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Today, I visited with Mr. Greg Jowaisas. Immediately walking in there was almost a dozen instruments set out for me to try, amongst them, Lachenal's and Jones'. Due to a bit of overwhelm and sensory overload, I was only able to take notes on a few.

 

The first instrument I looked at was a Lachenal Anglo 20 button C/G with brass reeds. It had a sharp sound and was a bit dissonant, but not enough to be unbearably off putting. The one thing that gave me a hard time was gripping the instrument. A bit into the visit, Greg talked about the different parts of the instrument and mentioned the strap screw and then I realized "gripping" was more a trivial matter than a legitimate one. All in all, it was really simple to pick out a few tunes on, but the lack of a C# immediately turned me off.

 

The second instrument I tried was a Lachenal Anglo 22 button C/G. I have no idea what changed in between the two systems, but I couldn't figure out the diatonic scale structure. Out of frustration, I moved on to the Anglo 30 buttons C/G's.

 

The Rochelle was pretty sharp, and sometimes ringy, so tonally it was a little on the harsh side. But like the Lachenal, it wasn't so bad that it hurt. I was quite impressed with it. To answer my own question, no it did not sound like a toy. What I didn't like was how the buttons didn't really have a stopping point when pushing them, like the springs didn't have enough tension. Given it's an entry level instrument it's shortcomings were obvious and expected. There wasn't enough wrong with it to turn me off so I will officially be starting on the Rochelle.

 

The steel reeded Jones's were really nice. They had a very warm and mellow tone compared to the brass reeded boxes. I liked them a lot. I also got to try a Carroll. It was absolutely lovely. It was very comfortable and smooth to the touch. I loved the feel of the metal buttons and it's bellows were very light. It's tone was bright but very controlled. It is a wonderful instrument.

 

I walked in not expecting to learn a single tune, but I picked up this system very quickly. It was much simpler than I expected. I'm no longer intimidated by the Anglo being bisonoric and I'm actually quite fond of it now. Over the time I was there I managed to pick out a jig and a reel: Joe Cooley's Jig(The Bohola) and The Little Bag of Spuds. I didn't get them down-pat, but I was impressed with what I could work out in such a short time.

 

I also tried out an English, just to give it a fair chance and to experience for myself it's "apparent" intuitiveness... First off, I have no idea why it's the recommended concertina for pianists. It's alternating pitch structure wasn't very logical to me and it's unisonoricness didn't help it's case at all. As embarrassing as it is, I admit I couldn't manage to even figure out the D scale. I couldn't find the F#! It was so frustrating and humbling, Greg brought out a fiddle for me to play so I could recover. I say all this in good humor but the English is not for me.

 

He also showed us a baritone Duet concertina, which was enormous and made even less sense than the English. Goodness... On the English, I couldn't find the 3rd scale degree, and on the Duet I couldn't find the 2nd! xD. It was really neat sounding though.

 

Overall, the concertinas were all wonderful. They do small acoustic instruments proud with their loudness, but they weren't too loud. Those that were bright weren't too sharp. Those that were warm weren't too muted or stale. A few did have a clarinet thing going on with their tone, and that baritone duet could've passed for a... well... Baritone(brass). But the rest of them did have a special and distinct tone. I'm so glad I got to feel and hear them live on my own knee.

 

In between the concertinas, we were able to share a few tunes, a few stories, and a few laughs. He told me about different events in the area and talked about his experiences with Noel Hill. He also answered all the questions my very inquisitive friends had to ask. I would've learned a lot more if I wasn't so focused on assessing the boxes. One of my friends said, "I think I know more about the concertina than any other instrument now!" Definitely worth the trip and I look forward to continuing things with the Concertina.

 

Thanks everyone for the recommendation and thank you very much Greg for the opportunity. You're a gentleman and a scholar! Cheers!

 

-Jerone

Edited by LoM
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You are welcome, Jerone. It was a pleasure to meet you and spend a little time with you and your friends.

 

(Jerone is a very capable fiddler and good musician and after some initial befuddlement was unlocking the "Rubic's cube" of the anglo at a surprising rate. By the end of the hour he was indeed getting through "The Bohola Jig" and "Little Bag of Spuds" in a recognizable fashion.)

 

I hope your visit lent some clarity to your concertina quest. If I can be of further assistance, just let me know.

 

Best,

 

Greg

 

PS. Thanks to Bob Tedrow for hustling out a "Tedrow improved" Rochelle for Jerone to try. I think Bob's modifications make it a more inviting instrument. If someone is looking to buy one, this one is available.

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I actually did have a question. What was the layout of the Carroll? And also, why would you suggest the Wheatstone or Jeffries layout? I'm not sure which layout I would want when the time came to choose and no basis for why I should pick one or the other.

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