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Everything posted by RP3

  1. Aogan, I was introduced to your playing by the two very fine sets you recorded for Suttner's website and I too second the need for you to sit your tush down in a studio and bang us out some lovely tunes. So I await your humble announcement. Best regards and welcome to this mad but merry little band, Ross Schlabach "Of reasonably sound mind, but terribly slow fingers!"
  2. Hi Alan, I've been going to Noel's classes since he first started doing the school up at Bucksteep in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachussetts. The school has been going for 12 years I think and I'm heading back for my 11th time. Each year I find more to learn and enjoy. It charges my musical batteries and gives me lots of material to challenge me for the following winter. I moved from the original NY class to the Cincinatti class because it was far closer and therefore more economical for me. If you have a real interest in the anglo, you can't find a better, more dedicated, teacher; and the environment is excellent. Unlike other schools that cover a wide range of instruments -- resulting in myriad distractions -- everybody here is focused on the concertina and traditional Irish music. So you have a real opportunity to learn and share a common interest with a group of like-minded individuals. The school is quite a bargain and yet very challenging. You should know that Noel has each student play a piece or two so he can judge what level is best for that student. Usually the students are broken into three groups (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and the classwork and tunes assigned are based on ones' capabilities. That way you're never in over your head and Noel can customize his teaching to the level of students. Noel does teach some specific fingering which gives you a better base to grow and advance on the instrument. During my first year, I suffered for a few days as I learned his way of doing things, but I never looked back. It was well worth the effort to learn his way of playing. You have two class sessions -- one each morning and another in the afternoon and a new tune is taught at each class session. Usually there is at least one evening concert during the week. We had two last year -- one for the students only on Tuesday and another on Thursday when the public was invited. I make a point of carefully recording the concerts and the class sessions and consider these concert recordings real treasures to enjoy again and again. So, bring a good recording device (I recommend the mini-disc recorders) and you won't regret it. As David pointed out, the surroundings at the Cincinatti site are very pleasant. The grounds are great for a walk or a relaxing place to practice. Food at this type of event is never expected to be Five Star, but last year's fare was varied and there was plenty to eat. They even had some fruit and cookies available for unrepentant snackers like myself. We did everything in one building, and it was impeccably clean and well air conditioned. We had a large lounge where classes were conducted and the dining room was just across the hall. The bedrooms were small but nice -- with a sink. The showers and toilets were down the hall so a robe and flip-flops are advised. No TVs but then we didn't need or want them. We had lots of room to stretch out at the retreat with an empty room between each occupied room, so we could practice without much intereference from ones neighbors. To quote the old TV ad: "Try it. You'll like it!" Hope to see you there, Ross Schlabach
  3. Hi again everybody. I appreciate your comments and encouragement. We are starting down the road to formal puppy training in the morning when we visit her puppy shcool. We are using a crate effectively, have established outselves as the pack leaders and have a good routine set up for her. Even at only three months she knows that outside is for doing her business and she has plenty of "cheap" toys to both help entertain her and help with the growth of her teeth. Better them than our furniture or my concertinas. She's getting lots of exercise and good initial people socialization. Dana, I do believe that you chose an even more high-energy dog than we received. The one thing we need want is for this job-oriented puppy to become self-employed! I am committed to getting my music practice into the routine and having a well-behaved and well trained dog too. We just need to stay with it. Thanks again to all, and Happy New Year. Ross Schlabach
  4. Just thought I'd share my dilemna with the rest of the group -- for laughs if nothing else. This Christmas my two grown children presented my wife and I with a 3 month old Australian Shepherd puppy as our Christmas gift. This was out-of-the-blue but understandable since we had been forced to put down our ailing 14 year-old Aussie last summer. The puppy is delightful and full of energy -- wherein lies my problem. Aussies are dogs that need a job and currently her job is seeing to it that I spend almost all my free time keeping her entertained or taking her for walks to do her business. If I try to take time away from her to practice on my concertina, she becomes self-employed and the results of that can be disasterous to the house, furniture, and clothing! Hopefully I can channel her energies into non-destructive pastimes as she gets a little older so that I can have some music practice time. If not, Noel's going to give me a hard time at class this August. Any suggestions would be appreciated - commiserations also accepted. Happy New Year, Ross Schlabach
  5. I am one of the people who has been attending Noel Hill's class since 1996 and DPMCCABE's assumptions about the class are incorrect but would neverthelss be irrelevant. Most of the students in the early classes were Intermediate or higher. Some people had waited years for a special concertina they had ordered some time before. A few had been lucky enough to find a fine concertina at a reasonable price, and others had merely paid what the market demanded at the time to have a quality instrument. All shared some degree of devotion to the music and the instrument and generally tried to obtain the best instrument they could afford. Others decided that they didn't need a high-end instrument and were happy with much less. But each type made their own decision regardless of skill, talent, or NEED. For someone else to assail these people saying they are not worthy to have these fine instruments is pure rubbish. There are always a few people who believe they are "entitled" to something and they denigrate those who have what they desire but cannot either acquire or afford. Most of the inhabitants of the developed world have more than they "need" but that is a characteristic of a capitalist economy. I would much rather have that type of economy with its quirks and supposed inequalities than any of the others that have been tried and failed in this world. Quality concertinas are difficult but not impossible to obtain. Sometimes it takes perserverence, sometimes it takes patience, sometimes it takes money or a combintation of the three. Most current owners of quality concertinas had to have one or more of these characteristics to acquire the fine instrument they now own. I cannot and will not condemn them for having that fine instrument even if their level of talent does not appear to justify that ownership; and no one else has that right in our world. If you believe you need something badly enough, you do the work or make the necessary sacrifices to achieve your goal. One feature of our little concertina world is that supply and demand is not always in balance. The fact that an instrument can be delivered one day by Dipper or Suttner or any of the other fine makers and be resold the very next day for a much bigger price suggests that the makers are not getting the full market value for their instruments. They could employ different sales practices and likely obtain a much greater return for their hard work. But this would favor only the most wealthy, so it seems fair to conclude that these makers have made a commitment to an instrument and a type of music that they love. They would rather have their instruments in the hands of those willing to make the commitment to wait for that special concertina. Let those who are unwilling to wait go to Lark in the Morning or participate in one of the auctions (eBay or otherwise) and let them pay the inflated price those markets demand. Most of our concertina community have accepted these conditions and limits willingly, strange though they may be. I think that if you can't accept these conditions, you might be better off elsewhere.
  6. Just to follow up on the issues relating to the 38 button instruments. Not only is there the extra weight to consider but also a degree of crowding of buttons. I regularly play 30 button anglos but purchased a 38 button Suttner. When it finally arrived, the tone was a delight (not harsh) and the construction was top quality, but I found the button spacing somewhat challenging. It may very well boil down to a "what are you used to" issue, but I would suggest that if your hands are large or you have big fingers, then you might want to pass the 38 button concertinas by. Many excellent players, Noel Hill included, do not find the need for more than 30 buttons, so you may not either. I too had past RSI issues but subsequently found out that my condition was more a result of excessive time on the PC keyboard and bad office ergonomics -- and not the concertina. So hopefully this will not be a serious issue for you. Since you live in Ireland I would hope you might have access to lots of different instruments. If so, try to get a chance with as many different instruments as possible. You might find, as I did, that there are instruments that really fit you much better than others. My experience is that Wheatstones are easier for people with small hands to negotiate while the Jeffries, Crabbs, and Kensingtons suit those with larger hands. The Carrolls are patterned after an early Wheatstone Linota, so they will be like the Wheatstones in favoring smaller handed players but Wally Carroll can make adjustments to give you more room if you need it. Then too, button height can be a comfort issue for some. So if you can hold off on placing an order until you get some playing time with varied instruments, you may save yourself some grief down the road. Good luck with your concertina hunting. Ross Schlabach
  7. Good morning Sidesqueeze, Like you, I have large hands (don't read that as long fingers -- just hefty ones with large palms). I find Wheatstones rather difficult to negotiate -- especially the inside row. Lachenals are normally less troublesome. I find the 28 and 30 button Jeffries ideal and ditto for the early Crabbs. 38 button instruments get a bit too crowded regardless of the brand. The length and height of the palmrest may help alleviate hand problems. Shorter (in height) palmrests make reaching the inside row more difficult while taller palmrests work better. That was part of Dipper's solution for me as well as moving the buttons a bit further out. The Dipper palmrest is about 1 inch tall while the old Crabb and Jeffries palmrests are barely more than 1/2 inch tall -- and relatively short in length. If the palmrest is too short in length, your hand will be very uncomfortably pinched and your access to the lower buttons on each side will be restricted. So for the short-term, my recommendations to you would be to look for a Lachenal or a Crabb (or Jeffries if pocketbook & circumstances suit). While some may consider this sacrilege, even these instruments may fit you better if you replace their palmrests with ones made to fit you (longer & taller). If you do, keep the original ones so that they can be restored to the instrument whenever necessary. Unfortunately, moving the palmrest back away from the buttons to give you more room to access the inside row, can throw the instrument out of balance -- causing the ends and bellows to tip as you draw and press rather than remaining parallel as you play the instrument. Longer-term, the custom builders (Suttner, Dipper, and Carroll for sure cause I have experience with each) are willing to adjust their instruments to suit you. Usually this limited to adjustments to the palmrest but as I mentioned earlier, Dipper even moved the button layout out to keep the ends in balance. I sent Dipper a tracing of my hands, and the instrument he sent me fit perfectly with no adjustments required -- even the strap was perfect. Unfortunately there's that interminable wait no matter which builder you choose. One pleasant exception may be Dana Johnson's Kensington Concertinas. His wait is not near as long and his palmrest is taller and unique in shape and may fit you well. He shares the trait of large hands himself and so is sensitive to the issue. I highly recommend him. Best of luck, and fire away with any additional questions. Ross Schlabach
  8. DavidFR "It looks beautiful. I second the vote for G/D though, I don't know if it's because the reeds are necessarily bigger or it's just difficult to tool up for it, but a fair number of the concertina-reeded makers don't offer G/D models. Juergen Suttner, for instance, does offer G/D tuning on his 30-button Jeffries copy, but not the 38-button or the Wheatstone Linota. I wonder why that is? If I had money for a new concertina right now and Jeff offered one in G/D, I'd be there. In particular because he doesn't have a long waiting list.................yet. It could very well turn out like Dana Johnson, who apparently was flooded after posting his ads here." David, I'd venture that a G/D is not offered in the Linota version because of problems coming up with adequate chamber sizes in the radial pattern used by Wheatstone on its Linotas. I'll also opine that new manufacturers start out with what they know and know should sell (C/G). Without a lot of old G/D models to copy, any new manufacturer who wants to get into G/D manufacturing has to experiment with chamber and reed sizes and any number of other challenges before they figure out just what works. They may even have to go bigger with the whole instrument to make everything work and that means a whole new set of patterns, jigs and the like. I was very lucky to have Wally Carroll take on the challenge of a Bb/F for me and the results were satisfactory way beyond our wildest imaginations -- but that stuck with the same overall size for the instrument. Ross Schlabach
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. "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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. This concertina is now sold, and I will be sending a contribution to Paul. Thanks, Ross
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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