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Second concertina - quandary


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After twelve and a half years I've taken the plunge and acquired my second concertina, another Maccann duet.

 

It's a bit bigger, it's a bit louder, it's a bit better generally, but above all it's . . . different.

 

I want to get good on it a quickly as possible, so then I can sell the old one. But it's going to be quite a learning curve. There are some extra notes, while one or two of the same notes are in different places. But more than that, playing it is just . . . different. The weight, the feel, the response, the position of the buttons relative to the handrests. In short, I'm all at sea again, just like I was 12 years ago.

 

If I concentrate on the new one, I guess I will lose my touch on the old one, so there will be a gap of some months (or more???) when I won't be able to play in public. Or I could try to keep the old one going too, in which case my progress on the new one will be that much slower.

 

What experience do c.netters have of this?

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You have to make the decision to go with the instrument you long term want to play. You cannot mix and match. The other solution could be I suppose is to get a repairer to rearrange the notes so you have a duplicate of what you already know, but if you just take it slowly and work hard you will sort it all out quicker than you expect.

Just go for it.Learn those tunes one by one to build up your reportoire again and you will be playing within a month.

Al

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I think you'll find, once you've practised a bit, that you'll be able to swap between them pretty readily. After all, I can swap between my Morse (Wheatstone layout) 30 button G/D and my Jeffries 38 button G/D without many problems and they are very different beasts.

 

Chris

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Well, thanks for the reassurance. At the moment I feel like I've been driving a Morris Minor for twelve years, and now I've got a cross between a Ferrari and a Sherman tank. I can't imagine being safe on the road for a while. But it's already starting to get better.

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but above all it's . . . different.

 

...

 

What experience do c.netters have of this?

 

I play a Crane and was in a similar position nearly a year ago. I was in the market for a smaller instrument and was offered a beautiful Wheatstone that was just what I was looking for. It was a beautiful, no excuses instrument.

 

I couldn't get past that it was so different. I sent it back.

 

Along the same lines, a few years ago I heard an interview with Earl Scruggs on NPR. He said he is still playing the same instrument he was playing in 1948. They asked him if he had not seen any better banjos in that period. He said sure, but when his fingers reach for a note he knows exactly what is going to happen. Yep.

Edited by Kurt Braun
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After twelve and a half years I've taken the plunge and acquired my second concertina, another Maccann duet.

 

It's a bit bigger, it's a bit louder, it's a bit better generally, but above all it's . . . different.

 

I want to get good on it a quickly as possible, so then I can sell the old one. But it's going to be quite a learning curve. There are some extra notes, while one or two of the same notes are in different places. But more than that, playing it is just . . . different. The weight, the feel, the response, the position of the buttons relative to the handrests. In short, I'm all at sea again, just like I was 12 years ago.

 

If I concentrate on the new one, I guess I will lose my touch on the old one, so there will be a gap of some months (or more???) when I won't be able to play in public. Or I could try to keep the old one going too, in which case my progress on the new one will be that much slower.

 

What experience do c.netters have of this?

 

I'd be surprised if you haven't already discovered by now that transferring from one Maccan to another is no major trauma; I've owned nearly all the standard sizes at one time or another by now and never had a problem; the core of the layout stays the same so it's the bottom of the keyboards where the new extra notes are (or aren't!) that may take a little thought. Most music from the smaller instrument will transfer straight over, then you learn new stuff that uses the extra range. The odd wandering Eb can cause a little irritation, but that's about it I reckon.

 

So what's the new one then?

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Well, Dirge, the old (1898 Lachenal) one went down to 'tenor C', while the new (1914 Wheatstone) one goes down to 'baritone G'. You're right that everything I played on the old one I can also play on the new one, except for the lowest left-hand E-flat which is now where it should be, below the D, whereas it used to be next to it. Also, right at the top of the right-hand end one or two notes are in different positions, but I don't very often go up there. Yet.

 

The main problem is the extra bass row puts the buttons into different positions relative to the hand bar. My old machine had very short non-adjustable straps which I never got round to doing anything about, I just managed (I've got quite large hands), whereas on the new one I've been able to adjust them how I think I want them (I'm still experimenting). What I thought would happen is happening - as I get familiar with the new one I can't transfer back to the old one without a few minutes of practice first. So while I'm trying to use the new one at our weekly session, where I can get lost in the mix, I still need to use the old one for more public performances such as the folk club. Hopefully this pantomime-horse arrangement won't last too much longer.

 

Another difference I notice is that the buttons on the new one are either smoother or more rounded than the Lachenal, so my fingers feel as though they're slipping off.

 

Do I sound like I'm complaining? I assure you I'm not, I'm going to love this thing like I loved the other one. I definitely won't be 'sending it back'.

 

Edited to add: Another thing slowing me down is, whereas before I often had to compromise on my left hand chords, e.g playing B minor or B-flat major in an unwanted inversion or else too high up, I am now trying to put in the lower root-position versions which I couldn't play before. So even the tunes I could play I am now struggling with.

Edited by maccannic
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You could have a look at the rests too; a surprising amount of the duets I've owned have wonky handbars on them, not at right angles to the button columns and certainly not parallel to each other. (I'm the opposite to you, I'm forever trading up instruments, or down, or whatever) I presume this is owners setting their own preferred positions, but I've just traded instruments too and the 'new' edeophone (which I will do a post about soon) must have 20 degrees difference in angle between the 2 and that frankly baffles me. Anyway it needs spotting and correcting for players not seriously lopsided.

 

The one I traded in was a 67, low note G. I had the G sharp replaced with a bottom F; I'd recommend that; you don't miss the A flat nearly as much as you use the low F. I got the idea from Brian Hayden, who in turn said this was how Reuben Shaw had his 67 set up, so there's a good precedent!

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