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I'm thinking of buying a Jeffries but I can't understand why they are so expensive. Has anyone out there actually paid more than £6000 for a Jeffries?

I know some dealers sell their top ones for £7000. Don't you think that this is a little bit of a stretch?

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If you get a really nice one, people will put the money down. Then again, I have seen people who put down 10K for ones that weren't maybe all that nice but that was before the recession kicked in.

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I'm thinking of buying a Jeffries but I can't understand why they are so expensive. Has anyone out there actually paid more than £6000 for a Jeffries?

I know some dealers sell their top ones for £7000. Don't you think that this is a little bit of a stretch?

 

Supply and demand. Some people crave the Jeffries sound and feel; with very limited supply, the prices were bound to skyrocket. And while current prices do seem ridiculous, put it in perspective: how much does one pay for a first- class violin? Cello? Vintage Martin guitars often sell for way more than the most expensive Jeffries.

 

And put it in the context of modern concertinas. What does a new SUttner or Dipper cost? Yes, the Jeffries is more, but if you're going to spend $6 or 7 thousand for a new instrument, how much harder is it to play a few thousand more to get a classic instrument that has survived for a century, and offers the sound you want?

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I'm a new player, so perhaps I'm not qualified to speak to this, but it does seem that prices are a bit inflated. Which is not to say that a Jeffries isn't necessarily worth what people are asking, but rather that asking prices don't seem to have come down much since the recession, and it seems that many of the Jeffries that have been offered for sale recently, aren't moving at the current prices. Perhaps this is a function of how small the concertina world is. I came to the concertina from the mandolin, and while mandolin players are extremely rare relative to guitarists or even violinists, they are extremely numerous compared to concertina players (especially players of any one system). Thus there are many more mandolins out there, and many more musicians who might find themselves in need of raising some quick cash, even if that means taking a multi K hit on an instrument. Which, of course, depresses the market for everyone. Whereas, it would seem that concertina owners, being so few and far between, are mostly content to wait for either a buyer to come along who is willing to pay whatever it takes, or for the market to rebound. The question is whether the latter will happen. It seems to me that it would take either a major upswing of the Irish economy, or an increase in the popularity of the instrument worldwide. Neither of which is out of the question, so it's hard to fault folks for holding onto a precious instrument, and refusing to take a loss.

Edited by James McBee

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it would seem that concertina owners, being so few and far between

 

That is all relative. There are a lot (and I mean A LOT) concertina players over here and the demand for good concertinas is high.

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it would seem that concertina owners, being so few and far between

That is all relative. There are a lot (and I mean A LOT) concertina players over here and the demand for good concertinas is high.

 

 

I have no doubt that you're right, though I'm not sure where "over here" is. Presumably Ireland or the UK... I will readily admit that I am speaking from the perspective of someone who lives in the USA. But as someone who is fairly familiar with the local Irish music scene in my mid sized American city, I can honestly say that I have never encountered anyone playing the concertina at a session, and have only twice heard concertinas being played in concerts (both times, by touring Irish musicians). Given the differences in the sizes of the populations we're discussing, I think it's fair to say that the market for concertinas is vastly smaller than that for many other acoustic instruments. Just check out the (very much incomplete) builders list over at mandolin cafe, and compare it the number of people making concertinas. So certainly the supply is a lot smaller, which certainly keeps prices higher.

 

As to the issue of demand, I could be dead wrong. It does seem that a number of Jeffries have sat for a long time without selling, though in fairness, most of the ones I have seen have been 45 button instruments.

Edited by James McBee

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This, and sticker shock, is a perennial topic. In my experience, the top instruments (C/G 30-key Jeffries) sell quickly. There are threads already on build labor (close to 100 hours to make a "good" concertina, is that more than a good mandolin?), and market dynamics. 1928 Martin guitars have been increasing in value continuously since my youth 40 years ago. Once the guitar became popular in the 1950s (in US Weavers, Kingston Trio, etc.) everyone wanted a good one and the old Martins and Gibsons were soon scarce. New makers came out of the woodwork (grin). Nowadays, two generations later, I don't know anyone who is hunting for an 80-year old guitar, they all want a newer (fill in your choice). While the concertina market is 1000 times smaller, I predict a similar trend. New makers continue to appear, and we have more great choices than ever. They won't be cheap (and few of these makers clear an unsubsidized living from their work) but the supply is closer to demand than it used to be for mid-level and good instruments - certainly much better than when I started hunting for one 25 years ago.

 

Ken

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As to the issue of demand, I could be dead wrong. It does seem that a number of Jeffries have sat for a long time without selling, though in fairness, most of the ones I have seen have been 45 button instruments.

Most of the ones you've seen, or most of the ones you've seen sitting unsold? Either way, they're far fewer than Jeffries with 30 or even 38 buttons, but they're also not as much in demand, especially by the Irish, who still seem to be driving the market.

 

And keep in mind that there is basically only one market. Low demand in the US won't lower prices in the US when the Irish and English have access to American sellers through the internet. Even auction houses take internet bids these days.

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This, and sticker shock, is a perennial topic. In my experience, the top instruments (C/G 30-key Jeffries) sell quickly. There are threads already on build labor (close to 100 hours to make a "good" concertina, is that more than a good mandolin?), and market dynamics. 1928 Martin guitars have been increasing in value continuously since my youth 40 years ago. Once the guitar became popular in the 1950s (in US Weavers, Kingston Trio, etc.) everyone wanted a good one and the old Martins and Gibsons were soon scarce. New makers came out of the woodwork (grin). Nowadays, two generations later, I don't know anyone who is hunting for an 80-year old guitar, they all want a newer (fill in your choice). While the concertina market is 1000 times smaller, I predict a similar trend. New makers continue to appear, and we have more great choices than ever. They won't be cheap (and few of these makers clear an unsubsidized living from their work) but the supply is closer to demand than it used to be for mid-level and good instruments - certainly much better than when I started hunting for one 25 years ago.

 

Ken

 

I couldn't tell you exactly how long it takes to build a good mandolin, but as I understand it, it is substantially more than for a good guitar (assuming we're comparing an archtop mandolin to a flattop guitar). Anyway, I'm not sure that you can say that no one is hunting for an 80-year old guitar, given that--as you point out--prices have continued to rise. But I assume you mean that vintage Martins have largely moved into the sphere of wealthy collectors, while most musicians, whether professional or hobbyist, have moved on to at least equally great, and in some cases arguably superior modern instruments. Anyway, I certainly hope you are correct about where the concertina market is headed. Heck, though I take some pleasure in playing an instrument which around these parts at least, is exceedingly rare, I would certainly like to see more people exploring the concertina's considerable potential.

 

 

As to the issue of demand, I could be dead wrong. It does seem that a number of Jeffries have sat for a long time without selling, though in fairness, most of the ones I have seen have been 45 button instruments.

Most of the ones you've seen, or most of the ones you've seen sitting unsold? Either way, they're far fewer than Jeffries with 30 or even 38 buttons, but they're also not as much in demand, especially by the Irish, who still seem to be driving the market.

 

And keep in mind that there is basically only one market. Low demand in the US won't lower prices in the US when the Irish and English have access to American sellers through the internet. Even auction houses take internet bids these days.

 

 

Well, now that you mention it, I would say that in the time I have been perusing listings, I have seen more 45 button Jeffries period...Or at least when you exclude auction listings for instruments in poor or unknown condition. Which could be an indication that the 30-38 button ones are being snapped up before they even make it to the internet. Then again, putting aside Jeffries for a moment, watching the classified section here, and also Ebay, I do wonder about the state of the concertina market, and not just here in the US. But I'll leave that to those of you with more experience to discuss.

Edited by James McBee

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[[[that is all relative. There are a lot (and I mean A LOT) concertina players over here and the demand for good concertinas is high.]]] very interesting. very interesting indeed.

 

i am a concertina lover and a jeffries lover, but i agree that the prices of these concertinas are inflated and not a good value for what you are paying---with the caveat that i am talking tangible "value." i'm talking the main kind of value i care about when shelling out big money, value in the "Sage of Omaha" sense. from where i sit, anglo concertinas are simply too limited in terms of what you can do with them, to be paying $9k-$12K-$14K for one. of course, i am talking US dollars---those on the other side of the pond are often not paying the premiums a US$$ buyer will pay if buying from the UK or ireland. i am also not living in a country or culture where irish music, and the anglo concertina, has the place it has in ireland (even being a minority sub-interest there). a good irish concertina player is going to have a hell of a lot more scope for using the instrument in that milieu regardless of its limits.

 

what was the price on that huge metal-ended dickinson Hayden duet that went up on the BB site about ten years ago? i believe it was priced at the high end of the range for a top-class, premium jeffries....but.....whole different class of instrument in my view in terms of what you got tangibly for the outlay. and even then---you can buy a fabulous five-row, four-voiced wooden, hand-reed 72-bass compact saltarelle CBA for about $7K, even given the exchange rate. and with that CBA you can gig any genre of music, any key whatsoever, at any level of complexity or arranging you choose, with a bunch of different voice options....the sky is the limit. and saltarelle CBAs are overpriced. the saltarelle bourroche just happens to be the one i'd love to have. you can probly get an equally good cba with hand reeds from a quality italian maker for a good third less....

 

of course, the intangible sense of "value," i.e., the "what the market will bear" factor, is a completely different issue. this type of 'value" can not be touched or seen, but it has a powerful life of its own nonetheless---as powerful, and sometimes more powerful, than the "tangible value" calculus. and that life seems to be enduring in ireland when it comes to jeffries concertinas???? i believe this intangible sense of "value" is largely your answer as to why the prices are so high. and it is true that the good ones ARE wonderful, wonderful instruments.

 

i am not so sure about that Martin guitar analogy. i need to marshal my thoughts as to why, but it's not holding up for me...part of it is that right this second you can buy a fantastic martin guitar for under $3,000.00 and make incredible music on it without any aesthetic or playability loss versus that priceless prewar martin....

Edited by ceemonster

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James McBee said on 02 Dec 2014 at 1:51 PM


"I will readily admit that I am speaking from the perspective of someone who lives in the USA. But as someone who is fairly familiar with the local Irish music scene in my mid sized American city, I can honestly say that I have never encountered anyone playing the concertina at a session, and have only twice heard concertinas being played in concerts (both times, by touring Irish musicians)"


I live in that same mid-sized American city and am not familiar with the local Irish music scene. But I am familiar with the folk music scene (contra and English country dances, especially) and there are a lot of concertinas in evidence. I can think of 7 EC players (all vintage instruments but no Jeffries, of course) and three Anglo players (mostly hybrid, I think). One is involved in "a" if not "the" Irish music scene. So concertinas in Baltimore are not common, but not unknown, either.


But the main reason for my hopping in off topic is to tell James that some of us are carpooling down to the squeeze in at Jim Besser's house in a couple of weeks and to invite him to join us!

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But the main reason for my hopping in off topic is to tell James that some of us are carpooling down to the squeeze in at Jim Besser's house in a couple of weeks and to invite him to join us!

 

 

He's definitely invited, and I can guarantee there will be at least one Jeffries for him to sample!

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close to 100 hours to make a "good" concertina

Takes much longer than that around here..!

 

Agreed Chris.

 

One Hundred hours is two and a half weeks work ( for your average employed person) which does not go far in the musical instrument making world.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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[[[that is all relative. There are a lot (and I mean A LOT) concertina players over here and the demand for good concertinas is high.]]] very interesting. very interesting indeed.

 

i am a concertina lover and a jeffries lover, but i agree that the prices of these concertinas are inflated and not a good value for what you are paying---with the caveat that i am talking tangible "value." i'm talking the main kind of value i care about when shelling out big money, value in the "Sage of Omaha" sense. from where i sit, anglo concertinas are simply too limited in terms of what you can do with them, to be paying $9k-$12K-$14K for one. of course, i am talking US dollars---those on the other side of the pond are often not paying the premiums a US$$ buyer will pay if buying from the UK or ireland. i am also not living in a country or culture where irish music, and the anglo concertina, has the place it has in ireland (even being a minority sub-interest there). a good irish concertina player is going to have a hell of a lot more scope for using the instrument in that milieu regardless of its limits.

 

That's an interesting perspective. I really agonized when choosing a system for the very reasons you mention, and seriously considered some manner of duet. But ultimately, it was the sound of the anglo that I fell in love with. It does strike me as a little odd though that the anglo is so often labeled as limited or diatonic (within concertina circles at least) given that it is chromatic melodically speaking. A violin is extremely limited when it comes to chords, and a flute can't play them at all, but both those instruments traverse a wide variety of musical genre. Heck, the anglo has far more chordal and contrapuntal potential than most instruments that can sustain a note. True, it can't do everything that a duet or CBA can, but it seems to me there is an expressive quality to bisonoric instruments which is hard to match through other means.

 

 

James McBee said on 02 Dec 2014 at 1:51 PM
"I will readily admit that I am speaking from the perspective of someone who lives in the USA. But as someone who is fairly familiar with the local Irish music scene in my mid sized American city, I can honestly say that I have never encountered anyone playing the concertina at a session, and have only twice heard concertinas being played in concerts (both times, by touring Irish musicians)"
I live in that same mid-sized American city and am not familiar with the local Irish music scene. But I am familiar with the folk music scene (contra and English country dances, especially) and there are a lot of concertinas in evidence. I can think of 7 EC players (all vintage instruments but no Jeffries, of course) and three Anglo players (mostly hybrid, I think). One is involved in "a" if not "the" Irish music scene. So concertinas in Baltimore are not common, but not unknown, either.
But the main reason for my hopping in off topic is to tell James that some of us are carpooling down to the squeeze in at Jim Besser's house in a couple of weeks and to invite him to join us!

 

 

Mike - I certainly didn't mean to imply that there are no concertina players in Baltimore, or that I am some authority on even just the Irish scene. All I meant was that, as someone who attends a fair number of concerts across a range of acoustic genres, it does seem to me that the concertina has considerably less profile in this country than even say, accordion or pipes, much less most stringed instruments. But hey, I could be wrong, and I admit that I haven't heard too much contra dance.

 

But more importantly, I'd like to thank you and Jim for the invitation. What day are we talking about? It's a busy month, but if I'm free, I would definitely be interested in meeting some other players.

 

 

 

But the main reason for my hopping in off topic is to tell James that some of us are carpooling down to the squeeze in at Jim Besser's house in a couple of weeks and to invite him to join us!

 

 

He's definitely invited, and I can guarantee there will be at least one Jeffries for him to sample!

 

 

I'm afraid I couldn't do it justice yet...Certainly not in front of other people. I must admit, while the bisonoric thing hasn't posed the problems I feared it would, and in fact has proved a pleasure in a lot of ways, I do still tend to get flustered when playing for even an audience of one, and soon I am pushing on what should be the draw, and vice versa. But still, I thank you for the invitation, and I really hope I can make it, if only to listen, and maybe pick up a few pointers.

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I'm afraid I couldn't do it justice yet...Certainly not in front of other people. I must admit, while the bisonoric thing hasn't posed the problems I feared it would, and in fact has proved a pleasure in a lot of ways, I do still tend to get flustered when playing for even an audience of one, and soon I am pushing on what should be the draw, and vice versa. But still, I thank you for the invitation, and I really hope I can make it, if only to listen, and maybe pick up a few pointers.

 

 

Don't worry about that - we have total beginners at our meetings as well as advanced players. It's a completely non threatening group. ANd i'ts OK to just listen, or play quietly in the background. A really nice bunch of people, too.

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Don't worry, James, I didn't mean to imply that you were talking about the entire music scene in Baltimore.

 

The gathering at Jim's is Sunday, Dec 14, in Annandale, VA, 2-6 PM. Some of us are driving down from Baltimore, if you want a ride. PM Jim for the specific address.

 

As a guy who can't keep up with a lot of playing, I still find this gathering a lot of fun. Anyway, that's what the air button is for: pantomime playing! I think one of the best things a new player can do is to get together with a bunch of more advanced players and experience being part of the scene.

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In fact, prices for Jeffries concertina have come down over the past few years. Today's prices are not inflated. If you can find a top quality Jeffries, c. 1880 - 1910, for less than $10,000 you'd be lucky indeed. Edel's and Tim Collin's concertinas, for instance, have a beautiful, distinctive sound. I refused an offer well over $10,000 for my own Jeffries. Few modern concertinas have that silvery, shimmery quality. However, not all Jeffries are equal. I have played over a hundred old Jeffries and Wheatstones, and most are not as good as the best newer instruments by Wally Carroll, Jurgen Suttner, Colin Dipper and Chris Ghent. And prices for these great modern instruments are well over $5,000, and often nearly double that on the secondary market (where there is no wait time).

Great modern concertinas, like any great modern instruments, have their own qualities. But they are still being made whereas the supply of available vintage concertinas is shrinking. The real instrument bubble is old Italian violins where price is not pegged to playability but rather to provenance and condition. Some old Italian violins can easily sell for multiples of $1,000,000. There is a bubble for prices for, as has been mentioned, old Martin guitars and Gibson F5 mandolins. The latter can sell for well over $100,000. New flutes by modern makers are generally superior to the older flutes, and prices on the secondary market reflect that superiority.

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