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Yet another small concertina


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Just finished a small ( 5 inch ) concertina for my 8 year old daughter. It uses the same reeds as it's big brother though there simply wasn't room for a full set. The layout is standard Jeffries, but lacks the lowest button in each of the left hand rows, the first button in the right hand accidental row and the highest buttons in each of the right hand rows. except for the loss of the low C, E and F, and the highest F/F# button of the G row ( my configuration ) she isn't missing any notes, though there are a few missing duplicates like the Right hand C# High press A / draw D button. Actually very little loss for giving up 7 buttons. I designed it to be able to play in Noel Hill's cross row style, and there really isn't anything she won't be able to do on it except for a few low notes mostly used for accompaniment / chords, and a small amount of octave playing. It is much more capable than a 20 button.

I was delighted to find it a mighty little instrument with truly excellent tone and it's tone is different than the larger instruments I make with the same reeds, so something about the instrument itself is affecting that. The chamber sizes are essentially the same as on the larger instrument since they are keyed to the reed frame length. The only difference I made was keeping the depth of the chambers the same for both left and right pans at 1/4inch. since there weren't any of the really low reeds. I can't describe the sound except to say very traditional. it doesn't have quite the depth of the fundamentals of my regular instrument, but is clean, and quite as powerful should she wish to stand out in a session.

It is done in Brazilian rosewood ( pre ban from an old guitar back blank that was scrapped because it had a few worm holes in it ) and a rosewood colored dymond wood hand rest the same as I use on the big instruments. The bellows is covered in "burgundy" vegetable tanned goat, though I don't think I'd drink any burgundy that color :) It has gold plated buttons left over from a previous project. That thrilled her 8 year old heart to have real gold on her instrument. It is 80% of full size , 5 inches across the flats with a scaled down button layout to fit my daughter's small hands. Right now it is just a little big , but she can reach all the buttons with no problem. My wife can still play it, though it is way too small for me ( DARN!) I'm afraid all my enjoyment of it will have to be vicarious. Eventually my daughter can transition to a full size instrument, or perhaps I'll make her a 30 button similar to Wally Carroll's small model. (That is as long as she doesn't take up electric bass or something similar.)

There is a set of pictures of the instrument both assembled and in progress at 5 inch Concertina if you are interested.

Dana

Edited by Dana Johnson
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Eventually my daughter can transition to a full size instrument, or perhaps I'll make her a 30 button similar to Wally Carroll's small model. (That is as long as she doesn't take up electric bass or something similar.)

What makes you think she'll necessarily give up the concertina when (if?) she takes up the bass? I have more than one friend who breaks with such stereotypes. One plays fiddle, uilleann pipes, piano, and electric bass. Another is an accomplished shanty singer, songwriter, and jazz trumpeter. The list could go on, but I'll stop there.

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Eventually my daughter can transition to a full size instrument, or perhaps I'll make her a 30 button similar to Wally Carroll's small model. (That is as long as she doesn't take up electric bass or something similar.)

What makes you think she'll necessarily give up the concertina when (if?) she takes up the bass? I have more than one friend who breaks with such stereotypes. One plays fiddle, uilleann pipes, piano, and electric bass. Another is an accomplished shanty singer, songwriter, and jazz trumpeter. The list could go on, but I'll stop there.

My primary concern is that she is awake to the world of music and sees it as something she can make for herself and not merely be a consumer of someone else's. I love and have played a lot of other instruments as well as concertina even though it has become my mainstay, but it is only a vehicle (hopefully) for the expression of the spirit of the music and your own. I don't need her to follow in my footsteps, this just seems like a good starting point.

Dana

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It looks very nice, I like that you included three rows in a 5" box.

My plan was to make her an instrument that she could easily transition from with as much capability as possible. Leaving off the lowest and highest notes gave her much more flexibility than a 20 button would have, especially when playing across the rows. It also meant being able to use the same reeds I use in my larger instruments and still be able to fit them in. ( barely )

Dana

Edited by Dana Johnson
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