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For what it's worth I have a 1900ish Lachenal duet; it has brass reeds and was originally supplied by a big Liverpool music store (they had their address set into the side). When you see their adverts of the period they did a lot of brass reeded options. Now, I have been told by people I believe that using brass was primarily about production cost, not because sailors and the like were actually demanding them because they were tougher, but I still think that came into it too.

 

I don't know any early history of mine, but it was the property of able seaman Arthur Smith (still Liverpool based) by the second world war and it's easy to believe he got it from another sailor moving in the same circles, perhaps the original owner.

 

I bought it because of the brass reeds to take into hostile environments too; it's crossed the English Channel under sail.

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I should explain, however, that when I was talking about "early use" I meant earlier in the age of sail.

 

Good news is the Hawaiian Chieftain which I normally volunteer on is an 1850s style hull with 1890s style rigging and definately NOT a pirate ship as I explain to guests all day long. That puts her not only in the right historical time period for the concertina, but smack dab in the middle of it's heyday according to Dan's research.

 

Historical research not needed for the 18th century and pirate ships.....the German concertina was invented in 1834 (not generally popular until the 1850s), and the EC around the same time, mas o menos.

 

There is a shanty expert on cnet occasionally....shipcmo (George Salley, who once was coeditor of Concertina and Squeezebox). I haven't seen him on the Forum in a while (his member information says he is now 80, and I think I saw somewhere that he sold his prized Dipper shantyman concertina). Try sending him a PM; he is a font of good information on that subject and would be pleased no doubt to hear from you.

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On second thought, no need to contact George. On a whim, I searched from him in obituaries....he passed away last November. I had spoken to him a few times, but never met him, and will be the poorer for it. Here is his obituary, below. He was an editor of the early version of Concertina and Squeezebox back in the 1980s, and wrote several articles on the use of concertinas on board ships. I should have guessed that when his Dipper Shantyman came up for sale that he had met his Maker. Fair sailing, George!

 

George Callier Salley
Virginia Beach - Born February 1, 1933 in Atmore, AL. Died November 16 in Middlesex County, VA. He joined the Army at 17 during Korea, trained as a paratrooper and was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division. He graduated, as a Sigma Chi from the University of Virginia in 1958 with a BA in Philosophy. During this he met Betty Atkeson. They were joyfully married for 55 years. He worked at NASA, on the Apollo, Viking projects, and space station. He had a small plane, which he swapped for a sailboat. He started Sea Explorer Scout Group 38 using his schooner, Gallons Lap. In 1976, they sailed to New York City, participating in the Tall Ships parade of sail for the Bi-Centennial, representing Virginia. His dedication to Boy Scouts from 1973 to 1985 was recognized with the Silver Beaver award. In 1985, he became the captain of the Godspeed, sailing from England to the US. After retirement he had a 42-foot ketch which he and Betty sailed and lived on for 6 years. They settled in Middlesex County. George became a docent at the Deltaville Maritime Museum. He is survived by his wife and 3 children, George C. Salley Jr., W. Bryan Salley and K. Elizabeth Salley Vittone; his 5 grandchildren, Alex, Jessica and Hannah Salley; Fauster and Kate Vittone. He was preceded in death by his parents Dr. William Callier Salley and Katherine Galloway Batts Salley. George's loyal companion, Clyde the cat, was with him to the last. A memorial service will be held at Kingston Parish Church, Matthews, VA on November 23 at 11 a.m.

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I should have guessed that when his Dipper Shantyman came up for sale that he had met his Maker.

Ironic name for a concertina, given what has already been discussed on this thread.

 

It might be regarded as ironic in several ways. Not only didn't a shantyman make use of any instrument but also he wouldn't have to be that musical necessarily.

 

The leader, or shantyman, chosen for his seamanship rather than his musical talent, stood at the leading position on the rope, while the sailors crouched along the rope behind him. The shantyman would intone a line of a song and the group respond in chorus, heaving on the rope at a given point in the melody. The shantyman was one of the crucial members of the ships crew, and it was said that a good shantyman was worth four extra hands on the rope.

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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So my conclusions..... get an inexpensive anglo style concertina with brass reeds and a water tight container. That just leaves the question of if anybody knows any good song books they could recomend for my specific concertina endeavor.

 

Now that we've cleared up the issue of whether the concertina as such belongs in the hands of a sailor, a thought about the music a Victorian sailor might have played or wanted to listen to.

Nobody is born a sailor - it's a job, not a nationality. By the time you're old enough to take up that profession, you have (if you're musically inclined) already absorbed the typical music of your region and social class, played on its typical instruments. And in late Victorian, working-class England, the cheap, German concertina would be one of those. If a young lad was already playing his regional dance music and accompanying regional songs on the concertina, I reckon he wouldn't have left his repertoire on shore, and learnt a whole new repertoire of nautical songs and dances. So basically, any Victorian popular music would fit into the tall-ship era.

 

Back then, there were songs associated with different trades, like weaving or farming or soldiering. Sailors had songs for their specific trade, too, so the young lad would extend his repertoire in this direction. But in the then non-globalised, non-homogenised world, every port of call would have its regional songs and dances, too, and I can imagine our musical ship's boy spending his first off-watches after leaving a foreign port working up tunes he had heard at some dance or carousal ashore.

 

Of course, what people expect to hear in a nautical context nowadays is the specifically seamanlike part of the Victorian repertoire, but there are plenty of songs in that category available!

 

Cheers,

John

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Hawiian Chieftain and Lady Washington ahoy!

 

I miss them both! While I've not volunteered on either, I been on several day-sails on the Lady, including a full day sail from Port Townsend to Gig Harbor with a group of assorted shanty singers, and even led a couple songs. I didn't play concertina yet at the time though. Always looked for the ships if they were in a nearby port when I lived in the area.

 

You might be interested to talk to Hank Cramer or David LoVine, each of whom served as shantyman aboard Lady Washington back in the 1990's or so.

 

David LoVine plays an Anglo Concertina, and has an album out 'Pierhead Jump' filled mostly with shanties and sea songs he wrote during his time on board Lady Washington, several of which mention her in the lyrics, as well names of a few of those who sailed her at the time. He lives in southern California now, but you may see him at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, or other such nautical festivals around Puget Sound from time to time. There are songs on that CD that you definitely will want to learn!

 

Hank Cramer doesn't play concertina, but has a good full voice and sings a variety of songs. Nautical songs and shanties, but also story songs and work songs of the American west, as well as Irish tunes. He often plays at venues throughout western Washington, including both Puget Sound and Gray's Harbor areas. (and he can probably help you locate David LoVine's CD)

 

-- back to concertinas -

Just went to a shanty festival at the narrow boat museum in Elsemere Port (Cheshire England) over the Easter holidays, and easily half of the performers inlcuded a concertina or two in the act. probably 50% anglo, 40% English and a few Duets as well.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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I think that the danger of salt air, dampness, etc. to concertinas is vastly exaggerated. I spend six months of the year on the coast of Maine where the humidity is often about 80% and I spend the rest of the year in Davis CA which is comfortable at 90+ degrees and often dry as a bone. I have three vintage concertinas and I have never noticed any problem in or moving between climates. I don't play Anglo but my recommendation would be to buy the learning level instrument -- either Anglo or English (a little less than 400 dollars) from the Concertina Connection rather than a cheap Anglo or some cheap Chinese English.

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I told myself not to respond to this thread any more - as folks seemed to be getting rather annoyed. But, the thread on George Sally contains this link:

http://www.concertina.net/gs_adventures.html

and near the bottom of the page is this quotation:

 

"Now, in addition to the Jeffries and Dipper I have a funky old Scholer, that I use for tear-jerkers like "Johhny Todd". I tell the audience that such an instrument was more likely to have been in a sea chest than a Crabb, etc., since it has more seaworthy brass reeds, wooden action, paper and cardboard bellows rather than leather. Sailors did not have the benefit of silica gel, nor water resistant cases, thus steel reeds would become piles of rust and leather grow strange new life forms (thus the rope handstraps). Additional appeal for a sailor of the time would be because they were brightly (garishly) decorated; and CHEAP! Current research indicates that German concertinas could be had for a dollar in the late 1800s. Also the double reeds give an accordian sound, and are more acceptable if out-of-tune, which mine generally is. But since such was more than likely the case on shipboard, it adds to the "authenticity" of my performance."

 

and a picture of the instrument:

 

scholer_sm.jpg

 

Scholers like this show up quite often on eBay so maybe this is what the OP should look out for, but I don't suppose that the rope handstraps are original.

 

I don't think that you should pay much for one of these - even though many listings say that they are rare Bakelite vintage instruments...

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You takes your chances with the D40 from Musician's Friend. They are a good source for acquiring an instrument, but they pass on the concertina to you as they got it, I assume. And you will find the quality of the D40s to range from ok to poor. You might get an ok one and you might not, but they are very good about returns and refunds. On the other hand, take a look at the Button Box and see if they have any 20-button Stagis on hand. They will be a couple hundred more than the Hohner, but The Button Box will check them out and tune them up before they send it to you. I've had both brands and would chose the Stagi hands down over the Hohner; but it will cost a bit more.

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There is plenty of evidence they were used at sae as an entertainment - mainly by passengers travelling to far off places like Australia where the voyage was long. Ship's newspapers point to their use from the 1850s. As far as today.... I'd suggest anything - mouth organ, whistle, accordion or concertina is far better than recorded music!

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Pardon my comment, as I'm hardly qualified, but I had the idea that Hohner wasn't making it's own concertina anymore, but is buying them from a supplier in China. I have seen several pictures of the Hohner D40 and it looked exactly, except for the paint, like the Chinese concertina I purchased on E-bay. I also looked closely at a picture of a Hohner D40 box that clearly says "Made in China" at the bottom.

 

If Hohner is buying it's concertina from a Chinese company why pay an extra $60 to $70 just to have the name "Hohner" on the side?

 

Terrence

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Pardon my comment, as I'm hardly qualified, but I had the idea that Hohner wasn't making it's own concertina anymore, but is buying them from a supplier in China. I have seen several pictures of the Hohner D40 and it looked exactly, except for the paint, like the Chinese concertina I purchased on E-bay. I also looked closely at a picture of a Hohner D40 box that clearly says "Made in China" at the bottom.

 

I don't believe Hohner to having made their own concertinas within the last, say, 50 years or so. The several "Hohner" models had been made in Italy during that period. One of the brand names was "Stagi". I'm not sure where Stagi concertinas are assembled nowadays...

 

OTOH similar look doesn't tell about the inward quality (of reeds, action a.s.f.). There are very cheap Chinese Anglos with the look of Concertina Connection's "Rochelle". which is assembled in China as well, but apparently to a much better standard. So it's hard to tell just from a photograph...

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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I have a cheap Chinese 20 button C/G which I've kept on my boat the last few years. No problems so far. Wasn't great to start with, still isn't, but no deterioration either. Works just fine to amuse the grand kids on a Sunday afternoon sail. But, I keep my Wheatstone 30 C/G at home.

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OTOH similar look doesn't tell about the inward quality (of reeds, action a.s.f.). There are very cheap Chinese Anglos with the look of Concertina Connection's "Rochelle". which is assembled in China as well, but apparently to a much better standard. So it's hard to tell just from a photograph...

True...but the only Chinese-made D-40's I have seen were pretty bad.

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40 years ago I was alway playing about in boats and heard a fellow playing a concertina, loved the music as it seemed to be a very nautical sound. I wanted to do that, so still being the days when you could pick up a jefferies for £25 in a junk shop I got a decent f/bflat anglo but could I play it? no. Had a few rudimentary lessons from a melodeon player, but fell in love with the melodeon and learned to play that instead. Imagine my surprise one day when I picked up the concertina and knocked out a tune. As the concertina was cheaper and more portable it went with me every time I was afloat cruising or racing. Never really noticed it suffering with the spray and elements and after a few years had past it was still in good enough condition to sell for enough money to get me a cheap harley davidson.

 

Now after getting my kicks ashore, I decided to start playing the concertina again, tried them all Hohner,stagi, gremlin, lachenal was all I could afford but the sound I was after was just not there and the price of a decent leather ferret was rising hourly. I am nearly back to perfection with the Connor and am happy again, but had to sell the harley to afford it (with a bit of change). Whatever is he rambling on about you are all asking, just my way of saying get the best you can get, a good strip down and service now and again, just in case the weather does affect it. Cheapies will put you off, you will always see your money back later on if you purchase a popular make.

 

file50l.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

All the points I was going to make in response to the original poster have been thoroughly and eloquently answered.

 

One thing, however, that I continually have a pick about is the assumption that just because you're on a boat your instruments will instantly corrode and rot into a puddle of goo, which in my experience has simply not been the case. Granted, I also have a bad habit of taking my instruments (a Morse Geordie in the concertina dept. and a fiddle in the "other" category) camping, but never mind that. I can't speak for ocean sailing, because I've not done it yet, but during my time on the Great Lakes I never had a problem with my instruments being damaged due to excessive humidity, because even though you're on the water the ship acts pretty much like a decently protective building. Common sense applies too, clearly if the whole watch has just come below in their dipping wet foulies and the berth deck is a dank mess, it's an inopportune moment to grab your box and play a few tunes. But for the majority of the time a good case and storage in your bunk (or if you're in hammocks, the sail crib) is a perfectly acceptable environment for an instrument.

 

Anyway, it's always good to see another sailor on here.

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