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Buying My First Concertina

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Having been disappointed by a "cheap" concertina, I would suggest that plan on getting something decent to start on. The "cheap" one I tried to start on turned out to be quite expensive as I got frustrated with it very quickly and then spent more money on a vintage concertina.


There are a lot of discussions on this forum about the pro's and con's of the different styles of concertina, generally Anglo, English or Duet. Have a browse, and that will give you a sense of what type you might want to play.


If you are in the US, you might want to consider contacting The Button Box and seeing what is available to rent, which would give a chance to make sure you are going down the right path.

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What are the major difference in the styles and how do they affect the music you choose to play?


Well, there are (in fact, several!) styles of traditional Irish (or Irish Traditional) music, which may benefit (or even require) the use of an Anglo concertina. The Anglo's layout is what's called bi-sonoric, i.e. you get different notes on the push and on the pull, like on a harmonica/mouth harp. This allows the player either to play simpler tunes with accompaniment by intuition or steal away towards more "distant" keys and (well, perish or) overcome the resulting difficulties with that certain bounce you can hear whilst listening to Noel Hill and the likes.


OTOH the English is more like a piano. You can play absolutely every kind of music on it (including folk, even Irish), but will have to manage that certain spilt between left and right: Every scale requires switching back and forth continuously (with always the same notes on the push and on the pull). Some (including myself) love it, others hate it...


The "Duet" concertina might be regarded as the accordion among the concertinas. It has been designed for melody playing (on the right side) with accompaniment (on the left side) and would thus not primarily be chosen if one wants to play only single line melodies (and it's uni-sonoric just like the English).


So now it's up to you - lots of people to answer your questions here, you are very welcome... :)

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Regards Concertina FAQ i think it is about time they updated their information about the Number of Hayden Duets in existance. It must be at least 30 years since I may have said there were about 60 Hayden Duets in existance. Each batch of Wim Wakkers "Elise" is 50 instruments and he produces several batches every year.

It is well worth looking at Wim Wakkers beginner instruments - the JACKIE (English system) ROCHELLE (Anglo system) and ELISE (Hayden duet system). Not only are these inexpensive and very good value for the money but he offers an upgrade path for better quality instruments at no loss on your original perchase.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Quite so, Brian. The entry entry in the FAQ now reads:-


Hayden: a modern system. Another logical and straightforward duet system, with some ingenious characteristics that make key transposition easy. As a modern system it used to be quite hard to find but the situation has improved massively recently. As an illustration of the old situation I once asked Brian Hayden back in the '90s how many Hayden duets there were in the world, and after some thought he said "Oh, about 60". Now The Button Box (see section 8) have started making their "Beaumont" 52 button Hayden concertinas with a promised 4 - 6 week delivery time. These will be very good quality instruments. Concertina Connection, as well as building Haydens of the highest quality to order are also selling "Elise" Haydens, cheap but decent instruments perfect for learners. The outlook for the Hayden system can only be very bright.


Sorry, my eye has been off the ball recently.



Edited by Chris Timson
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