Jump to content

Duet For Song Accompaniment

Recommended Posts

I'm a newbie to this site and a duet player want-to-be. My plan is to accompany my vocals while performing Irish Ballads and Pub Songs which are fairly simple tunes. Not traditional Irish music or dance tunes. My voice is baritone but can perform as a tenor when needed. I have been playing with lower end ECs and ACs for about ten years but I was never quite getting the sound I was looking for. After searching concertina music on YouTube I found the sound which I had in my head. The player was performing on a 58k duet. I've now spent the better part of two months researching duet systems and for several reasons (mostly availability) I have settled on the Maccann.


I have found two refurbished instruments from a very reputable dealer, who has been more than helpful and patient with me. However, i would like some opinions on whether it is better to start with a smaller instrument like a Wheatstone 46K rosewood ends, metal buttons, steel reeds in concert pitch or a more versatile larger Wheatstone Aeola 67k, metal ends, metal buttons, steel reeds in concert pitch. There is a significant difference in price (no small amount in my world).


I'm thinking I might out-grow the 46k fairly quickly especially if I can not play chords to suit my vocals. The third possibility is to wait for another lower priced instrument with 57K or more. But take the chance of missing the long winter months to practice.


Unfortunately I live in the "middle of no-where", USA and I would be surprised to find a Duet player to talk to or even a instrument of any quality to try within 500 - 1000 miles so I'll throw it out here for comments.


Thanks for any advice

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps the most ideal Maccann would be a wooden ended 57 (58) key , worth waiting for too but in the mean time I suggest that the 67key will be the better option , will give you more harmony range, will be like playing a 57 with a few extra notes.


Having said that I will also put a strong case for the Hayden..... the Button Box's 'Beaumont' is a good instrument to sing to... gives good options for choosing a key to suit your voice. easily transposable. and is fairly readily available and not as heavy as a 67 Maccann Aeola.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would listen to some clips if you can; the Beaumont being a "hybrid concertina" uses accordion-type reeds, so the resulting sound is mellower and less nasal than traditional concertina reeds. If you want that sharper classic concertina sound, a vintage Duet is the way to go (and Maccann are the most available, easiest found in large sizes, at decent prices, etc). However if you find the mellower more organ-y tone of a hybrid pleasant.


I feel a little bad that I've failed to record anything for YouTube on my Beaumont; I've had it for a year now and just not gotten around to it, and now I'm on a different continent while a friend babysits my Beaumont. I'd have though that by now somebody else would put up some Beaumont clips, but to my knowledge the only such clips are on The Button Box's website. Definitely check out those clips though.


Buttonbox's instruments are very light while very durable, and the key action on mine is fantastic. Though in the big picture one can argue that Duet systems are much of a muchness once you internalize the layout, the Hayden system is really intuitive, which makes it particularly easy to use for jamming, improvisation, etc. Though if you get a Maccann I'm sure you'll be just as fine with it's quirky layout once it becomes second nature.


You might also sort of get a feel for how a Beaumont would sound for song accompaniment by checking out YouTube clips of people singing with a Geordie or Albion, the English models from Morse/Buttonbox. I also got a Duet to do song accompaniment (though my singing needs a lot of work) and to do more complex multi-part stuff, and I've regularly advocated for the Duet as a good box for self-accompaniment.



EDIT: If you haven't seen forum-member Geoffery Lakeman's clips of singing with Duet concertina (he uses a Crane), definitely check out his clips: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb0RPKsGLVEEC6OqFjxplwA

Edited by MatthewVanitas
Link to comment
Share on other sites


It was a Geoffrey Lakeman performance on YouTube. Especially the Jim Jones folk song.

Ah, yes! I can certainly understand how Geoff's performance inspired you. I keep hoping for more from Lakeman Senior.


Yes indeed!


And I would add that this is the kind of thing that the Crane duet does so well. The general consensus seems to be that the Crane is easier for simpler music - e.g. accompaniments - whereas the Maccann offers more facility for solo pieces at the virtuoso end of the repertoire.


When I went for a duet, also with an eye to song accompaniment, I chose the Crane, and haven't regretted it. I learned simple 3-chord accompaniments in a couple of keys pretty quickly (admittedly, I've been accompanying myself on string instruments all my life!) and now I'm finding that more sophisticated accompaniments in more keys are possible, and not all that more challenging on the Crane.


And seeing as the player who caught your attention also plays the Crane - think about it!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unless he has recently sold it, Greg Jowaisas has a wooden ended 55b New Model Crane for sale. Same size and weight as a 46b...


Picking a nit: You mean a 48b, no?


46 buttons is a common configuration for a Maccann, 48 for a Crane. I don't recall ever seeing a 46-button Crane, though all things are possible.


FWIW, I'm the one who has several times posted the size and weight equivalence, since it refers to two of my own instruments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a player of a Wheatstone Aeola 67-key Maccann which I use for song accompaniment (among other uses), I suppose that that is the one I would recommend. Really, I would think the 46-key Maccann is a bit of a toy by comparison.


Some keys are easier than others, though. G, C and D are the easiest major keys. So if a song is a bit high (or low) in G, it's a long way down to the next 'easy' key of D (or up to C). Keys like F or A are manageable, but take a bit more practice. Am, Dm and Em aren't too bad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have not read this article, then it is well worth your time:




This is one of the 'lost' articles from the the reorg of concertina.net, it is very much out of date wrt to the availability of Hayden duets, but I think that the data on the Maccann and Crane duets is correct.


Of particular note, because it is easily overlooked, is that most, with a very few exceptions, 46b Maccanns start on the G above middle C on the RHS. Small Cranes and Haydens start on middle C, bigger Maccanns also start on middle C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...