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lxnx

What Makes Jefferies Concertinas So Valuable?

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Apologies if this has been answered before, but I couldn't find much from searching.

 

I was just wondering what it is that makes Jeffries concertinas so sought after?

 

Is it purely because of their sound/build quality? If so, can't concertinas by modern makers easily replicate this? Or is it that they were made by someone with levels of mastery/experience that haven't been reached currently?

 

Is it because they're good quality for their age, aesthetically pleasing, and they're sought after as a classic car might be?

 

I've occasionally seen these concertinas for sale which state that e.g. bellows/valves/straps/buttons have been replaced. In these, what still makes them sought after? Just the reeds/wood/decoration?

 

I've never tried one (and am probably never likely to get the chance), so this is something I'm just curious about.

Edited by lxnx

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I have never experienced a non-Jeffries concertina with similar sound characteristics. They seem to be simply unique - but I agree that the question you raise regarding the replicability is an interesting one.

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Apologies if this has been answered before, but I couldn't find much from searching.

 

I was just wondering what it is that makes Jefferies concertinas so sought after?

 

Is it purely because of their sound/build quality? If so, can't concertinas by modern makers easily replicate this? Or is it that they were made by someone with levels of mastery/experience that haven't been reached currently?

 

Is it because they're good quality for their age, aesthetically pleasing, and they're sought after as a classic car might be?

 

I've occasionally seen these concertinas for sale which state that e.g. bellows/valves/straps/buttons have been replaced. In these, what still makes them sought after? Just the reeds/wood/decoration?

 

I've never tried one (and am probably never likely to get the chance), so this is something I'm just curious about.

 

Unique sound. Some people love it, and for us, nothing else satisfies.

 

Incredible reeds.

 

Overbuilt - terrific durability.

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I have played many concertinas and Jeffries are the best.

Sound, speed of action,equivalent to a classic car is a good description

 

I do think that certain Linota's have come a very close second .

Al

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I was just wondering what it is that makes Jefferies concertinas so sought after?

Jeffries concertinas generally have a characteristic sound, which is preferred by many (though not by everyone). It's often described as "the Jeffries honk". I haven't done a careful personal study, but I understand that Jeffries reeds are proportioned differently than those of other makers, so this may account for their different sound.

 

I don't know whether any contemporary makers have attempted to replicate the precise measurements of the Jeffries reeds. I also don't know if the type of steel used matters (I think it might) or whether any contemporary makers have duplicated the Jeffries reed steel exactly. Different wood in reedpans, etc.? Maybe someone else can answer that.

 

Jeffries bellows can make a difference to the playing, but not to the sound, and bellows that give the same feel are much easier to duplicate. Pads, valves, straps, and buttons are much less significant.

 

A separate question is just how much of the Jeffries reputation is just that... reputation. These days, not every highly regarded anglo player -- Irish or otherwise -- has a Jeffries as their main instrument, even if they could.

 

I've never tried one (and am probably never likely to get the chance)...

Do you live so remotely that you'll never encounter other concertina players? Most Jeffries owners that I know would be happy to give you a go on their instrument if you met them.

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Do you live so remotely that you'll never encounter other concertina players? Most Jeffries owners that I know would be happy to give you a go on their instrument if you met them.

 

 

No, no, nothing like that, I think I just underestimated the number of Jeffries concertinas that are out there.

 

From their value, I assumed it was mostly professional performers who might own them (I'm also new to the concertina, so have yet to meet another player :) but I assume that part will change at least!).

Edited by lxnx

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Sound, speed of action,equivalent to a classic car is a good description

 

Where the comparison to a classic car breaks down--to the concertina's favor--is that a classic concertina is suitable for everyday use, and is just as functional as a modern day concertina. On the downside, like an old car, it will require more opening up and tinkering than a newer one. I suppose, in contrast to the classic car owner, the classic concertina owner would probably be invited to participate in fewer parades!

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i love the jeffries tone, personality, and "honk." but having said that, i also think that there are a number of very fine Anglo concertina makes out there, and that a mystique and cachet equivalent to kind of a bubble or frenzy set in around the name and scarcity of the Jeffries concertina. while of course, in market terms, something is worth what people will pay for it, once the prices for Jeffries anglos went into the $9K-14K range, things got silly imho. and i know of more than one professional Irish concertina player who has shed or at the least put away, their Jeffries in favor of a new Dipper or Suttner.

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Agree that Jeffries concertinas are very distinctive and at the top end of what is available in anglos. I do think that there are other anglos that are also sit in that bracket very comfortably (notably some Linotas and Crabbs amongst older instruments and Dippers and Wheatstone / Dickinsons amongst the newer). In that exalted company which you prefer is a matter of taste, I think. I also think it's sad that Jeffries anglos cost more than other comparable concertinas merely because of the Jeffries name.

 

Chris

 

(Full disclosure, I play a Jeffries G/D in sessions and a Dipper C/G baritone for song accompaniment)

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Agree that Jeffries concertinas are very distinctive and at the top end of what is available in anglos. I do think that there are other anglos that are also sit in that bracket very comfortably (notably some Linotas and Crabbs amongst older instruments and Dippers and Wheatstone / Dickinsons amongst the newer). In that exalted company which you prefer is a matter of taste, I think. I also think it's sad that Jeffries anglos cost more than other comparable concertinas merely because of the Jeffries name.

 

Chris

 

(Full disclosure, I play a Jeffries G/D in sessions and a Dipper C/G baritone for song accompaniment)

 

Chris,

 

I do agree, Jeffries are on a pedestal, especially as Crabb supplied to Jeffries in the early days. I also find the finish on the some Jeffries crude compared with their contemporaries, un-planed wood etc. not that this affects play or sound however.

 

Dave

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What makes the Jefferies so valuable?

 

1. Well... they are consistently great players. I've never played one I didn't like. This means that with some possible exceptions, when you get a Jefferies, you know you are getting a potentially great instrument.

 

2. They are vintage instruments and that makes them rare. No more will be made, and every year, by mishap, there are fewer.

 

3. Reed response is as good as it gets. They speak out. There is always a slight delay between activating a concertina reed and hearing the note. The Jefferies instruments seem to play exactly when you want them to with no delay at all.

 

3. The dynamic range is as good as it gets. My Jefferies will go from a whisper to a scream at the least bellows impulse. So, by a minute change in bellows pressure I can play expressively and with great ease across the whole range of the instrument... low to high. I play other instruments too, and though I like how they sound, they can take more effort to change the dynamics. My Jefferies boxes play like butter and this is the main reason why I like them. They are so responsive that they seem like a living, breathing creature. They react to the merest gentle touch like no other... and that fine dynamic gradation is where the true music resides in the Anglo... IMHO.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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3. The dynamic range is as good as it gets. My Jefferies will go from a whisper to a scream at the least bellows impulse. So, by a minute change in bellows pressure I can play expressively and with great ease across the whole range of the instrument... low to high. I play other instruments too, and though I like how they sound, they can take more effort to change the dynamics. My Jefferies boxes play like butter and this is the main reason why I like them. They are so responsive that they seem like a living, breathing creature. They react to the merest gentle touch like no other... and that fine dynamic gradation is where the true music resides in the Anglo... IMHO.

 

I think you've hit the nail on the head Jody - for me it's all about their dynamic range and how for example, you can tail off full chords to nothing, while remaining in full control of the individual notes. Modern concertinas will do this too, but I feel the envelope of control is far more narrow, giving the impression that they are in control of the dynamics, rather than me. My modern instruments are louder and more even across the range, but they all lack that dynamic 'control' that my Jeffries have. As to why this is, I would come back to the steel again. Living far away from the nearest concertina maker, I've had to learn to tune myself and there is a noticeable difference between filing modern reeds and Jeffries reeds, the latter feel like you are filing saw blades! The woodwork in mine I would say is on the rough side and the action is noisy (worn!) and relatively unreliable, but it seems they had the majority of the effort put in all the important places. I can't imagine the effort involved in hand filing a set of reed tongues to their frames in that steel, and it makes me feel that good vintage concertinas were less a marvel of late Victorian technological innovation, than the result of cheap skilled labour and piecework employment practises...

 

Adrian

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Where the comparison to a classic car breaks down--to the concertina's favor--is that a classic concertina is suitable for everyday use, and is just as functional as a modern day concertina. On the downside, like an old car, it will require more opening up and tinkering than a newer one.

People seem surprised that I drive classic cars (45+ years old) as my everyday transport. I'm not sure why - that's what they were designed for. They do need more tinkering/maintenance than a modern though.

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I cannot but agree to Jody and Adrian's postings.Many may think that it is the Emperors new clothes that many for years have raved about Jeffries concertinas and I must agree that some instruments I have played come very close to them.Peter's Dipper I play "Monks March" on Utube is a lovely instrument ,but I understand that it had to be tweaked before Peter was happy with it.Some instruments although beautiful to look at do not respond quick enough as Jody has found.I must admit that I have not tried the newer makes so I cannot pass judgement on them.

Jeffries are loud and I have been told many times that I play it too loud, but they will respond to quiet playing and of recent years I have worked with success on this option.They have always been expensive and top end and will be for many years more.If you get a chance to buy one, it may break the bank, but if you are a reasonable player you will never regret taking the plunge.

Al

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I must agree that some instruments I have played come very close to them.Peter's Dipper I play "Monks March" on Utube is a lovely instrument ,but I understand that it had to be tweaked before Peter was happy with it.

 

No tweaking required, Alan. :)

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Having read this thread, I have to agree that the Jeffries which I have owned all looked 'rough' internally. Action always felt good, though, and the sound produced was always distinctive.

 

The best one was a 38 key C/G, which I bought from Brian Hayden. From memory, one reed needed to be replaced, but was otherwise in 'new' condition. Colin Dipper said that it was the best Jeffries which he had worked on. It was a stunner. It went to a new home some 20 years ago, and the new (I guess still current) owner was delighted.

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Thanks for the responses all, I think I'm starting to understand why these instruments are quite so in demand.

 

Though I'm still unsure of the reasons modern makers don't make concertinas to similar specifications if they're so desired.

 

Is it that it isn't economically viable? (e.g. 5x $4000 concertinas could be made in the time it takes to make 1x $8000 of Jeffries quality?)

 

Or is it that there are so many variables involved, it's difficult to re-create all the components that would be necessary for that sound exactly? (in a similar way to Stradivarius instruments, though to a much lesser extent! :) )

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People seem surprised that I drive classic cars (45+ years old) as my everyday transport. I'm not sure why - that's what they were designed for. They do need more tinkering/maintenance than a modern though.

 

I guess it's a matter of perspective and how far back your "+" goes. I think high end 20s and 30s cars when I think of "classic" cars. Forty-five years and "+" (a several year plus) gets me back to college days. Most cars of those days don't seem classic to me; they are just, like me, old.

 

And, yes, you can get from point A to point B is an old car (and I love old cars) but they are not as efficient and safe as newer cars. As this discussion illustrates, these old concertinas will play better than many modern instruments.

 

But, yes, classic cars and well-made old concertinas are marvelous! Or, in my classic slang, "neat, cool!"

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