..except, some of the reeds still played and sounded good.  So I opened it up and found top quality workmanship:  the action board and frames are lacewood (London plane), the ends are lovely solid Brazilian rosewood, all of the woodwork so carefully done, the buttons exquisitely turned, riveted action, all reeds present and in good shape, and no warping, splitting or internal damage.


    I repaired the ends, frames etc and managed to piece together the remaining bits of the delicate gold foil label - tricky.


    Nigel  Sture did the rest: bushings, straps and finger-rests, buttons, all new springs, pads, valves, setting up and tuning.


    It has smart new bellows from Mark Adey, black and gold papers, plays effortlessly and sounds lovely.


    For a singer, the evenness of response is superb.  When you start to play a chord of 5 or 6 notes very  quietly, every note sounds at exactly the same time, and you can sustain the chord for ages on one pull, and get lots of volume when you want it.


    Decent reeds and, most of all, wisdom and expertise from Nigel Sture - fabulous work.


    I don’t know whether lacewood is often used in concertinas, or what it contributes to the sound.  I know of it as a pretty native hardwood used for guitar back and ribs (rarely?).


    Probably an expensive concertina when new, given the quality of materials and craftsmanship - I understand that the coloured buttons (black and white notes like a piano, and red Cs like a harp) were not confined to cheap tutor instruments.


    Hope this is of interest.  I will try to post some images, and look forward to playing it a the folk club…. sometime…..






    • Like 2
  5. If you know anyone near to Sidmouth who might be interested in starting  20 key CG anglo, please let them know about this. 


    Squeezebox  Starters
    Come and learn the 20 key anglo concertina
    For beginners - no experience needed
    Tuesdays at 2pm, starting on 21st January 2020
    (except 2nd Tuesday of the month).
    Venue: Dissenter of Sidmouth
    (Leigh Browne Room) May Terrace,
    All Saints Road, EX10 8ER
    (near Sidmouth Hospital)
    To book a place call
    Steve Minett on 07511 973 603
    We will have fun


  6. Lachenal 20 key CG for sale, no 145002.  Rosewood ends with fine fretwork.  In lovely condition: new pads and no leaks in the bellows, so airtight.  Just back from Concertinas UK where it was fine-tuned with new valves and setup, so playing at its best.


    Bought at Sidmouth - irresistible as the condition is remarkable - but it just doesn't get played.


    It owes me £375 including a new bag, so that's the price (plus postage)


    More pics to follow.



    • Like 1
  7. Looks like a very nice concertina  -  and could be a great player.

    Looking at the Lachenal pricelist from c1920, it appears to be:

    Newly Improved ….rosewood…five-fold….in mahogany box…..

    The 20-key cost £4-7-0, 26-key £5-13-6.  The 30 plus-key models have 6-fold bellows.

    May I say that those 20- and 26-key anglos were (and are) good quality instruments made with fine materials - finely-fretted rosewood ends, good steel reeds etc  and are not budget solutions in place of instruments with more keys.   

     A player may choose a fine 20 or 26 key deliberately.  There are some fabulous 26-key Jeffries and Crabb anglos around, as well as 20-key Jeffries and Wheatstones.  

    I know of a couple of beautiful Lachenals (26-key anglo and 35-key English) that have have large scale reeds which could not be accommodated if there were more buttons/reeds, so there may be technical reasons why less is better.

    Best wishes


  8. Agreed - enough is sufficient is apt here.  I won’t pretend that the 20-key will cope easily with lots of modulations, bass runs etc.

    I just want us to celebrate what this simply wonderful instrument will do, and that is: play thousands of joyful tunes and songs for dancing, singing, playing, listening.  No apologies or reservations.

    William Kimber is our best example - I wish there were more good players and hope there soon will be.  (I only know of one recorded tune where WK uses a top-row button, but I can’t deny that he played a 30-key Jeffries, not a 20-key.  I like to think that wasn’t his choice, or it just didn’t matter to him, but I am very grateful that we have recordings of a lot of his tunes.)

    Cheers, Steve


    • Like 1
  9. Yes - such brilliant examples: fixed-wheel bike, early piano, Ford Ka, etc.  

    Also the classical guitar, which changed from a smaller, lighter, more resonant instrument in the early 1800s, to a bigger and heavier box for big concert halls.  Guitarists are going back to the earlier guitars because the pieces by Sor, Aguado, Carulli, Giuliani etc sound right.

    Same for the 20-key anglo which, for decades did all that the player wanted to make music.  Like John K with the Hohner one-row and two-row melodeons, Oscar Woods and his Hohners, and the great William Kimber, who played the 30-key as if it was a 20-key, ignoring the extra buttons.  So perhaps that is why there was never a need for high end 20-key anglos.

    Less is more.


  10. That’s a really good question.
    The 20 key anglo is such a great instrument in its own right, not just to learn on, or play while we save for a 30 key.
    I think the comparison with the one-row melodeon is spot on, and shows that instruments are not necessarily better if they are more complicated, with more notes, buttons and reeds.
    I have a decent Lachenal mahogany-ended anglo, and the Lachenal rosewood-ended models can be wonderful  - I had a lovely one that was loud, fast and bright.  Only let it go as a trade-in for a better 20-key, but I still miss it.  Trouble is, while there are lots of decent 20-keys, and plenty of good ones, there are very few of top-quality.  For example, I only know of one of Wheatstone’s best: a 20-key Linota made in the 1920s, and a few basic Jeffries.   Any more?
    So (sadly) I’m a bit short of evidence for why less is more, and why the 20-key is so special, and isn’t just a poor person’s 30 key.  Lighter, punchier, more responsive, more space for bigger reeds…..?  It could be, but I need more proof.
    Where is the brilliant player to demonstrate that the 20-key anglo can be the supreme concertina?
    Then there will be a waiting list for 20-key Dippers.
    I live in hope.
    Best wishes, Steve



  11. Always great to see posts on the 20 key anglo.  It is a wonderful and joyous instrument, and under-rated so cruelly.

    I think that we need a fine musician to show what can be done with the 20 key, a bit like the maestro John K has stunned us for years with superb tunes and songs with the basic Hohner Pokerwork and one-row melodeon.

    It is a great instrument, not just for learners and novelty stuff.  

    BTW can I add that I find the pull C (LH little finger on the inner row) very useful: lovely chord change on the G row LH buttons 6 8 10 from pull to push (nice wide Am to G maj in first inversion).   Also good for the root of a pull C chord.  And it works ok at the bottom of the D7 chord when a tune moves into G.   After all, Lachenal made many tens of thousands of 20 key anglos in this standard layout.

    Perhaps it is time for the humble 20 key to have a higher profile.

    Best wishes to all, Steve


    • Like 1
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