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Sizes And Weights Of Different Model Concertinas


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4to5to6:

 

It sounds to me that you are suffering from 'Analysis Paralysis'.

 

I think that you should just get a mid-range EC in playable now condition and worry about getting the ultimate concertina later, maybe much later.

 

In North America you cannot go wrong by contacting Greg Jowaisas to see what he has available.

 

Whatever you buy now from Greg or from Chris Algar you will be able to sell/trade for something better in the future so do not worry that you might make a financially fatal mistake.

 

I am also a Canadian and I have bought from both Greg and Chris. If you buy from Greg then the most you will get dinged by Canada Customs is the sales tax. If you buy from the UK then it is quite possible that you will be charged import duty as well. There is no way of knowing ahead of time how much duty and brokerage fees you might be charged.

 

My message is to buy from Greg if he has something that you can use.

 

Finally, get your seller to label anything sent to you as a 'small accordion'. Concertinas do not appear in the customs manual and saying concertina will result in very slow processing through customs. Last time I imported a concertina into Canada I used the tariff code: 9205.90.10 92 and did not pay duty, but the courier company still charged me a brokerage fee. YMMV.

 

Don.

Edited by Don Taylor
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Thanks Don,

 

Send me a PM please with your number. I would like to chat with you.

 

Yes, Robert Pich told me it's very important when importing a concertina into the U.S. or Canada to call it a "mini-accordion". "Concertina" to customs is concertina wire... a barbed wire with raisor blades attached to it used as a barrier... a restricted item.

 

The customs code for a mini concertina is "HTS code 9205.90.15.00"

 

"Private sale of one second-hand mini-accordion. Price as agreed £XXX GBP plus £XX GBP for insured postage HTS code 9205.90.15.00" would be a typical way of putting it.

 

Thanks for the information. I'll contact Greg.

 

John

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To continue comments regarding my current crop of Wheatstones;

 

The model 4a is a 48 treble English. I think the Mahogany internals will impart a denser tone ( not so much strength in the upper partials) perhaps 'rounder' might be a way to describe it and combined with the 'Flat'reedpans which favour an imbalance of the equilibrium towards the lower notes , at least tone wise, I expect this instrument to 'honk' when I finally get around to restoring it.

 

1916 is also a good year. Some argue that the best Wheatstones were made before World War One, and certainly I have come across some wonderfull examples from 1910-1912 and my 1898 (early or Pre) model 22 is a wonder in the cut and thrust of Band and Session playing.

 

The 56 Baritone-Treble; I have written more about this instrument in previous topics and there are pictures and sound recordings ( look in the first year of Tune of the Month or go to Soundcloud and search 'geoff wooff') but here I will repeat that I think these instruments are meant for the use of soloists who want to play bigger arrangements and create 'self accompaniment' by adding bass lines and chords whilst continuing to play melodies in the 'Treble' positions. This is how I like to use the beast. It being the smallest of the B/T's it is perhaps the most desirable. At 8 inches it appears large but in comparison to the 64key model's 8 3/4" it is vastly easier to push and pull.The downside is the loss of the top half an octave of the standard Treble range.

 

So, the volume balance of this B/T from top to bottom is about as good as I have ever experienced and a lot of EC's have passed through my hands over the years. The Tone quality is also very nice in a Neutral way ( not sharp, not muffled, volume sufficient for its tone character) with enough power and dynamic range for solo playing or ensemble work. It is an instrument I have known for a long time, having worked on it for the previous owner who used it professionally for some years. It looks like it has had a busy life but the only non original parts are the straps. It carries a few scars and patches but I like it like that, it's a bit like myself.

 

Is 1927 a good year then....? Yes, my first good concertina was a TT Aeola 31536 that I bought from Harry Crabb in 1974... and a couple of years ago I had a 70key MacCann 31529 which had the most beautifull sound I have ever heard a concertina make.

 

However, any concertina should be judged by how it plays more than what period it comes from or which model it is. The condition as well as the quality of any recent service work can make a profound effect too.

 

Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Thanks Geoff.

 

Some more data:

 

An unrestored metal ended model 11A tenor weighs 3 lbs, 6 oz and is 6-1/2" ATF. Not bad... it's really too bad these are so rare.

 

Here's quick summary of the compass (interval range) of some different models. Please check this over please and let me know if I have something wrong. Thanks.

 

48 key has roughly 3-1/2 octaves

56 has usually exactly 4 octaves

 

(I have left out 60 and 64 key English concertinas due to rarity.)

 

No. ??? piccolo concertina - no information

 

No. 17 Aeola 48 key English concertina is from G below middle C to C, 3 octaves above middle C (the same as a violin).

 

No. 8, 56 key extended treble is G below middle C to G, 3-1/2 octaves above middle C (four octave G to G).

 

No. 19, 56 key tenor-treble Is C one octave below C to C, 3 octaves above middle C (four octaves C to C)

 

No. 17A (11A?), 48 key tenor is C below middle C to F 2-1/2 octaves above middle C (roughly 3-1/2 octaves)

 

No. 17, 56 key Baritone-treble is from G (first line on bass clef) to G (four lines above treble staf)

 

No. 20, 48 key Baritone is from G (first line on bass clef) to C two octaves above middle C (3 octaves, 3 notes)

 

I'll try to add what I have in sizes and weights and list the instruments in order from smallest to largest. I am still missing a lot but this way we can see where we are at.

 

Thanks everyone for all your help. This information has already made my choice of instrument so much easier.

 

John

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I don't play English concertina, but I'd just venture an observation - in my experience, the weight of an instrument is far from being the only indicator of how strenuous it will be to play it, even standing up for long periods. The response plays a large part in this too - and you can only assess this on a per-instrument basis.

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I don't play English concertina, but I'd just venture an observation - in my experience, the weight of an instrument is far from being the only indicator of how strenuous it will be to play it, even standing up for long periods. The response plays a large part in this too - and you can only assess this on a per-instrument basis.

Thanks Stuart. I appreciate the insight and think I see what you are saying. To clarify, are you saying that you've observed a tenor-treble or maybe even a baritone-treble feel more comfortable than say a 48K treble? Please explain more. I could see this if the treble was set up very poorly but if everything was fairly consistent wouldn't the treble be more comfortable? I remember having a somewhat similar discussion with Wim Wakker over air flow, action etc. which may apply and will go back and search for that email. I know it is very important to have the action, air flow, reed voicing, etc. set equal on every key so the response of the instrument is fast and consistent. What do you think makes one concertina more responsive than another? I've been reading about reed pan design, cross bracing, sloped walls, etc. which I sure all applies. I guess that I may just have to take a trip to London after all and get Chris Algar to line them all up. Thanks, John

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John, I'm no technician, merely a player - I can anecdotally report that I've found some physically heavy instruments far less tiring to play than some that are much lighter. For example, early this week I compared a very light 30-key Crabb anglo with lots of aluminium in it with a 50-key Jeffries that was built like a tank and in relative terms weighed a tonne. The Crabb's reeds spoke very quickly indeed, but the Jeffries was much less work to play.


It's startling how different instruments of the same make and model can feel, too, even if the instruments you're comparing are in tip-top condition - and that holds true for pianos, say, every bit as much as it does for concertinas.


As I said previously, I can't comment specifically on English concertinas as I don't play them, and I'm no technician beyond doing the occasional running repairs, so I can't comment on construction details. However, when I'm seeking instruments I find it essential to compare instruments for real, particularly when they can have such chequered histories as our beloved hexagons/octagons. The statistics you're collecting may help you to decide roughly what avenues to explore, but I've often gone looking with one idea and come out with something totally different because it felt right, despite everything my research told me.

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Hi John,

 

I'm exclusively playing a Treble (48 button) EC, which is not superfast, but goes well under my fingers. Not many Aeola Trebles I've tried out at some point needed more effort, which may be no big surprise, whereas many other Treble instruments did. However - and that's my point here - a TT is quite a different thing, due to not only weight but size, and although I would love to have and regularly play one I wouldn't think of it as fits-it-all-instrument. A good Treble EC really fits between the palms, at least for meself. But as said, my experience is limited and maybe Geoff Woof or other regular TT-players (or Jim Lucas who's often even playing Baritones) will object...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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I don't play English concertina, but I'd just venture an observation - in my experience, the weight of an instrument is far from being the only indicator of how strenuous it will be to play it,

I would certainly agree with Stuart's observation, accepting that extremes of weight do have an overriding impact on the experience of playing an instrument. Having played a number of ECs, and owning a couple, I have been struck by the impact of small changes in the positioning of the thumb and finger rests (and the lengths of the latter on instruments with longer scales) make on an EC in terms of its centre of gravity and ergonomic fit with my hands and muscles. The second factor here being that we all have slightly different shaped hands with differing lengths of thumb and little finger - so an instrument that sits comfortably in one person's hands may not always do so in another's. For example, I have an extended Excelsior treble which I get a lot of pleasure from playing, but another concertina playing friend (used to the weight of a TT) just cannot get comfortable with regardless of alterations to thumb strap and thumb position within the strap. I guess this re-iterates that there is no substitute for trying the instruments when possible.

 

That said, I'll try and weigh my Wheatstones this weekend and report back - interesting to see if what always seems light is actually light (if that makes any sense!).

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I, too, lament the paucity of metal-ended Tenor 11As. Just a plain metal-ended Wheatstone Tenor in the vein of the Model 21 or Model 22 would actually be my preference to an Aeola, though. The Aeolas have an amazing dynamic range, but the 21s and 22s bark out better for the kind of music I play on concertina.

 

Yes, if the concertina is otherwise very fast and responsive, weight is not significant factor, IMHO. But then, I hold EC like an Anglo---sitting down, on the lap or knee, tilted a bit. A fast, responsive big concertina is not gonna feel heavy that way. Particularly since this is a relative thing, and I also play accordion. To a unisonoric accordion player (CBA or PA), 15 pounds is considered a "compact" size accordion. A four-pound concertina is nothin'.

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Albeit holding my instrument just like ceemonster is describing his own attitude I wouldn't consider the weight factor irrelevant, as only one end will rest on one knee (at least in my case) to allow for free and forceful bellows movement, and avoid serious wear on the edges. Thus the extra weight will burden your free wrist and arm then.

 

I'm not sure if comparing concertinas with accordions here is helpful either. I tend to rather draw a parallel, regarding each on its own level. I was experiencing serious left-arm issues with both playing the piano accordion and larger German melodeons. Now that I fond a super-small but fully developed melodeon for me they're not coming back with playing for half an hour or even longer. All the more, playing gets much more bouncy, I guess partly due to the superior quality of the instrument and some special feature of it but partly simply due to its really weighing "nothing".

 

As I can't claim experience with larger - and heavier - concertinas for myself I'd just doubt once again that there's one instrument for all purpose - but of course you can try to come close to that point regarding your own (probably to some extent limited) style and preferences - and yes, a good 48 tenor might very well be a highly desirable thing in this respect for me too...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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I just wanted to repeat my comment regarding applied physics:

 

pressure = force / area.

 

Hence the air-pressure inside a small instrument will be substantially higher than in a big one - provided one pushes and pulls with the same force.

 

Hence smaller instruments ( of the same quality ) are usually louder, react faster and have a greater dynamic range!

 

This may not be relevant for most players, as 95% of all concertinas are 6 1/2" trebles...

 

There is an amazing difference between my 5 1/2" treble Aeola and a normal 6 1/2" Aeola!

 

The trade-off is that smaller instruments obviously hold less air, but use more ( higher pressure! )! My 48 key tenor-Aeolas react considerably better than my 56 and 64 key TTs, but run out of air faster.

 

To use my 5 1/2" treble like a normal one, I had huge 7 fold-bellows fitted...

 

Ceemonster, I had several M21s and M22s, but I always would prefer Aeolas. They come from ultra quiet pin-hole to screeming 48 key metal-ended treble - and anything in between, depending on end-material, fretwork-design, reed-length and period...

 

And - as it is with cars - quality and performance have their price!

Edited by conzertino
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I just listened to the CD by John Nixon - Just A Little Jazz. He plays treble, baritone and contra bass English concertinas on the CD. Now I want a baritone next after the TT! Awesome tone! I would loose a lot of money if I was a gambling man as I would swear that many of the tracks were played by a clarinet or a saxophone. Amazing tone!

 

I am struggling with a bit of a bad habit with the hand that holds the free end of the concertina while playing. I tend to catch myself supporting the instrument with not only the little finger and thumb but put two fingers on the slide instead of one. I can get away with this on certain keys by get tripped when I go for an accidental note and my finger is busy supporting the instrument. A bad habit trying to take hold but I am fighting it. My point here is that even my small, light weight 48 key bone button Lachenal has enough weight to affect me. I imagine one can get used tit

 

Still compiling data. I could use some more serial/size/weight data on trebles please.

 

John

Edited by 4to5to6
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Thanks Conzertino (Robert). I was thinking exactly the same thing... I understand one of the advantages of the slightly larger tenor-trebles is it's slightly larger bellows/air flow. One of the biggest challenges I have is bellows control and so I am experimenting with keeping both ends always on my knee (some use a large elestic on the bottom side to help) and then using small movements in a fanning motion versus long extensions and big gulps of air. I'm still experimenting but it seems a larger bellows would allow for lower pressure and air flow with less movement making smaller fan movements more practical. I understand in the early days 4-fold bellows were standard and look at the music they were playing. Amazing! Thanks again for the very helpful insight. John

Edited by 4to5to6
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I just listened to the CD by John Nixon - Just A Little Jazz. He plays treble, baritone and contra bass English concertinas on the CD. Now I want a baritone next after the TT! Awesome tone! I would loose a lot of money if I was a gambling man as I would swear that many of the tracks were played by a clarinet or a saxophone. Amazing tone!

 

I am struggling with a bit of a bad habit with the hand that holds the free end of the concertina while playing. I tend to catch myself supporting the instrument with not only the little finger and thumb but put two fingers on the slide instead of one. I can get away with this on certain keys by get tripped when I go for an accidental note and my finger is busy supporting the instrument. A bad habit trying to take hold but I am fighting it. My point here is that even my small, light weight 48 key bone button Lachenal has enough weight to affect me. I imagine one can get used tit

 

 

 

 

Still compiling data. I could use some more serial/size/weight data on trebles please.

 

John

 

Used tits are cheap in most countries!! ( comment on your typo)

 

 

Seriously though, don't be fooled by some of the sounds John Nixon produced because he also used a "concertina Midi controler".

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Thanks Geoff. That should read "used to it". Ha ha ha! Funny guy!

 

Thanks for the John Nixon insight. And yet more to research! Will this ever end?!?!

 

Any insights on " The Flight of the Bumblebee - The Fayre Four Sisters"? Sylvia Fayre was unbelievable! I didn't think a concertina could ever react that fast!!! And no MIDI in those days! They did cheat a bit by getting special concertinas made that would play entire chords with the pressing of only one button!

 

So much for staying on topic!!!

Edited by 4to5to6
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John, I understand that Robbie is saying that with smaller instruments you don't need larger bellows if not for the amount of available air, and that the larger bellows of larger instruments don't compensate the loss of reactibility (if there is such a word). He's playing a mini 48 treble which is simply amazing...

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I don't think the smaller instruments use more air due to the higher effective pressure unless you play at high pressure all the time. Air useage depends on the reed 'set' and quality. It just feels like the bellows is moving more quickly back and forth, which can be disconcerting untill you get used to it.

 

Regarding effective dynamic ability; the change from soft to loud uses far less a change of push/pull force on a small instrument, in fact the control of the dynamics can require a very delicate touch on an airtight Treble in comparison to a TT or larger concertina. Almost all the dynamic ability is available on the bigger instruments, it is just more spread out through the range of appliable forces generated by the player. When one is used to a larger box it can be easier to control PP to FF.

 

Caveat; the more reeds and more wood in a larger instrument can have a dampening effect on the maximum power output achievable.

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