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Playing In Octaves


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Just to add on to the above post, I can see the Scholers that Alex Jones posted about in post #11 in this thread: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=14093

 

O'Dwyers is similar only in the faux wood striped paint job. Differences are:

O'Dwyer's 1953 GC has individually waxed in accordion reed plates and steel reeds, not a harmonica-like brass plate of brass reeds as in Alex's Scholer.

O'Dwyer's has considerably more bellows folds than the Scholer and two bellows connectors among the folds that add substance to the long bellows.

O'Dwyers has no 'Scholer' metal badge on the ends, or any other sort of marking other than that I mentioned.

 

It is obviously of a considerably higher standard of production than that Scholer Alex showed. I wonder (doubt, really) whether the 'Scholer' company was in swing in 1953, but don't really know. I suspect that they got going a bit later, maybe with some of the earlier production machinery and some of the employees.

Stephen Chambers said in this post http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=1255 that Scholer in the 1990s was run by an elderly couple who sold it after German reunification to another outfit in Klingenthal.

 

So...based on this I suspect that mine is a pre-Scholer, and that the Scholers started up at some time after my O'Dwyer concertina was built.

 

I just took apart three 20-button concertinas that I own: an Italian-made square black and white "Corelli", probably from the early 1950's; a red pearloid Scholer marked "Made in Germany East", and an unmarked natural-wood one with burnt-in flower decoration which Stephen Chambers identified here as a German-made "Galotta" (possibly made by Scholer) from the late 1970's. All three of them have individual accordion-type reeds. The Corelli and the Galotta reeds are all flat-mounted. The Scholer has a mix of flat-mounted and block-mounted reeds, a combination that I have also seen on Chemnitzer concertinas. All three concertinas are playable. None of them are great.

 

Dan, I think that you are overgeneralizing about how to identify the quality of a German-made (or German-type, by your definition) concertina. As with the British-style ones, the only way to know for sure is to play it.

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It's my impression that none of the 20th century German makers of small concertinas made instruments that were close to the quality of the Alfred Arnold bandonions.

Don't forget Jurgen Suttner
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So, not a Scholer then!

 

I didn't want to raise the same old issue again (it has been covered here so many times), but since it nicely adds to some of the remarks made above (on the quality of bandonions and German concertina's), here I go.

 

Researchers from the IfM - Institut für Musikinstrumentenbau - investigated the origin of the characteristic sound of Alfred Arnold bandonions. While not necesarily excluding all other factors, they say that the width and form of the slit between reed and reed shoe (the slit is 'conical' at the tip) is of crucial importance. Here is one of their technical papers, with a close-up picture of a reed tip:

http://www.ifm-zwota.de/bandonio.pdf (it's in German I'm afraid.)

 

So, probably it doesn't really matter whether the reeds are mounted in pairs or all in one block, nor the material that the reed block is made of: these are largely accidental variations in the construction. All can produce good results - as long as you have an expert reedmaker who works from a certain tradition. Different materials and techniques (and makers!) may accidentally have led to tiny differences in the reed construction, resulting in an important difference in sound.

 

I own a Hohner which in nearly every detail is a faithfull copy of a 20 button Lachenal. Only they didn't know how to make the individual reed shoes and reeds; as an instrument it is fairly useless.

 

Maybe all later (and not so good) German anglo's have a different type of reed block that may work as a 'diagnostic feature', but, conspicuous as this difference is, that doesn't mean that it's the real cause of any differences in sound quality, if you ask me.

 

As Daniel Hersch says, the only way to know for sure is to play it!

Mark

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Anyway, my whole point in bringing up these Frontalinis and Silvertones --obviously Germans--

 

I had thought that Frontalini was an Italian make, Do your Frontalinis have a "made in Germany" mark? Bastari was not the only Italian maker.

 

Okay, there Frontalini accordions that actually have "Made in Italy" stamped on them. As for my concertina, it does not have "Made in ...." anywhere printed on it, nor does it have anything else printed on it except the name "Frontalini". It is identical to one that had the name "Silvertone" on it, and "Silvertone" was a brand name that Sears, Roebuck used to use. I cannibalized the Silvertone for parts for repairing two Frontalinis - one which I sold. The one I kept has bellows that belonged to the Silvertone. So one can claim that this Frontalini was made in USA since I assembled it at home.

 

Anyway, I have no way to confirm where either the Frontalinis or the Silvertones were built, but they were built on the same pattern, the makers must have used identical jigs etc. They could have come from a factory in Germany, and the Frontalinis then given the Frontalini logo so that the same company that sells other instruments under the name "Frontalini" can include them in their catalog. They could have come from the factory in Italy where Frontalini accordions are made, and then some of them given the Silvertone logo to be shipped to the US to be sold by Sears.

 

So just like some Stagi models, they could be Italian-made Germans.

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Daniel,

 

My general impression is that the little GCs were never really built to the standard of the good bandoneons...the Germans themselves thought of the two rows as little more than toys compared to their more serious instruments. I could be wrong, but I've heard that from more than one source.

 

As far as having any general predictor for GC quality, I don't see how anyone could, really. The makers are both several and generally unknown from the 50s on back....nameless for the most part or horrid postwar junk. All I know is that there were some very nice double reeded ones built, which I have seen two of in South Africa (both dating back to the early 20th C) and one which I have. I've only seen the innards of mine (O'Dwyers) and it has fairly nice looking steel reeds, individually mounted. I have never played a decent GC with a bar mounted reed set, but who knows (not me), maybe it is fine.

 

For those with more interest in the early 20th C Chemnitzers and such, there is a very good and detailed recent history of them. I'm away from my notes, but I referenced it in Chapter 1 of my book.

 

I'll leave the unravelling of the complex history of 20th century GCs to someone with more curiosity! I only get curious when I hear people paint all of them with the same 'junk' brush. They're not, and many of them have lasted decades and are still good, tight players (given the proviso that they play two reeds at once and are thus a bit slower). If you are a reel-playing speed junkie, though, :rolleyes: it is highly unlikely that you will think highly of any of them.

 

I think I'm all Germaned out on this thread. Have fun!

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Daniel,

 

My general impression is that the little GCs were never really built to the standard of the good bandoneons...the Germans themselves thought of the two rows as little more than toys compared to their more serious instruments. I could be wrong, but I've heard that from more than one source.

 

As far as having any general predictor for GC quality, I don't see how anyone could, really. The makers are both several and generally unknown from the 50s on back....nameless for the most part or horrid postwar junk. All I know is that there were some very nice double reeded ones built, which I have seen two of in South Africa (both dating back to the early 20th C) and one which I have. I've only seen the innards of mine (O'Dwyers) and it has fairly nice looking steel reeds, individually mounted. I have never played a decent GC with a bar mounted reed set, but who knows (not me), maybe it is fine.

 

For those with more interest in the early 20th C Chemnitzers and such, there is a very good and detailed recent history of them. I'm away from my notes, but I referenced it in Chapter 1 of my book.

 

I'll leave the unravelling of the complex history of 20th century GCs to someone with more curiosity! I only get curious when I hear people paint all of them with the same 'junk' brush. They're not, and many of them have lasted decades and are still good, tight players (given the proviso that they play two reeds at once and are thus a bit slower). If you are a reel-playing speed junkie, though, :rolleyes: it is highly unlikely that you will think highly of any of them.

 

I think I'm all Germaned out on this thread. Have fun!

 

I suspect that the instruments you saw in South Africa, if they're that old, hand ganged/long-plate/bar-mounted reeds, but I of course don't know this for sure.

 

I am somewhat interested in putting together a brief history of German, Italian, and Chinese manufacture of small concertinas, but I don't know if I'll ever do it.

 

I'm interested in playing in octaves too! But I don't have much to say about it, other than to express appreciation for the fine work that Dan has done in this area.

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If you Google the words 'clare set neil wayne' you'll go right to it, but here it is anyway:

http://www.clareconcertinas.ie/the_clare_set.html

 

I do have some recordings of Mrs O'Dwyer on House Dance as well, and much more information on her life and times than is on the Clare Set. But the several CDs of the Clare Set comprise a key work IMHO for anyone interested in Irish-style concertina playing.

 

I found it on Amazon too:

http://www.amazon.com/Clare-Set-Various-Artists/dp/B000V9KF00

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