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Hi ! I am totally new to concertinas and accordions (just play acoustic guitar) and would like to learn to play the concertina.

I would like to have the possibility, if needed, to play the melody on one side and the accompaniment on the other side (a bit like an accordion). Does the duet concertina allow that ? And the English concertina ? I ask the questions because I want to buy my first concertina

and don't want to make the wrong choice. I am not so much interested in Irish and folk music, I am more into pop, classical, blues/jazz.

Thanks !

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Hi ! I am totally new to concertinas and accordions (just play acoustic guitar) and would like to learn to play the concertina.

I would like to have the possibility, if needed, to play the melody on one side and the accompaniment on the other side (a bit like an accordion). Does the duet concertina allow that ? And the English concertina ? I ask the questions because I want to buy my first concertina

and don't want to make the wrong choice. I am not so much interested in Irish and folk music, I am more into pop, classical, blues/jazz.

Thanks !

Hello!

The Duet is the only way to go! (Might be a bit biaised, but Hey!) Jazz. Blues, You can do it all on a Duet! Buy one now before the prices go bonkers! Good Luck!

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[Hello!

The Duet is the only way to go! (Might be a bit biaised, but Hey!) Jazz. Blues, You can do it all on a Duet! Buy one now before the prices go bonkers! Good Luck!

 

 

Hello, gerardo,

 

Ralph is not biased at all - he's just stating the obvious! :D

 

Seriously, for the complex chords in jazz and classic, which go well beyond the I-IV-V7 three-chord trick, plus the independence of the hands to play melody and accompaniment separately, the duet is the way to go.

 

The only question is, which duet system?

 

My bias is towards the Crane. Unlike the Maccann and Hayden, it consistently maps the piano keyboard - and is therefore amenable to standard notation - by having all the natural notes in the 3 inner columns and all the sharps and flats in the outer columns. (The english concetina is somewhat similar, but there is no right-hand/left-hand separation. You need both hands to just play a simple scale!)

 

Speaking as a banjoist and guitarist of several decades standing, I can testify that the Crane system, which I took up only recently, is fairly intuitive and easy to get the hang of. You can start serious practising pretty soon.

 

Cheers,

John

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(The english concetina is somewhat similar, but there is no right-hand/left-hand separation. You need both hands to just play a simple scale!)

 

Speaking as a banjoist and guitarist of several decades standing, I can testify that the Crane system, which I took up only recently, is fairly intuitive and easy to get the hang of. You can start serious practising pretty soon.

 

Cheers,

John

 

Of course you need two hands to play a simple scale on a banjo or guitar. :lol:

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"My bias is towards the Crane. "

Hi John, the problem is that the only duet concertina with an affordable price is the Concertina Connection Elise with the Hayden system.

I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a Crane concertina without even knowing if I will stick with the instrument ?

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"My bias is towards the Crane. "

Hi John, the problem is that the only duet concertina with an affordable price is the Concertina Connection Elise with the Hayden system.

I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a Crane concertina without even knowing if I will stick with the instrument ?

 

I'm a Crane player, so I favor it as well. But the reason for my bias is the years I've put in. If you are just starting out, there are advantages and weaknesses in all systems. Not having a bias is a very good thing in this market. If you find a duet that plays well and appears rugged, buy it! and get on with learning it and maximizing the pluses and minimizing the minuses. Any system will do you just fine!

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"My bias is towards the Crane. "

Hi John, the problem is that the only duet concertina with an affordable price is the Concertina Connection Elise with the Hayden system.

I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a Crane concertina without even knowing if I will stick with the instrument ?

 

I'm a Crane player, so I favor it as well. But the reason for my bias is the years I've put in. If you are just starting out, there are advantages and weaknesses in all systems. Not having a bias is a very good thing in this market. If you find a duet that plays well and appears rugged, buy it! and get on with learning it and maximizing the pluses and minimizing the minuses. Any system will do you just fine!

Hi Kurt.

When I took up the McCann in 1973, I didn't know that other systems existed (Including English/Anglo,that's how thick I was!). I agree with you, every Duet system has its good and bad points. But...Hey! Does it matter?

I've tried Cranes and Haydens even got very confused by a Jeffries once! But I'm too old now to start again. Bottom line though is.... Duets Rule! No contest IMHO. Yes they are going up in price. When I started in the 70's, there were only half a dozen players around (to my knowledge), Now you can't move for the buggers!

Can't wait for the Duet International collection to surface. That'll put the price up. So Go buy now people!

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"My bias is towards the Crane. "

Hi John, the problem is that the only duet concertina with an affordable price is the Concertina Connection Elise with the Hayden system.

I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a Crane concertina without even knowing if I will stick with the instrument ?

 

The duet systems are so different from each other in layout that you can almost regard them as different instruments. learning one is damn all help with another. Learning to play a Hayden will not be much use if you then change systems. The Elise has a very limited range, as well as being fundamentally a budget instrument with all that entails, however good it is for what it is. Because Hayden is a fairly new thing there is no real pool of s/h instruments, so if you want to trade up you will almost certainly have to buy new. Have a look at the prices of new larger Haydens and see the real cost of going the Elise route.

 

Conversely antique duets are amazing value. Have a look at the cost of Anglos and Englishes and see the real cost of THEM. I took a deep breath and bought an 'expensive' instrument; it's not so bad. You have a top notch instrument which is a pleasure in itself and you make sure you practice because of how deep you are in. And you know you will get your money back if you bought carefully. (as long as you aren't in a hurry; the market is small). And yes it is a lot of money to tie up, but sometimes you have to just go for it. I'm so glad I did. (I play Maccan; certainly the best choice for me and, of course, the one I'd recommend)

 

This has been chewed over a lot; try spending some time trawling the old forums; there's lots to read. Some of it may even be useful.

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"My bias is towards the Crane. "Hi John, the problem is that the only duet concertina with an affordable price is the Concertina Connection Elise with the Hayden system.

I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a Crane concertina without even knowing if I will stick with the instrument ?

I have an Elise and I like it for what it is, but the possibilities for upgrading are limited - so now I'm working on learning the Crane system. One possibility to avoid this dilemma would be to start on a 35-button Crane - they're limited in range but they're pretty cheap. I tried out a borrowed 35-button Crane before I decided to buy the 48-button one that I now have.

 

There may be parallel possibilities with the Maccann, but I don't play that system so I don't know.

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"My bias is towards the Crane. "

Hi John, the problem is that the only duet concertina with an affordable price is the Concertina Connection Elise with the Hayden system.

I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a Crane concertina without even knowing if I will stick with the instrument ?

Why afraid?

It's not as if money spent on a concertina disappears into a black hole. The instrument has significant resale value. Concertinas don't even depreciate like cars and kitchen appliances. If you buy a decent vintage concertina (whether a duet or some other kind) and decide that it's not for you, you can almost certainly sell it for what you paid for it (not counting shipping and taxes). Possibly even more, as demand really does seem to be increasing.

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I have an Elise and I like it for what it is, but the possibilities for upgrading are limited - so now I'm working on learning the Crane system. One possibility to avoid this dilemma would be to start on a 35-button Crane - they're limited in range but they're pretty cheap. I tried out a borrowed 35-button Crane before I decided to buy the 48-button one that I now have.

 

If you just want to dabble you toes in the duet at little expense, a 35-b Crane is not a bad idea.

When I decided to "go duet" I first compared the button layouts of the three main systems (Maccann, Crane, Hayden) and decided that the Crane suited me personally, with my fretted-strings background, better. The next step was the size/price comparison. I found out a few interesting facts:

 

- The 35-b and 48-b Cranes have the same bottom notes on each side. The 35-b lacks the higher notes, and the overlap between the sides is smaller.

- Searching through a couple of hymn books, I didn't find a single tune where the melody line went higher than the top note of the 35-b Crane! So anything that's singable is playable.

- The 35-b Crane is fully chromatic as far up as it goes. That is, you can always find a key in which a tune is playable without "running off the top".

- The additional notes on the 48-b follow the same system as the notes on the 35-b, so you don't have to re-learn anything when moving up - you just have more room to manoeuvre, and thus have a wider choice of keys for a given tune.

 

I decided that the 48-button Crane had all the high notes I'd ever need, and it would be cheaper than a 55-button. So I went for it.

 

One aspect kept me fom starting with the 35-button: my group's instrumental repertoire, which I had hitherto played on an Anglo. We play quite a few pieces in D major that top out on the high A - and that's the first note that's missing on the 35-b Crane!

So be aware that, apart from the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the various systems/sizes, your personal repertoire may be an important factor.

 

What I found very helpful in making my decision was the page with button arrangements for all concertina systems at concertina.com.

 

Cheers,

John

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The duet systems are so different from each other in layout that you can almost regard them as different instruments.

Agreed.

learning one is damn all help with another. Learning to play a Hayden will not be much use if you then change systems.

I disagree.

There are certain fundamentals shared by all concertinas:

  • Use of the bellows (both in a gross manner and for subtle control)
  • The general means of holding the instrument
  • The interaction between supporting the instrument and controlling the bellows for musical subtlety
  • Use of the buttons (how to strike them, how to pull away, how to control both for desired musical effect, and even whether to use one finger or different fingers for successive notes)

I would say that becoming comfortable with these features is something that does transfer from one type of concertina to another.

 

There are other features shared by all duets, though not necessarily by all concertinas:

  • The use of a bar and palm strap for holding the instrument (this imposes certain constraints on the movement of the fingers over the keyboard; in this, English-system concertinas are the exception, with a different set of constraints)
  • Each button sounds the same note on both push and pull of the bellows (here the anglo is the exception)
  • The keyboard layout is essentially the same in both hands, though sounding different octaves for the same button sequence (here the English and anglo diverge in different ways)
  • Each hand contains all the notes of a chromatic scale within a given range, and the range of the left hand is lower than that of the right (here again, the English is the exception)

One could make similar lists for string instruments:

  • Using the fingers to press strings onto a fingerboard in order to select individual notes (both the viol and lute families)
  • Frets on the fingerboard to define the individual notes (guitar, mandolin, banjo, lute, etc.)
  • Flatpicking, fingerpicking, or bowing to sound notes
  • And more...

Admittedly, learned fingerings for given arrangements and even simple melodies will not transfer directly from one kind of duet to another, but that is "merely" a matter of learning a new set of patterns, not a different set of fundamental techniques. I'd say that switching among different kinds of duets is rather like a flatpicker switching among banjo, guitar, and bouzouki, or even a guitar player using different tunings. Some folks do find that difficult, but there are thousands of examples to show that not everyone does.

 

The Elise has a very limited range, as well as being fundamentally a budget instrument with all that entails, however good it is for what it is.

I feel that it's important to be aware from the start of the limitations imposed by the limited range (and in the case of the Elise, the complete lack of one note of the chromatic scale). If you imagine using the instrument to play rich harmonies, you may be disappointed by the lack of options for depth and inversions of chords or for playing melodies and harmonies in more than one octave.

 

If you become frustrated with these limitations, the Hayden currently makes it most difficult to escape them. Hayden instruments with more buttons are expensive, if you can get one at all.

 

In the range of smaller instruments, the Maccann is at a disadvantage, because normally the lowest note in the right hand is G above middle C. This makes it necessary to play many melodies either an octave higher than written or with significant crossover into the opposite hand. The "58-key" Maccann (really 57, plus an air button) is the smallest standard model which goes down to C in the right hand.

 

I feel that the Crane has the advantage in the not-many-buttons range, with even a 35-button Crane being more useful for many purposes than a 46-button Maccann. On the other hand, I find that above 60 or 70 buttons the Maccann holds the edge, simply because the narrower Crane keyboard extends farther from the hand rest, and I have difficulty reaching its more distant buttons. (I don't include the Hayden in this comparison, because there currently doesn't seem to be a pool of available instruments with larger numbers of buttons, and I have no experience for making a comparison.)

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Agree with Jim as far as the MacCann goes. 57/58 is the smallest that is useful, and going down to middle C on the right hand is imperative. Be aware, there are some 57/58 boxes that only go down to G. Why did they do that? It's so frustrating! You spend half your time swapping ends, and you've got half an octave of dog scaring notes up the top end that you'll never use!

FWIW Mine have served me very nicely for 30 years!

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Hi Kurt.

When I took up the McCann in 1973, I didn't know that other systems existed (Including English/Anglo,that's how thick I was!). I agree with you, every Duet system has its good and bad points. But...Hey! Does it matter?

I've tried Cranes and Haydens even got very confused by a Jeffries once! But I'm too old now to start again. Bottom line though is.... Duets Rule! No contest IMHO. Yes they are going up in price. When I started in the 70's, there were only half a dozen players around (to my knowledge), Now you can't move for the buggers!

Can't wait for the Duet International collection to surface. That'll put the price up. So Go buy now people!

 

I found the jeffries duet quite logical...but then I'm an anglo player....and a bit mental.

Ralphie, you still owe me a squeeze of your duet. ;)

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So there are no forum members who love the Hayden system ? I am surprised because browsing the web (with no previous experience on concertinas) I had developed the idea that the Hayden system is very popular for ease of learning and logical placement of buttons ?

The reason why I am leaning towards the Hayden is just because the Elise costs less than $ 400.00 and I have seen some Youtube videos where

she sounds gorgeous.Ilive in Michigan where there are no stores at all that carry a range of concertinas apart from the Hohner D40 diatonic, and do not have the possibility to compare the different duet systems.

Last but not least, the main reason why I am leaning towards a duet concertina it's because I'd like to have the option to play it with

melody and accompaniment at the same time, a bit like an accordion (I do not play in a band, I play solo, only for my own pleasure).

If this is possible with an English concertina, maybe I should buy an English instead ? Thanks again for all your advice.

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Last but not least, the main reason why I am leaning towards a duet concertina it's because I'd like to have the option to play it with

melody and accompaniment at the same time, a bit like an accordion (I do not play in a band, I play solo, only for my own pleasure).

If this is possible with an English concertina, maybe I should buy an English instead ? Thanks again for all your advice.

 

People have added harmony to melodies on all concertina types. Both the Anglos and Duets do it quite naturally. When done well on an English, it is usually done more sparsely (and often quite elegantly) but it certainly works. You might do well to just do some more listening to players of all threes classes. Try searching "English Concertina," "Duet Concertina," and "Anglo Concertina" or go to these sites cranedrivinmusic.com, jodykruskal.com, www.concertina-academy.com. There will be examples of harmonized melody playing by all three types on these site and there is much, much more out there.

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