Jump to content

Which Concertina To Buy?


Recommended Posts

At the risk of heresy: if she's into Morris dancing, has she also considered a melodeon? Broadly speaking, melodeon differs from Anglo concertina in that melodeon is slightly larger/heavier, generally a little louder, and instead of all buttons playing individual notes, the right hand buttons are individual and the left-hand buttons play chords. Here are three melodeonists and one concertinist in a Morris side:




With your daughter's interests, I'd say an Anglo concertina or a two-row melodeon in D/G (standard Morris item) would be the way to go. Again, totally a personal call as to which is best for her, in terms of ergonomics, playing style, and sound she enjoys. Pricing is relatively similar for starter levels, broadly around the £300 range. In contrast with concertina, there are more Chinese factories that have puzzled out decent melodeons, so there are a few more "safe" foreign-made options that are decent starters.


As a contrast in sounds:

- Morris tune on concertina (played by a US member here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFhTavv9uI4

- Same tune on a melodeon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr9bPoObTHU


Note that the melodeon has a bigger sound for having multiple reeds chorusing on the same note, and the bass/chord in the background is a heavier bounce. Whereas the concertina is a little smaller with a "cleaner" and purer sound, and a lighter touch. Both are great, it just depends what she finds appealing. If her interest is specifically Morris, I'd suggest asking around your Morris community, as it's very likely you have a few folks who play both concertina and melodeon for Morris, and would be able to sit down with her for a bit and let her try them out.


If she should happen to lean melodeon instead after doing her research, I suggest going to the very good http://forum.melodeon.netand asking similar to what you asked here, just now knowing to specify her interests/style in the post so everyone knows what page you're on, and probably mentioning "Morris" and "London" in the subject line so you draw the right experts.


Now, if she watches some clips and finds concertina the appealing one, we have a number of experienced Morris concertinists on this board. In such case, again a fresh thread in General for "Teen starting on Morris concertina in West London?" might get you exactly the folks you need to talk to! Hope all this is giving you a path forward. Even if she ends up going melodeon, feel free to pop back into this thread to let us know how it all worked out. :D


EDIT: as a minor sidenote, either concertina or melodeon would also work well for playing pop covers and any other such interests your daughter has, they aren't purely applicable to folk. As a minor example, here's Beatles on concertina (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC-2R_3fIwM) and on melodeon (

). "Pop" tunes from way before my time, but one could pretty easily knock out some Lorde, Lily Allen, or other popular singer pieces on these instruments as well. Edited by MatthewVanitas
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Not sure how common it is, but I have seen Morris sides dancing to English concertina(s).


Kettlebridge Clogs!


We have a mix of instruments. The 2 english concertinas provide a tone or pitch contrast to the accordions and melodeon.


- John Wild

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Britannia Coco-nut dancers is one - they dance to a brass band on their big outing of the year, but the rest of the time they dance to EC I believe:



(BTW the coco-nuts are the wooden discs in the dancers hands that they clap in time to the music.)

Edited by alex_holden
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We will take a look at the melodeon. I thought being smaller, a concertina might be easier but maybe I was just wrong about that.

Thanks again to everyone for their help.


"Easier" is subjective, really she's best to just try a little of each and decide. Definitely ask around her Morris contacts, surely there must be dozens and dozens of Morris concertina/melodeon players in London, maybe hundreds. Through such contacts you can get some friendly advice, as well as help finding an instrument.


So far as size, a standard beginner melodeon probably weighs about 6lbs, a Rochelle concertina 3lb (and finer concertinas a bit lighter). So a weight difference, but neither is a lead brick. There are some lighter melodeons that some Morris players favor that are as little as 4lb, though those are pricier than a beginner probably wants.


In any case, the same basic advice applies for either: your daughter will want to spend some time on YouTube looking at music played by both melodeon and Anglo concertina. She'll want to meet with some other Morris musicians and get some hands-on practice, and whatever you buy you'll want to buy it from a reputable dealer who knows squeezeboxes well and backs their product, and is the right instrument in the right key. So resist any urge to grab a "good deal" of getting an Acme Brand key of Bb/F melodon from a flea market. You don't have to spend a lot to get a good starter, but you want to make sure you do get a good starter since it's a miserable experience to try to start on a shoddy instrument.


Hope all goes well in your girl's quest!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...