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Looking To Get Started On Concertina


anton
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Hey Everyone,

 

I posted this over in another thread, but i figured since i am new i would give it its own topic.

 

 

I am 25 and live in Tallahassee, FL. Guitar is my main instrument. I played classical guitar thru high school and in two years of college until i discovered celtic trad music. What i mainly do these days is take celtic tunes that i like and arrange them for solo guitar, kinda like Steve Baughman or Martin Simpson.

 

That being more of a solo or duo thing, i also play mandolin and rhythm guitar so i can participate in sessions. Mandolin is my main melody instrument for sessions. I used to play classical flute when i was younger, so i picked up an irish flute recently and can play it fairly well. I learned some tunes on it, but for some reason was not really driven to do it alot.

 

So enter the concertina. I still have the desire to play a trad irish instrument that sustains. I like how the concertina sounds, and the fact that you can play multiple notes at the same time on it. I would probably still use the mando for faster tunes, but it would be nice to use the concertina for tunes like The Drunker Gauger, which i have been playing lately. I really like how Paddy League and Grey Larsen play it on Dark of the Moon

 

So thats me. I would like to get just a basic beginner 30 key C/G concertina. It looks like Stagi is my only choice. I was basically just looking at the Button Box, but Hobgoblin Music also has them, for a bit less. What do you guys think? I should prob just go with the Button Box.

 

 

 

 

anton

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I would like to get just a basic beginner 30 key C/G concertina. It looks like Stagi is my only choice. I was basically just looking at the Button Box, but Hobgoblin Music also has them, for a bit less. What do you guys think?

Not to toot our own horn, but to impart information: if what you're comparing is the Stagi W-15 LN 30-button models (which have the better bellows and improved action), our prices are $70 and $200 less for that model in "natural" or "black" finish respectively.

 

Why the huge difference between the models? I don't know. They're both identical under the hood, just the outside finish is different. Our prices for that model in either finish is the same: $625.

 

Of course there may be differences on how the companies offer their instruments too.... We completely go over every Stagi, tune it to A440, adjust buttons and actions, deal with any leaks, etc. before considering it fit for sale - and we warrent it (we provide that service, not Stagi) to be fit to our specs.

 

Checking in with our shop I find that we currently have two of these, one new and one used, both in the black finish - but both are G/D. We've got several C/G models which are due shortly (just cleared customs). We recently created a new page for all of our in-stock inventory here to make stuff easier for folks to see stock at-a-glance. Unfortunately it's a couple days out of date and doesn't show the LNs. Hopefully it will be updated by the end of today.

 

A periferal thought.... You being a musician already, I'm assuming their LN is the Stagi model you're after as it's probably the best playing one they make. I think that you'd be quite displeased with the lesser ones. Still, even their LN model is well below the quality of the current crop of hybrids many makers now produce, abietly at twice the price.... I wonder if you'd be satisfied with the LN?

 

Concertinas are made in such low production levels for such limited sales quanities that their quality/price ratio (value?) is quite poor compared to other instruments. It may behoove you to think of the LN as if it were a $100 guitar. The hybrids are like $500 guitars.... I think it would be a very good thing for you to check out the various qualities of concertinas before you buy.

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Here a few thoughts from someone who started with a Stagi W 15 LN 30 in October 2003. I bought it from Button Box, and they were excellent in their support. I had two problems, one a stuck button that they fixed while a waited, and the other a reed obstruction problem that they talked me through on the phone and was quickly fixed.

 

My only prior musical experience was on the piano, so I suspect that I did not progress as quickly as you will. Nonetheless, I practiced on the Stagi during every opportunity, and became totally taken with it. The sound was ok, the bellows were a bit stiff, and the notes a bit uneven but in tune. It worked for my purpose.

 

Then I decided in early 2004 to try a hybrid in the $1800 range. I happened to choose an Edgley which I received in June. There is an unbelievable difference between a Stagi and a hybrid such as the Edgley. The tone, the buttons, the action, the bellows, and the speed are all significantly better. The only benefit to the Stagi was that there was a bit more space between the palm rest and the inner row. I have long fingers so that space helped me but I have acclimated to the spacing on the Edgley, and I think it is more standard. In part it is due to the fact that the Edgley is smaller (and lighter), and thus faster.

 

If you think you will be serious about the concertina, I suggest that if possible you consider purchasing a hybrid now. It will help your learning, and in particular help you in developing good habits in bellows control. (The Stagi requires a bit of a workout, and can tire the hands.)

 

My only experience is on the Edgley, and I am extremely happy with it. Others have reported similar satisfaction on concertinas such as the Morse, etc. I have no basis for comparison among them, and would not presume to do so, but I do suggest that you at least try a hybrid before buying a Stagi.

 

Alan Miller

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Thanks for advice guys. Basically i want to get a concertina in the near future without shelling out a ton of money It seems that the Stagi 15 LN meets my needs for now. It would be nice to get a hyrbrid model like you guys are talking about, but i dont want to spend that much money at the moment.

 

The mandolin will probably be more my main instrument for faster tunes, but it seems to me the concertina would be real nice for slower tunes, as well as for playing on ones own. Sometimes i think i should just stick with the flute, as i can already play it, but i found playing flute on my own not very fun.

 

Thanks Richard, for the suggestion on the Stagi. While i do not want to invest $1500 at the moment, i do want an instrument that is in tune and in good working order. I am going to keep an eye out for a 15 LN at your store.

 

 

 

anton

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A periferal thought.... You being a musician already, I'm assuming their LN is the Stagi model you're after as it's probably the best playing one they make. I think that you'd be quite displeased with the lesser ones. Still, even their LN model is well below the quality of the current crop of hybrids many makers now produce, abietly at twice the price.... I wonder if you'd be satisfied with the LN?

 

Concertinas are made in such low production levels for such limited sales quanities that their quality/price ratio (value?) is quite poor compared to other instruments. It may behoove you to think of the LN as if it were a $100 guitar. The hybrids are like $500 guitars.... I think it would be a very good thing for you to check out the various qualities of concertinas before you buy.

Richard,

I think you are being far too modest regarding the hybrid concertinas (Being that you yourself make one). The Stagis are definitely the equivalent of the $100 guitar, but I think there is such a leap between them and the hybrids that the hybrids are far better buys in relation to their quality than you indicate. The best of the hybrids, imho, are lightning quick, airtight and have a wonderful tone. Its only when we compare them to concertinas made with real concertina reeds (often priced 2-3 times higher) that we find anything lacking. That being said, when I compare them to comperably priced button accordions, I find nothing lacking in these instruments regardling tone, action or reponse. In other words, hybrid concertinas are excellent instruments in their own right and I think are priced quite reasonably compared to comperable free reed instruments. The affordability of these instruments I think comes from the fact that you, Frank Edgley and Bob Tedrow and the others who make them (but don't necessarily post here like you three do) don't make nearly what you should for the instruments you make.

 

Ultimately I think what we have here is a situation where there really is no decent low end to the market. Unlike accordions where there are some decent instruments in the sub $1000 range, in concertinas the $1600 range (Brand new) is really where truely decent instruments start... and most of them, in my limited experience are much better than decent.

 

--

Bill

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Anton

You will get very little money back on a Stagi if you decide to sell it because the concertina is not for you, or because you want to upgrade to a "hybrid". If you go straight for a "hybrid" and decide the concertina is not for you, you'll get virtually all of what you paid for it back ...

Samantha

(who has no concertinas to sell you!)

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I know that the Anglo players will balk at the very idea, but have you thought about an English concertina which gives you exactly the same range as the mandolin with the same chromatic capacity as well as the combinations of sixths, fifths, thirds, etc.

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The English has crossed my mind. I know everyone says the Anglo is more intuitive, better for irish music. But i am coming from square one as far as concertinas are concerned. I played a bit of harmonica, but its been mostly string and wind instruments.

 

To be honest, the concept of an English mentally makes more sense. Same direction push and pull, change a button and get a different note. With an English when playing a scale you alternate sides, right? But i have not spent any time on either, so perhaps i stick with an anglo.

 

About what instrument to get. Having played guitar i know what you guys are saying about getting the best instrument possible. What are some of the cheaper hybrid conertinas? The Morse one looks real nice, is that about cheap as it gets at that level?

 

Gonna keep saving and see. I see you alls point, but i also see the point in the FAQ where the writer says the most important is to get you playing now. Perhaps a 20 key C/G till i get the money for a Morse? Does the 20 key have the same layout as a 30 key minus the accidentals? If so i could just learn my C and G tunes till i get a thirty key.

 

 

anton

Edited by anton
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The English has crossed my mind.  I know everyone says the Anglo is more intuitive, better for irish music.

Not everyone. Definitely not everyone.

Not more intuitive for everyone. It's a very different intuition, though.

And various threads here on Concertina.net debating whether better for Irish music. No point rehashing it all here, but it's not all one-sided. :)

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To be honest, the concept of an English mentally makes more sense.

That's what I thought originally... but when I got one in my hands the fingering system felt completely alien, whereas the anglo made sense to my brain. None of which is to say that you wouldn't have completely the opposite experience! :D I think it's important, if you can, to get your hands of an instrument of each system - you'll be able to make a far more informed guess as to which system will suit you if you do.

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Anton,

Have you thought of renting one? Even far from the Button Box, you can do that. Much less initial pay-out, and a good chance to see if it works.

I rented a Stagi for the initial three-month period, was hooked, and then bought my mid-range Marcus which brought me great joy!

Good luck!

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Yes, we (the Button Box) rent concertinas throughout North America. That way you can try out the Stagi LN anglo for a month, then a Stagi English and even a Stagi Hayden duet! You can also peruse one of our Morse concertinas - all for a lot less than the amount of money you'd loose trying to resell a used Stagi. And if you decide to buy a (any) concertina from us after you've done renting, half of amount you've paid during the rental goes toward that purchase....

 

Also, when you do buy a concertina, I suggest that you consider getting a used reconditioned one which will save you a couple hundred bucks or so.

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I rented a Stagi for the initial three-month period, was hooked, and then bought my mid-range Marcus which brought me great joy!

A little note here of clarification.... Our rental policy has a 3-month minimum payment. You can end the rental early but will not recieve any rebate for the unused portion of the rental. Still, half of the amount can be applied towards the purchase of a concertina. Also, there is no limit on how many instruments you can try out (or how often you swap them). After the initial 3-month period the rental is by the month.

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Hello All,

 

Anton,

 

For perspective ...

 

I am an accomplished mandolin player, an advanced player of woodwinds and piano, and a hack guitar player. When I became interested in concertina, I engaged in a fact-finding journey much the same as you have initiated. I received both preferential and reasoned replies from many people here and elsewhere.

 

The three most helpful replies were frequent: What music do you play? Do you know anyone who plays/owns a concertina that you can try? Find concertinas to play before you make a choice.

 

In the end, the English system suited my primary musical genre and "motor psyche" best.

 

As you are in the US, the Button Box - Doug & Alice (associated with Richard) - and Bob Tedrow are all genuinely nice people who are more interested in helping you than selling an instrument to you. Each of those individuals helped me immensely and Bob's humor is an added treat.

 

If you have an unlimited long distance plan, Chris Algar and Wim Wakker are equally accommodating and knowledgable. Each of them has helped me immeasurably.

 

All of these individuals were extraordinarily genersous with their time and expertise and perspective. To be sure, others also assisted and advised me, but the individuals named were the ones who were most available in the early months of my exploration.

 

So, my counsel is to talk to knowledgable players in your primary genre, dealers, and makers. Each of the folks above are players (though perhaps not in your genre), dealers, and makers or repairers.

 

Then buy or rent your instrument from one of them or someone else like them, so that they can make a living and be around for the next individuals like you and me who decide to embrace this wonderful little instrument.

 

In summary: Try before you buy. Talk to smart, experienced individuals. Support someone who was generous and willing to help you.

 

I hope this helps ... and after reading it, I guess I wrote it just as much to recognize at least a few individuals who collectively represent the wonderful character of the folks around this site and around these instruments.

 

Best wishes on your pursuits, Anton.

 

Be Well, Everybody.

 

 

Dan

Edited by Dan Stener
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the concept of an English mentally makes more sense.

That's what I thought originally... but when I got one in my hands the fingering system felt completely alien, whereas the anglo made sense to my brain.

 

 

I think Stuart highlights the most important feature: how does your brain work?

 

I could not get my brain around the push/pull action of the anglo, whereas I took to the English system quite naturally. Others have the same intuitive feeling the opposite way around.

 

- Regards,

 

John Wild

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I think that are two big differences for the brain between Anglo and English, not one.

It's the alternate hands thing that stops me getting anywhere with the English rather than the pull/push thing. I think that practice would get me playing OK on a duet system but the english no!

 

Robin Madge

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It's the alternate hands thing that stops me getting anywhere with the English rather than the pull/push thing.

Well, no, the pull/push thing shouldn't give you trouble with the English. ;)

 

I sometimes characterize the anglo as the "spastic" concertina and the English as the "schizophrenic". I've been at least decent on the English for more than 30 years, but recently I've been getting better at the anglo. Draw your own conclusions. :D

 

Aside from the gross differences characterized above, there can be more subtle difficulties. On the anglo, playing the same notes in the separate octaves of the two hands will leave you changing buttons alternately with between the hands. On the English, shifting by an octave puts every note into the opposite hand. (For me that's no problem, because instead of thinking in terms of "right" and "left", I just think in terms of "same" and "other".)

 

Meanwhile, a number of individuals who have considered taking up the duet have wondered why the hands don't mirror each other. (No one seems to ask the same question about the anglo. Why not?) Since I have a duet (probably unique) where that is the case, I can report that it doesn't seem to be either more or less difficult than the usual side-by-side symmetry.

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