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Newbie trying to get my first concertina


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Hi there people,

 

I'm new to the world of concertinas, and would like to get one to start with; hopefully someone will be able to point me in the right direction, as I don't want to start messing things up by buying a cheap chinese one and that stuff.

 

Well, first, what can I say, I've been playing piano for three years, and according to what I've read, it would be best for me to get an English type concertina, aye? It seems the most fitting after all.

Style-wise there's nothing in particular to narrow down the search, I plan to play from tango to classical, from folk to contemporary music, and so on, so there's really no filter there.

 

Problem here, while looking for the concertina, is that I'm sort of in a tight budget; you see, I'm from Argentina, and being that all of the prices for concertinas are either in euros or usd, what commonly would be sort of cheap to the buyer of the country the instrument origins from, ends up being rather expensive to me.

 

For what I've researched, it seems I should be looking for a Jackie, is that right or should I go for something else? I don't want to spend much more than 300usd, as I'll have to add shipping costs and taxes to that price already.

Also, while being on the subject, anyone knows a trustable seller that ships internationally? So far the ones I've found were USA or Deutschland only.

 

And that's pretty much all I have to ask, thanks in advance to anyone who cares to drop a few lines, I'm really looking forward to get one of these marvelous instruments.

Edited by burrahobbit
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Hi, burrahobbit,

Welcome to the Forum!

 

Well, first, what can I say, I've been playing piano for three years, and according to what I've read, it would be best for me to get an English type concertina, aye? It seems the most fitting after all.

Style-wise there's nothing in particular to narrow down the search, I plan to play from tango to classical, from folk to contemporary music, and so on, so there's really no filter there.

This is a good starting point! IMO, the concertina system that suits you best depends on what instrument you already play, and what music you want to play on it.

Reading the above, the first type of concertina that comes to my mind is the Crane Duet. From the piano, you will have picked up the paradigm of high notes on the right, low notes on the left, and the capability to use both hands independently, e.g. for rhythmic effects like syncopation. And you will have got accustomed to the sharps and flats being somehow separate from the natural notes.

 

All the duet systems - Crane, Maccann and Hayden - give you high notes right and low notes left, and allow your hands to act independently. The Crane system, in addition, neatly separates the sharps and flats from the naturals, by putting the sharps and flats on the outer rows, the naturals on the inner rows. So when you look at a key signature, say, two sharps, you know you have to go to an outer row when you'd go onto the "black row" of the piano.

 

However, Maccanns and Cranes are not made any more, so you have to buy a restored vintage instrument, which is definitely going to exceed your 300 USD budget. The Hayden system is available new, and Wim Wakker, the manufacturer of the Jackie, also makes an entry-level Hayden Duet, the Elise. Unfortunately, this instrument is not fully chromatic, having only Bb, F# and C# in addition to the natural notes, if I remember rightly.

 

No doubt others will weigh in with the advantages and disadvantages of the various systems.

 

Cheers,

John

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Hi there John, thanks for your answer.

 

Hm, though the idea of having the lows on the left and the highs on the right certainly seems like the most reasonable way to go for me, the non-chromatic thing is something to have in mind, after all I will be locked up between certain keys.

On the other hand, though the Jackie is fully chromatic, it has a lower range of keys (30 vs 34) and the keyboard layout of the Elise does make much more sense to me.

Weighing the pros and cons I'm leaning towards the Duet as you suggested, I will think this through for a while longer though, just to be sure.

 

If/when I order them, I'll be doing it from this site, do you think it's trustable? It does seem so:

http://www.concertinaconnection.com

Problem is, it doesn't have any soundfiles on the Duet concertina to see what it sounds like, at least with the Jackies I know I like the sound of what they uploaded there; is there a big difference between the two types or can I expect a somewhat similar output?

 

Again, thank you very much for taking the time to answer.

 

EDITED

 

As an addition, gotta say I'm falling in love for the sound of the baritone Jackie, being a bass singer myself I do have some preference towards lower sounding stuff, is there a baritone version for the Duet perhaps?

Edited by burrahobbit
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Hi burrahobbit,

 

There are some videos on youtube of people playing Elises. Here's one:

 

 

The Elise has more buttons than the Jackie, but since some notes are duplicated (you can play them with either your left or right hand), it actually has fewer notes. But since the Elise skips some of the sharps and flats, it has a slightly wider range than the Jackie.

 

The lowest note on the Elise (C below middle C) is almost as low as the lowest note on the Jack, or "baritone Jackie" (the G below that). The video I linked to shows off some of the low chords you can play.

 

I own a Jack, and while I enjoy playing it a lot, I'm glad it's not the only concertina I own. The lowest notes are very slow to respond. That's not a big deal when I'm just playing chords underneath a higher melody, but it is frustrating when I want to play a melody - even a slow one - that goes down that low.

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Oh, I didn't think it could go as low as that, and what a nice sound it has. That, plus the more logical (to me) keyboard layout is pretty much all I want.

It's decided then, I'm going to order an Elise between the next few months (gotta finish some stuff right now and won't have time to appreciate it if I get it now, sadly) unless something far better suddenly pops out of nowhere.

 

Thanks for all the info Johanna

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One more thing about the Elise...

 

John's right that it has F#, C#, and Bb, but not G# or Eb. That means that there's only one key (D minor) in which you can play a complete melodic minor scale (raised 6th and 7th on the way up, lowered on the way down). If you're playing a minor tune that uses all of those notes, but D minor doesn't work for some reason (maybe you're accompanying singers and it doesn't fit their vocal ranges), then you're stuck. You might be able to transpose to a different key and fake some of the notes without too much frustration. But you might not.

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Yeah, that's why I was hesitant about getting an instrument that's non-chromatic, but since I don't think I'll be playing with any other singer than myself or a friend of mine playing the guitar I guess we could adjust to the keys we have available.

 

Of course, getting a chromatic instrument with a much wider range would be far better, but then it'd also be far from the budget for a beginner; if I end up getting proficient enough to think it's worth investing some money in a better concertina I'll do it in the future, but starting with an investment around the thousand bucks feels like too much to me.

 

You gave me an idea though, something I should actually do is get a good voice teacher (I haven't found one yet, but still on the looking) not only because I want to learn proper techniques and all the stuff to be a professional, but also to get him to teach me what's my true range and then see if it'd fit with the key of the concertina I plan to buy in the future, that might save me some trouble in the future.

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I (as a piano and dpa player) would like to add that perhaps you shouldn't drop the initial idea of choosing the EC as yet.

 

You'd have to get familiar with the permanent left/right shift (in fact, just according to the lines resp. spaces of any score), o.k. - but apart from that you'd get a clear distinction of "white" and "black" keys and a strictly logical diatonic fundament combined with the fully chromatic range.

 

Then you might go for one of the cheaper "tutor model" Lachenals first rather than the somehow (though not seriously) limited and non-vintage Jackie? a matter of taste, anyway...

 

Good luck to you!

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I (as a piano and dpa player) would like to add that perhaps you shouldn't drop the initial idea of choosing the EC as yet.

 

You'd have to get familiar with the permanent left/right shift (in fact, just according to the lines resp. spaces of any score), o.k. - but apart from that you'd get a clear distinction of "white" and "black" keys and a strictly logical diatonic fundament combined with the fully chromatic range.

 

Then you might go for one of the cheaper "tutor model" Lachenals first rather than the somehow (though not seriously) limited and non-vintage Jackie? a matter of taste, anyway...

 

Good luck to you!

 

i agree. i went from flute to anglo and they couldn't be more different. the english concertina is a great instrument, which gives you a lot of options. speaking of which, i'm still accepting donations for the "david doesn't own an english concertina" fund. checks, paypal, and wheatstones accepted.

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speaking of which, i'm still accepting donations for the "david doesn't own an english concertina" fund. checks, paypal, and wheatstones accepted.

This would be the perfect place for a LIKE button. :-)

I think some of us might be interested in a LIKEWISE button. ;)

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