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Everything posted by Steve_freereeder

  1. It's almost certainly not a concertina at all. I think this is the same as the B/C melodeon mentioned over on Melnet here: See here The BBC clearly doesn't know the difference between a concertina, a melodeon or accordion. Edited to post correct link URL
  2. Yes - I am also please to hear that you have now got a suitable concertina. The 30-key Stagi will stand you in good stead for a while yet and you will learn a lot with it. As it is a new instrument, it will be in concert pitch, so no worries there. Enjoy playing your new-found friend. It could well become a lifelong obsession!
  3. Oh dear. Sorry to hear about your loss. I'm guessing it... umm... wasn't insured? It's an expensive lesson to learn.
  4. I'm left-handed too, and I've never even thought that it might affect the way I play instruments. I just get on and do it. The keywork on the woodwind instruments which I play (clarinet, saxophone, flute) is laid out in a manner which means you have no choice over which hand to use on which half of the instrument. The LH is always nearest your mouth, the RH always furthest from it. Whenever I see youngsters learning to play the whistle the 'wrong way round', I always fear for their future problems which they are building for themselves should they ever want to learn a standard woodwind instrument with keywork. I have just once seen an adult ITM player on a keyless flute playing it the wrong way round. But never, in over 40 years of orchestral playing, have I seen anyone with a custom built left-handed instrument. And believe me, there are plenty of left-handed players among them. Apart from most brass instruments, where the valves being operated by the RH only, most other instruments normally require finely refined motor skills on both hands, requiring them to do intricate things, and in my experience, there is no special advantage nor disadvantage in being left- or right-handed. But back to concertinas: I was interested to read Molly's post. Like her, I also rest the end of my anglo on my right knee - it seems to feel more natural that way, although I can do it the other way round too. I play in the chordal, harmonic style, so much of the melody is on the RH, which I find no difficulty with. If I am very analytical, maybe I do find my little finger action fractionally easier on my LH than on my RH, but if so, the difference is very, very slight. When playing English concertina, I find no difference between playing LH and RH sides.
  5. Don't forget that the ends are not just about the fretwork. The thickness needs to be exactly right to tie in with the travel of the keys. There are the holes for the keys to consider, which need to be accurately aligned with the action, and also are tapered holes, not cylindrical, to allow for the felt bushing to be fitted. Then there is the really accurate alignment of the end-bolt holes, which are normally done at the same time as the drilling of the same holes into the end frames. My advice would be to allow your maker go ahead with the complete concertina, including the ends. If you subsequently want to build additional custom ends yourself, at least (a) the maker's ends will provide you with an accurate template to work from, and ( you will have a playable concertina in the meantime, and ultimately, in case something goes wrong with your own construction work.
  6. Excellent advice leading to a good thread! Thanks Pete!
  7. He was mentioned Steve and highly rated Whoops! So you did! I missed that first time round, Sorry Mike.
  8. I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Brian Peters yet. He is an absolute master of the anglo. See here.... http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=blZeRHg6RUM
  9. There could be several reasons. We need more information, e.g. does the key actually stick fast in the pressed down position? (could be a bushing problem). Does it flop about and not return properly? (would suggest a broken or detached spring) .. etc. Sometimes on a new instrument, even a change in temperature and humidity can cause a button to stick temporarily; or a bit of workshop dust/debris can get lodged somewhere it shouldn't. The best thing you can do is have a look for yourself. Concertinas are designed to be disassembled and reassembled. Start by unscrewing the 6 bolts around the end. Make sure you have the correctly-sized screwdriver, and gradually release the bolts by working from opposite sides rather than sequentially round the circumference. Lay the bolts to one side and remember the order and holes they came from so you can put them back in the same hole afterwards. The end should now be able to be released from the bellows. I'm not completely familiar with the construction of a Rochelle, but you should then see the flat inside face of the action board which butts up to the reed chambers. There should be a further screw(s) which you can then release to gain access to the action. You will probably also need to release the handstrap bolt too. You should then be able to see the action levers, springs and pads, and careful examination of the offending button/lever, comparing it with its neighbours, should help you pinpoint what is wrong. There's no mystique involved. Just go carefully and methodically, one stage at a time; make sure you have the right-sized tools. And before you move on to the next stage, be sure in your own mind that you can reassemble everything from your current position. Let us know how you get on and tell us what you see/do.
  10. Ever heard of Google? Or Wikipedia? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemnitzer_concertina
  11. Yes - it was Theo, several replies back. You've even quoted his reply yourself. Look - the concertina you have is not working as it should, it is in need of repair, but if it is a really cheap and nasty one, it is probably not worth it and even if it could be got playing again it is probably going to be hard work to play and sound none too good, which isn't going to motivate you to practice. If you've got the budget to run to a new beginner's concertina then that is the way to go. The best one to go for is undoubtedly the Rochelle (for anglo system) or the Jackie (for English system). They are designed by Wim and Karen Wakker of the Concertina Connection and although made in China under licence, the quality control is good and they are good instruments, unlike so many other cheap imports. They are good value for money and will hold a fair price against a trade up to a better quality instrument at some point in the future Your question about whether to go for the anglo or English system has been addressed in your other post. http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=10882&view=findpost&p=109027 As to whether we all know each other - well no we don't. Some of us are separated by 1000s of miles. But some of us do indeed know other members and have met in person on several occasions, some are even good friends. As the UK is a collection of small islands with a great tradition of concertina playing, it is inevitable that our nearest concertina-playing neighbours generally live fairly close by. I personally know at least 20 other concertina players who live within an hour's drive of my home; some of them are within walking distance. And there are probably a good few others whom I don't know about. I guess in Memphis, the population density of concertina players is much lower, but I would be very surprised if there were none at all. They probably don't know about this forum, that's all. A google search of 'concertina players Memphis' gets a number of hits......
  12. But what, if you live in Memphis TN, like Concerteeny? Emigrate?
  13. Thanks, Irene! I think I've found a fix. I normally access this forum from Safari (version 4.0.4) running on Mac OS 10.4.11 which does not allow me to see the photos on Facebook via your original links. However, when using Firefox 3.6 I can indeed see the Facebook photos, so my problem would appear to be a browser-dependent thing.
  14. Quite good summary by Mischa, but I will clarify a few things.... A 20-button anglo in C/G will allow you to play easily in C, G, modal Am and modal Dm, with some of D major (but you don't have that all-important C#) A 30-button anglo is fully chromatic across much of its range and much more versatile in terms of keys; C, G, F, D, Am, Dm and Em, are fairly straightforward. Although the English is fully chromatic over all its range, most people find it rather challenging to play in the more extreme keys say more than 3 sharps or flats in the key signature (although this is largely a matter of familiarity and practice). Not true. There are plenty of Youtube videos and CDs of anglo concertina playing in non-Irish style. I guess it depends where you live. There are plenty of both anglo and English players around in the UK. You would have no trouble meeting up with your peers. I think by 'less capable' you are referring to the Rochelle's response and ease of playing? The reeds in the Rochelle and the Jackie are exactly the same quality. Having played a Rochelle, I am impressed with its responsive nature. It speaks quite readily and the bellows direction changes are fine. I think it is an excellent beginner's anglo, probably the best on the market for its price.
  15. For those of us who do not have a Facebook account, would there be any chance of posting the photos on this forum? Thanks.
  16. From what I've heard, the Button Box do a good job on setting up the Stagis as well as can be. The sadly late Richard Morse of the BB was a very experienced concertina maker and his Morse concertinas are very good indeed, and some of that wisdom will undoubtedly have been passed on to the experienced people who work on the Stagis. I've never heard that shipping can be a problem. After all, the BB exports instruments across to the UK. I think you could be confident in ordering a G/D Stagi from the BB and having it shipped to you; the BB is a good organisation with a reputation to maintain. In this case, and as Daniel has rightly surmised, I know exactly what to expect from those stained wood ended Scholers. Not just from the one I had, but I've come across a few others over the years too. All have been similarly horrid. To a large extent, with concertinas, you do get what you pay for. The really cheap ones are usually just not worth bothering with for the reasons I've already outlined. The Rochelle and its English counterparts, the Jack and the Jackie, are the exceptions to this. They have been designed by Wim and Karen Wakker, who are renowned concertina makers. But as you want a G/D instrument, then you really need to be thinking of a Stagi as your base-line quality instrument, and that comes down to getting it from the Button Box with the extra set-up service that they offer. You may drop on lucky and find a reasonably good second-hand instrument, but then unless you try before you buy (and preferably get a concertina-playing friend to do the same), it is always a risk. I confess I don't know much about the particular Castiglione concertinas which Daniel mentions, but the double-reeded types will have two reeds per note, tuned an octave apart, producing a rather different, accordion-like sound, more akin to the bandoneon and the large Chemnitzer concertinas rather than the sweeter, purer sound of the single reeded instrument that most of us here recognise as a concertina. If the Castiglione dealer is within travelling distance, then the best thing would be to visit and try as many different concertinas as you can. Then you will be in a much better position of knowing what it is you really want.
  17. OK being serious here for a minute.... Yes - we all have to start out somewhere and it is highly likely that we may have to buy a lower-quality concertina to begin with. That's quite understandable. However, there is a trade-off between making progress and having a really poor-quality instrument, which will actually hold you back, because (i) it is physically hard to play, (ii) it sounds awful and (iii) it is likely to go wrong sooner rather than later. I know this - I've been there, many years ago. It is far, far better to just spend a just a little bit extra money and get a decent beginner's instrument, perhaps a Stagi or preferably a Rochelle. You will learn faster, be less frustrated and you will want to keep coming back to the instrument to practise. A Rochelle will actually hold a lot of its value for when the time comes to upgrade.
  18. It's not a concertina, but a hexagonal shaped accordion. Oi ! Someone's modded my previous post. The bit in the dots [....] referred to the female ex-Prime Minister of the UK a few years back.
  19. Arggghhh! Whenever I see a picture of something like that calling itself a concertina, my reaction is the same as when I see [...] on the telly. In the latter case I have this strong urge to throw a brick at the screen.
  20. Well done - that's coming along nicely. You need to work on keeping the tempo a little more even throughout, i.e. not slowing down in some parts, not speeding up in others. But you have got the idea and you have done well on the cross-rowing bits to give you smooth singing-like phrases. Also the little Am chords are good. You can apply all this technique to lots of other tunes. Keep looking out for opportunities to use what you have learned here in other tunes. Well done again!
  21. With good quality steel reeds, once they have had their initial tuning, there is a settling-in period of a few weeks to a few months. During this period some of the reeds may go slightly out of tune, and will need a slight re-tune. After this though, the instrument should stay in tune for a long time, often many years. Harsh, hard playing may cause the reeds to go out of tune more quickly. Also, if the leather valves are replaced, sometimes the reeds may need slight touch-up tuning. But it all depends on the quality of the steel used. I think the comment of your repair man tells it all really. Gremlin concertinas are not the best concertinas in the world. Asthmatic (breathy?) notes are perhaps indicative of inefficient air flow around the reed tongue; perhaps the 'set' (the gap between the reed tongue and the top of the reed plate) is wrong. If certain reeds will persistently not hold their tune or proper set, that may be an indicator that the reed tongue is weak and/or about to fail.
  22. Mike, A big and indeed interesting question or set of questions. I don't know all the answers but here is my response to some of your points... Yes - that's important. It's all music, and remains so, whatever style it is, whatever chords or accompaniment or other harmonic complexities are there. As you rightly say, there are few, if any, rules. If it sounds good and musical it probably is good and musical. However, in a session where there are a number of people playing spontaneously and with little or no pre-arrangement, we tend to stick to simple chords or none at all; the whole thing would become blurred and muddy if people started using their own individualistic chords/accompaniments. See my responses above. Ask yourself 'does it sound good?' and more subtly: ' does it enhance the melody?' Both those are rather subjective ideas, the latter especially; and we are usually constrained in one way or another by the 'tradition' of the genre of music that we are playing at the time. Hence the assertion that you don't use 'jazz chords in Irish music'. There are rules, but they are unwritten and subtle. Whether you can successfully break them or not depends on your courage and conviction and your musical prowess on your instrument. If you can make it sound good and make people suddenly prick up their ears and think 'wow! that sounded different!' then you will have achieved success. But if they are left thinking 'what is that prat trying to play?' then I suggest that either you weren't playing with enough conviction, or you need to find another venue where people don't have such closed minds. There is always room for innovation and experiment, even within so called 'traditional music'. If it didn't evolve by people trying out little bits of new things here and there, then it would become lifeless, dead and fossilised. Look how Andy Cutting has breathed new life into some traditional English, French and Quebecois music by being a bit adventurous with the left-hand buttons on his melodeon. As for Irish music, I was listening to some of the orchestral backing music arrangements for Riverdance - there are all sorts of fancy chords and stuff going on there. OK - so it may not be 'traditional Irish music', but it sounds Irish and it is exciting. And if it brings lots of people into contact with a music and dance tradition and encourages them to try it for themselves in one way or another, then that has to be a good thing in my view. Maybe they are. I think this is the sort of thing that Gav Davenport is looking for on his big anglos. And the other Gav - Gavin Atkin plays some wonderful jazzy harmonies on his Jeffries duet. Cecil Sharp was a pianist. So when he started to collect traditional tunes and songs, it was natural for him to write them down and add 'interesting' or at least playable piano accompaniments. It was partly the fashion of the time. Many households possessed a piano and usually someone who could play it too. There were no recording devices then except for the wax cylinder which was really not suitable for anything other than field recording and collecting. The benefits of Sharp's arrangements were (i) the music was saved from sinking into oblivion forever and (ii) the traditional tunes and songs were suddenly made available to a much wider audience. We may consider the piano arrangements odd and artificial now (although actually they are quite good and do not seriously detract from the original tunes), but again it was the fashion - and like the clothes of the time, the arrangements are now rather dated. Percy Grainger was something else - he was an oddball innovator. He collected tunes and songs too, but he also used them as part of his highly original compositions for both piano, and for orchestras and bands, which contain all sorts of squashy and discordant chords in places. But some of it is really exciting stuff. I think you are right about the 50s revival being 'a healthy reassertion of simpler values'. Wireless and television had brought more people into contact with traditional music and dance, and some of them wanted to try it for themselves and would eventually reclaim it as 'the music of the people'. The two-row D/G melodeon came into popularity in this period and players tended to use it just as two one-row instruments stuck together. It is only in recent years that the youngsters have started to show us some of its other potential too. This is turning into a long ramble. Going back to your original questions, my views would be: Be guided by your ears - if it sounds OK it probably is OK. It's OK to experiment. There are no rules, and yet there are rules too. It's a sort of Orwellian 1984 doublethink. Be guided by your intuition and sensitivity about the situation you find yourself in, and the 'rules' which that situation has or does not have. Edited to add: Daniel Hersh posted his reply while I was writing this. We seem to have said much the same thing but Daniel has put it much more succinctly than me!
  23. So - they do play different notes on the push/pull. This does sound an odd set-up or maybe it is just badly out of tune. Some of the notes having 'overtones' sounds as if it could be another of those double-reeded Scholer concertinas also discussed on this forum today. http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=10819&view=findpost&p=108495 Can you do a systematic check of the notes on the push/pull of every button and post the results on here please? Something along the lines of: Left Hand Outer Row Buttons (push/pull), working from lowest pitch to highest pitch: 1. C/G 2. G/B 3. C/D 4. E/F 5. G/A Inner Row Buttons 1. B/D 2. D/F# 3. G/A 4. B/C 5. D/E etc. and then do the same for the RH side. If you can post a couple of photos of the concertina that might help too.
  24. In that case I can only conclude one of three possibilities: (i) some drastic modification to the tuning has been carried out on the instrument to make the buttons play the same note in either bellows direction. (ii) something is seriously wrong with the concertina to give it the same effect as (i) (iii) you are partly tone-deaf and not able to distinguish between musical intervals of a tone (the normal difference between the push and pull notes on an anglo. I'm not trying to be nasty here. It does happen occasionally. But since you already have played guitar and piano, it is probably unlikely. As a check, I recommend that you let someone else hear the concertina and ask them the question: "Does this note change in pitch when I push and then pull the bellows?"
  25. See my response to your other thread: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=10825&view=findpost&p=108548
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