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Alex West

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About Alex West

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    Chatty concertinist

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    Came late to the concertina having started with tuba. Now playing in regular Scottish and English dance music sessions. Occasionally still playing tuba with Flowers & Frolics.
    Also devoting a lot of time to restoring concertinas
  • Location
    North Ayrshire, Scotland

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  1. Wallace is extremely good and would be a good choice. If you're anywhere near West Kilbride, I could help get you started as well Alex West
  2. I use a glass fibre pen to clean off dirt and light surface rust. If the rust is too significant to clean off with a pen like this, then it's likely that the reed has been fatally compromised Whether it changes the tuning or not isn't really relevant to me as I'm usually going to be completerly retuning the instrument anyway - however, I don't think it removes a significant amount of good metal (and even if it does, it's uniformly distributed over the reed). In my experience, most of the rust seems to accumulate towards the middle of the reed so this is away from the primary tuning locations Alex West
  3. I agree with Jodie - when I was in Montreal for a spell, I found I could play along in the sessions quite easily (OK - within my level of competence at least!) with my GD concertina. Doesn't have to be a Jeffries or Jeffries layout though Alex West
  4. From the vintage and the playing, this might be Alf Edwards? Alex West
  5. This sounds like it might be in one of the old high pitches - for example Old Philharmonic pitch where A=452Hz instead of A=440Hz. This pitch was quite common in provincial orchestras until the 1920s and in brass bands until the 1960s (according to Wikipedia). I've had (and still have!) a number of concertinas in high pitch which I've either tuned down to A=440Hz to play along with other folk or left alone and accepted that I'll be playing solo. There's another thread dealing with reed tuning drift over time, but once tuned, they should stay in tune for many years without regular tweaking Alex West
  6. Well, maybe it is an A/E! I only suggested an Ab/Eb in a high original pitch (and 460Hz was a guess rather than knowledges of a particular "standard" old pitch) because Ab/Eb concertinas are quite common and I've only come across A/E in instruments which have been tuned up from Ab/Eb to suit the fiddle keys (as opposed to the brass instrument keys). Mind you, it's also reasonably common in old instruments to see reeds stamped with note letters which are an approximation of what they might be rather than the actual. Do the reeds look original, or as though they've had a lot of filing post-manufacture? Alex West
  7. Sprunghub I wouldn't say that this looks particularly unusual; to me the core 30 buttons look like a typical Ab/Eb originally tuned to A = 460Hz (or maybe even higher). That would sound uniformly sharp against a tuner referenced to A=440Hz. Okay, some of the ancillary notes are not what I'd expect but I don't think they're particularly odd Alex West
  8. Here's my solution - not very hi-tech, but effective Alex West
  9. We might both be right Bill; the commission depends on if you were there in person, on the telephone or using the bidding online system. I know some of the larger Jeffries might be duets, but even some of the large button formats were always anglos - and this particular one looks to have started out - with the fretwork at least - as a standard anglo Alex West
  10. Did anyone else see this Jeffries Bros concertina at auction this morning at the Plymouth Auction Rooms? It's a curious beast which looks like a "standard" 39 key Jeffries but with extra rows of buttons slotted into the fretwork on the left and right to make a 46 key instrument (Air button's missing though) It went for a hammer price of £2,000 which means a total cost of £2,480 before restoration - not a bad price! (Not me though - I saw it too late to register) Alex West
  11. I can't imagine how painful a 3mm diameter button would be! Over the range of concertinas I've measured, the smallest diameter buttons have been 4.1mm (a number of Jeffries) and the largest diameter 7mm on a Jones. The most comfortable size for me is 5mm but the comfort does depend on the flatness and radius of the ends Alex West
  12. I have the key map for a different F/C Shantyman concertina which confirms that the two left hand buttons are an F drone and Eb/C# and I'd expect the ButtonBox one to be similar. The air button on an anglo is under the right thumb (any exceptions?) I've a 50 key Ab/Eb Jeffries Anglo (50 plus air) but in a 6 3/8" body - it's a tight squeeze! Too difficult for me to post many pictures here but I can send a dropbox link if you're interested, Alex. I've just finished restoring a large Lachenal 62 key duet withou an air button - it seems odd at first but I think the duet player I've loaned it to for an extended test won't find that a big issue Alex West
  13. Charlie If you look for the Red Star Brigade on Youtube, you'll find videos of a session I used to go to just outside Aberdeeen. The videos concentrate on a couple of the accordion players, Jim Halcrow from Shetland and Charlie Lawie but I'm there to the left of the screen, playing anglo. I played a GD anglo for most of these sessions but there were a limited number of tunes which fitted better (for me) on a CG Alex
  14. I meant to add - in terms of the "correct key", I wonder if there is one? If the tune was composed for and played on the Highland pipes, then it would probably be in something close to Eb or Bb. (See this article for some explanation http://www.leodpypz.com/skmqa019.htm). If it was for the small pipes, then, depending on the chanter, the tune might be played in one of the sharp keys. If it's been written or adapted by a modern fiddler, then A or D is common If you're playing by yourself for your own amusement, you can play in whatever key you like and can adopt whichever technique suits you. The same applies if you're introducing the tune to a session and nobody already plays it. In a more established session, there are two opinions in typical Scottish sessions; 1. The tune was written in this key, contains these notes, grace notes and variations and can be played no other way. If you don't know the tune and can't play it exactly as written, then leave your instrument in its box and don't join in until you've learnt it properly. 2. The correct key for the tune is whichever key the starter of the tune plays it in. Whichever way the lead player takes the tune is the "right" way. Everyone who wants to join in should play in that key and adapt their plaing to suit the "lead" player (or play a non-clashing accompaniment - a "second box" approach). I've played in and enjoyed both types of session but it's important to know which company you're in to preserve dignity! My own view as an "ear" player is that everyone learns the tunes in a different way and from different sources so regional and personal variations are possible so I prefer the second approach I hope that helps; the Anglo concertina and the pipes go very well together so there's no reason that tunes written for one shouldn't be played on the other - go ahead and enjoy playing Alex West
  15. There may be a few more players of Scottish music on the English than on the Anglo but it's by no means impossible, nor should it send your brain into contortions. I play a G/D anglo in the "along the rows" (and crossing when I have to) style. On a C/G, you might need to adopt the Irish technique of Anglo playing to get the fluency in the tunes. 2/4 marches, 3/4 marches, 6/8 marches - all are possible Alex West
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