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morrisminor

Which Concertina To Buy?

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My daughter (17) thinks she would like to learn the concertina. She is not the most musical person in the world but she does play the guitar. Which is the easiest type of concertina for a novice to play. She probably would play it as a solo instrument. We are in west London.

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Easiest type of concertina to play ? Probably the Anglo.

But, the Anglo isn't suited to play fully chromatic music.

What type of music does she enjoy playing?

Also, some folk don't like the bisonic set up of the Anglo, which

gives you a different note for the same button on the push or pull.

 

No easy answer really they seem like such idiosyncratic instruments,

each type of concertina in its own way.

Any chance you can get to a dealer to try the major types in person?http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&source=android-browser&hl=en-US&q=cris+alger#safe=off&hl=en&q=chris+algar+concertina

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The easiest to learn and play is Hayden duet concertina. It has a benefit of uniform fingering in all available keys: each chord type has its own shape, regardles on root note. It is the only strictly logical and fully repetitive layout, with no random exceptions or octave switches.

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The easiest to learn and play is Hayden duet concertina. It has a benefit of uniform fingering in all available keys: each chord type has its own shape, regardles on root note. It is the only strictly logical and fully repetitive layout, with no random exceptions or octave switches.

 

The easiest concertina to learn and play is the English, because... - (sort of mean it, but as to the OP's request:) just kidding! :ph34r:

 

Łukasz is absolutely right as to the uniform fingering I'd guess, but if the ambition is more like making some nice sounds and playing simple songs in major with accompaniment, the German (i.e. "Anglo" minus the third row) concertina might very well be the easiest accessible...

 

Just listen to some of Peter Bellamy's "mouth organ style" recordings, as repeatedly discussed here...

 

It all depends... on what you want to achieve, and on ow's your brain working anyway...

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I would take issue with Maki's statement that Anglo is not fully chromatic. If you choose a 30 button (ie 3 row) Anglo, conventionally in C/G tuning, it is fully chromatic although sometimes conflicts occur in bellows direction between basses and tune for unusual keys.

 

Generally advice is that if one is playing music off scores sight reading then English is best. If playing "folk" music by ear or memory then Anglo is best because allows for tune + chords.

 

BTW, I had chance to try out a Hayden Duet recently - what a fabulous logical instrument with glorious rich sound but a bit of a beast for size.

 

 

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If playing "folk" music by ear or memory then Anglo is best because allows for tune + chords

same as the English, and the Duet (Crane as well)...

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BTW, I had chance to try out a Hayden Duet recently - what a fabulous logical instrument with glorious rich sound but a bit of a beast for size.

 

 

Depends which model you had the chance to try ... there are big ones and small ones too.

 

 

 

Morrisminor, if you can get to a Hobgoblin shop... look up their website for the locations... you should be able to try various types there.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Dear Morrisminor (you are a fancier of a particular vintage auto, I surmise),

 

As you might have noticed, you've asked a question similar to "My daughter is thinking of taking up a new religion. Which one would you recommend?"

 

Any system of concertina is fine. Some might be better suited to one type of music or another. Some people "take" to one type of concertina or another, and it's the best one for them. It doesn't have to be the universally best one, and in fact, I don't think there is a universally best one.

 

If your daughter will need a teacher to start her off, what the available teachers play is a consideration. Based on my own experience, I'd say that is really important. If she's able to go it by herself, there are plenty of resources available.

 

I hope things work out. Welcome to the concertina world--and the series of continuing questions that you might face: what to buy or a first concertina, what to buy next, etc. We will all be glad to opine.

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Morrisminor, No musical instrument is easy to play well. Try a 30 button Anglo.

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I think that it would be helpful to get an idea of the type(s) of music she's interested in playing on concertina.

 

As a first cut. If it's ITM (or some other kinds of traditional music) Anglo is likely to be easier,

especially in the sense that there will be more resources (teachers, online lessons, written tutors) geared towards playing that kind of music on that kind of instrument.

Conversely, there is comparatively more resources for playing classical (and related) music on the English.

On this score, the duet systems get short shrift -- their lower popularity overall, means that there are fewer learning resources overall; but if she's looking to play more contemporary music, I'd look into it further.

 

Basically, I'm arguing that one aspect of "easier" is when there is a larger body of resources available that one can use for learning from.

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My best recommendation would be to have her do the research and see what best suits her.

 

A week and a half ago, I was sitting in a hotel hallway playing my concertina and a young woman came up to me and started talking. It seems that her husband and friends bought her a Jackie, but she was wondering if she would have been better off with the Rochelle. She said he had done all sorts of research and decided that an English made the most sense.

 

The next day, the husband comes up, and starts telling me about how he had just bought his wife a concertina. He tells me about all the research he he had done and stated that he had made the logical decision. Admittedly, this was a surprise gift, so she hadn't been consulted. And she may see this, as I did recommend the site.

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A week and a half ago, I was sitting in a hotel hallway playing my concertina and a young woman came up to me . . . . The next day, the husband comes up, . . .

 

A great anecdote and a great lesson. In concertinas, as in many other things, deciding what is best for someone else is a fraught decision. But, at the risk of taking this off topic, the quote above really caught my attention. Do you regularly sit in hotel hallways playing your concertina? This is allowed?

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morrisminor, so far as purchases, a very popular starter line is the "Concertina Connection" line of instruments. They run about £399 in the UK, sold by shops such as The Music Room in Yorkshire: http://www.themusicroom-online.co.uk/index.php/cPath/244_250. Though that may not be convenient to drop by. Really the only options you'd want to consider for a starter would be:

- Concertina Connection (Rochelle, Jack, Jackie, Elise models) at £399 new, sometimes £299 used

- You might be able to buy a vintage (in good tuned condition) 20-button Anglo or small English for £300-400 or so. The good thing about vintage is that if you get at all a decent price on it, you'll be able to get most/all your money back if you ever sell it.

- While there are some cheaper Chinese-made models, mainly Scarlatti in the UK these days, if you buy one new for £189 it'll lose about half it's value when you sell it, and if she sticks with concertina at all she'll outgrow a cheapie in 6 months or less. So I really wouldn't advise going cheap-cheap, pennywise/pound-foolish and all.

 

So overall, whatever system (English/Anglo/Duet) you get, I'd suggest getting a Concertina Connection, new or used (used ones should be fine, they're pretty durable) or a basic vintage one from a reputable dealer in concertinas.

 

 

So far as which type, I'd strongly agree with others that letting your daughter read up on the types, watch YouTube clips of folks playing each, etc. would be the best way to go. If she wants to play Irish folk music or similar, 99% chance you want an Anglo. If she's more into classical, jazzy/bluesy stuff, etc., 90% chance she wants an English. I love Duet, but I wouldn't necessarily suggest it to a young novice who's not already strongly musically inclined, since it's a much smaller scene.

 

A few follow-up suggestions:

- To decide what system, YouTube research and reading older posts on this forum is great (try googling "english anglo site:concertina.net" to see the many times this has been discussed, ultimately a personal choice), hands-on experience would be the best way to finalize the choice. If you ask around the forum (perhaps in the General section), you could post "Seeking concertina lesson on English and Anglo for teen beginner in London", and very likely a helpful member here could let you and your girl drop by and walk her through their collection of instruments, whether for £25 for the hour, a bottle of drink, or maybe even free out of kindness. That way she could see what feels best for her, and also get a feel for what a good instrument handles like.

- Once she's decided which type she wants, you could also post a "WTB: inexpensive English concertina for teen beginner in London" ad in our Sales forum, and quite likely someone will have a used Concertina Connection instrument, or affordable vintage one, especially if they know it's for a young person starting out.

 

Just a few ways to ponder on it.

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Many thanks to you all for your most helpful replies. And a special thanks to the member who sent me a personal message to say that I'd had some. replies Being a novice at forums, I thought I'd get email notifications if I had any replies so hadn't realised I had all these helpful messages.

 

My daughter can't read music and wants to play to accompany herself when she teaches Morris dancing but only on the occasions when the 'real' musicians can't make it. Trying them out is a good idea so I will call Hobgoblin. Also, the point about finding a teacher is a good one so I will have to look into that. I will look for some youtube clips too.

 

Thank you all so much. You really have been so helpful.

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A week and a half ago, I was sitting in a hotel hallway playing my concertina and a young woman came up to me . . . . The next day, the husband comes up, . . .

 

A great anecdote and a great lesson. In concertinas, as in many other things, deciding what is best for someone else is a fraught decision. But, at the risk of taking this off topic, the quote above really caught my attention. Do you regularly sit in hotel hallways playing your concertina? This is allowed?

I have never had any complaints, and usually receive compliments on my playing. Now to be fair, that weekend I was attending a music oriented science fiction convention that my wife had dragged me to.

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My daughter can't read music and wants to play to accompany herself when she teaches Morris dancing but only on the occasions when the 'real' musicians can't make it.

morrisminor,

Given these prerequisites, I'd tend to recommend an Anglo concertina.

 

The differnt notes on push and pull of the bellows, and the fact that one row of buttons gives you the scale for one major key, make it ideal for playing by feel or by ear. The main point is that it's very difficult to play "wrong" notes, because the notes available on one button row in one bellows direction almost always yield a valid chord. Your daughter will be familiar with the concept of changing chords from the guitar, and this will help her decide when to change bellows direction.

 

Why I stress the ease of chording is because, for dancers, she'll need a good, loud playing style, and that means playing several harmonising notes at a time.

This is, of course, possible on all concertina systems, but on the English and Duet systems, you have to know which buttons produce notes that harmonise, and with all the notes available all the time, you have to learn to avoid the "wrong" ones.

On the Anglo, once you've found out how to play the melody of a (dance) tune, pressing one or two buttons adjacent to the button that yields the melody note usually provides an adequate harmony (not always the optimum, but seldom excruciatingly wrong). I call this "automatic chording". It gave me quite a quick start-off when I took up the Anglo after playing fretted instruments.

 

Add to this the fact that the necessity to change bellows direction frequently tends to give the music a rhythmic "punch" that's ideal for dance music.

 

It is true that Anglo concertinas (as opposed tomost other systems) are limited in the number of keys you can play them in, especially when you're using chords for sake of volume; but when it's a matter of playing dance tunes by yourself, you really only need the two basic keys of the Anglo.

 

And, of course, the Anglo concertina is a mainstay of many Morris musicians, I believe. So if your daughter really takes to it, she'll have a good basis for serious Morris playing later on!

 

Cheers,

John

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Now to be fair, that weekend I was attending a music oriented science fiction convention that my wife had dragged me to.

 

... you mean, a FilkCon?

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