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Posts posted by cohen

  1. Hi all!

    Alongside my work as a performer with the concertina, I am heavily involved in concertina teaching. Over the past couple of years I have built up a modest collection of beginners concertinas which I use for absolute beginners’ concertina workshops, for school teaching work and as instruments to loan out to prospective concertina players.

    I have just been awarded a small grant to enhance my collection further and I am appealing for help with this from concertina.net members.


    I’m sure many of you will have the concertinas you began with sitting unloved and gathering dust in your homes. If you are willing to sell your instruments on to me, they will be given a new lease of life and enjoyed by beginners and young people for years to come.


    I am particularly interested in 20 and 30 key instruments in C/G but I am willing to consider other tunings and numbers of keys. I have some repair skills so am willing to consider instruments in all manner of conditions. All makes considered; Scarlatti, Stagi, Rochelle, Bastari, Gremlin, Scholer, Jones, Lachenal, etc. etc.

    I don’t have huge amounts of money to play with but if you think you have a suitable instrument please send me a message on cohen@cohenbk.com and I will hopefully be able to make you an offer.


    I am based in the UK so to avoid headaches with international postage, for now I’m just asking for instruments currently based in the UK.



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  2. I have this pad arrangement on both by Jeffries Anglo and Jeffries Duet, where the topmost button on the row closest to the hand rest and the thumb button both operate the same reed with two separate pads.


    One curiosity is that the tone between the two buttons is different, the button on the row being slightly more muffled while the thumb button giving a slightly harsher/buzzier sound, additionally when measured against a tuner the two give slightly different pitch readings. 

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  3. The most recent addition to my collection is a lovely Jeffries 38 key in A/E, it's from the C. Jeffries maker period tuned to approx. A=444. I have no idea what it was used for in the past, but for me A/E is pretty much the ideal anglo tuning; C/G can get a bit high across the top end, but with a G/D you are almost getting into baritone territory, A/E sits nicely in the middle with an instrument that sounds lovely and is responsive across the whole range. 

  4. I don't know too much about North American institutions, but I hold a BA in Music from a UK university with the Anglo concertina as my main instrument. 


    In my application process, although I could see no universities directly advertising spaces for concertina players, I found that most of the universities I contacted were open to the idea. I think you might find something similar with North American Universities- if you contact a selection of institutions, you may find that many of them are open to the idea of taking on a skilled accordionist.

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  5. Introduction

    I’ve been following Paul Harvey’s work for many years now, as a lifelong vegetarian/vegan the idea of a concertina made without animal derived components has always interested me and when Paul announced his new range of budget instruments I was fascinated.


    My main instrument is a 45 key Jeffries C/G which I love, but it’s not perfect for everything and I’d been considering buying a cheap 20 key concertina to use when teaching one-on-one lessons with beginners and to use in schools as an instrument that I’d be happy for school pupils to be let loose on. I’d been considering a new Chinese instrument, but Paul’s announcement persuaded me to reconsider and I’m very glad that I did, because this is a very impressive instrument.



    This is a very comfortable instrument to play- it is a good size (only slightly larger than a standard vintage 20 key instrument) and very lightweight.  

    It has rounded plastic buttons which are comfortable to the touch, these are placed slightly further apart than I am used to, but I didn’t find this to be a hinderance. The button action is reasonably fast, and the button travel is limited so that they do not disappear into the ends of the instrument- a real nice feature to have on an instrument in this price range.


    Since this is a vegan instrument, the bellows are made from a washable paper instead of leather. I was interested in seeing how this would hold up when compared to leather, and perhaps after a few years of playing I would be better placed to answer this question, but they have already had a lot of hard playing from both myself and about 100+ school children and appear no worse for wear. The bellows are airtight and very flexible- I found that they were much easier to play straight out of the box than most new bellows are.


    The hand straps are adjustable and (interestingly) the hand rests can be adjusted to be closer or further away from the buttons- this is a nice addition although the hand rests were fine for me in their default position. The method for adjusting strap tightness was unusual (it involves dismantling the hand rests) though it was simple, if slightly fiddly to do for the first time.



    So, perhaps the most important question… how does the instrument sound?

    Paul uses reclaimed reeds from vintage piano accordions which he tunes and voices to function as Anglo concertina reeds and he does a fantastic job at it. The tuning is good- far more in tune than most factory-built beginners instruments arrive. The sound of the reeds is also surprisingly impressive- of course as this is an accordion reeded instrument, the tone is very different to an instrument with traditional concertina reeds, but I find it to be far more concertina like than any other budget instrument, closer to the tone of a mid-range hybrid like a Tedrow or A.P. James than the tone of a Stagi or Rochelle. I’m sure that this is helped in no small part by the fact that the reeds are mounted flat, rather than in accordion style reeds blocks.


    Final thoughts

    For the price, this is a stunning instrument, very playable and with a pleasing tone. I would actually go as far as to say that I prefer it to some instruments that I’ve played priced at over £1000.

    It’s been a great boon for my one-on-one teaching and I’ve used it in dozens of lessons over the past few months. More importantly, so far its done (and survived!) 5 full days in schools. It’s been really interesting to watch pupils that have no experience of concertinas getting to grips with the instrument. I think that this is the perfect instrument for that job- it seems to be a comfortable size and weight for most of the students and is much more hardwearing than say a Scarlatti which in my experience don’t tend to last more than a couple of months of hard playing.

    A truly excellent instrument, I look forward to seeing what Paul comes up with next!


    More details on Paul’s work can be seen at https://www.flyingduckconcertinas.co.uk/


    Video demo to come in the next post…

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  6. I'm not an English concertina player, but my understanding is that piccolo instruments were made to take the high parts in the concertina bands of the late 19th and early 20th century. 


    I have a piccolo Anglo concertina and my view (which is shared by the handful of other people I've met with piccolo Anglo and English instruments) is that the piccolo isn't something to play your entire repertoire on- just something a bit niche to add variety to a concertina collection and to play a couple of appropriate tunes on.



  7. Thanks to everyone for your recommendations so far, lots of things to think about. Since I do most of my travel in normal times by train, I would like to avoid a case that was too far on the heavy side (although I recognise that getting a case that offers high protection and is lightweight is a bit of a holy grail!).


    On 5/3/2021 at 4:58 AM, JD Rogers said:

    I am a big fan of a well-made, aesthetically pleasing case. My suggestion does not fall into the aesthetically pleasing category, but if you are looking for something for gigging, you might consider pelican or nanuk cases as they are watertight. The advantage is that they also help keep the humidity up if you live in a climate that has to deal with heating in the winter. I know many use the pelican storm im2075 for single concertinas, but the nanuk 918 works well for 2.




    I know quite a few people with Peli cases for other things and they swear by them and by all accounts they are virtually bomb proof. What is the weight like for this with two concertinas in, and how easy was it to customise the foam inserts to fit your instruments?

  8. I'm considering getting a double case made to take my Jeffries and Crabb concertinas as a convenient way to carry both instruments when I return to doing live gigs (whenever that may be... but let's not get into that!). I know a few members on here have double concertina cases, it would be great to know who people have used to build these cases and if anyone has any recommendations. I'm UK based, so UK builders would be preferred, but non-UK builders would be considered.


    Thanks in advance!


  9. I would say that you've made a very good choice with the Mayfair as a first instrument. Yes they are somewhat limited in range and there are certainly better instruments out there, but they are as far as I've seen the best thing in their price range by a country mile. As you say some of the mass produced Chinese plastic instruments are just one step above toys. I'm an anglo player and my first year of playing was spent struggling on a series of very cheap modern instruments, in my second year of playing I was loaned a Mayfair anglo which brought my playing on a huge amount, so it's great that you've started out with a similar instrument. 

  10. Hi Carl. 


    I offer online concertina lessons. I'm based in the UK, but I have a handful of US students, and the only thing to be aware of is the time zone difference, but it's usually easy enough to work around this.


    You didn't say in your original post, are you an Anglo player? This is the system that I play and offer tuition in- my main specialism is harmonic style anglo playing, for playing English tunes and song accompaniment, so working on Chanties and Sea songs is right up my street.


    If you are interested, there are more details about online lessons on my website: https://cohenbk.com/teaching

    Happy to answer any questions that you have.

  11. Thanks for the plug. As you say, the festival is going ahead online this weekend with a mix of pre-recorded and live videos. Plenty of concertinas among the artists, but my events for those who are interested are 4:30 on Sunday which is a live 'chance to meet' where I'll be doing a sort of Q&A along with playing a few songs/ tunes. Along with this I'm in one of the Monday evening concerts- this is pre-recorded. All events are free with any donations received being split between the artists and the NHS Covid-19 relief fund.

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  12. I do tend to read bass clef when playing pieces in parts however, in my experience of arranging pieces for concertina bands in the UK, most people prefer baritone parts to be written out in treble clef an octave higher than sounding and bass parts written out in treble clef two octaves higher than sounding.  

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  13. 15 hours ago, rcr27 said:

    I’m wondering if someone has ever made an accordion with concertina reeds? That’d be interesting to hear. 


    There is a description of a Lachenal 'Chromatic Accordeon' in the book A Maid and Her Music, which biography of Ruth Askew, who amassed a huge collection of free reed instruments in her life.

    The book describes it as having 19 treble keys across two rows tuned in B & D and 4 left hand keys. The reeds are Lachenal concertina reeds on the right with more ordinary accordion/melodeon reeds on the left. It was made in around the 1930s, so very late for Lachenal when they were under harsh competition from the accordion market- around the same time Lachenal also produced the infamous Accordeophone: http://www.concertina.info/tina.faq/images/accphone.htm

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