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Gill B

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Posts posted by Gill B

  1. Thanks for your reply Paul.  I had come to the conclusion that it was a much later instrument than Jones' original prototypes.

    It is a fun box to play and the position of the extra buttons is excellent and not at all confusing. I have it tuned in Just Intonation for playing with Northumbrian pipes.

  2. I have recently re-read the George Jones memoir in which he   states :
    "The German concertina having one semitone only [F# on the G row], I made one with 22 keys for my own use and later made one with 26 keys full chromatic scale......''.


    Is it known what happened to the 22-key instrument?

    I have an early metal-ended Jones which was sold to me over 10 years ago by Chris Algar as a 26 button Anglo with an unusual lay out.
    This would, however, fit the description of the 22-key concertina, if the bird calls, drone and air buttons are not included.
    Could this be a second 22 key instrument, or even the original?
    It has no date, makers mark or serial number, but has typical Jones ends.
    I have looked at the reeds on the right hand side only and the ones that can be read  are all stamped with the correct note for the key of C. The extra button has a C sharp and D sharp reed.

    I'd be grateful for any information.  Gill



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  3. There has been another post recently about neck straps for concertinas. and although the ideas given are great for an english, thay don't work quite as well for an anglo.


    When I used to play standing up, I found that it worked best if one end (the left) wasn't restricted by a strap. So I used webbing about 5/8" and two sets of plasic push-fit buckles to set up a system which went around one end of the concetina, then up and around the neck and shoulder and back down to attach behind the hand strap to the strap screw. A short stub of webbing with one half of a buckle was left permanently attached to the concertina. The rest of the strap could be attached and ready for use in a few seconds.


    This system meant that one end of the concertina could be held still at about hip level, without any restricion of the bellows.


  4. Charles Staff's period of insolvency was fairly short lived.

    The Argus, Melbourne reported on 15th November 1864.



    MONDAY, NOV. 14.

    Certificates of discharge were granted to the following insolvents:-Charles Staff, paper flower-maker, of Melbourne ......etc


    He advertised fairly regularly in The Argus. Melbourne, all the ones that I have found fit a 3-line box format. Here are a selection:


    24th June 1876

    ANGLO GERMAN CONCERTINAS, steel notes, any

    key, three, four, five, and six guineas. Staff,

    Royal Archade.

    A FACT.- I have the best Assortment of CONCER-

    TINAS in the colonies. Charles Staff, Royal



    Advert 2nd April 1877 The Argus, Melbourne:


    Lachenal, London,35s each, Guaranteed.

    Charles Staff, Royal Arcade.


    17th August 1878

    CONCERTINAS,Violins,Accordians, Flutes, Ban-

    joes, Flutinas,&c., reduced prices; largest stock

    in Melbourne. Charles Staff, Royal Arcade.


    16th July 1881

    THEODOLITE for SALE, by Holstlopenhagen, in

    perfect order. Apply Charles Staff's concertina

    warehouse, Royal Archade.




    notes; written guarantee; the best ever made.

    Charles Staff, Royal Arcade.


    From reports and letters in The Argus, Melbourne it seems that he was heavily involved in local politics.

  5. I have been browsing the Ancestry website, where there is a wealth of photos and information concerning concertinas.


    "Charles Staff, concertina maker, 6 Royal Arcade,Melbourne", was probably Charles Staff born in Norwich Norfolk. on 16th October 1823; he may have died 29th June 1888 in Coburg, Victoria Australia


    In the 1861 census he is shown living in Liverpool with his wife Esther from Knetishall, Suffolk and four children.

    They seem to have moved around the country as their son Edward aged 12 was born in Salisbury Wiltshire, daughter Isabel aged 10 born Wigan Lancs, son Charles aged 8 born Ipswich Suffolk and daughter Esther aged 5 born Liverpool.

    Charles is described as an accordion maker.


    Perhaps someone from Australia would be able to research his life on the Australian genealogy web sites.


  6. Is anyone aware of any research that has been carried out on the wear patterns of old anglo concertinas?

    It could give an insight into how the instruments were played.

    I've just seen a Jones 20 button C/G from about 1870s which seems to have been played mostly in G, mostly with the left hand, and also with patches of wear possibly from the little fingers. Interesting!


  7. Hi,

    Your best source for these tunes is probably pipe tune books.

    One excellent one with mostly tunes in Dorian A is: "The Wild Hills o'Wannies (and other tunes in A and E minor

    arranged as duets and trios for Northumbrian Smallpipes and other instruments)" Derek Hobbs 1999

    Rossleigh Music

    Rossleigh House

    Windsor Terrace



    NE64 6UJ


    Another wonderful book with tunes in a variety of modes is "Three Extraordinary Collections -

    Early 18th Century Dance Music for Those That Play Publick"

    Compiled and Edited by Pete Stewart (www.hornpipemusic.co.uk)

    Contact me if you have any problems finding them


  8. [quote name='david fabre' date='Jan 1 2009, 05:41 AM' post='86411'As I understand your meantone box has a shift between the C and G row. I'm surprised because it seems to

    contradict the idea of this tuning, which is to allow some amount of modulation within an adjusted 12-note scale

    while retaining "good intervals" (especially thirds) Can you comment on this point ?

    I also understand that you find minor chords better than major with this tuning. Do you see some reason ?]



    Sorry, I didn't explain clearly.

    With 1/4 comma meantone the fifths are, infact, approx 6 cents flat of their true value, and this makes the major chords sound out of tune to my ear.

    When I analysed the tuning of my Lachenal C/G concertina, I thought that there might have been an attempt by the original tuner to compensate for this by (generally) shifting the pitch of the G row up by 6 cents. (If you are interested, I can send you the original readings and the values used for the retune.) This gives much better sounding major chords if played across the rows. In practice this also gives a very slight pitch shift when modulating.


    [quoteAs for "just tuning", one point I'm wondering is the following.

    Just tuning on the C row implies D a perfect second above C (frequency ratio 9/8) and an A a perfect major

    sixth above C (frequency ratio 5/3). These D and A do not make a perfect fifth but a "wholf". Thus with a box

    in this kind playing in D minor along the C row (which a do a lot) would sound awful. Is you box tuned this way ?]


    Yes this is how my box is tuned and no tuning system is perfect. It plays best only in the main major key (sharp Bb), but is acceptable in F when playing with pipes. With modal minors the wholf tones have to be played in passing.

    Frequent use of the drone button seems to keep the ear more comfortable with "interesting" note combinations.

    Regards, Gill

    NB Sorry I can't get the hang of quotation boxes!

  9. I'm sorry, but I can't agree with that explanation. There are very few musical contexts I can think of where a major or minor chord on the same root are both appropriate. I don't know "sliabh Russel" (mentioned above), but it sounds like the same may be true of "O'Keefe's Slide." Also, a few modal "banjo tunes" like the first chord in the B section of "Cold Frosty Morning." But by and large, the shape of the tune will dictate which chords to choose from, and while D and B minor might be interchangeable in a given context, D and D minor rarely are.


    But there are many modal minor tunes in the English tradition where a minor chord will sound wrong unless it is in "Just" tuning.

    PLEASE try playing either "Bonny at Morn" or "Scarborough Fair" with even-tempered minor chords, and then try it again without the thirds!


  10. I personally like the "chord" without the major or minor third in most cases for ITM because it allows the listener to decide whether they feel Major or Minor at the time. The ambiguity is what I like. It also allows a guitar or piano accompanist to make those decisions on the fly and vary their choices each time the part is repeated. It is true that in equal temperament thirds are rough, but not too rough to be useable if you want them. The "modal" music carries with it the seeds of both major and minor, and I'd rather not spoil that.


    I absolutely agree with you.

    A lot of traditional tunes have there roots in pipe or hurdy-gurdy music, where they were played against a two-note drone.

    It is interesting to compare the chords used by a good guitarist for a tune in a minor mode, with those used by a two-note concertina "chords". The guitar in standard tuning might have to change chord more than once in every bar because it has to define whether each chord is major/minor/etc, whereas a concertina might only change once or twice in each part and leave the tune undefined. I personally do no not like guitars with traditional dance tunes for this reason.


    Regards, Gill

  11. David Fabre Quote"other players playing instruments with different tones and different temperaments"


    After decades of playing tunes on the anglo by ear, but hating the sound of chords, I am now learning some of the theory (on a need-to-know basis) and experimenting with tunings. In the last year Dave Elliott has been very patient and tuned my even-tempered G/D anglo which I use for sessions; restored an old Jones 22+ button anglo and tuned it to Northumbrian pipe pitch in "just" intonation so that all notes are in tune with the drone; and also restored a 30 button Lachenal to a modified meantone tuning.

    I still don't like the tuning of the even-tempered G/D. It is very unforgiving, the thirds sound very out of tune to me and chords only sound ok in fast tunes. However there isn't any practical alternative in a mixed session. The only thing that sounds good IMO is piano music!


    The meantone box is interesting. The meantone system seems to be a clever mathematical concept which sounds fine for minor chords although the fifths are flat, and chords still sound out of tune to me. When I bought the Lachenal C/G it didn't seem to have ever been retuned and the G row was generally 6cents higher than the C row; so it was retuned as close to the original as possible. This means that very good chords can be played by careful choice of the chord shape used.


    My favourite tuning however, is the old Jones in "Just Intonation". It is now in a sharp Bb with all notes in tune with the drone.

    It is not responsive enough for fast jigs and reels, but has a beautiful tone for songs and old standards (like "buttons & bows" and "Home on the range".); and of course is perfect for any hurdy-gurdy or pipe tune - with or without the drone.


    I got a very interesting book a few weeks ago by Ross W. Duffin entitled "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)" . It may have only recently been published in England and makes very informative reading. Only £10 for the paperback.


    Regards, Gill

  12. "in general, major thirds much sweeter in meantone, perfect fifths a little more active in meantone since narrower"



    Meantone tuning is much easier on the ear than even temperament, but the fifths can sound out of tune, especially in chords..

    On a C/G anglo if the G row is (generally with a few exceptions) pitched 6 cents higher than the C row it should be possible to have both 3rds an 5ths in tune. This would need a careful choice of which note to use in any situation, and possible change of chord shapes. It probably wouldn't be suitable for Irish-style playing, would suit some English-styles very well indeed.

    Regards, Gill

  13. Better to have one key in tune than none!

    If you were only doing a 20 button, would Just intonation be feasible?

    I have had an old Jones 24 button anglo tuned in "just" intonation with all notes in tune with it's drone.

    It is beautifully mellow and sounds great on its own or with Northumbrian pipes. It would also be perfect for

    accompanying songs.


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