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Hi everyone!

I'm new to the forum and don't know much about concertinas besides the little bit I've learned from shopping around and reading reviews. I'd like to get my boyfriend one for Christmas and I could really use some direction. I was hoping to spend something around $250. I know I can't get anything amazing for that, but I would like to find better than something made in China (my backup plan would be the Hohner D40 I saw for $180). Would it be possible to find something used and of better quality? or should I continue looking at new ones?


note: the boyfriend doesn't know anything about concertinas either, he's just expressed interest in wanting to learn. He currently plays melodica, and I think he would be happy with any type (yet I've just only seen Anglos in my price range)


Thank you in advance for any and all advice!!



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Hello RoShayShay, you seem to have a pretty good grasp of what's within your budget. Getting a 20-button Italian or Chinese-made Anglo is really about all you can reliably find in that range, although those aren't necessarily a bad place to start, will at least give him a feel for the instrument.


Mainly I'd suggest posting an ad on the Classified section here with a very clear title like "WTB: really cheap import 20b Anglo under $250 for beginner (USA)" just on the off-chance someone has one kicking about that they're not using. Off and on I've owned about a dozen of them, mostly Italian, and sold cheap or gifted them away, so maybe someone here is in that position at the moment. I would discourage you from trying to buy one used on eBay unless you're absolutely convinced it works by a seller who seriously/credibly knows music, otherwise odds are just too high you'll pay $75 for a used one and find out it has a few bum reeds and needs at least that much in repairs.


Maybe you can find someone with a used Rochelle (Anglo) or Jack or Jackie (English) willing to cut you a little price break down to $250 just to help out a newbie. If you can find that, that'd be a great choice because you can actually sell it for what you paid for it if you move on, wherease a new Hohner D40 that's $170 new you can maybe sell for $99 if you post it on Craiglist repeatedly for a few weeks.


I see the Hohner D40 (Chinese 20b Anglo) going as low as $166 shipped online, so while those aren't particularly great concertinas, they're a fallback option if you really want to get him one and can't find a cheaper beater-but-working one. Just make sure you buy it from some big-box online store with a strong exchange policy, so that he has 30 days to either decide he wants to return it and put the money to a slightly better concertina (you can find a used Rochelle Anglo for about $300), or doesn't like Anglo (or concertina in general), or can work it hard and find if there are any flaws to it that manifest themselves after an initial play-in.


So, one man's suggestions. There are people far savvier than I who will insist that anything less than a Rochelle simply isn't worth even trying, but personally I've had some good experiences with cheap 20s, as have some friends of mine, so as long as you bear in mind the limitations of both the range of buttons and the quality, they can at least be an introduction to the instrument.

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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Thank you so much Matthew! Would you mind if I picked your brain once more? I've pretty much made up my mind about staying away from the D40, I'm pretty confident that he's going to play the thing constantly, and since he's a musician in general (started with piano) I'm worried that if I go too cheap and too "beginner" (even though he will be for the concertina specifically) he'll grow out of it too fast. I'm aiming at the $250, but I know the new Rochelles are supposedly a good deal at $415. Do you think it's kind of a waste to spend $250 if I can just bite the bullet and spend less than $200 more, or do you think one of the Chinese/italian ones you mentioned aren't too far off from the Rochelle? I'm thinking he would appreciate the 30 button, but there's so many varying opinions!



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No worries, if a ) you think he's going to be playing it pretty seriously and b ) spending more like $400 is not totally unreasonable, I would suggest:


- Check around on a used Concertina Connection instrument (Rochelle, Jack, Jackie, Elise), definitely post an ad asking here, and also check with the owner of CC directly, as sometimes he has trade-in ones in stock. If you're going to buy a CC though, unless it's a big surprise you might want to check with your boy as to whether it is indeed Anglo that most appeals to him, just to be sure. Not that this should be a deciding factor, but for whatever reason I seem to see the Jack and Jackie (Englishes, treble and baritone respectively) turn up used at slightly better prices and a little more often. But if he wants Anglo, Rochelle it is. And even if you simply can't find one used and buy one new, a $415 Rochelle sells used for $350 or so, so if you do sell it (whether to upgrade or deciding it's not for you) you don't lose too much on it.


- If you are towards $400ish, shoot a line over to Greg Jowaisas, one of the major concertina restorers/dealers in the US. That's just about what some of his very cheapest refurbished vintage instruments go for, so with a little luck you might be able to find a playable 20-button made back 100yrs ago, of good playing quality, and such an instrument will almost definitely hold its value and appreciate as long as you don't just trash it. Anything more than 20b Anglo will cost quite a bit more, but you can do a lot with a 20b. Also occasionally his least-expensive English concertinas aren't too much more than that.

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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The important thing is to get one good enough that it doesn't put him off playing. Some of the really cheap ones are horrible to play. If he enjoy playing it, then he will almost certainly want to upgrade within a few months. I went from Rochelle to Marcus in my first year.


If he is already a musician then he will recognise that the tone is important. Although a 30 button is much more versatile than a 20, a vintage 20 will sound nicer than a cheap modern 30.

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A cheap new 20 button Anglo will soon establish whether he wishes to proceed further. That's how I started.

My sentiments exactly!

I had a lot of fun with my first East German 20-button Anglo (the Chinese weren't into concertinas in those days, and the East Germans were the "entry-level" concertinas back then.)


20 buttons is good for a start. They get you accustomed to the push-pull scale, and you can make a lot of practical music. I even led singing in Church with mine! The 30-button variety just has 10 buttons added, so your boyfriend can take his acquired skills with him when he migrates to 30 buttons. His 20-button repertoire will still work.


On the other hand, the one-note-push-other-note-pull system of the Anglo seems to be hard to fathom for some people. So should your bf find the 20-button a struggle, he'll know that it's no use upgrading to a larger or better-sounding Anglo.




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