Jump to content

Need Beginners Concertina Advice!


Recommended Posts

Newbie here, and I'm trying to source a concertina for a gift for my partner. She's a good piano player and sight reader, and the research I've done seems to suggest a duet concertina would be best. She'd like to play american folksy waltzes, kind of 'waltons' homespun music, but she'd also want to play french and italian tunes, country and western etc. However, it seems there is very little teaching material for duets, is that true?

 

I then found you tube videos of a chemnitzer concertina, and I think she'd love to be able to play oom pah style like that. This has confused me even more, as it doesn't seem to be an english, anglo or duet concertina - what is it?

 

So, I'd like to know if a duet is the best option. Any help gratefully received

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, as a duet player (Maccann system, obviously), I would say that if you and your partner are serious about this, then it would be an ideal choice for the types of music you mention.

 

You are correct in saying that there is not much teaching material available, but if she is musical she should mostly be able to sort it out for herself.

 

Get the best you can afford. If a Maccann, a 67-button model has a good range.

 

I believe a chemnitzer is a German beast, a bit like a large anglo, with an accordian type sound, but no doubt others will elucidate. (edited to add: often referred to as a concertina, but not by concertina players).

Edited by maccannic
Link to post
Share on other sites
(edited to add: often referred to as a concertina, but not by concertina players).

I wish you hadn't added that, Mac, because it's chauvinist nonsense.

Chemnitzers are concertinas, just as much as our own English, anglo, and duet systems. In fact, to most of those who play them, the Chemnitzer is the only "concertina". Chemnitzers are a different branch of the family, though, and differ in both size and sound from the sorts normally discussed here.

 

Mitchino, if you want to know more about them, just use the Search facility here (found at the lower right of the Forum'sdark header bar above) to look for the word "Chemnitzer". You may need to do some winnowing, but they have been discussed more than once.

 

And at least one of our members, Theodore Kloba, is an authority on Chemnitzers, but he doesn't necessarily log on every day.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a chemnitzer Is probably too bulky for what she's after actually.

 

I think an Anglo is a definite no-no for her, but I'm still a bit confused as to whether a duet or an English would suit. As I understand it the difference between an English and a Duet is that on the English the notes alternate from hand to hand going up the chromatic scale, and on a Duet all the low notes are on the left and the high notes are on the right, like on a piano?

 

As duets are so hard to come by, do you think an English would be ok? At the end of the day, do they sound any different? Or is the only difference the way that they are played?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As duets are so hard to come by, do you think an English would be ok? At the end of the day, do they sound any different? Or is the only difference the way that they are played?

 

They aren't particularly hard to come by. In fact, you get more for your money than any other system. They are less popular partly because of a the general belief that they are harder to master than the English or Anglo systems. They both (English and Duet) are based on the same reeds and actions so they don't particularly sound different. You would have more chance of finding a teacher for an English.

 

If you think a duet would suit your wife, you will certainly get a better instrument for your money. Call Chris Algar (Barleycorn Concertinas) to get a better feel for it. He'll be happy to guide you through the options.

Link to post
Share on other sites
As duets are so hard to come by, do you think an English would be ok? At the end of the day, do they sound any different? Or is the only difference the way that they are played?
They both (English and Duet) are based on the same reeds and actions so they don't particularly sound different.

What sounds "different" between the different types of concertina is the different types of arrangements that commonly are or can be played on each.

 

My own recommendation is that while you should learn as much as possible yourself, you should present her with an IOU for the gift and then let her be actively involved in choosing the instrument.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right, from what you say it has to be a duet, and if you're doing it properly not a small one. (They're just frustrating). You now have to work out which of the 4 systems is best; this is Anglo/English/duet all over again. Now it's Hayden/Jeffries/Maccan/Crane. Time for more reading in the back issues of the forum...

 

They're right it's a huge amount of money to invest so perhaps you do best to set up a joint trip to Chris Algar (Barleycorn; in the links) in the new year and make a 'presentation certificate' up to be the actual Christmas present. Chris is hugely knowledgeable, very helpful and has an impeccable reputation for square dealing in the concertina world. He's not the cheapest but it's a safe first step. I'd certainly have a talk to him soon anyway, you'll learn a lot, even if you then go for the private market. This scares a lot of people but I don't think it need do.

 

You'll be doing well to make a well-thought through decision by Xmas anyway, unless Chris sells you something straight off.

 

I learnt piano when I was young; I bought a duet 5 years ago and have never looked back; I love it. Any other system would have been a dissappointment; I'm now playing piano music on it...it will need application to master the thing, though, like anything worthwhile.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I may just order an Elise from concertina connection, so I can surprise her. If she gets on with that and gets really into it, then we can look at investing in a high quality instrument.

 

The problem there is that very few high quality Hayden duet concertinas have ever been made, though some makers are thinking about it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You do not say which side of the ocean you are on? USA? I might also forward to not be shy about contacting the "repair guys"--here in the US that should include Greg Jowaisas. I recently traded up my Lachenal tutor for a better quality "new" old Lachenal. Greg has quite the trove of treasures stashed--from beginners instruments to lovely Wheatstones. And the best part is I think we all REALLY TRUST HIM. So, even if he doesn't have exactly what you want at the moment, I wouldn't hesitate to tap into his knowledge and expertise to keep an eye out for it. I did buy my Tutor private thru C.net. Now, looking back, I sort of wonder if I was just plain lucky--there is so much possiblity for bad things to happen buying across the states or international; especially for a beginner. Now, I'd just call Greg. He is very sensitive about fees and is very reasonable with his dealings. Michelle

 

PS Greg did just have a McCann (??)listed here for around $850, I was sorely tempted myself

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well I may just order an Elise from concertina connection, so I can surprise her. If she gets on with that and gets really into it, then we can look at investing in a high quality instrument.

 

The problem there is that very few high quality Hayden duet concertinas have ever been made, though some makers are thinking about it.

 

Yes, that's the problem with going the Hayden route, as I learned myself. An Elise is a good instrument for trying out duet concertina and it's exceptionally well made for its price, as are the other Concertina Connection student concertinas. But it has its limitations. The most bothersome one for me was that its highest note is a high A (just under two octaves above middle C), and the fact that it has no G#/Ab or D#/Eb was problematic too. I worked around this by changing keys and switching octaves on tunes that needed those notes. but it was a fair amount of extra work - and when I wanted to move up to something with a more complete keyboard I ran into the problem that Theo describes. I thought about getting a Stagi Hayden, but they cost almost $1000 and Stagis are not especially well made. And the next step up is $4750 for a Tedrow or $5875 for a Wakker. There's a possibility of a Concertina Connection mid-priced Hayden down the road at some point, but it's not definite and date and price have not been set, and I didn't want to wait and take a chance.

 

So in the end I decided to try to switch systems and learn to play Crane duet instead, since it's possible to get a nice restored 48-button vintage Crane for around $1500. The transition is going pretty well, but it definitely would have been easier if I had started on Crane, perhaps on a restored 35-button one which has an even smaller range than an Elise (only up to high G) but has a clearer path for moving up to a less limited instrument.

 

I don't know enough about Maccanns to say much about that option. They seem to be even more affordable than Cranes, but I found the keyboard layout too bewildering to want to try to learn it.

 

Hope that helps...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know it was missing A flat / G sharp? I thought it was fully chromatic? This gets even more confusing! Which of the concertina types from Concertina Connection is chromatic? I originally posted as I was looking for a concertina that would suit a piano player. If it's missing a semitone from every octave then it's not going to be much good!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know it was missing A flat / G sharp? I thought it was fully chromatic? This gets even more confusing! Which of the concertina types from Concertina Connection is chromatic? I originally posted as I was looking for a concertina that would suit a piano player. If it's missing a semitone from every octave then it's not going to be much good!

 

well, look at the fingering charts here:

 

http://www.concertina.com/fingering/index.htm

 

For example, my 48b crane is fully chromatic but "only" up to the C'''. The c#/Db above it is missing. Bummer, I could have put it to use once or twice. But 28 buttons on the right hand side (plus the left hand which has a few overlaps) can't possibly cover a fully range...

Edited by Ruediger R. Asche
Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't know it was missing A flat / G sharp? I thought it was fully chromatic? This gets even more confusing! Which of the concertina types from Concertina Connection is chromatic? I originally posted as I was looking for a concertina that would suit a piano player. If it's missing a semitone from every octave then it's not going to be much good!

 

well, look at the fingering charts here:

 

http://www.concertin...ering/index.htm

 

For example, my 48b crane is fully chromatic but "only" up to the C'''. The c#/Db above it is missing. Bummer, I could have put it to use once or twice. But 28 buttons on the right hand side (plus the left hand which has a few overlaps) can't possibly cover a fully range...

 

Mitchino,

 

The Hayden system is different in several ways from the other duet systems. It's not the one I would recommend for a pianist, anyway.

 

With both Crane and Maccann system duets, the smallest models - those with the fewest buttons - are fully chromatic, but as Rüdiger says, the bigger ones have more notes and, logically, a greater range. I'm not absolutely sure about the Maccann, but with the Crane, the extra notes follow the same pattern, so if you've been playing a small Crane, you can transfer your skill to a larger one.

Like Rüdiger, I have a 48-b Crane, and I've found the top note high enough. I mostly play things in keys that I could sing, and I have a low voice, so the top notes on my Crane are virtually unused!

 

With the Hayden system, the smaller (fewer buttons) model still has a decent range, but at the expense of some sharps and flats in every octave. However, the system is logical, and if you have learned on a small Hayden with only 4 playable keys, you can transfer the skill to a bigger one, and play in all 12 keys. But, as someone said, there are no good, mid-priced, large Haydens.

 

I really think that a Crane would be the Duet that would most suit the mind-set of a pianist - although I chose it because it most suited my mind-set as a fretted-strings player.

 

Cheers,

John

Link to post
Share on other sites
I really think that a Crane would be the Duet that would most suit the mind-set of a pianist.

As someone who plays piano as well as Hayden and (in progress) Crane, I agree. A Crane is somewhat analogous to a piano in that it has the "white keys" in the center three columns and the "black keys" in the outer ones. The Hayden layout is based in some ways on a whole-tone scale (C D E F# G# Bb C) which can take some getting used to, and it leads to oddities like having to go all the way across the instrument (right-left) to go up or down a half step.

 

You might consider checking with Chris Algar at Barleycorn Concertinas to see what Cranes he's got in stock. The Wilton-Bulstrode Crane tutor has good diagrams showing the range of each Crane size.

 

My own Crane is a 48-button, and I find the right-hand range more than adequate, though I occasionally wish I had that very high C#. I'd like a bigger left-hand range at some point, so I may move up to a 55-button eventually.

 

I guess you've realized, following the path of many visitors to this forum, that choosing a concertina is not a straightforward process.

Link to post
Share on other sites

not a straightforward process? it's a bleedin' nightmare!

 

So I think I've misunderstood again - it's not that there isn't an A flat, it's just there isn't one in one of the ocatves? - is that right? (you can tell I'm not much of a musician myself). What I mean is you could play a scale and when you come to the missing A flat, play a lower A flat instead?

 

I'm afraid I just can't afford to spend more than around £300, that's why I'm keen on the Elise.

Link to post
Share on other sites
not a straightforward process? it's a bleedin' nightmare!

 

So I think I've misunderstood again - it's not that there isn't an A flat, it's just there isn't one in one of the ocatves? - is that right? (you can tell I'm not much of a musician myself). What I mean is you could play a scale and when you come to the missing A flat, play a lower A flat instead?

 

I'm afraid I just can't afford to spend more than around £300, that's why I'm keen on the Elise.

 

Sorry, no A flat at all. Here's the Elise keyboard diagram:

 

elise%20keyboard.jpg

Which isn't to say that the Elise is necessarily a bad choice - she may like it! But as some others have said, there's definitely something to be said for the player having a say in which system she/he will get.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...