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Mjolnir

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  1. My obsession in life is contra dancing. I dance, I call, I organize events. Playing music was the only aspect I was missing, but I wasn't entirely confident that I had the dedication to try picking up fiddle as an adult. A concertina seemed like a nice alternative. Something that I could just pick up and play. Maybe not play well at first, but at least play in tune, and without sounding like a dying cat. I love that it's an instrument that I can just keep by my couch, and start playing whenever the mood strikes. No assembly, no tuning, and no swabbing out spit.
  2. When I upgraded from a Rochelle, I think the most immediate difference I felt was the lack of resistance. With the Rochelle, I did feel like I was having to push and pull the ends to get a sound. In comparison to that, the more expensive instrument practically felt like it had no bellows at all, and I was playing "air concertina" - it was just that smooth. I think part of that was that the Rochelle is a bit bulky - 7 1/2 inches across rather than the more usual 6 1/2 - and I think part of it is the cheaper bellows.
  3. If you're in the SF area, Smythe's Accordion Center in Oakland should have a Rochelle you can try out. It's a pretty good instrument for the price, and if you ever decide to upgrade further, I believe Concertina Connection, who makes them, has a trade-in policy.
  4. I've had it for around four years, and no real quality issues in that time (though it doesn't get much use these days since I upgraded). There's maybe a note or two that sounds a little raspy, but if you're not listening for it, you probably wouldn't notice.
  5. I can't speak to the Weltmeister, but the Rochelle is a great instrument. Now the reasonable price does come at a cost. It's kinda bulky, the bellows are stiff, and the tone is nothing special. If you compare it to a $1500+ instrument, it's going to feel a bit like a toy. But that's in comparison. If you don't know what it's like to play on the expensive instrument, then you find you don't notice the bulk and the stiffness of the Rochelle after awhile. You start accounting for it automatically, and you can play fast jigs and reels along with the best of them. And it is nice to have the full 30 keys - it opens up a lot in terms of the tunes you can play, and the chords you can add.
  6. I think a lot of the joy of the Anglo is in using it to play tunes it wasn't even remotely designed to play. Even Irish music isn't really what it's "for" - that's just what people use it for because once upon a time, it was a cheap and plentiful instrument, and now it's "traditional". So now you've got a bunch of people using a diatonic instrument in C and G to play fiddle tunes in D and A. It's absurd, but that's just a part of the fun. It's chromatic for enough of a range that you can play all manner of things - sometimes you just have to be a bit clever about it.
  7. I'm kind of curious what the difference is between the clover and the minstrel w/ all the various upgrades. I think the end up pretty close in price at that point.
  8. Re the Rochelle, it is a bit bulky, but it's something you notice more when switching between it and a more expensive hybrid. If you're just playing the Rochelle, you get used to it's own particular weight distribution fairly quickly. Actually, they main thing that annoys me about the Rochelle is that the hand straps are ridiculously loose, but that's easy enough to fix.
  9. Gary Coover's books are hard to beat. I think they're all technically for 30-button, but most the tunes in Civil War Concertina are playable on a 20 button, and the basic principles in Easy Anglo 1-2-3 will still apply - just skip the pages that say "and this is how to play a C#..."
  10. Hmm, well the note chart on their website seems to match what you were expecting: http://www.concertinaconnection.com/jackie layout.htm But if you got it used, maybe one of the previous owners made some modifications? When you say there are two G#'s, is one of them where the high C "should" be?
  11. For that price, the Concertina Connection Minstrel wouldn't be a bad bet. I haven't played one myself, but I've heard good things. You might also luck out and find mid-range vintage instrument for sale somewhere. Barleycorn Concertinas has a pretty large selection of vintage instruments, though they're based in the UK, so you'd have to consider shipping and import taxes when working out the final price.
  12. I mostly play contra dance tunes, which constitutes a mix of Irish, Scottish, old time, and really just about anything else that sounds vaguely folk-y and fits into 64 beats. I'm not yet good enough to play for actual dances, but some of the people I jam with are in contra dance bands.
  13. I haven't been playing as long as most of the people on here, but in my relatively short experience, a large part of the joy of a 30 button is working out optimal fingering 'paths' on the fly. For the most part, I'm going to play C#/D# with my index finger. There might be occasional exceptions, but not many. The trick then is arranging things so that you can get your index finger there on time. If I've got the note sequence G - E - C#, I'm going to play the G with my index finger, the E with my middle finger, and then while I'm playing that E, I'm going to move my index finger up to the C# so it's ready for that next note. On the other hand, if the sequence is B - C# - D, I'm going to play the B with my left hand middle finger, so my right hand index finger is free to move to the C#. And then for the D, it would probably depend on what comes after that, but I'd likely go with the left hand index finger so that all three notes are on the push. For the most part, you can find paths such that the same finger never has to play two different buttons in a row. Not always. You might have a C# followed by an F#, and then it's really down to the particular tune and personal preference whether you want to try and move your index finger from the accidental row down to the G row in the space between notes, or whether you want to try and twist your hand a bit so that you play the F# with your middle finger. If you want to give your right hand a workout, the B part of 'Wizard's Walk' makes you get creative.
  14. Smythe's Accordion Center has a cheap 20 button. I'm afraid I don't know if he ships, but if he does, it looks like a decent deal, and I believe he goes over all cheap instruments that come in, and makes sure they're in solid working order.
  15. Gah, wish I could attend. Unfortunately, I'm going to be down at a dance weekend in SoCal. Though maybe if I'm lucky, there'll be some concertina players there. One of these days I'll make one of the bay area meetups.
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