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James McBee

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    Musically speaking: Irish, Scottish, classical, early acoustic blues, bluegrass, old time, medieval polyphony, soul, etc.
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    Baltimore, MD

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  1. Have you tried contacting Dana? Even if you are looking to buy used, he might have an idea of someone who is looking to sell.
  2. I encountered two examples in recent weeks, neither particularly flattering to our chosen instrument. First, from Shirley Hazzard's book, "The Transit of Venus." She is describing down on their luck Australian WWI vets: What music they made, and how they sang, that ghastly orchestra in lopped and shiny serge, with unstrung fiddles and wheezing concertinas and the rusted mouth-organ grasped in the remaining and inexpert hand; the voices out of tune with everything but pitched extremity. How cruelly they wracked, for Depression pennies, an unwilling audience with their excruciating songs. And then, last night while reading to my daughter from Jeanne and William Steig's book, "Alpha Betta Chowder," I discovered this inspiring poem: Coaxing Carrotina Come on, Cousin Carrotina Do pick up your concertina! Play again that shrill cadenza, Though it split the old credenza, Though the cat broke out in blisters, Though it mortifies your sisters (If they want their music mellow, Let them learn to play the cello), Though it gave the goose consumption-- That cadenza sure has gumption!
  3. I didn't mean to imply that a half inch difference would greatly, or even perceptibly, effect the tone or playability. I guess I just don't see how it could be a beneficial in itself, unless it is to allow for longer scale reeds. I would think that, all other things being equal, a smaller diameter would be desirable. Perhaps someone with more knowledge would care to opine. And if, indeed, the reeds are scaled differently, that seems like something that could be established.
  4. I've been meaning to share for a while, but haven't found the time to take any decent pictures. But, I suppose, a few cell phone snaps will do. Kensington concertina, and the Kensington perched atop a two octave Harry Geuns basse aux pieds (or foot bass, if you prefer) inherited from my late father. I can't say that I am close to being able to play the two together, though I find the latter can be used as a sort of intermittent drone on 'Bonaparte's Retreat' to relatively pleasing effect.
  5. While I certainly agree that trying out the different systems in person would be ideal, in many, if not most places, that was an impossibility even before social distancing was in effect. I would recommend spending some serious hours watching Youtube videos. When I became interested in the concertina, I was a bit hung up on the anglo's apparent limitations. But the more I listened, the more I found that the players I enjoyed the most, all played anglo. I came to this realization initially based on recordings, but it has subsequently been borne out by in person listening. I absolutely agree with the others that you can play just about anything on any system, but the sound likely won't be the same. The english has some real advantages which can't be denied. At the same time, when I moved away from theoretical consideration of the various systems, I kept coming back to the fact that--to my ears anyway--the english system almost always sounds a bit polite compared to the anglo. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that you should make the decision with your ears, and not your head.
  6. Interesting. I had a concertina which used--I believe--the DIX reeds, and it had the opposite problem. The bass and mid-range were fairly convincing, but the treble notes required vastly more air, and were consequently swallowed up when playing chords. It was a deal breaker for me in the long run. As it was explained to me, this was a consequence of their shoe design, rather than the tongues themselves. I preferred it to the sound of accordion reedded instruments, but it didn't quite have the quality that made me fall in love with the concertina in the first place.
  7. Dana raises some interesting issues. I definitely wouldn't advocate making button material a principle factor in a purchasing decision. The difference between buttons is nothing like the difference between a fast instrument with high quality reeds, and a wheezy old Bastari, or the like. It's not even as significant as the difference between two different heights of hand rest. And of course, addressing ones technique will likely pay more dividends than changing button material. But as someone whose hands shake--especially when I'm nervous or on my third cup of coffee--I do believe that little bit of extra purchase has saved me from a flubbed note here and there. That said, I probably didn't fully appreciate the effort that went into turning those bones into buttons. The concertina is in a strange place as instruments go, insomuch as it was designed to be built in factory (albeit perhaps a small one), and now is built exclusively by individual makers (at least in the case of true concertina reeded instruments). Between the range of skills required and the necessary tooling, we are lucky to have as many makers as we do. But that's a subject for another discussion. P.S. Dana - Best to you and yours as well. Wish I could make it down there on the regular again, but life has a way of getting in the way. Still, #35 brings me a lot of joy on a daily basis, so thank you again for that. Cheers.
  8. I had a concertina with Delrin buttons, and I found them to be too slick for my taste. I have essential tremor, and materials with a bit more purchase work better for me. Thankfully, when I ordered my Kensington from Dana Johnson--who usually uses Delrin--he was able to accommodate me by making some bone ones. (Thanks again Dana!) The bone had a lot of grip at first, but has been polished by my fingers over time. It is still nowhere near as slippery as Delrin, and provides a happy medium between purchase and speed. I had the same thought as you when I was playing my old instrument, and wondered whether I was blaming the material for my own faults. But I would echo what others have said. If another material suits you better, there is nothing wrong with that. For a lot of people Delrin is probably ideal. That doesn't mean it is ideal for you.
  9. Here you are folks, as requested. I should add the disclaimer that this was recorded on my phone, so the sound quality leaves something to be desired. Also, the fact of recording tends to unnerve me a bit, so please excuse the odd flub. Still, should give you a general idea of the sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQuXUlt2Zyg&feature=youtu.be
  10. Alright folks. Asking $2,600. Considering an ebay listing, but would rather sell here.
  11. I'm offering my Edgley Heritage CG concertina for sale. This one is Ebony with bloodwood trim, a hand rubbed finish, and a custom fitted case. The buttons are Jeffries layout. Will entertain all reasonable offers. You can read more about these here: http://www.concertinas.ca/heritage.html Please feel free to message me with any questions.
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