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What Do I Do Now? (Anglo C/d)


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Hi everyone. I have been playing a 20 key Anglo for about 6 years and for the last four have had a Lachenal (serial number in the 70,000s so around 1880 or so). I know that it is odd but I like to play traditional jazz tunes on this. I obviously have no trouble in C or D. I can mentally transpose on the fly from F to G and from B flat major to C. I obviously have to fake any accidentals but as I am playing for my own amusement, this has never been much of a problem.

I am 69 years old and, in January, bought a Soprano saxophone as I had always wanted one, could never afford one until now and didn't have the time to learn. It is obviously great for playing my kind of music but I have realised that I don't want to spend another 6 years to get to the same level of proficiency plus the sax needs a lot more puff than an concertina. This made me think about my next step.

 

I realised that if I was to dump the sax and stay withe the concertina then I needed to move to a 30 key instrument. I don't have the funds (well I could but my wife would be horrified) if I spent £2,500 on a 30 key Lachenal of a similar vintage so I thought I would go and try some cheaper instruments.

 

I was on holiday and near to a shop that stocked concertinas so popped in to try some 30 keys. They only had two types of Stagi - at £350 and £750. I found the fingering more fussy but I expected to have to reset my fingers to accommodate 3 rows of keys. They sounded "OK" and I certainly liked the 7 bellows over my current 5. BUT, I had taken my Lachenal along and played that too. My wife instantly pointed out the quality of the tone of the Lachenal against the Stagis. We both agreed that that was a move to far.

 

So this is my problem. I would like to have the flexibility of the 30 keys but can't afford a Lachenal. I might be able to budget for up to £750 if I have to by selling the sax and putting some money into it.

 

Any thoughts how I should proceed?

 

David

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David,

 

I've mainly been playing the piano over decades but really love my (Lachenal English) concertina ever since I took it up three years ago and value it over any other instrument within my reach. However, if you've always been dreaming of playing the soprano sax (which I can very well understand) you might perhaps better stick with it, bite the bullet and achieve a reasonably achievable level within one or two years.

 

My advice, obviously without knowing much about your personality and circumstances, would thus be to keep the Lachenal for playing whatever fits with it and submit yourself to the challenge of learning to play your newly acquired saxophone. At least you won't get old over it due to the rejuvenating effects of aiming at something with firm intent...

 

Maybe what I'm saying doesn't at all fit with your thoughts, then feel free to simply ignore it... :D

 

Howsoever... Best wishes - Wolf

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David:

 

Just a couple of random thoughts:

 

Six years is not so long, especially if you are enjoying yourself. I am approaching the same age as yourself and I take comfort in the fact that the longer I live, the greater my life expectancy. Seriously. We can expect at least another 20 years, possibly 30 even without some reasonably predictable advances in medical technology. So I say do what you love while you can. If you have the urge for a soprano sax then go for it.

 

Secondly. You can get a decent vintage concertina for 750 pounds, just not an Anglo. Have you considered switching to a duet? A visit to Barleycorn Concertinas to have a chat with Chris Algar might be worthwhile.

 

Don.

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Devil's advocate: explain to your wife that vintage concertinas hold their value. ;)

Have you had a look at websites for places like the Music Room, Cleckheaton, the Box Place, Gateshead (Theo Gibb, who frequents this forum) or even Hobgoblin Music. A vintage 26-30 button anglo will cost you significantly more than 750 but significantly less than 2500. Assuming you're trading in the 20 button and selling the sax, it might not be so bad.

 

As Don suggests, a switch to a different, chromatic, concertina system - involving relearning but not as much as a switch to a saxophone - would give you what you need at a better price than an anglo.

 

Alternatively, as others have said, a sax is nice!

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Hobgoblin in Birmingham is where I went. We got interrupted by a fire alarm and had to clear the building. I had to be somewhere else so we had to go (I live in Ipswich and was in the area on holiday). They showed me a &50 Stagi and a £350 one. I didn't get to play the £750 as it had a leaking pad and droned all the time. It was the £350 one that I didn't like.

 

If I can get a good concertina then both the sax and the Lachenal will go (it will be hard to let that one leave!). I am being a bit "childish" when I say that I really don't want to start again. I thought that I had wanted the sax for so many years that I would get stuck right in but it didn't work out that way. Maybe 70% me and 30% my teacher but that is where I am. I have a few other hobbies and have to split my time.

 

I am looking at the Rochelle as maybe a way to go. I could do this out of the sax money and still keep the Lachenal. I hear good things about them but will I again be unhappy with the sound as I see that they have Italian reeds (made by Stagi????)?

 

David

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I am looking at the Rochelle as maybe a way to go. I could do this out of the sax money and still keep the Lachenal. I hear good things about them but will I again be unhappy with the sound as I see that they have Italian reeds (made by Stagi????)?

 

Keeping the sax (oh, I seem to have misread your post) and the Lachenal sounds good David, but in fact I'd guess you wouldn't be content with the sound. The Rochelle appears to be a proper beginners' instrument, but if you dislike the Stagi sound (as I do) the Rochelle won't make that difference, telling from those I have heard being played...

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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Have you yet tried out an English or Duet system just to see how it strikes you? Both of those differ from Anglo in that they don't change notes on the push-pull, but most all the vintage ones are fully chromatic.

 

Personally (and apparently agreeing with Don), if you like Anglo, you may find Duet more appealing and easier to learn than English, since the left hand is your bass side and the right side your treble, and you shouldn't have too much trouble finding at least a basic good vintage Duet (Crane or Maccann) in your price range in England.

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Have you yet tried out an English or Duet system just to see how it strikes you? Both of those differ from Anglo in that they don't change notes on the push-pull, but most all the vintage ones are fully chromatic.

 

Personally (and apparently agreeing with Don), if you like Anglo, you may find Duet more appealing and easier to learn than English, since the left hand is your bass side and the right side your treble, and you shouldn't have too much trouble finding at least a basic good vintage Duet (Crane or Maccann) in your price range in England.

 

Sax is a melody -- or at least a one-note-at-a-time -- instrument. Not sure that a concertina with separate bass and treble sides would be an appropriate alternative. (In spite of the "right=high, low=left, with overlap" of the anglo, both hands are usually involved in playing melody.)

 

In terms of "capability", an English might be the best alternative for David... IF his brain and hands are OK with it. But since he already seems comfortable with the anglo, I don't see any pressing reason for him to change. (And the English is my "main squeeze".)

 

Given what he has already said, I think he might do well to get a 26- or 28-button anglo as his next step. The 26 would have all the "missing" accidentals between middle C and the C two octaves higher, while the 28 would add the Bb and A below middle C, as well as (in Lachenal layout) C# and D# above the highest C. I understand that 26- or 28-button anglos tend can be significantly cheaper than an otherwise-equivalent 30-button. (Maybe not so much for a Jeffries, but I don't think David's budget is in Jeffries territory.)

 

David, I join others in recommending a visit to Chris Algar (Barleycorn Concertinas). He consistently has the largest stock/selection anywhere in the world. He's expert at matching instruments to a person's needs, and if he doesn't have what you need, he won't try to sell you something else. But in that case, he's likely to contact you if/when the right instrument does come into his hands.

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David , there is nothing 'odd' about wishing to play traditional jazz tunes ( or tunes in a traditional jazz style ) on an Anglo The fact that perhaps not many people choose to do this sort of music on an Anglo is neither here nor there and I for one share your musical taste. However you should go for an Anglo with at least 30 buttons or preferably more and you will be amazed to discover what is possible. There are plenty of chords and harmony to be discovered on an Anglo with sufficient buttons. You have to be adventurous and be prepared to compromise, and like all instruments it has its limitations. The soprano Sax is a great instrument in the context of group or band work but like all single-note instruments it does not have the harmonic versatility of the Anglo, unless,of course it is your desire to play with a group of other musicians who share your musical tastes.

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However you should go for an Anglo with at least 30 buttons or preferably more....

 

While I agree that David would likely find attractive things to do with an anglo having 30 or even more buttons, I think he's made it clear that his finances don't allow it. That's a major reason why I suggested a 26- or (even better) 28-button anglo. He likes the Lachenal he has, and a Lachenal 26 or 28 might actually be something he could afford. Besides, the "advantage" of a 30-button over a 28-button is only two notes toward either extreme of the range.

 

If he gets a 28-button and then finds himself frustrated by not having more, maybe by then he'll have the funds to pay for (e.g.) a 40-button such as Zak van der Vyver plays.

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Thanks for all the comments. One thing is a given. I am giving up on the sax. It didn't work out for me. Although I play the Anglo in the simplest manner, I enjoy it very much and want to keep going with it. I made an agreement with my wife that, after 6 months, either the sax or the Anglo would go. The Anglo to finance part of the sax if I kept it.

 

I enjoy the music I play and appreciated how easy it was to play the right notes (even in the right order to quote Eric Morcambe) on the sax but wasn't prepared to wait as long as it took me on the Anglo to get to a point where I could close my eyes and get immersed in the tune.

 

I will look into 26 and 28 keyed instruments. My son in law has suggested that I look at rewriting the problem tunes a little by looking at the chord around the accidentals and seeing if there is another note I can play that make sense. As I said, I can play in C and G plus F and B flat (by mental transposition). That covers the keys of most of the cheat music that I have for traditional jazz music excepting C sharp so I guess I will end up having lost some money on the Sax and carrying on enjoying myself with some little frustrations. All in all, that isn't a bad place to be. I could still be playing the £75 monstrosity I started out with!

David

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have you thought about a high-quality accordion-reeded concertina? you could save up and purchase one of these new, or watch for a used one in top condition. they have excellent response and plenty of buttons. Such as, to list a few makers on your side of the pond, a Marcus (Wales) or an Andrew Norman.

 

I also advise looking into the "Garwood" concertina line in Ireland. These "hybrid" concertinas have riveted action, hand-type reeds, and are marketed by Sean Garvey in Ireland.

 

http://www.allaboutaccordions.com/allabout-product.php?parent_id=239

Edited by ceemonster
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have you thought about a high-quality accordion-reeded concertina? you could save up and purchase one of these new, or watch for a used one in top condition. they have excellent response and plenty of buttons. Such as, to list a few makers on your side of the pond, a Marcus (Wales) or an Andrew Norman.

 

I also advise looking into the "Garwood" concertina line in Ireland. These "hybrid" concertinas have riveted action, hand-type reeds, and are marketed by Sean Garvey in Ireland.

 

http://www.allaboutaccordions.com/allabout-product.php?parent_id=239

 

Whilst there appear to be "hybrids" which in fact don't share the poor sound quality of Stagi/Brunner or Rochelle concertinas, I wouldn't expect you (David) to find one of the established makes within your budget, even when selling the 20b Lachenal (or have it taken in part exchange)...

 

However, the link provided by Ceemonster might lead to something reasonable as the "Clare" concertina is advertised for €1675 when purchased online...

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David - as a couple of others have said, it might be worth trying a small Maccann duet or Crane duet. You should be able to get something usable with 46-ish buttons for a good deal less than an anglo with 30 buttons. You might find that a duet system actually suits what you want to do a bit better in that you'll be able to put nice little chromatic twists in, without having to concern yourself with the direction of the bellows at any given moment! Plus it would open up the possibility of playing tunes in their more usual, flatter, keys.

 

Chris Algar would indeed be an ideal port of call.

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Whilst there appear to be "hybrids" which in fact don't share the poor sound quality of Stagi/Brunner or Rochelle concertinas, I wouldn't expect you (David) to find one of the established makes within your budget, even when selling the 20b Lachenal (or have it taken in part exchange)...

 

However, the link provided by Ceemonster might lead to something reasonable as the "Clare" concertina is advertised for €1675 when purchased online...

 

Looks interesting, though I'm surprised that they don't seem to know how to spell Lachenal. Anybody here have experience with these concertinas?

 

Hmm. Looking further on their web site regarding their upcoming "Vintage Concertina", I see that they've apparently made updates to their detail page without similarly updating the equivalent details on their home page. Looks interesting, though beyond David's price range.

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I have contacted Chris Agar but I am becoming increasingly convinced that I should stay with the status quo and be happy with what I have. This is certainly the opinion of my wife who (reputedly) enjoys what she hears now and thinks that I will be unhappy having to re-lean all the button positions etc.

 

David

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I have contacted Chris Agar but I am becoming increasingly convinced that I should stay with the status quo and be happy with what I have. This is certainly the opinion of my wife who (reputedly) enjoys what she hears now and thinks that I will be unhappy having to re-lean all the button positions etc.

If you get another C/G anglo, you shouldn't have to re-learn any button positions. All the ones you have will still be there, in the same positions, and you should be able to play the new one just like the old one. But with more than 20 buttons, you'll also have available notes that you don't currently have. It may take some time to learn to use them, but that would just be a continuation of the process that got you to where you are now, and you can take as much time as you like.

 

(The same would not be true if you tried switching to an English or a duet.)

 

Edited to add: You should definitely visit Chris Algar and see how you feel about the different instruments when you have them in your hands. You might still want to stay with the status quo, but maybe not. And for the sake of harmony at home, your wife should probably go with you, so that she can both see how you respond to the different instruments and form her own opinion of the results.

 

Edited by JimLucas
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