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When (And Why) Did You Get A 2Nd Concertina?


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I had an Elise Hayden Duet shipped out to me in Afghanistan and taught myself to play it there, and then played it sporadically for jam sessions and the like for a few years. Then in 2013 I made friends with a couple that held a lot of parties, and half the pair played guitar, so he and I would do guitar-concertina duets as the night calmed down and people wanted chill music. It got to the point I was playing parties every other week, and practicing almost every day. Previously I'd found the Elise plenty good for my purposes (both in quality and in limited keys), and figured I'd never get good enough to need/notice an upgrade, but after just 4-5 months of playing regularly I put in an order for a Morse Beaumont. I've been playing the Beaumont since January (including a recent pub gig), play it every other day of the week or better, and already have a deposit for a Wakker 46b trad-reeded Hayden Duet. So in my case it's mostly been a step-by-step upgrade in quality. I'm keeping the Elise as a beater/backup to the Beaumont, but once I get the Wakker I may make the Beaumont the backup and sell/pass my Elise to a beginner.

 

For a third concertina, I'm looking into the possibility of getting a small travel-size Duet (or if lucky, having one built in Hayden settup with limited range/keys).

 

All the above is discounting stuff I don't really play seriously, like the 18b Stagi English I had when I was a teenager, or the 12+ different cheap Italian Anglos (and one good vintage British Anglo, and one good modern Hybrid) I've had pass through my hands. But none of those I play even a fraction as good as the Hayden (and I'm only okay on that :P )

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My first was a very used Stagi 30 button cg anglo, bought on the scratch and dent table at NESI squeeze-in 2012. I took to it instantly, but in my specifically limitted way. Along the rows, almost no crossing, and therefore in C and G only. So I wanted to play simple melodies and no-brainer harmonies, but wanted to play in G (lower than the G row on the first Stagi) and D, for playing ITM and old-timey fiddle, both of which genres have regular sessions in my part of Connecticut, USA. Doug at the Button Box had an order of 20b Stagis coming in, and one was GD. I went up on my birthday to try it, and liked it enough to rent it, and shortly purchase it. It really does make it easier to play with others!

 

Then, come NESI Squeeze-in 2013, what should I find but a lovely older Bastari 30b CG Anglo, with way faster action and a sound much more like a real concertina, at a good price. It is now my main instrument for when I pretend I am going to be serious about exploring other keys and fingerings, but it really is just a better version of my first, played like a handful of harmoniicas.

 

As a Cnet addict, I began to follow Hayden threads, and was amazed by the logic and ingenuity of the layout. So, back to Sunderland for a day of trials, including Anglos, English, Melodeons, and CBAs. I had to have something to scratch the Hayden itch, so I rented an Elise. I now split time between the Anglos and the Elise, but am leaning duet direction. A couple of muscle memory runs are coming along, and I can see fluency in the future, and in C, G and D minimum, in one box, with easy left hand chords. So...after 18 months, from no concertinas to four. Perhaps I have the beginnings of a problem?

 

Looking back, I probably wish I had gotten an older GD, or a good hybrid, but they were not there for four hundre dollars. And, frankly, I think the Elise represents almost astounding fun in its price range; it seems in tune, relatively crisp, and sounds both nice and loud. My only concern is really slow speaking on the two or three lowest left reads. Some here have suggested they may be improved with setting changes, while others say it is just the nature of the beast. Doesn't matter much. I am having too much fun, and have plans to go back to BB for another outing/recon trip soon.

 

I do tend to neglect my five or eight pennywhistles, and my twenty+ harmonicas, and the autoharps and guitars and recorders, oh my! The banjo and clarinet and saxophones......you get the drift.

 

Regards,

 

David

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I've only be in the concertina world for about five years, but seem to be accumulating concertinas.

 

1. My first one wasn't mine. A friend lent me his for-many-years unused Italian 30-button (as I recall) EC. I was so proud to have it and started to take lessons. However, since it belonged to someone else, I felt reluctant to take it places, and then the G' button started working in only one direction, which at my early scale learning stage was a real deficit.

 

2. So I ordered a Jackie, and tracked it's progress from the Button Box to me, and happily embarked on it. Loved it. But then one day I really wanted to play something with a G# which it didn't have, and that propelled me into wanting a "real" 48 button. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off working on the Jackie longer.

 

3. I bought a sweet little 48-button, 4-fold brass-reeded concertina on Ebay. No label, but likely a George Jones. Low-end, but with a lovely sound. But it soon seemed inadequate.

 

4. Along the way, a c-net member offered an 18-button Stagi mini. I had been really attracted to this when I tried one at the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, Md., but had no need for one. This was in a range I could reasonably spend for something that I didn't need. I bought it, and have loved it ever since.

 

5. I'm progressing as a player, but didn't have anything that would let me go farther. Looking around on Ebay, a saw a late Aeola ((I think the very last of the B&H period) extended range treble. The price was reasonable. It turned out, to my mind, that it wasn't as unproblematic as advertised, but I decided to keep it. Greg Jowaisas did a wonderful job of fixing it up for me. I think my playing took a big jump on this instrument. Despite the hook action, it plays well and fast, and the sound, though soft, is lovely. I played away, happy as can be, until I realized that, especially outside, my sound was getting lost. It also doesn't have much of a dynamic range.

 

6. So I snatched a 1915 metal-ended Wheatstone Model 21 from Greg's Christmas pile (I did pay him!). I now have something that I can spend the rest of my life growing into. Maybe this will be it!

 

I can see that if I had done, say, X rather than Y, I might have gotten where I am more cheaply and at greater benefit to my playing, but I won't say that I regret any of this.

 

Oh, yes, I've lent my Jackie to the daughter of the fellow that I borrowed item No. 1 from!

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Then, come NESI Squeeze-in 2013, what should I find but a lovely older Bastari 30b CG Anglo, with way faster action and a sound much more like a real concertina, at a good price. It is now my main instrument for when I pretend I am going to be serious about exploring other keys and fingerings, but it really is just a better version of my first, played like a handful of harmoniicas.

 

You mean a specimen like this one, don't you?

Edit: Besides, I'd been interesting in buying a recently made Hohner with exactly the same looks from the outside for quite a while until I realized and was confirmed that the action and reed-mounting was not any more as Ken had shown at all but just like we know from all the other Brunner/Stagis of our days (i.e.: accordion type reed banks, no single, let alone riveted action)...
Edited by blue eyed sailor
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cboody...what is 1/5 comma mean tuning?

If you don't know about temperaments, you should check

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament

 

as a useful starting point. In brief 1/5 comma meantone is a compromise that allows you to play in almost every key and have "sweeter" chords (particularly major thirds) than you will usually get on concertinas tuned in equal temperament. 1/4 comma is better, but limits the keys that can be played in. Why? well, it is a long story. Check around in these forums and you'll find some fairly long discussions of all of this.

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I was lucky to start my concertina life with a 28 key c,jeffries and thought I would never need anything else. I was 8. At the age of 13, a school teacher saw me play at a school concert and said that his wife had one of those "accordion things" at home but that it was taking up a lot of space. Thinking this was some sort of giant piano accordion, I offered to take a look at it for him and make some sggestions as to how he could off load it. A few days later, he bought in a small concertina-sized box and I opened it to find a wooden ended 26 key concertina in need of some work. I did wonder to myself how small his house was but it would have been rude to ask. It had a dent in the fretwork and a few keys were pretty toothy. But importantly it sounded very warm and woody and was in Bb/F. The teacher said if he got £200 for it he'd be happy. I thought this sounded reasonable and was confident that Colin and Rosalie Dipper would be able to get it into Formula 1 shape (which they did). I managed to convince my Mum to give me £200 to bring to school (result!) and brought the box home. It was a number of weeks before we could get it down to Wiltshire and as I was playing it one day at home, the sunlight came in through the patio door and I noticed very faint text on the top of the left side. On closer inspection it read C.Jeffries. I suppose in reality its worth a bit more than the £200 but its not particularly relevant as I can never see myself selling it. It's a lovely instrument and god knows where it would have ended up if it wasnt rescued!

 

Ciaran O'Grady

in Kildare, Ireland(...but not for long)

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cboody...what is 1/5 comma mean tuning?

If you don't know about temperaments, you should check

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament

 

as a useful starting point. In brief 1/5 comma meantone is a compromise that allows you to play in almost every key and have "sweeter" chords (particularly major thirds) than you will usually get on concertinas tuned in equal temperament. 1/4 comma is better, but limits the keys that can be played in. Why? well, it is a long story. Check around in these forums and you'll find some fairly long discussions of all of this.

 

cboody,

I think 1/4 comma does not limit the number of keys one can use any more than 1/5th, or 1/6th etc... it Just limits the types of instruments one might join with for emsemble playing.. other instruments in ET will have notes that clash strongly when playing in keys other than a few very close to the Root key.

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I started with several button accordions in D/G and C/F, which I played for ten years before starting (and in very short order switching entirely to) anglo concertina. But I actually got my first concertina only a year after I started playing button accordions -- I met Rich Morse at Pinewoods and he lent me his Wheatstone Hayden for a week, and I was absolutely hooked, and bought a Stagi Hayden. At the time, I was playing for a lot of English Country Dances, and I would play my Pokerworks for tunes in friendly keys and switch to guitar for others; I saw the Hayden as another option for all those tunes in flat keys. But it didn't work out that way, as I couldn't stand playing a Stagi, so that instrument languished in its case for a decade before I finally sold it on consignment.

 

My first anglo was a Morse G/D, which became my primary instrument in very short order, used largely for morris dancing. But I found myself often borrowing a friend's Morse C/G for concertina workshops, and when he passed away I inherited his instrument. That's now my primary instrument, and it's now a 32-button. I hardly play my G/D, though I might if I played for dances in a ceilidh band or something.

 

My third anglo will be a 38-button Jeffries layout instrument. I recently acquired a set of good Wheatstone reeds mostly salvaged from a 1925 Aeola and supplemented with other low reeds to fill out the anglo layout, and I'll build a new instrument around them in time to give the Aeola (or at least its reeds, buttons, and endbolts) a rebirth by its 90th birthday (which will be in February). My plan is that this instrument will be tuned in 1/4 Comma Meantone while the Morse will stay in Equal Temperment.

Edited by wayman
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I'm a concertina newbie who just has a single Rochelle.

 

However, I'm also a piano accordionist, and I do have several of those. Some of the reasons for multiple accordions don't really apply to concertina. For example, I have a range of weights, depending on whether I'm playing sitting or strolling. It also affords me noticeably different sounds (reed brightness, wet/dry tunings, etc.).

 

But I can see hanging on to my Rochelle after I "upgrade" for the same reason I keep a small, entry-level piano accordion around: Because it's good to have a "beater" instrument sometimes. :-)

 

You know, that instrument you bring when the weather might not be too good. Or when there's a very high chance dirt/sand/beer/whiskey/blood/etc. is going to get all over it. Or when you're going camping. Or have to travel on a plane with it. Or want to keep it in the car for those times you're waiting for a tow truck...

 

You get the idea.

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cboody...what is 1/5 comma mean tuning?

If you don't know about temperaments, you should check

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament

 

as a useful starting point. In brief 1/5 comma meantone is a compromise that allows you to play in almost every key and have "sweeter" chords (particularly major thirds) than you will usually get on concertinas tuned in equal temperament. 1/4 comma is better, but limits the keys that can be played in. Why? well, it is a long story. Check around in these forums and you'll find some fairly long discussions of all of this.

 

cboody,

I think 1/4 comma does not limit the number of keys one can use any more than 1/5th, or 1/6th etc... it Just limits the types of instruments one might join with for emsemble playing.. other instruments in ET will have notes that clash strongly when playing in keys other than a few very close to the Root key.

 

Hi Goeff,

 

No, 1/4 comma makes the purity of chords vary more from the home key to keys further away on the circle of fifths. I well remember an old recording discussing temperament. A reed organ was tuned perfectly to 1/4 comma mean G major. "God Save the Queen" was played in G, D, A, E, B, F# and C#/Db. The last of these was termed "a useful but horrible example," and that was certainly true.

 

Here's an example comparing ET and 1/4 comma. Those "far out" chords will be less objectionable in 1/5 comma.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWLpPF4f1XA

 

Edited to add: and this set of examples

 

http://kevinboone.net/temperament_test.html

 

And some good discussion here

 

http://www2.siba.fi/akustiikka/index.php?id=50&la=en

 

Finally, you suggest 11 keys as useful with 1/5 comma while the literature lists 9 with 1/4 comma. All this said though I certainly do agree with you though that the need to match with ET instruments is probably the big determining factor choosing between 1/4 and 1/5 comma.

 

Now the real question: Did ET phone home in ET??

Edited by cboody
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cboody...what is 1/5 comma mean tuning?

If you don't know about temperaments, you should check

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament

 

as a useful starting point. In brief 1/5 comma meantone is a compromise that allows you to play in almost every key and have "sweeter" chords (particularly major thirds) than you will usually get on concertinas tuned in equal temperament. 1/4 comma is better, but limits the keys that can be played in. Why? well, it is a long story. Check around in these forums and you'll find some fairly long discussions of all of this.

 

cboody,

I think 1/4 comma does not limit the number of keys one can use any more than 1/5th, or 1/6th etc... it Just limits the types of instruments one might join with for emsemble playing.. other instruments in ET will have notes that clash strongly when playing in keys other than a few very close to the Root key.

 

Hi Goeff,

 

No, 1/4 comma makes the purity of chords vary more from the home key to keys further away on the circle of fifths. I well remember an old recording discussing temperament. A reed organ was tuned perfectly to 1/4 comma mean G major. "God Save the Queen" was played in G, D, A, E, B, F# and C#/Db. The last of these was termed "a useful but horrible example," and that was certainly true.

 

Here's an example comparing ET and 1/4 comma. Those "far out" chords will be less objectionable in 1/5 comma.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWLpPF4f1XA

 

Edited to add: and this set of examples

 

http://kevinboone.net/temperament_test.html

 

And some good discussion here

 

http://www2.siba.fi/akustiikka/index.php?id=50&la=en

 

Finally, you suggest 11 keys as useful with 1/5 comma while the literature lists 9 with 1/4 comma. All this said though I certainly do agree with you though that the need to match with ET instruments is probably the big determining factor choosing between 1/4 and 1/5 comma.

 

Now the real question: Did ET phone home in ET??

 

Chuck,

we are getting 'thread drift' so I'll move my comments over to the Quarter comma thread .

Geoff.

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I assume that you mean a second so that now you have two, rather than a second to replace the first.

 

I had played Cranes for over 30 year years before I bought a second. I really can't give you much of a good answer as to why, but my rationalizations were 1) so I could send the first one off for repairs and still have one, 2) to have a second size, and 3) to have a bit more overlap to play in octaves.

 

I've had it for nearly three years and rarely play it. I guess that I just bonded too well to the first. Plus I can only play one at a time anyway.

 

On the other hand, I have 7 ukuleles and play four or so regularlly.

 

Kurt

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My first was the cheapest I could find on ebay - 20b German Anglo. Bought soon after 30 birthday, just to check if I realy could learn anything (I had no prior musical training, only a childhood dream of playing concertina). I had no knowledge on various systems then, this was really a blind purchase.

A year later I decided to give a Hayden layout a go and I've built a 64b MIDI concertina - it was the cheapest option to experiment with layouts and to have a large Hayden.

After another year of playing only an electronic instrument and missing all the joy of playing an acoustic concertina, I have bought Elise.

And now, after 2,5 years, I'm again building an instrument - an acoustic 66b Hayden, because Elise range has reached it's limits for me.

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