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RP3

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  1. Some of you may be familiar with Jeff Thomas, concertina player and instrument maker formerly from the Asheville, NC area. Well Jeff has moved to Frostburg, MD and has begun making anglo concertinas in the classical mold. You might want to check out his web site: http://thomasconcertinas.com/ For a number of years, Jeff worked in the workshop of concert flute and whistle maker Chris Abell, and he has learned precision wood and metal working from Chris. From the pictures on Jeff's new site, it looks like he is building a nice instrument -- very similar visually to Suttner's. I have not heard or played one in person, but I would love to have the opportunity. Ross Schlabach
  2. For sale: Castagnari Dinn II, BC, fairly dry tuning. This instrument was bought new by me approximately two years ago from the Box Office but has been used little. It comes with shoulder straps and a backpack style Castagnari soft case. Instrument is in immaculate condition, has very nice action and excellent tone -- I just don't have the time to spend with it. Asking $1,995 with purchasor to pay shipping and insurance (recommended). If purchased new from the Button Box, this model costs almost $2,300 and you have to wait months. Call or e-mail me through the Concertina.Net messages if interested or if you have questions. Ross Schlabach 201 Wildberry Lane Tryon, NC 28782 828-894-5504
  3. "Well, the accidentals don't make a whole lot of sense to me either. Ok, did a little research (I am not good with keys in my head since I don't really read sheet music that well). If we look at the G# and D# as Ab and Eb instead it makes a little more sense. Those three notes will allow you to play in the keys of F Major/D minor, Bb Major/G minor and Eb major/C minor. Still seems like an odd set of choices. Personally I would have prefered the more normal way of building from the keys of C/G. I suppose that somone might have had a reason for a C/G concertina to play in those somewhat odd keys for a C/G anglo. Oh wait, the C# could be looked at as a Db which would add Ab major/F minor. Very definitely an interesting set of choices." (I've cleaned up the quote stuff above to save screen space.) I'm no music theory expert, but to the questions you've posed about the G# and the D#, these are both notes that lurk on the outside row of a three row C/G. Without the G# you can't make the key of A which is pretty common in Irish music, and you need the D# if you want to play in the key of E. I did not spend time trying to figure out on which buttons these notes showed up (on an extended 2 row anglo), but if you've played a 3 row C/G in the key of A, you will really appreciate a G# anywhere else but on that outside row. To me it's a killer, because if you are doing a run F#, G#, A, then you jump from the first button inside row to the third button outside row and then back to the second button inside row for the finishing A. It's hard to do fast. Of course, maybe I hate this cause I'm a leftie and this all occurs on the right side. As for the key of E, I think you will find everything more compact there too. I'd appreciate the observations of others. Ross Schlabach
  4. Theo, I have two Jeffries. One is an earlier 28 button C/G stamped "C. Jeffries Maker" and the other is a later Praed St. C. Jeffries 30 button C/G. Both are 6 inches across the flats, and to my rusty old memory that seems to be the size of most Jeffries anglos I've played. It's possible that the Jeffries duet and 44 button anglos are larger out of necessity to accommodate the extra reeds. Smaller Jeffries (less than 6 inches) do seem to turn up from time to time but may not be plentiful. A good example was one pictured on Big Nick's web photo essay of concertina types (I think you can still access that through Bob Tedrow's site). If my limited experience is any indication, these smaller ones may have been special orders. But I expect that others on this forum may have much more information on the topic. Best regards, Ross Schlabach
  5. I had a very pleasant, recent exchange of e-mails with Wim Wakker about this exact topic that may be helpful. You may be familiar that Wim came up with a different style post to use on his concertinas. It was round, had a slot in the middle, and the rivet hole went all the way through so that the rivet (or hinge pin might be a better descriptive choice) was supported on both sides of the arm. I thought Wim's design was very clever and simple so I was surprised to discover that he was not using it on his latest Wakker anglos. I inquired why and his reply was that: 1) people seemed to be questioning him on why he was not using the "traditional design" (emphasis added) but more importantly 2) With modern materials (a harder brass, if memory serves me correctly) and modern cutting techniques he was able to use a material that was stronger and would last longer. So from his response it appears that there are two ready answers to your question -- but both involve a serious refit to your concertina. The first would be to switch to Wim's round style support post. The second choice would be to replace all the posts and rivets in your concertina with the newer and stronger materials. I know of folks, myself included, who have had older instruments wear out an arm or two on a vintage Jeffries, Crabb or the like. On these C/G anglos I'm familiar with, most of the failures have been limited to the arms on the most used buttons -- G/A and D/E on the left and B/C plus F#/G on the right. So, depending on the amount of use an instrument has experienced in its life, there may only be a few arms that require the repairs described above. Good luck and happy squeezing, Ross Schlabach
  6. I have owned, at one time or another, all three of the Suttner models in this discussion, so I'd like to add my thoughts on the hopes that they will help you choose. First, I had a 38 button A4 (Ab/Eb). While its tone was fabulous, my hands are like farmer's hands and I found the buttons challenging to negotiate. This instrument was also a bit heavier than I would have preferred -- but I believe that's just a result of having 38 buttons and 76 reeds. So if your hands are large or you like a lighter instrument, this might not be the way to go. Second, my first concertina was an A3 Linota -- with raised ends. This was one of his earlier instruments -- serial #48. The sound and the action were superb. One thing that was uncomfortable was the position of the air valve. It was situated too low and this required me to bend my thumb down to reach it. Again this may be a big hands issue, but for me it was a concern. For a while I owned an A2 and while I didn't keep it cause I had a Dipper I love, the Suttner A2 was by far the best model of the three. The instrument fit my hands perfectly, the air button position was perfect, and the instrument was comfortable in weight. Tone, playability, action, they're all excellent. So I would recommend the A2 -- but check Juergin's site. There's now a new version of the A2 that offers two more buttons and this might offer the opportunity to get that F# on the right hand press. Good luck and hope time flies for you. Ross Schlabach
  7. Hi Joe, I do not live in Greenville any more but there is a session (Dougal McGuire's?). So check around. I'm a long-time anglo player, and I live nearby in Tryon (35 miles from Greenville) and work in Spartanburg. We have an irregular monthly session at the Green Onion in Landrum and you are certainly welcome to join in. If you are interested in our session or want to talk, contact me directly via the Forum Messenger. Best regards, Ross Schlabach
  8. This concertina is now sold, and I will be sending a contribution to Paul. Thanks, Ross
  9. I have Wally Carroll's first flat pitch concertina, a Bb/F (serial #10), and I can say this instrument has a very wide dynamic range and and very rich, full sound. Since the Carroll is a reproduction of an early Wheatstone Linota and has the pie-shaped chambers, it produces a different sound from instruments that have rectangular chambers so I would not say that it "honks" quite like a Jeffries. The Carroll concertina is easily capable of holding it's own in a large session. I also own a fine Jeffries and an equally nice Dipper, and this Carroll concertina has it's own unique sound that can rival these masters' instruments. I think it is safe to conclude that his C/G concertinas have the same type of character. Unfortunately, like Dipper and Suttner, Wally Carroll now has a 3 yr + waiting list. But I can vouch that the instruments Wally is making now are well worth the price and the wait. Another maker to consider is Dana Johnson and his Kensington Concertinas. These concertinas are made with true concertina reeds but as Dana acknowledges, he is NOT trying to recreate a Jeffries but instead is making an instrument with a different but still very attractive rich sound. You need to try one to hear the difference and decide if it is right for you. Enjoy the search! Ross Schlabach
  10. Sorry Paul but two things are keeping me from posting pictures: 1) I'm having too much fun playing the concertina to stop and take pictures, and 2) I haven't figured how to post them since I don't currently have a homepage on which to store them. But I must say that there's not a lot of difference between the general appearance of mine and the previous ones featured on Wally's website - other than a different finish which is really nice. Mine's rosewood with a taller palmrest and a slightly different shape to the outside edges of the ends. If I can rustle up the time to take some pics, I may call for some assistance in posting them. Ross Schlabach
  11. Today I received from Wally Carroll the first Bb/F to come out of his shop. And it is outstanding and beautiful. At the 2004 Midwest NHICS class, I had been able to play and was very impressed with all three of the first instruments he made for sale, so I expected he would do a fine job. Well he did much better than that! Despite being "flat pitch", #10 has very crisp and quick response. The tone is exquisite and the action is precise and light. I thought I would really like the tone and pitch of a Bb/F when I ordered it, and this new Carroll has a full, warm tone! I have bulky, farmerlike hands and Wally adapted the palmrest to fit my hands. The finish on the rosewood ends is smooooth and really shows off the wood too. He's putting in a lot of work there. All in all, Wally is doing an outstanding job of producing a modern-day instrument with the rich sound of a vintage Wheatstone and the wonderful playability of a modern action. If my experience is any indication, anyone on his waiting list is going to be really pleased when their instrument is delivered. It's worth the wait! Ross Schlabach
  12. If I understand the description correctly then my Jeffries (/Crabb) has similar palm rests, though whether original or a more recent addition I don't know. I have not seen them on any other concertina of any make. Clive Hi Clive, I think that you may have special custom-made "after-market" palmrests since both Jeffries and Crabb vintage 30 button instruments had small (non-contoured) wooden palmrests similar to those used on Wheatstone and Lachenal anglos. Some high-button count Jeffries and Crabbs had metal palmrests but none had anything like the ergonomic palmrests designed by Dana, Dipper or other modern makers. But if you are happy with your palmrest, consider yourself fortunate and enjoy! Ross Schlabach
  13. I have known Dana since I think 1996 and during that time he was heavily involved in the development of the Morse Ceili. As that was becoming finalized, he branched off to focus on his own, traditional concertina reed, models which have become the Kensington he now sells. I can confirm that he has devoted a lot of time and effort to building an instrument that sounds great and will operate flawlessly for decades. Through his experimentation with traditional reeds, he's developed an instrument with great tone. Admittedly the Dymondwood material may add a bit more to the weight, but this material provides stability that will allow these concertinas to easily last into the next century. And it is quite appealling to look at. As has been pointed out above, Dana also uses a unique palmrest for comfort in playing and easier access to the keys rather than forcing the player to distort his/her fingers to get around the keyboard. As to the loudness discussed above, I think that is merely part of the dynamic capabilities of the instrument. It will play loud if you honk on the bellows or softly if you wish to play an air. I also second the comments about the benefits of having high note reeds that can be heard above the strong bass -- not a lot of instruments can offer that capability. I heartily recommend his instruments as a very attractive alternative to the much higher prices and terminally longer waits for concertinas from the more famous makers across the pond. Ross Schlabach
  14. Hi Ken, No, I thought I had updated my e-mail address but the old one was still on file. I have corrected it now. Anyone trying to reach me please try again at the corrected e-mail address and sorry for the mix-up. And Ken, thanks for the heads up. Ross Schlabach
  15. I have at least one too many concertinas and so one needs to find a new home. This instrument was ordered from Suttner by me and delivered in 2003 if memory serves. It has exquisite solid Ebony ends, wonderful rich tone, and smooth action. It is in virtually new condition because I din't have enough time to give it. I'm asking $4,500 but will consider reasonable offers. If you have questions or would like to see pictures, please contact me by e-mail. Ross Schlabach Western NC
  16. I do not have the technical knowledge to discuss this subject as do Paul and others, but I must agree wholeheartedly with Paul's position about the enjoyment of the harmonies offered by unequal temperment. I have three concertinas: two tuned in equal temperment, and one tuned in unequal temperment. Sessions and similar group playing situations may not offer much opportunity to appreciate the differences between the two types of tuning. However, when I play alone or in quiet group settings, I very much appreciate the sweeter chords offered by the unequal temperment tuning -- and so do the others in the group. It seems that people (musicians included) don't know what they are missing until they have a chance to hear the difference for themselves. So to quote a favorite old TV ad, "Try it, you'll like it!" Ross Schlabach
  17. I just wanted to add my thanks to Michael for purchasing this instrument before the temptation overpowered me to do the same. If memory serves me correctly, I had the delightful opportunity to play that Jeffries at the 2004 Noel Hill class in Kentucky and it is a nice one. Out of curiosity, how did you arrive at the conclusion that it was once a bone-buttoned model? Ross Schlabach
  18. Check out Minidisco.com for details on Sony and other minidisc recorders. Sony makes a couple of models that you can speed up or slow down -- but they are among their more expensive units. Before you buy, make sure that the unit allows a separate mic input. Some don't and those with built-in mics will not provide the best recording quality. Get the mic away from the unit so you don't pick up mechanical noise from the recorder itself. You will be amazed at the sound quality if you get a good mic (Sony makes one for about $100). These recordings can, with the proper software, be transferred to CD with excellent sound. Good luck, Ross
  19. Now, Roy, if you'd gone to class like you were expected to, you would probably already have that coveted #9 by now. And since you are truly a shutterbug, we expect a photo essay when it does arrive. Ross #10 and waiting
  20. Quote from Bill McHale: "Mmm.. Cool. Noel hasn't figured prominently on any CD in more than a decade. With the likes of Tim Collins and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh producing some stunning CDs, I wonder if Noel is feeling some pressure to maintain his rep as king of Irish Concertina players?" Any musical performer's reputation is built on how he or she plays or sings -- not on how many CDs they put out. And Noel's playing says it all. Having been a regular at Noel's US classes for over 10 years, I am comfortable in saying Noel's CD release has nothing to do with the "pressure" you describe. Noel has been extremely active in playing and teaching both in Ireland and in the US. Take a look at his concert schedule here in the US during his three weeks of teaching classes this summer and you'll see he's a very busy performer. Add to that his responsibilities as a single father to two young children and you will better see that time has been a big limiting factor in his life. Ever since he did some preliminary recording for a new CD back in 1996 at Bucksteep, Noel has kept a new CD project in his mind but never had the time. Then there's the money involved is this process -- which he handled from start to finish. At our 2005 NY NHICS class, Noel told us that he hopes that this CD is like a certain Dublin bus: nothing shows up for a long time, and then there's a string of them. So maybe we'll have a nice series of CDs to look forward to. In the meantime, just enjoy this new CD -- there's some great music on it. Ross
  21. Last year I took my cherished Dipper with me on my return trip to Ireland. I always had it with me - everywhere I went. I had purchased a small back pack and the concertina rode in that backpack everywhere. I wouldn't even leave it alone in our locked room at the B&Bs we stayed in. Inconvenient, yes; but I was always assured that my concertina was safe. The fact that it was disguised by the backpack probably contributed to its safe roundtrip. But in talking about concertina security, I must relay a contrasting observation from an earlier experience. In 1995 I attended my first Northeast Squeeze-In at Bucksteep in Massachussetts. I was delighted to see the wide range of very rare and valuable concertinas casually displayed in the lobby, the Button Box sales room on the front porch of the Lodge -- to be appreciated and played by others. I am a poor sleeper and occassionally rise early. Saturday morning I was up and out for an early morning walk at half six -- when the rest of the free reed world at Bucksteep was sound asleep. Imagine my shock at seeing the very same rare instruments still sitting unattended and unprotected on the porch tables of the lodge. It is still to me an uncommon image of trust among a group of people who share a common love. Unfortunately, the greed of others can destroy that trust in an instant.
  22. Yep, I'm still here. I live in Tryon, NC and work in Spartanburg, SC. But in 7 days I'll be heading out to Noel Hill's NY class. Ross
  23. As the proud holder of reservation #10, I'm happy to see that #7 has emerged from Wally's shop. He's working on both numbers 8 & 9 as we speak, so my own Bb/F isn't all that far away. I haven't had the pleasure of playing one of the Edgley's yet, but I understand they are excellent. Hopefully someone will be beating an electron path to your e-mail in-box soon and the Edgley will be off to charm some new owner. Ross Schlabach Western NC
  24. While I do agree that I see the same "blue hair" trends at many concerts, I can report a more refreshing experience at the Swannanoa Gathering. This is a summer music program that runs over several weeks with each week having a different theme. At Irish Week there is a noticeable presence of young folks taking instrument classes. For instance, violin classes that week have more than doubled in the last two years and the young participants are already showing themselves to be committed, talented, and very energetic. Try keeping up with them on reels and you'll know what I mean. Music, like almost everything else, has fads and fashion, and they change like the weather. There will be a point at which concertinas start to lose some of their charm for certain individuals and the demand for custom made instruments may plateau or even fall. But with websites like Concertina.Net and others, we've spread the word and the music and instrument will endure. As long as we welcome and nurture those "newbies" that want to learn about the instrument and the music, the future will be bright for the music and the instrument we love. Ross Schlabach Western NC
  25. Hi Darcy, You didn't say where you live or what kind of concertina you play. I play anglo and live in Tryon which is about 40 miles South of Asheville. There are a number of players scattered around the state -- but not that many. Let me know what type of concertina you are playing and your location and I'll see if we can't introduce you to someone in your local area. BTW, in early July, Celtic Week is held as part of the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College near Asheville. The spouse of the college president is named Darcy. Not one and the same? If not, you should know that they have a concertina class lined up for this year and a number of concertina players are usually there -- if not for the classes then for the evening sessions. You might want to check it out. Best regards, Ross
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