I know the problem. I was given an old disposable German 20 button Anglo of uncertain age. When the buttons started falling off I bought a 20 button Stagi from a music shop that was getting out of selling concertinas. This leaked air and as a result was a somewhat difficult starter instrument (yes yes a bad workman and all that). It had a lovely soft sound though. Getting nowhere with a concertina instruction book and there not being a great number of concertina players in Vancouver (BC that is)to provide succor and encouragement I decided to enroll in the Noel Hill Concertina Boot Camp (NHICS)in Oregon. It was recommended that I equip myself with a 30 button C/G. So I did the research. Concertinas come in 3 price ranges: Around $500, Around $2000 and then $4000 up. I have a propensity to start things and not follow up so I opted for a $400 Rochelle from Concertina Connection. I took it along to the workshop and suffered through Noel's kindly disparagement of my new axe and saw that most participants had at least 2 or 3 high end Wheatstones and Jefferies with the a significant following of Wally Carroll's Wheatstone replicas ($5000+) and at that time a two year waiting list)along with Frank Edgeley's highly regarded instruments, or the Wakker not to forget those from the many other British and German makers.
The NHICS is not to everyone's taste apparently but I can only say that my own experience convinced me that although I would probably never reach expert status that here was an instrument and a repertoire that I was already partially familiar with and really enjoyed playing. I thoroughly recommend the experience; especially in Oregon. It was a life changing experience. For the positive that is. After this I gave myself a year of the Rochelle and if by the end of that time I was still playing I would get a better instrument. Noel has as he sees it a water tight argument for buying a $5000 instrument. The argument centers around the purchase of a new car which loses 20% of its value as you drive it off the lot which a good concertina doesn't when you take it off a concertina lot. Or something like that. Why bother buying a $2000 instrument which you will outgrow and eventually sell. Not having the same faith in my own capabilities and staying power I opted for a c.$2000 Clover from Concertina Connection. It was not an entirely trouble free early partnership but Mr C and I are engaged in a regular bout of acutely hard brain exercise and muscular coordination. It is mostly nonviolent and occasionally wonderfully rewarding - and may stave off Altsheimer's.
The thing is although the Clover plays easily and is an instrument I would recommend, Noel was right. I am now looking for the next step because I am not getting the sound of the concertina reeds that I would like to hear when i play.
But $5000 is $5000 and I am glad I made the decision to buy the Clover. Buying a Carroll or a Wakker straight off is a costly venture.
The thing is its easier to learn to play a good instrument than a cheap one.
Over to you.
And Noel, I am now reading the dots on the lines.