Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by Steve_freereeder

  1. On 8/31/2019 at 5:32 PM, Theo said:

    I work on accordions and concertinas.  I have a simple tuning bellows with a couple of holes on top where I can place an accordion reed block.  When tuning concertinas I place the complete reed pan over the hole and close the side of the reed chamber with a finger.  It works well, but I don’t know anyone else who uses that method.

    Yes - I discovered this method for myself a few months ago!

    It does indeed work very well. ?



    Alex Bartholomew (administrator for the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust) tells me that there is a steady stream of applicants for this event, but still plenty of spaces available.

    After the damage and shambles caused by the abrupt resignation of the director who had just been appointed to replace John and Katie Howson, EATMT is now starting to get back on track. Please support this event if you can. We want to rebuild confidence and return to the former success of events such as the very popular 'Melodeons and More' (which included concertinas!) and 'Traditional Music Day'.

    Even if you can't come yourself, please spread the word to your concertina- and melodeon playing friends who may not be concertina.net members.

    Further information here and a booking form here.

    Hope to see you there!

  3. If you can find a copy, I would recommend Richard Carlin's book "The English Concertina" - beautifully clear with some really interesting tunes, and good technical tips too. The book has been long out of print but it is still possible to pick up second-hand copies with a bit of searching. See here:



    The original version of the book had a floppy vinyl 45 rpm gramophone disk inside (this was before the days of CDs!), but I think you'd be lucky to find a copy which still had the disk and anyway, the quality was not really very good! But the book is excellent.

  4. 14 hours ago, conzertino said:

    There are players, who want the extra notes, but Irish players usually don't need them and rather have the lighter instrument.

    I found it difficult to sell a 45-key Jeffries several years ago...

    Yes - I thought that would be your reasoning, but I would point out that a 45-key Jeffries is definitely much heavier than a 40-key Wheatstone. And not all of us play Irish style.

  5. On 7/28/2019 at 12:48 PM, conzertino said:

    A 30 key would be more desirable...


    Why do you say that? Assuming it is in good playing condition, a Wheatstone 40-key anglo of this period should be a very fine instrument. It can do everything a 30-key anglo can and more besides (some really usful alternatives and reversals, etc). The difference in weight is slight and not normally a problem.

  6. NEWS!

    Bookings are now open for the new East Anglian Traditional Music Trust venture 'Pressing the Buttons' workshops, going ahead on Saturday 19th October at the Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket, Suffolk. Tutors are Sally Barrett (English concertina), Alan Day (Anglo concertina), Otis Luxton and Steve Dumpleton (melodeons).

    Also sessions on Saturday lunch time, plus a Saturday evening concert (details to be announced).


    On the Friday evening there is an evening of Traditional Music and Song with a session led by Suffolk-based Company of Horham Old School who are being joined by a number of local musicians. The MC for the evening is Richard Cove who regularly hosts a Traditional Music session at the Blaxhall Ship Inn on the East coast of Suffolk.


    Full details and booking information HERE


  7. On 4/5/2009 at 5:26 PM, Mike Pierceall said:

    You might end up with graphite contaminated with abrasive.


    Replying to an old thread which seems to have resurfaced...


    Abrasive contamination is certainly a risk if you use graphite obtained from pencils. The pencil graphite 'lead' is mixed with clay as a binder and is mildly abrasive. The harder the pencil, the greater the proportion of clay. Even soft pencils,  e.g. 2B, 4B, etc., contain some clay.


    As advocated by some earlier in this thread, the best source of graphite is locksmith's graphite which is the pure form. No clay.

  8. On 10/9/2018 at 11:26 PM, Bill N said:

    ...None of the original English-style makers are still in business (Wheatstone nominally continues as a one man operation with very low production) but there are a number of modern makers building instruments with traditional reeds ( Kensington, Dipper, Carroll, Edgley etc)....


    The Dippers (Colin and Rosalie) are English! They are based in rural Wiltshire in the south of England.

  9. On 10/7/2018 at 12:23 PM, Marcus said:

    So what’s everybody think about my climate?!  It’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit plus for most of the year and 80 to 90 percent humidity most of the time also!  I think the sea is maybe 15 feet from my back door. Not much like the British climate!


    Perhaps you need to worry more about corrosion on the reeds and other metal parts of your concertina, from air-borne salt water droplets.

    Where I used to live in south-west Wales, about 1/2 mile from the sea, mechanics at my local garage would report that car bodywork was always prone to far more rust compared with cars based several miles inland. :o


  10. I came upon this topic by chance - I don't often read this forum.

    Some points:


    1. The generic G/D Wheatstone layout chart shown by the original poster was created by me. Not sure how it has come into the public domain in this way. I have a variety of layout charts which I have made over the years and they are stored on my computer hard drive. I am happy to share them with others, but it would be nice to be credited as the author.


    2. The layout chart in question is based on my own Dipper G/D anglo but chart referred to does indeed have a couple of typographical errors which the OP has queried. In particular, the A#4 on the LH side should indeed be A#3. The C6/E6 at the end of the RH side top row should also be E6/C6. It's like that on my Dipper and in any case it makes far more sense that way and I can't imagine why anyone would really want it the other way round.


    3. Apologies for the errors and many thanks for bringing them to my notice. I have corrected the errors as discussed and I attach the amended G/D layout to this post.





    GD generic anglo concertina layout.pdf

  11. 4 hours ago, Theo said:

    I knew that the Dippers sometimes used valve helper springs on larger reeds, and I've sometimes done the same myself.  The concertina I'm posting about has them on every valve right up to the highest pitches, even the top few that probably don't need any valves.  A quick experiment shows that if I lift a valve while the reed is sounding there is an obvious increase in volume.


    I've done the opposite too. On my Dipper there was one note which was obviously sounding louder than the adjacent notes, but otherwise responding very well. Replacing the vinyl spring with a slightly longer narrow strip cut from a vinyl melodeon valve did the trick and the note now sounds balanced with its neighbours.   

  12. My Dipper G/D anglo has the larger valves similar to such as Theo has described: leather with a thin vinyl 'spring' held in place by a thin leather 'dot', just like you see on larger accordion/melodeon valves which have the thin steel spring.


    I cannot imagine for one moment that Colin Dipper, being such a superb maker and craftsman, would use this type of valve as a botch or a trick. Admittedly, his vinyl springs are generally shorter and lighter weight than those in Theo's photos and the valve construction is neater too. One advantage of the vinyl spring and leather dot is that the valve resistance can easily be adjusted by carefully trimming the length of the vinyl spring to make it lighter, or if more resistance is needed, by removing the 'dot', substituting a longer spring and regluing or replacing the dot. No need to remove the entire valve.


    Photo of the LH reed pan of my Dipper anglo attached. You can see the vinyl springs and dots on the larger valves.


    Dipper anglo LH reed pan.jpg

    • Thanks 1
  13. Like Howard Jones and a couple of others on this thread,  (a) I play the anglo mainly in the 'English' harmonic style and (b) I am quite strongly left-handed. I do sometimes stand up to play but mostly I sit.


    When sitting down, I play the anglo with the RH end resting on my left thigh and use my left hand and arm to move the LH end of the instrument. This may be because I am a melodeon player too, and there it is always the LH end which moves.


    On the anglo, I have no problem in moving my left hand fingers around to make and change the chord patterns as needed; there is no compromise of the stability of the instrument nor any difficulty in reaching all the buttons.


    I have occasionally experimented with switching the static end and the moving end: keeping the LH end on my right thigh and moving the RH end. Yes - I can do it and my playing doesn't seem any different in terms of being harder or easier, but it just does not feel right, which I attribute mainly to my left-handedness. So eventually I revert back to my normal comfortable style.


    Ultimately, I think it doesn't really matter which method you adopt, so long as it works for you. As I tell my students, there are no rules. But I would also advocate being open-minded and being prepared to try other things from time to time. You might discover something new, or perhaps simply confirm that your previous approach was the best for you.

  14. I'll be running an anglo concertina workshop on the Thursday morning, hopefully in the Middle Earth at 10 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.

    It will be aimed at Intermediate to Advanced players and will explore the so-called 'English' harmonic style of playing*. You will need a C/G anglo concertina, preferably with 30 keys minimum, although it will work in part on a 20-key instrument. It will not be suitable for G/D concertinas, sorry. I will not have the time to run the workshop for the two systems in parallel.


    * NB - it's not an English concertina workshop! 

  15. Dave Townsend has asked me to post the following on this forum. The tutors are now sorted.

    A Weekend Music Course for
    Concertinas, Melodeons and Accordions
    Murray Grainger (Accordion), Robert Harbron (English Concertina), Paul Hutchinson (Accordion),
    Ollie King (Melodeon), Geert Oude Weernink (Melodeon), Matt Quinn (Melodeon & Duet Concertina), Dave Townsend (English Concertina), Andy Turner (Anglo Concertina), Rees Wesson (Melodeon)
    When & Where?
    This new event will take place at Henry Box School, Witney, nr. Oxford, on 10th - 12th November 2017.
    What’s New?
    It’s a larger-scale weekend replacing Concertinas at Witney, Melodeons at Witney and Accordions at Witney. Some course units will be for specific instruments, some will be for any squeezebox, and there will be band and ensemble options as well.
    What’s Old?
    Like the former Hands On Music Weekends, it will follow the same structure of course units, working with different tutors, and a concert with them on Saturday night. Music will be available a few weeks beforehand. And as always there will be top-rated tutors, some familiar faces and some less-known, all with an established track record in teaching and inspiring.
    Like the former weekends, there will be detailed workshops on aspects of technique and traditional styles, as well as ensembles and accompaniment.
    The weekend is non-residential, and is for adults who can already play their instrument.
    When can I book?
    The new website is still under construction. We’re hoping to open bookings in about four weeks’ time.
  16. Personally I find the corresponding G/A reversal at top row button 2 on the RH of a Wheatstone-system instrument absolutely integral to the way I play. But that's probably just me.


    I also much prefer the Wheatstone layout of the top row on the RH. That's partly because I learned from Brian (thanks Brian!) but also because the Wheatstone system inherently follows the mirror octave spacing of 4 buttons on the push and 5 buttons on the pull, which makes playing in octaves, e.g. in the style of Scan Tester, far more logical (to me anyway).



    Steve (escaping from melodeon.net for a while)

  17. My first thoughts are that it might be fine for melodic playing in the Irish style, just as you would on a semitone-tuned melodeon. But I wonder how useful it would be for anyone who wanted to play in the 'harmonic style', i.e. the melody mainly on the RH side and chords/accompaniment on the LH side.

    The chord options on the B/C layout shown are somewhat limited. C major, A major, E minor, D minor, Bb major, B major and C# minor would be available with varying degrees of ease of fingering.
    But as far as I can see, it is not possible to play the commonly useful chords such as G major, D major, F major, or A minor. To me, the absence of these chords and the lack of push/pull reversals other than B and E would be a severe handicap.
    I think that if the B/C layout was going to be remotely useful for a two-row concertina, it would have been done by now.
    I'll stick to my standard Wheatstone layout 30-key C/G anglo*, thanks! :)
    * on which it is possible to play all sorts of music (including Irish) very nicely.
  18. Claire, yes, as someone has suggested, please give the Button Box a call and describe your observations. It may be that there are some simple tune-ups that will help you out, especially if it's an older Morse as you describe it. (What is the serial number, may I ask?)

    Yes - I would definitely agree with that. The Morse has accordion type reeds in it and if it is getting a bit old, it would be quite prudent to get it checked over. The reeds can drift out of tune and the set (gap) of the reed tongues can gradually change too, away from their optimum setting.


    It's the latter factor particularly which has a profound impact on how well the reeds respond. If the gap is too wide, the reed can be slow to start and 'breathy'. If the gap is too narrow, the reed may start OK but can 'choke' when driven harder. In extreme cases, too narrow a gap can cause the reed to fail to start at all. Get someone who knows about reeds to check and re-set the gaps and the tuning; you may well be amazed at the difference it can make in playability and response.

  19. Notemaker,


    It's clear from your comments that you don't really know an awful lot about anglo concertinas.

    1. Ben's prices are pretty much spot on for those particular instruments. They are comparable with what you'd have to pay here in the UK; if anything the vintage 30-key Wheatstone is probably a bit undervalued.


    2. Cannot understand why you think the concertinas are in bad condition. They look very good indeed to me; Ben takes care of his instruments and does not sell rubbish.


    3. With normal reasonable care and attention, and occasional routine maintenance, there is no reason why these concertinas should not last for many decades more. Old concertinas of this calibre - especially the 1930s Linota - are likely to be every bit as good (if not better) than many new instruments being made today. The quality of the steel used in the reeds in those instruments is very, very good indeed and virtually impossible to obtain these days.


    4. These concertinas are available now; you don't have to go on a maker's waiting list for years (and more years in some cases). If you want to hang around that long for a new instrument, by all means do so.


    5. Your comment about diseases thriving in old instruments is utterly comical and beyond belief.


    At best, your comments are ill-informed, at worst, they are downright insulting to Ben and all the fine players, collectors, restorers and dealers on this forum and in the general concertina playing world.


    I'm not sure what all the confusion is about :(



    Sorry Steve, much of the confusion will have been caused by me creating a midi file based on the dots in BTNWO which included the [M:2/2/] E2 E2 E2 E2 | [M:5/4] etc in the B music as printed. Your rationalisation of the tune is obviously correct and prior to you posting this Chuck Boody (cboody) who is (was?) by profession a musicologist had emailed me to suggest exactly the same thing!


    I'm sorry if I added to the confusion. :unsure:

    Hey - no worries; no apologies needed. I'm just glad we've all cleared up the uncertainties!


    On a general point about the triplet crotchet-quaver rhythm which Voyager added into his transcription and which was picked up by cboody, this is a good illustration of the dotted rhythm convention which is mostly taken for granted in notation of traditional music (and jazz too).


    In strict notation, a dotted quaver-semiquaver pair means three tied semiquavers followed by a single semiquaver, so the ratio of long to short duration is 3:1 which is how it is always played in 'classical' music. However, in traditional music and jazz notation, the same rhythmic pair is invariably interpreted by playing it swing-style with a ratio of long to short duration of 2:1 - "lumpy" triplets rum-ty tum-ty, etc. So Voyager was quite correct in his interpretation, although his notation was unconventional. ;)

  21. I'm not sure what all the confusion is about :(


    1. The ABC I've shown is very, very close to Walter Bulwer's original playing. The only difference from the original transcription shown in 'Before the Night Was Out' is that the first two bars of the 'B' music are now rationalised as shown above, i.e:

    [M:2/2] | e2 e2 e2 eg | agec GcBc | etc....


    Walter Bulwer's original playing had it this way, where an extra crotchet has crept into the first bar and as a result the last two quavers have been pushed into the second bar converting it into an awkward 5/4 time:

    [M:2/2] | e2 e2 e2 e2 | [M:5/4] eg ag ec Gc Bc | etc....


    Walter's playing was renowned for its idiosyncracies ( = mistakes? :o ) which creep in and have become 'fossilised' as a result of people listening to a single field recording and concluding (erroneously IMHO) that was how it was always played. Walter himself plays the companion answering phrase in the second half of the 'B' music in straight-forward 2/2 time, i.e. with no extra beat and no following 5/4 bar.


    If you want to go ahead and play it exactly as Walter played it on the field recording, with the extra beat and the compensatory 5/4 bar, that's fine. But if you are playing for dancing, don't be surprised if the dancers get wrong-footed in the 'B'-music :rolleyes:. For myself, I prefer to stick to the regularised version all in 2/2 time.


    2. To answer Alan's query about the key of the tune:

    Walter played the 'A'-music in the key of G and the 'B'-music in the key of C, i.e. exactly as shown here and in 'Before the Night Was Out'.


    3. Lester:

    At Melodeons at Witney, we played it on D/G melodeons in the keys of G and C as shown. It was a good exercise in using the F-natural accidental buttons!


    Hope you are all suitably enlightened :)


    Shameless plug: if you haven't already got it, I can heartily recommend the East Anglian tunebook 'Before the Night Was Out' which includes lots of tunes by Walter Bulwer, Oscar Woods, Percy Brown, Billy Bennington and many others from Suffolk and Norfolk. Not only are there lots of tunes, there are also biographical notes of the musicians and nice photos too. Obtainable from the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust here.


    (Edited to correct typo)


    How about an abc file to save me making the effort? I know some folks who would really like it.


    Nope, not from here. I have the book and I transcribed this tune to create a midi file for Al but as it's a recently published book and the tunes were painstaking transcribed from old field recordings by our very own steve_freereeder I won't be making the abc file publically available now or ever. Steve has a massive ability for transcribing music accurately by ear and gives generously of his time and patience whenever I ask, He's also an incredibly enthusiastic musician with bags of talent, well worth getting to know!




    Here is a recording of Walter Bulwer's No.5 polka which I made for a Melodeons at Witney workshop in 2011.



    Here's the ABC transcription which goes with the recording. Hope this is enough to keep you all happy. :)





    T: Walter Bulwer's No.5 Polka

    T:Based on the fiddle playing of Walter Bulwer

    N:Source: compilation tape provided by Katie Howson during the preparation of 'Before The Night Was Out'. Also on CD "Heel and Toe', Veteran music, VT150CD. Bar lengths rationalised by Steve Freereeder to regularise Walter Bulwer's idiosyncratic playing (see BTNWO for original).






    |: "_G"d>e dB GBdg | "_C"egeg "_G"d2 B2 | "_C"c>B ce "_G"dB G>B | "_D"A>BA>B ABc^c |

    "_G"d>e dB GBdg | "_C"egeg "_G" d2 B2 | "_C"c>B ce "_G"dBGB |1 "_D"ADEF "_G"G2 G2 :|2 "_D"ADEF "FINE" "_G"G2 g2 ||[K:C]


    |: "_C"e2 e2 e2 eg | agec GcBc | "_F(Dm)"=f>gf>g f>g fg | "_G"bag=f d2 "_(B)"^d2 |

    "_C"e2 e2 e2 eg | agec GcBc | "_F(Dm)"=f>gf>g f>g fA | "_G"G^G"_D"A"_G"B "D.C. al Fine" "_C"c2 c2 :|


    W:Playing order: AA BB AA

  • Create New...