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Which is in better health, accordion or concertina ?

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I play a bit of accordion and am a beginner concertina player (well, I should say learner, for now), so I looked online

and put on my "favorites" the web addresses of the two most popular accordion and concertina forums: concertina.net and

accordionist.org. Now here is the weird story: on paper, it looks like the accordion, even if not as popular as in the past, is

far more popular today than the concertina. For example, there are many more online stores that sell accordions than concertinas.

Here in Michigan (another example) there is one of the biggest accordion stores in the United States (Castiglione accordions in Warren) while it is almost impossible to find a store that has a concertina.

But... after having followed the forum Accordionist.org for weeks, I noticed that the forum is almost dormant,i.e. deserted by members.I The current threads are the same as weeks ago, with rare new answers from the Forum members. And, unless I am wrong,this is the only real accordion forum that I have been able to discover. While Concertina.net is very alive and well: every day there are new threads, and members contribute with tons of answers and opinions. A bit like Chiff and Fipple for flutes and whistles, or

the Acoustic guitar Forum for acoustic guitars. How do you explain that ?

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Stop me if I'm wrong, but I thought the Diatonic Button Accordion forum at melodeon.net was doing all right.


Lindy Hop may be a relevant case study. A sad thing happened a year or two ago where all the Lindy Hop forums on the Internet pooped out. I think it's partly related to the fact that overall interest in the dance has been declining since the big revival in the 90's, but that's certainly not the case everywhere. It seems like most of the scene right now is on Facebook and blogs, but the forums just aren't what they used to be.


So maybe the accordion folks just don't have a great forum right now? It happens to the best of us.

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Some people play both or many free reed instruments. I'll apologize in advance for sounding testy but the 'popularity of an online forum devoted to an instyurment should have little to no bearing on whether or not you desire to pursue leaning that insturment. It that is your benchmark, you may as well wait for the reality show ..." Extreme (name your insturment) playing.".


I recommend an hour practice on the G, D, A major scales. If you have time, add C, F and Bb.


Again, apologies for sounding testy.



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I'll apologize in advance for sounding testy...

, I suppose.

But for a serious answer to the gerardo1000's original question:

  • I agree with Thorny Hands (isn't that what you get when you squeeze a saguaro?), though I think he has misinterpreted your question.
  • I think you have (perhaps inadvertently?) raised the question of what constitutes the "health" of a particular instrument... or of a community of players who play it. Is it measured by how many individuals own, or buy that instrument, or how many stores have it for sale? Is it measured by how many people talk about it in an online forum... or in all online forums? Is it even measured by the number of people who play the instrument well enough to please at least themselves? Or should it maybe be measured by the friendliness and helpfulness of its players toward each other?
  • Or should "health" be measured by whether the popularity of an instrument is growing, steady, or declining? E.g., if there are 1000 times as many accordion players as concertina players, but the latter have doubled over the last decade while the former have decreased by 5%, which is "healthier"? (Note: These numbers are hypothetical, taken from thin air for the sake of illustration only. If they are accurate, that's pure coincidence.)
  • I could point out that by far the largest subgroup of concertina players at present appears to be those playing Irish music on the anglo, yet only a small fraction of them are members here, and the best known pf those tend to be infrequent posters.
  • In the end, the "health" of an on line forum usually has more to do with the way it is directed by its moderators than with its formally stated main content or purpose.
  • Another factor could be that the accordion -- or at least the "big boys", the piano accordion and chromatic button accordion -- have well established communities outside the internet, dating back more than half a century. There a numerous "clubs" and other organizations, and it's a rare town that doesn't have at least one "accordion teacher", who gets paid for instructing others. Concertina players, on the other hand, are sparse enough in most areas (there are exceptions) that we need the internet just to find each other, and then for exchanging information. (My congratulations to those who are actually beginning to meet each other in the San Diego area.)
  • And we are extremely lucky that Paul Schwartz created concertina.net, because he allows us almost unlimited freedom, never taking sides in our disputes, yet he subtly (often invisibly) prevents personal abuse from disrupting the relaxed coummunity feeling of the group. Here we don't compete, but we share, and that has a great deal to do with the popularity of concertina.net and the activity you see here.

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I would imagine it also varies from country to country. In the U.S., the accordion (especially piano accordion) is commonly overlooked since it was eclipsed as a common learn-it-as-a-kid instrument by the guitar in the 1950s, while concertina remains obscure to non-musicians. And visibility does influence who aspires to play an instrument.


I hear rumors that accordion is more visible in some other parts of the world. Certainly the "Planet Squeezebox" CD collection a few years ago shows a lot of variety in accordion styles and use. I found it mindblowing when it came out, and featured it several times on the radio show I was doing then.



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I suppose you could look on Google - loads of PAs at a wide range of prices, far fewer concertinas. But (before I took an interest :( ) concertinas were practically given away, now they seem to sell very reliably.


So perhaps concertinas are on the up, but aas JimLucas says, are coming from a long way behind.

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I would imagine it also varies from country to country.


Staying with the Ebay theme - the concertinas on European Ebay are nearly all cheap new boxes, bandoneeons excepted, but in UK lots of "quality" boxes across a wide range of periods.

But lots of PAs/button accordions/melodeons on German Ebay, not so much in France.


So if the trade in instruments reflects the interest in those instruments, definite national variation.

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i don't know what you mean by "health," but i'll take as a working assumption that you mean, which instrument is being taken up by a larger number of players at present? in the context of traditional irish music, accordion is the choice a substantially larger number of players. however, concertina is seeing a significant renaissance for irish music. and as another poster has already noted, there are a fair number of folks who play both.


one of the "kitchen session" segments that aired on clare FM featured a fascinating interview with east galway concertina wizard, monsignor charles coen, in which he was asked what he thought explained the recent renaissance of concertina among irish players. he said that in past eras, concertina was widely played at home and for intimate kitchen dances in rural ireland, but went by the wayside and was largely displaced by accordions with the advent of dance halls and big ceilis, because of the accordion's superior projection powers. he believed that the arrival of miking and amplification technology was a big factor in the resurgence in recent decades of concertina as a choice among irish players.

Edited by ceemonster
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I suspect that there are far more accordion players out there than concertina players. Back in the early eighties, I coldn't find a decent concertina until I discovered The Lark in the Morning store. Remember those days before the internet? The only maker of decent concertinas was Crabb, but before the internet it took me a long while to find him. The concertina had fallen on hard times. If there were no instruments available, or at least no instruments you could find, there was little point in trying to play one, even if you knew what one was. This did not seem to be the case with accordions. Even in Windsor, ON, there was an accordion shop---Ciccone Accordions, which was in business until about 20 years ago, and there is stll an accordion shop in the city. As already stated, accordion was a popular instrument for children of immigrants from Europe when I was growing up. No one played the concertina. I think my only exposure to concertinas was a couple of Shirley Temple movies, and my father telling me about them.

The situation seems to be reversing a bit, however. At the last few Comhaltas Conventions I attended, there were at least as amy concertinas present as accordions, maybe even more. Still very few vintage ones; mainly the modern ones made using Italian reeds. Now there are as many concertina makers as there have ever been, and in terms of quality, very good ones.

It is not surprising that an instrument which was close to oblivion, and which is now experiencing a revival should have this strong forum as people discover the joys of this truly remarkable instrument.

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Thank you Frank. By the way, I just purchased your instructional DVD and it is just great.

Perhaps it will help me to play my Rochelle and one day I will be able to get one of your

beautiful concertinas.

On a separate note, can you tell me which is the accordion shop still open in Windsor ?

I live less than one hour drive from there.

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I think we are truly in a concertina renaissance these days, even if just a small one. The instruments coming out from Frank and Wally, as well as others, are really amazing. Some incredible innovation going on.


It is interesting to me that there are considerably more Uilleann pipers here in SoCal than Anglo Concertina players.

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Well, I think the concertina community is quite healthy.

That being the case, I don't think it matters whether the accordion community is more, less, or equally healthy.


Health isn't a competition.

Or if it becomes a competition, I'd say that's a sign of poor health.

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geoffwright, why are you so rude ?

I am new to concertina and of course I have lot of thoughts and questions, that I like to

ask and/or share on this forum that is a wonderful source of knowledge for me.

Some of these questions could be seen as naive or a bit stupid, but if you don't

like them just ignore them, and use your time -as yourself suggest- to play concertina instead

of criticizing other forum members.

Edited by gerardo1000
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