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I'm a beginner concertina player who decided to go with an Anglo, even though I'm not particularly attached to folk or Irish music. I've tootled around on harmonicas in the past and just like the idea of notes changing with air direction.

 

I do wish there was a concertina system that had the left side set up for accompaniment with the same note playing on push & draw and the right side set up like an Anglo with different notes and push/draw. But maybe I'm a nut.

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I'm a beginner concertina player who decided to go with an Anglo, even though I'm not particularly attached to folk or Irish music. I've tootled around on harmonicas in the past and just like the idea of notes changing with air direction.

 

I do wish there was a concertina system that had the left side set up for accompaniment with the same note playing on push & draw and the right side set up like an Anglo with different notes and push/draw. But maybe I'm a nut.

 

 

Some of the 30+ button anglos do have "drone" keys that do this. Or you could try out the Stagi "Organetto" , which has some push/pull chords on the base buttons(catalogue description below):

 

" The Organetto Abruzzese is a button accordion in the shape and size of a concertina. These fun and very portable instruments have a great sound, 24 melody notes (8 of them chromatics) and 4 bass buttons. The bellows has 12 folds. "

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So there are no forum members who love the Hayden system ?

...

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.

There are forum members who love the Hayden, but because there are so few Haydens in existence, you don't run into a Hayden player very often.

 

Let's just stand back and look at concertina types more carefully.

 

A duet is designed for flexibility in tune + accompaniment work

An english is designed for efficient melody work.

An anglo is designed for simple tune + accompaniment in a narrow range of keys and simple I/IV/V7 style

 

If you stick to what an English does easily/well, and what an Anglo does easily/well, then they are easier to do that than to do the same thing on a Duet.

You can also try to play fully chromatic tune+accompaniment on English and Anglo, but when you do it quickly becomes more difficult than doing it on a duet. Can also be range issues with English/Anglos unless you get rare/large instruments.

 

So in summary, a duet is a more flexible instrument, but achieving the basics on it is harder than on English and Anglo.

 

And let us summarise the situation with the types of duet concertina.

 

Hayden - cheap Elise model, good sound, narrow range, not even fully chromatic, so very seriously limited in what you can do on it. 46-button chromatic Stagi rather poor quality instrument, with non-standard button spacing. Proper instruments rare and expensive.

Maccann - 46 button widely available at a cost similar to a vintage learner English concertina (or 46-button Stagi Hayden), (available from about UKP700+ in good restored condition, occasionally a lot less on ebay if you can distinguish the quality you are looking at - if it needs a full service that will set you back UKP300). But its note selection and range is a bit annoying. 57+ buttons excellent quality instruments (at least two full octaves in each hand) available from about UKP1200+ (though you have to wait to find the one you want), much cheaper than equivalent English/Anglo instrument quality.

Crane - Cost more per button than a Maccann, but have the advantage that a 48 button Crane is a lot more playable than a 46-button Maccann. 48-button set you back about UKP1000, occasionally less, but trade thin so can wait a few months to get one. 42-button probably a fair learner, but actually a rather rare instrument, especially in playable condition.

Jeffries - don't even think about it unless you inherit one or have a streak of perversity.

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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).

 

 

gerardo,

 

If you state your requirement like that, an Anglo concertina would be worth considering.

 

The main limitation of the Anglo is that it rapidly gets harder to play, the farther away you get from its two home keys. But if you're playing for your own edification, you get to choose the key, and an Anglo played in its main key (e.g. C major on a C/G Anglo) offers you considerable harmonisation capabilities pretty easily. The "3-chord trick" in the keys of C or G is almost automatic, and there are more sophisticated harmonies there if you look for them. It's a perfect "play-by-ear" instrument, if that's the way you tick!

 

Objectively, it is easier to play simple tunes on than a duet, because the push-pull of the bellows makes "wrong" notes unplayable. On the other hand, you can't combine every note on an Anglo with any other, as you can on a duet, so really complex arrangements can be objectively difficult to impossible. Question is, how close your expectations are to the break-even point.

 

Cheers,

John

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...

 

Let's just stand back and look at concertina types more carefully.

 

A duet is designed for flexibility in tune + accompaniment work

An english is designed for efficient melody work.

An anglo is designed for simple tune + accompaniment in a narrow range of keys and simple I/IV/V7 style

 

If you stick to what an English does easily/well, and what an Anglo does easily/well, then they are easier to do that than to do the same thing on a Duet.

You can also try to play fully chromatic tune+accompaniment on English and Anglo, but when you do it quickly becomes more difficult than doing it on a duet. Can also be range issues with English/Anglos unless you get rare/large instruments.

 

So in summary, a duet is a more flexible instrument, but achieving the basics on it is harder than on English and Anglo.

 

....

 

Ivan, I think that's the best thumbnail sketch that I've ever read.

 

It doesn't mean that you can't strive to do more on any of the types ... and many people do. But this is great for a quick overview. May I reuse it?

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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 ?

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.

 

I play the Hayden duet in addition to the English concertina. I had spent about a year working with the Maccann system but made little progress. then I found the Hayden system and it seemed much more logical and easier to understand. As far as my individual playing is concerned, I have reached a plateau, and think it will be difficult to take it to a higher level. this is partly because I am still playing English and there is a lot of competition for the allocation of my time.

 

regards

 

John Wild

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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 ?

Many people have made many good points on this thread. I would only add that I do love the Hayden and think that the Elise is a great bargain, but I like the Crane just as much and see more potential on Crane for moving up to a better instrument for a reasonable price (around $1500 rather than around $5000). I would still say that a 35-button is worth considering as a starter duet, but an Elise is a reasonable choice too. I can add more details about the trade-offs between the two if you're interested.

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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 ?

 

I was in your position a couple of years ago and settled on the Hayden system. I've got an Elise and a Stagi-46 and can recommend them both. Wim Wakker is coming out with a mid-range Hayden this year, and I've heard rumors that another maker is working on a mid-range instrument -- so help is on the way!

 

Wim Wakker on his mid-range Hayden:

http://www.concertin...36

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So there are no forum members who love the Hayden system ?

To the contrary.

It's just that when you posted that statement, they hadn't yet responded.

(I see that Daniel Hersch and Jim Albea have since responded. Can it be long before David Barnert and others do the same?)

 

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.

I know I've seen/heard some very nice Hayden playing on YouTube. What I don't remember is whether any of them were on the Elise. (Not saying they weren't, but it's been a while since I've done any serious YouTubeing, and I really don't remember.)

 

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.

Melody and accompaniment at the same time is very possible on an English, IF you accept the fact that accompaniment can take forms other than block chords (held, arpeggiated, or oom-pah) against the melody. On the English, continuous vamping (bass-chord, bass-chord, etc.) ranges from difficult to impossible, but satisfying accompaniment can take many other forms.

 

However, that fact alone shouldn't make you choose the English. (I say this, even though the English is my own "main squeeze".) You should listen to as many examples as possible of playing on each of the different concertinas, then probably choose the one that gives the results you like best.

Edited by JimLucas
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"I can add more details about the trade-offs between the two if you're interested. "

Yes Daniel, I would love to have more details ! Thanks.

Ok, then...

 

First, the Elise, which has 34 buttons. On the positive side, it's a new instrument warrantied by a good maker. If purchased directly from Concertina Connection, it can be "traded in" at full value toward a much-more-expensive Wakker Hayden or for the proposed Concertina Connection mid-priced accordion-reeded Hayden when and if that model becomes available. It has a riveted action. It has a very good left-hand range (from C below middle C up to A above middle C) and a decent right-hand range (from middle C up to A almost two octaves above middle C). It has the usual Hayden positive feature of easy transposition between keys, though this is somewhat offset by the limited number of keys available to play in due to the limited number of accidental notes.

 

On the negative side, the Elise is not fully chromatic. It has no G#/Ab's or D#/Eb's and only one C# and Bb on each side. (An Elise keyboard diagram is here.) If you prefer a concertina-reed sound, as I do, you won't get one from its accordion reeds. And if you want to move up to a concertina-reeded instrument with a more complete keyboard, you're looking at $5875 for a new Wakker. Used Wakker Haydens very rarely come to market and would likely cost nearly as much.

 

Now, the 35-button Crane. On the positive side, it's fully chromatic and has all the sharps and flats within its range. (A keyboard diagram is here.) It has an ok right-hand range (from middle C up to high G) though not quite as good as the Elise's. It has concertina reeds. And if you want to upgrade at some point to a concertina with a bigger range, you can get a nice 48-button Crane for $1500-$2000.

 

On the negative side, the 35-button Crane's left-hand range is somewhat limited, from C below middle C to E above middle C. It will probably be a Lachenal with a non-riveted action that will be a bit noisier than the Elise's riveted one. It will be probably more expensive than the Elise - Barleycorn Concertinas listed a 2009 price for 35-button Cranes of £500+, which is around $800 at current exchange rates, though you might be able to find one at a lower price from someone else. However, if you buy from Barleycorn, "you can trade in the concertina which you buy from us at the same price as you paid when you upgrade that instrument in due course (always assuming that it is in the same condition as when it was sold and taking into account import duty on concertinas coming in from abroad)."

 

I suppose I should also compare the Crane and Hayden keyboard layouts, though opinions about these things are quite personal and discussions of relative merits can get heated. I myself, coming from an Anglo concertina and piano accordion background, found both Crane and Hayden to be not too difficult to learn. They both have a clear and consistent logic (unlike the 30-button Anglo with its inconsistencies at the high and low end and rather bizarre 3rd row). I personally find the Crane a little more intuitive, perhaps because I play piano keyboard. The "white keys" on a Crane are all in the central three rows, with the accidentals on the outside rows with sharps on one outside row and flats on the other (though the sharps and flats switch rows when you get to the second octave on each side). The rows of the Hayden keyboard, on the other hand, are whole-tone scales: C D E F# G# etc. To play a major scale, you have to switch rows each time you go up or down a half-step - in C, that's between E and F and again between B and high C. I found this weird at first but eventually got used to it, though it has the annoying side effect of making you have to reach all the way across the side to go up a half-step. But the Hayden keyboard has positive features too. It's identical from one octave to the next, while the Crane keyboard isn't quite the same in the second octave as the first on either the left or right hand end (because 8 isn't evenly divisible by 3). Another positive for the Hayden is that you can change keys without changing fingerings (for example, from C to D) by just moving over one button along the row. A Crane is more like a piano - the fingerings change when you change keys.

 

I guess my personal bottom line would be this: if you think that you'll be long-term satisfied with a somewhat limited "starter" instrument, you like the positive features of the Hayden layout and you don't mind an instrument that's missing a few notes, save yourself some money and get the Elise. If you want the option of upgrading at a lower price, need all the notes of the scale, and like the concertina-reed sound, start with a Crane.

 

So that's what I think - I hope it's helpful. Others' opinions may vary....

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...

 

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.

 

...

 

 

Jim, this is a very apt and fitting comparison that guitarists can relate to very well. It should be added that there is an overseeable but solid fraction in the guitar community that easily and frequently switch back and forth between tunings - folks like Andy McKee, Michael Friedman, Peter Finger or Peter Ratzenbeck typically change their guitars tunings in between every two pieces they perform. The reason for preferring one tuning over the other, though, is only in parts easy of playing (more accessible fingerings, more natural chords patterns etc) but mainly creating different "sound spheres" (open strings ringing into each other). I'm not experienced enough of a concertina player to assess whether the latter reasoning can be applied to different duet keyboard layouts, but the former can possibly make a significant difference for very complex tunes in the hands of an expert player.

 

I wouldn't be surprised to see a concertina virtuoso one of these days who takes a Hayden, a McCann, a Crane and possibly also an Anglo and or/English on stage and picks the most fitting one for every tune he/she performs.

 

After all, it's "only" a question of practice.

 

...and money...

 

P.S. @Daniel and Ivan: Thank you guys for your excellent and extremly useful summaries! One of the criteria one might also add to the comparison is interval problems on the individual systems; for example, 4ths on the Crane tend to be nasty because they are on the same row, so to play them you need to jump the same finger if the melody progression doesn't allow for crossing fingers (which is about as awkward). I understand that the same holds true for other intervals on other systems.

Edited by Ruediger R. Asche
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I wouldn't be surprised to see a concertina virtuoso one of these days who takes a Hayden, a McCann, a Crane and possibly also an Anglo and or/English on stage and picks the most fitting one for every tune he/she performs.

While that may some day be true, and I don't have any quarrel with anything in your post, I was thinking more about switching between types of duets -- or types of stringed instruments, or different guitar tunings -- on a longer time scale.

 

I.e., if one can learn to switch back and forth between note layouts -- whether it be an arrangement of buttons or a mapping of notes onto strings and frets of a fingerboard -- within a single performance, then it should certainly be possible to make a one-time transition from one layout to another one. (E.g., a guitarist who learned "standard" tuning on a guitar might switch to exclusive use of DADGAD, an anglo player could trade in a Wheatstone layout for a Jeffries, or an Elise owner might switch to Crane or Maccann in order to "upgrade".)

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While that may some day be true, and I don't have any quarrel with anything in your post, I was thinking more about switching between types of duets -- or types of stringed instruments, or different guitar tunings -- on a longer time scale.

 

I.e., if one can learn to switch back and forth between note layouts -- whether it be an arrangement of buttons or a mapping of notes onto strings and frets of a fingerboard -- within a single performance, then it should certainly be possible to make a one-time transition from one layout to another one. (E.g., a guitarist who learned "standard" tuning on a guitar might switch to exclusive use of DADGAD, an anglo player could trade in a Wheatstone layout for a Jeffries, or an Elise owner might switch to Crane or Maccann in order to "upgrade".)

 

I have anecdotal experience with different kinds of stringed instrument, which I would agree are as different from each other as the different duet systems.

 

As a child, I learned the mandolin. When I was 10, I started on the 5-string banjo. As a student, I got a guitar. Today, I use them all when performing with my goup, often a different instrument for each number - and Anglo concertina as well! I have no difficulty changing instruments from one song to the next - my brain receives some haptic signal from the instrument in question, and loads the appropriate matrix.

 

HOWEVER, it took me quite a while to get proficient with each instrument in turn - that feel for where the notes and chord inversions are that enables you to play on autopilot while you're singing.

 

Swapping the matrices for several instruments you're already familiar with is easy - but each of these matrices has to be generated, and that's almost the same effort for each instrument.

 

Cheers,

John

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Hmmm which concertina system should I pick up for jazz, minimal music, oberkrainer and punk???

 

There are a number of systems I know - among which the maccann, the crane and recently also the jeffries - apart from english and anglo. The Hayden system also looks promising for all kinds of music.

 

How about bebop and other kinds of jazz solos? For fast chromatic concertina solo I'ld pick up either an English concertina, a Crane duet. a Jeffries duet, a MacCann duet or Hayden duet. All of them can be used for solo melody play.

 

The english system may be the fastest as you have two hands for a melody in the same tone range. The logic of a Crane or a Hayden duet makes more sense to me / melody on the right hand side - good for jazz once you know the system. A Jeffries duet and MacCann duet look suitable for folk and blues - also good for jazz.

 

If you want to add chords I would go for a Crane, Jeffries or MacCann duet. Which one you prefer may also depend on the key you want to play.

 

To my idea a Crane - certainly in the beginning - invites to play in specific keys such as Bb, C, Gm, F and Eb. A Jeffries layout invites to play in many folk tunings such as A, Am, E, Dm, C, G and F. Swapping from minor to major chords can be done on both. You can actually play in all keys on all duets - if there are enough buttons....

 

In fact the key layout of most duet systems still is the diatonic C scale - the incidentals are on the outskirts - off the center. It is more complicated to start a scale in C# or F#. If you want to get rid of that I would check a Hayden duet (or design your own system and have it made).

 

The jeffries and MacCann may be similar in a way. they are stubborn key layouts but as soon as you got them in your head and fingers - they may have a similar playing range.

 

Eventually my favorit concertinas for jazz are the Jeffries duet and the Crane duet. The Crane for melancholic slow airs and the Jeffries for beboppy jumping notes. For pop I guess I would pick up the Jeffries duet or a MacCann.

 

Warning - All duet systems take some time to settle somewhere in your brain before the tunes come out like you want them...

 

Marien

 

edited to remove at least one typo

Edited by marien
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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 !

 

Whilst it is perfectly possible to play melody and accompaniment simultaneously on the English or the Anglo, the problem that the melody can be drowned out by the accompaniment is ever present due to having only the one bellows to power all the reeds. Carefull use of chords can go a long way to alieviating this problem but the compromises are ever present.

This problem exists also on any Duet but, if the accompaniment is kept to the left side only then experiments with "Baffles" for that side can produce a better balance. There are articles and topics about this here on Cnet. and Concertina.com. I have plenty of experience of these balance problems in my attempts to make my EC playing sound more like a Duet and I am about to discover how ,and if, I can improve the situation by taking the plunge into the MacCann system.

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Whilst it is perfectly possible to play melody and accompaniment simultaneously on the English or the Anglo, the problem that the melody can be drowned out by the accompaniment is ever present due to having only the one bellows to power all the reeds. Carefull use of chords can go a long way to alieviating this problem but the compromises are ever present.

This problem exists also on any Duet but, if the accompaniment is kept to the left side only then experiments with "Baffles" for that side can produce a better balance. There are articles and topics about this here on Cnet. and Concertina.com. I have plenty of experience of these balance problems in my attempts to make my EC playing sound more like a Duet and I am about to discover how ,and if, I can improve the situation by taking the plunge into the MacCann system.

 

 

Baffles are an admission that you have no intention of of ever going beyond 'tune on the right and faked up chords on the left'. Fair enough if that's all you want I suppose, but it's awfully limiting.

 

I can imagine it must be difficult, for instance, doing little near-staccato chords under a smooth chorded melody with an English; having adjacent fingers on the same hand doing all this sounds alarming. On a duet the accompaniment is MOSTLY parted out, and if it isn't it's usually by the player's choice, and I think you'll find you have much more control over how individual notes are sounded. That will hopefully make the difference and you won't need to resort to butchers techniques that remove an important playing option.

 

(Prof Maccan spelt it as I have, apparently, to be pedantic.)

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