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Animaterra

Going bilingual again, help identify

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Hello, old friends. I'm back in concertina-land; haven't been playing the Jeffries anglo much lately asmy dear husband Hunt and I have been busy playing contra dance music on fiddle (he) and piano and (gasp) AP (me). But lately there's been a nagging wonder about whether I should revisit my first concertina interest, which was English. So I went to the Button Box, rented a Jackie, played it a bit, but the sound quality put me off, and it sits on the piano, unopened and untouched. What I really wanted, I told my husband, was a Wheatstone tenor/treble in decent condition. Two days later....

a friend was visiting from England. I told him of my wants, never suspecting that he is in fact trying to sell, er, a Wheatstone tenor/treble in decent condition... which was currently housed at a friend's house, in my own state of NH. The friend is Tom H, denizen of CNet, and I was already slated to drive the Englishman to Tom's house.

So now I've got this Wheatstone tenor/treble in decent condition, on long-term loan while I decide what to do and whether I can afford it. I'm enjoying it immensely, and as Tom suggested when I first picked it up, it isn't taking long for me to get the muscle-memory back (not that it was very strong when I left off playing).

So, I'd like to learn more about it. Tom, if you're here, feel free to chime in.

It has been completely overhauled by someone in England, my friend couldn't remember who. New bellows, but they don't close completely. No air button. Looks like new buttons, possibly new reed pan, new thumb straps... and no serial number. What do you suppose it's worth? Or is it a bit like my grandfather's axe?

 

I don't know how to post photos anymore, but here are the bellows:

Photo 27

 

The label is a paper oval and reads:

C. WHEATSTONE & CO.

INVENTORS, PATENTEES

MANUFACTURERS

15 West St., Charing X Rd

LONDON, W.C.

 

Photo 31

Edited by Animaterra

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Surely the bottom line is 'What does it play like?' Assuming it all seems to basically work well, I'd look particularly at how the reeds are when played very quietly; if they've come from different sources they might be voiced differently, and delicate playing seems to be the real test of a concertina to me. From personal experience a concertina with some reeds that don't start when you're trying to play subtly is a truly frustrating thing.

 

People make new concertinas with old reeds and repairers seem to be able to cope with almost any defect, so all the patchwork quilt stuff may not be a problem, but I would be wary too. Is it priced to allow for this?

 

Do the bellows fail to close because of lots of internal patches in the corners? Is that a sign that they're coming up for replacement soon I wonder? Does the price allow you to take a bit of a risk on this?

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Presumably your photo of the end has got reversed, as the label and button layout suggest that I'm looking at the RH side, whilst the photo seems to be of the left?

 

The ends look like they're probably those of a 48-key treble with riveted reeds, making it an instrument made after 1865 and before the close of the 19th century, though the address on the label (which could have been replaced, and often was when instruments were repaired at the factory) is post-1905.

 

The 7-fold bellows are evidently new replacements, as generally this model had only 4-fold ones.

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I'd love to hear a sound file. I'm a newbie and playing a Lachenal with brass reeds--I'd love to be able to start comparing these makers for the upgrade I'm sure will come in the future. :)

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Last Spring, I left my concertina sitting on the top of the piano, and didn't put it back in the box. My intention was to come back an finish playing it. Stuff got in the way, and it was almost two weeks before I got to playing it again. When I picked it up, the bellows were relaxed extended almost an inch and a half and wouldn't close without some effort. I've been more diligent at putting it back in it's case, and almost 6 months later, it still won't close completely, but it's getting close. It still plays good, but only neglect and no damage caused the problem. It's still tight.

 

Thanks

Leo

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...I went to the Button Box, rented a Jackie, played it a bit, but the sound quality put me off, and it sits on the piano, unopened and untouched. What I really wanted, I told my husband, was a Wheatstone tenor/treble in decent condition. Two days later....

a friend was visiting from England. I told him of my wants, never suspecting that he is in fact trying to sell, er, a Wheatstone tenor/treble in decent condition...

 

It has been completely overhauled by someone in England, my friend couldn't remember who. New bellows, but they don't close completely. No air button. Looks like new buttons, possibly new reed pan, new thumb straps... and no serial number. What do you suppose it's worth?

I think the best thing is for you and your English friend to make another visit to the Button Box, whose experts will be able to make a detailed evaluation of the instrument. If it's really a 48-button tenor-treble -- less common than a 56-button TT, but they do exist -- and it's in good playing condition, then you may have found a prize.

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. If it's really a 48-button tenor-treble -- less common than a 56-button TT, but they do exist -- and it's in good playing condition, then you may have found a prize.

 

If it is a 48 button instrument, where the lowest notes match those of a 56 button tenor-treble, would that not be designated as a tenor, ie missing out the top notes of the treble range?

 

regards

 

John

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. If it's really a 48-button tenor-treble -- less common than a 56-button TT, but they do exist -- and it's in good playing condition, then you may have found a prize.

If it is a 48 button instrument, where the lowest notes match those of a 56 button tenor-treble, would that not be designated as a tenor, ie missing out the top notes of the treble range?

Some people make that distinction, and I used to do the same, but...

  • Various old Wheatstone price lists include the 48-button under the term "tenor treble", along with the 56- and 64-button models, and don't use "tenor" by itself.
  • "Tenor-treble" also reflects the consistent nomenclature (for English concertinas) where the prefix indicates the bottom of the range -- C below middle C for "tenor", -- while the suffix "treble" indicates that in that part of the range which overlaps a standard treble, the fingering is the same as for the treble. (Thus the distinction between a "baritone-treble" and a plain "baritone"... which perhaps ought to be called "baritone-baritone", but nobody bothers. B))
  • However, the current Wheatstone web site does seem to make the distinction of calling a 48-button tenor-treble just "tenor".

So I would say that either term -- "tenor-treble" or just "tenor" -- is reasonable for a 48-button English that goes down to "viola" C. Take your pick.

 

(I know at least one person who claims that plain "tenor" should only be applied to transposing instruments, in the key of F. However, that seems to go against both past and present practice of the Wheatstsone company.)

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Thanks, everyone- I only had one person's word that it was a tenor-treble- I suspect it's just a treble, as the low notes aren't *that* low, and the fingering matches the various charts I have. I believe Ken Sweeney looked at it at some point and felt that the reason the bellows don't close is something about the construction inside; the case is wide enough to accommodate it in its "relaxed" state.

 

Stephen, I took the picture with "Photo booth" and I believe that, yes indeed, the photo is reversed! It looked normal to me, since it's what I would see in the mirror!

 

I will go down to the Button Box this week sometime and have them take a look at it.

 

Thanks for all your comments!

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Thanks, everyone- I only had one person's word that it was a tenor-treble- I suspect it's just a treble, as the low notes aren't *that* low, and the fingering matches the various charts I have.

Well, if the fingering matches the charts you have for a treble without falling off the bottom, then it must be a treble. The lowest note on a treble -- which will be in your right hand, if you haven't followed Alice into the mirror ;) -- is G below middle C, same as the lowest note on a fiddle/violin (in standard tuning). If it's a tenor-treble, the lowest note will be C an octave below middle C, same as the lowest note on your C/G anglo.

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Whilst old price lists and descriptions can be useful, in some cases they can also be confusing.

 

In the case of English 56 and 64 Key Tenor-Trebles, these include the full range of the 48 Treble.

 

The 48 Tenor does not, therefore, the inclusion of Treble in a description is misleading.

 

Crabb instruments in this lower range were always referred to as 'Tenor'

 

 

doc.gif English Explanations.doc

 

Geoff

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Whilst old price lists and descriptions can be useful, in some cases they can also be confusing.

 

In the case of English 56 and 64 Key Tenor-Trebles, these include the full range of the 48 Treble.

 

The 48 Tenor does not, therefore, the inclusion of Treble in a description is misleading.

 

Crabb instruments in this lower range were always referred to as 'Tenor'

But Wheatstone's were not. They were referred to as "tenor treble".

 

No, Geoffrey, the inclusion of "treble" is not
misleading
, not if the terminology has a reasonable basis and that basis is known.

I have described my basis (briefly in this thread; in more detail in prior threads), which is consistent with Wheatstone's (earlier) terminology -- as reflected in both price lists and ledger entries, -- though I'm not aware that they ever wrote out their own reasoning behind that terminology.

 

The Wheatstone-derived terminology that I have presented and the Crabb terminology you have presented appear to be based on different assumptions about what characteristics are important to describe. The two systems sometimes give the same result, and sometimes not. But you're the first person to tell me that "my" terminology is "misleading". And I know others with long histories of dealing with concertinas who also use the terminology I've presented.

 

Actually, I'd be happy to discuss further the pluses and minuses of the various systems of nomenclature with you and anyone else. But let's not do that here. Let's leave this thread for discussion of the instrument Allison is considering acquiring.

 

Edited to remove an unkind overreaction to Geoffrey's remarks.

Edited by JimLucas

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... the current Wheatstone web site does seem to make the distinction of calling a 48-button tenor-treble just "tenor".

 

(I know at least one person who claims that plain "tenor" should only be applied to transposing instruments, in the key of F. However, that seems to go against both past and present practice of the Wheatstsone company.)

 

In fact Steve Dickinson (so "the horse's mouth" for Wheatstone's) has described both of the above to me as "tenor" English concertinas, and I did order a 48-key amboyna-wood "tenor" off him, many years ago.

 

 

[*]Various old Wheatstone price lists include the 48-button under the term "tenor treble", along with the 56- and 64-button models, and don't use "tenor" by itself.

 

That would be true only from c.1935 onwards, since previous lists don't mention a 48-key option.

 

The New Edition of The Salvation Army Tutor for the English Concertina (1935) advertises the latter as the "New Model English Concertina", giving the English "the same compass" as the Triumph (Crane) system, and it was probably for Salvation Army purposes that it was introduced to the range, around that time.

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I take exception to a conclusion drawn from my last contribution to this thread.

 

In no way have I implied that the 'Crabb terminology -- or its basis -- is the only valid one'.

 

Also, I am quite entitled to an opinion that is based on many years of dealing with enquiries from those confused about the ranges of English concertinas.

 

All my comments, explanations etc. are made in good faith and, hopefully, to help those in need of simple answers. If, however, my contributions are not appreciated or the content publicly misinterpreted then I will now cease to contribute.

 

Geoffrey Crabb

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I take exception to a conclusion drawn from my last contribution to this thread.

That was
my
conclusion.

 

I have reviewed my post, and I conclude that my comment was "over the top". I have now edited that post to remove the offending characterization. I apologize.

All my comments, explanations etc. are made in good faith and, hopefully, to help those in need of simple answers. If, however, my contributions are not appreciated or the content publicly misinterpreted then I will now cease to contribute.

I overreacted, Geoffrey. Please don't you do the same.

 

You are one of the more valuable and valued contributors here, and I think it would be a shame if you were to now withhold your valuable contributions, in effect punishing the rest of Concertina.net's members for an offense committed by me, not by them.

 

Also, I am quite entitled to an opinion that is based on many years of dealing with enquiries from those confused about the ranges of English concertinas.

I agree. But am I not also entitled to my opinion? Though neither my years nor my number of conceertina contacts likely comes close to yours, neither are they insignificant.

 

Like yours, my explanation has also been widely successful in bringing clarity to those confused. They have not considered it "misleading", though it seems that it can lead to differences from your system.

 

All my comments, explanations etc. are made in good faith....

As are mine.
May we now bury the hatchet?

 

Edited to change one word, for greater accuracy.

Edited by JimLucas

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