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Geoff Wooff

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About Geoff Wooff

  • Birthday 04/24/1950

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    playing music on English concertina, uilleann pipes and hurdy gurdy (among others). Making instruments, keeping healthy in my old age, chatting with friends. Now learning to play MacCann Duet.Latest project is Learning the Hayden Duet.
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  1. You have been very lucky Jim, to have played so many years on an old concertina without having to replace a spring!! I just love it when a spring breaks or a pad comes loose in the middle of a session or a gig, to be expected, of course when using old machinery. Having to replace a spring under less than ideal lighting conditions and without those extra powerful close focus spectacles ! It is a fiddly job better done in comfort at home so , having been caught out once or twice I prefer to carry a spare concertina. While you have the lid off you might want to check the condition of the other springs, though metal fatigue is not too easy to spot, and look for loose pads that are just waiting for an opportunity to add an unwanted drone to your performance. Finding both parts of the broken spring and adjusting the new spring to the playing pressure you like goes without saying BUT with an old Jeffries I would examine carefully the lever pivot holes which can become quite worn after 100 + years of use.
  2. I recall when I went back to the Mac Cann after a year on the Hayden I could not play it. Though all the time I had continued to play the English. Perhaps it was a case of these duets being too similar. I've never seriously tried an Anglo but I am happy playing the Chromatic Button Accordéon and the English.
  3. If you do not have the album of whaling songs recorded by A.L. Lloyd in the 1960's I highly recommend finding a copy ... at least because of the wonderfull concertina playing of Alf Edwards. Topic Records. TSCD 497
  4. Having looked at the Button Box site I see at least two concertinas suitable for your needs " as fast as a Model 22 but quieter" The 48k Rosewood ended New Model and the Wheatstone model 8 should fit the bill. I had a very good New Model as my quieter rocket speed machine which lived in the double case along side my Model 22 and it was just as fast but with a very special tone that comes with the New Model design. The Model 8 will have the same gentler tone and good action I am sure as my current wooden Aeola version of the model 8 . And then the 'Brass' reeded , metal ended TT. This looks like a 'Tropicalized' model where a special alloy was used for the reeds to prevent corrosion in difficult climates. There is no reason why this will be any slower as the reeds will be of the finest quality.
  5. In theory this is the right way but with Irish trad music, where one has imprinted hundreds of tunes into the memory along with a specific style of ornamentation I find it difficult, on the fly, to transpose tunes from G to F or D to C. This means the fingering becomes reversed or 'mirror imaged'.... one would need to learn many of the tunes again. I did this on one of the 'Tune of the Month' series, the recording is on my Soundcloud page, where I play a tune in seven different keys during one 2 minute take ( Parson's Farewell STE007). But the tune was fairly simple. To play everything in an Irish session one tone lower would be akin to transposing a Bach Bourrée on the fly, yes it could be done with practice.
  6. Yes the middle rows would play the scale of Bb, a whole tone lower than normal. So you'd hit what would normally be a B and an A would sound. Re reading your question Seanc, I realize that I was less than clear. I think the Bb tuned EC will have the C scale in Bb , so, all the C buttons will give the note Bb. The complete keyboard will give notes one whole tone lower than normal.
  7. I noticed recently that Barleycorn Concertinas are advertising a Treble English in Bb and saying Bb tuned EC's are not so uncommon because Salvation Army concertina players often used then to ease playing with their Brass bands. How true this is I do not know because it is not so hellish difficult to play the EC in the Flat keys. Brass band sheet music might of course be written in C when the brass instrument will produce Bb when reading the score. So the sight reading Salvationist does not have to transpose in their head when handed a Brass band score. This got me thinking about a wee problem that crops up from time to time. I have two major situations for playing the EC with other musicians, one is in Irish traditional sessions and the other with the local 'Bal Trad' band here in France. So, for Irish sessions the keys of G and D and related minors and a normally tuned Treble English is my usual instrument BUT now and again a 'Flat' session is encountered. When a flat session is in C I can transpose G and D to C and F but it is not always easy to remember the fingering even when I can shift position to make the finger patterns similar, flattening Sharps and sharpening Flats. The Anglo players just reach for their Bb/F instrument. If, however I was to utilise an EC tuned a whole tone lower I could enjoy a C session without further difficulties. With the Bal Trad band where most of the tunes are in C, some in G , and the related minors, I have often felt I'd be happier if the band played in D rather than C. Ok people usually feel that C is the easiest key on the English but it can get tiring when playing for hours in a dance band just using the two central rows. D and A spread the load more naturally over three fingers. So, with a Bb tuned EC I could play the C and G tunes in D and A. Just how common are these Bb tuned EC's I wonder?
  8. Many ( probably most ) of the vintage concertinas in use today have been re-tuned from one of the old pitch standards. In the UK and USA the pre WW2 pitch was A 452hz. that is the best part of half a semitone higher than today's A440hz. In continental Europe pre war pitches vary but A435hz. was common, about a quarter semitone flater than A440hz. So, are we all just used to playing or listening to concertinas with compromised reeds ? Perhaps the suggestions not to re-tune were more to safeguard the detail of original temperaments or to preserve old reeds from mishandling ? My oldest concertina has certainly been re-tuned, perhaps several times, but its superb reeds continue to sing beautifully.
  9. As far as I recall it was an EC and played by Alf Edwards , no less!
  10. As the Button Box is one of the best known sources of concertinas in the USA they could easily see a run on their stock and as Doug ( the owner) is looking to sell the business and retire perhaps he does not want to hold too many instruments. But as you say, maybe over the last year or so, people are staying around home and taking the opportunity to learn a new instrument . Perhaps Barleycorn Concertinas in the UK will be better informed on market trends.
  11. That is still far too much money. The Button Box have a nice model 8 , fully restored for a $1000 cheaper and comes with a garantee! Good hunting.
  12. Some would say there is usually no comparison between a 1963 Wheatstone and its 1927 cousin. Of course exceptions do exist but in a blind test my money would always be on the 1927. If you had to pay $2500 to buy the 1963 model and spend money on a full restoration your equity is sure to be negative. I have just spent €800 on a new bellows, including postage, but it is for a 1929 Aeola which is playing-in very nicely now. I was a little concerned about spending so much on a bellows for a concertina that was unplayable but faith is proving itself.
  13. Interesting song writing . Does anyone have a 'musical joke' ? One where the actual music is played to create laughter , either at the music or the performer .
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