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Can Anyone Help Identify My Concertinas ?


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Hi, I was wondering if anyone could help me identify two vintage Concertinas. Both are 42 button, one is dated 1900 the other 1903. On the inside one is stamped Burger Karoly the other one is hand signed with the same name. Each has two labels on the outside which read Budapest the year and another label which reads Burger K Hangszeresz. One is amboyna ended. Any information would be greatly appreciated-Thanks Damian

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Hi Damien,

You've certainly got some strange instruments there, and nothing like we usually see.

 

The standard of construction is very good, and not what we usually expect to see from vintage concertinas made outside of Britain. Your concertinas appear to have copied much of the construction of those made in Britain.

 

One thing is obviously unusual to most of us here, and that is the button layout. The nearest similar button layouts (English system, and fairly rare Double system) use 4 rows, while yours only have three rows. Do you have any idea of what notes are on each button?

 

It would be very interesting to see how the reeds and reed pans have been constructed.

 

I don't think anyone here will be able to give you much information, unless someone has come across one of these before.

 

best wishes .. wes

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Wes has got it right (never read and post late at night without wearing spectacles...): there's one row missing...

 

A guess would be that it's in fact an English lacking some accidentals (using equal temperament some would be dispensable just relying on the "enharmonic" counterparts; but OTOH I'm not sure about usage of equal temperament at the time when the instruments had been built).

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You've certainly got some strange instruments there, and nothing like we usually see.

 

The standard of construction is very good, and not what we usually expect to see from vintage concertinas made outside of Britain. Your concertinas appear to have copied much of the construction of those made in Britain.

 

One thing is obviously unusual to most of us here, and that is the button layout. The nearest similar button layouts (English system, and fairly rare Double system) use 4 rows, while yours only have three rows. Do you have any idea of what notes are on each button?

 

It would be very interesting to see how the reeds and reed pans have been constructed.

 

I don't think anyone here will be able to give you much information, unless someone has come across one of these before.

 

Not exactly "one of these", but it does remind me of an instrument I was offered for sale back in the mid-1970s. At the time I had little money and I thought the price was too high, so I didn't buy it... a decision I now very much regret.

 

It looked like an English, or a Double, or this 3-wide, except that the button array was 5-wide. It was a duet, i.e., with a full scale on each side. Each row was somewhat slanted, and the note layout was sequential half-steps along each row, continuing into the next row... like a CBA ("Chromatic Button Accordion") or the Wheatstone Double, except for being 5-wide. (Note that this means that the same note was never in the same column in different octaves.) My memory is that it had thumb straps and finger rests like an English, and no bar-and-strap like an anglo or most duets..

 

It was marked as having been made in Vienna, though though internally it was essentially standard English-type construction, with one or maybe two exceptions. The maybe is that I don't remember whether the reeds were riveted or clamped, though they were definitely in individual frames. The definite exception is that the chamber partitions were attached to the underside of the action board, rather than to the reed pan.

 

So that one and now these leave me wondering how many other concertinas -- with layouts either familiar to us or not -- were built outside of England but using essentially English engineering, and whether any became product lines or they were all simply one-offs.

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Hi,

Unfortunately I have no particular talent or knowledge when it comes to music. I can see the letters indicating the musical notes on the reeds but am confused by the markings next to some. There appears to be 2 dots preceding some of the notes ( example :G ) What does this mean for the note? I will try to take some decent pictures of the reed construction and post the note layout when time allows.-Thanks

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Hi,

Here are the notes as they appear on the wood concertina dated 1900. The notes are shown from the top row of keys down for each side of the instrument. I have included a picture of the inside of each. I don't believe they are very useful and will take more later. Thank you all for your responses.

post-10684-0-40477900-1373135996_thumb.jpg

post-10684-0-94762200-1373136015_thumb.jpg

post-10684-0-33805800-1373136671_thumb.jpg

post-10684-0-54645100-1373136692_thumb.jpg

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Here are the notes as they appear on the wood concertina dated 1900. The notes are shown from the top row of keys down for each side of the instrument. I have included a picture of the inside of each. I don't believe they are very useful and will take more later. Thank you all for your responses.

 

Wow! This looks like a cross between the Wheatstone (English) system and the Wicki/Hayden system. I.e., whole steps between notes in a row, but alternate Hayden-like rows in opposite hands and each Hayden-like row then wrapped into two rows. (Your images show the keyboard rotated 90° from the way we usually picture the ends, so your columns are what I'm calling rows.) And it appears that the lowest note is a G (in the left hand), so I'll guess that that's the same low note as is standard on a fiddle or the treble English concertina.

 

The colon (double-dot) obviously indicates a "sharp" in standard musical parlance, i.e., a note a half step higher than the "natural" note it appears with. (":C" is "C#" in modern standard notation.) The one ":C" in the right hand appears to be a mistake. Either it's written down wrong, or that note needs serious retuning. (But if it is pitched too high -- rather than too low, -- the problem is not likely to be work-hardened cracking of the reed.)

 

I'm now assuming that all buttons sound the same note in both bellows directions (push and pull)... with the possible exception of that anomalous ":C", if that's not a transcription error, since it's unlikely that both the push and pull reeds are "out" by the same amount. (You might want to compare that note between the two instruments.)

 

Very interesting. I wish I had cash to offer a bid for one of these instruments, since I'd very much like to try out this particular keyboard and see whether I find it favorable for playing actual music of various sorts. :) (I very much like experimenting with different layouts. I find that each has its own benefits and difficulties.)

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...I'd very much like to try out this particular keyboard and see whether I find it favorable for playing actual music of various sorts. :) (I very much like experimenting with different layouts. I find that each has its own benefits and difficulties.)

 

Well, I just did a bit of virtual playing (using my fingers on an imagined keyboard to play familiar melodies), and I conclude that for melody-only playing it's champion, regardless of the scale.

 

I'm far less certain about harmonies and chords. Some things which I find easy on the English or anglo or common duets don't appear to be easy with this system. However, there are things easy on each of those that are difficult on each of the others, and so I'm wondering if there are as-yet-undiscovered (by me) arrangements which are both easy and nice in this system, too.

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Will have to check again to make sure I did not transcribe the :C incorrectly. Again I regret that my musical abilities are limited. I do know that both concertinas play, but whether they are on key or not is a mystery to me. I believe I need to locate an individual in my area who may be able to shed some light on the quality of sound/tuning and restoration cost/value on each.

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The way the reeds are arranged is very unusual. Each pair of reeds is set into a large triangular piece of brass that butts up to its neighbours, (one for 'in' and one for 'out', they only work in one direction so you have 2 per note). That, to me, says it is an accordion reed setup with the mounting plate extended. Very different from the (very English looking) action, and must add to the weight.

 

Perhaps an accordion maker's attempt at a concertina? Are there no clues to be gleaned from where and how you got them, Damian, or any other snippets of info you can add?

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Here is the button layout for the 1903 concertina

 

the left side the right side

 

F H F H F H F :F C ;F C ;F C ;F

 

;D A ;D A ;D A ;D E ;A E ;A E ;A E

 

;C G ;C G ;C G ;C D ;G D ;G D ;G D

 

 

I double checked the key pattern on the 1900 concertina ,and found that it was not a mistake.There is one :c note in that layout.Thank you again for all the responses

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Will have to check again to make sure I did not transcribe the :C incorrectly. Again I regret that my musical abilities are limited. I do know that both concertinas play, but whether they are on key or not is a mystery to me. I believe I need to locate an individual in my area who may be able to shed some light on the quality of sound/tuning and restoration cost/value on each.

 

Hi Daniel

 

I've sent you a PM message with some further thoughts from Neil Wayne on these instruments

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Here is the button layout for the 1903 concertina

 

the left side the right side

 

F H F H F H F :F C ;F C ;F C ;F

 

;D A ;D A ;D A ;D E ;A E ;A E ;A E

 

;C G ;C G ;C G ;C D ;G D ;G D ;G D

 

 

I double checked the key pattern on the 1900 concertina ,and found that it was not a mistake.There is one :c note in that layout.Thank you again for all the responses

 

I'm still not clear as to whether you're getting these note names from the sounds made, or simply reading them from the reed "frames". If the latter, it's quite possible that a reed that's marked C# (:C) has actually been tuned to a C natural pitch.

 

Your location says you're in "ny". If that's New York City, how about one of our members in the area or with knowledgeable friends in The City arrange for a meeting to evaluate this oddity/treasure "in person"?

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Here is the button layout for the 1903 concertina

 

the left side the right side

 

F H F H F H F :F C ;F C ;F C ;F

 

;D A ;D A ;D A ;D E ;A E ;A E ;A E

 

;C G ;C G ;C G ;C D ;G D ;G D ;G D

 

 

I double checked the key pattern on the 1900 concertina ,and found that it was not a mistake.There is one :c note in that layout.Thank you again for all the responses

 

I am puzzled by the inclusion of 'H' . What note in a conventional scale A to G would this represent?

Also there seems to be no 'B' note in any octave.

 

- John Wild

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