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Hey! I'm new here and a very wet being the ears player, I've been learning anglo for nearly a year now on a secondhand scholer (cue sounds of fainted bodies hitting the floor), but am absolutely in love with this instrument, and harbouring a bit of a silly pipedream about learning to build or at least repair them one day. It seems a bti of a difficult world to get into though, Does anybody have any advice on how I might get into learning short of travelling to Castelfidardo for some years? I live in north wales now and the nearest concertina maker seems to be in Newport. I am trying to learn a few thigns just by messing about with the ones I have (sort of a necessity when it breaks every month nowadays), but since I think they are built differently to most concertinas I guess that's not much use.


Any advice? Do apprenticeships run anywhere? Google's brought up nothing.


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Hi Tiree,

I do 'Mickey Mouse' fixes of my concetinas myself (I have two) to save money and time.

I do it handyman style, 'would horrify and disgust artisans who make beautiful instruments and repairs (and charge a lot for it)

But I play every day without fail, enjoy the music, tolerate imperfection, have fun with friends.

AND I've invented some VERY successful improvements that make it much easier to play, e.g.

- swivel thumb straps for my English,

- under-knee strap that enables me to pull the concertina out with my legs, gaining 30% more bellows capacity

- replacement buttons that don't break, for my junky but good old Stagi tenor see attached picture (I just pushed a stick of it through a stove-heated bolt hole to get a nice round rod to cut into buttons)

On YouTube you can see those at and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDyjTI1K1M4

I'm resigned to the risk of ruining parts or the whole instrument, but I've many times done repairs free or low cost that would have cost a fortune.

In this forum there's lots of good pictures and advice and people far more capable than me, and you can get parts if you Google 'Concertina parts'

Send away for the Concertina Repair Manual, excellent, by David Eliot. I gained a lot from it, it's well written, pictures, clear, comprehensive.

You can Skype me if you see me online, my ID is palmytomo

Generally I think the concertina needs a major redesign, because it's about 200 years since it was created.

I wrote a requirements specification for that, the 'Concertina Nova'
If interested you can view at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-4satLcOAKGNnRjNE5SNW03UXc/view

Note, I haven't yet got any of it 3D printed, but one day that's what I hope to do.


20 Lyndhurst St. Chelwood Village,

Palmerston North, New Zealand

06 357 7773

021 176 9711palmytomo@gmail.com



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And once you have started reading Dave's book, and are ready for some practical then buy yourself a distressed Lachenal 20 button and use that to learn on. Take it apart, photographing as you go, put it back together. Take it apart again and start observing how the concertina is built, and how it is defective. Some parts naturally wear or deteriorate and have to be replaced such as pads, valves and bushings. Other parts may have suffered breakage such as springs, wood fretwork etc, sometimes wood can warp, and leather can perish to the extent that bellows and straps have to be replaced. Glued joints can fail. Dave's book is excellent but I don't share his liking for pva glue for woodwork repairs. For woodwork repairs on old things I much prefer to use hide glue. It is a little more trouble to prepare and use, but it has many advantages.

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I strongly recommend the last post: get hold of a wrecked concertina (English or Anglo-German). Make sure you get one made by the English (i.e. UK) makers (Lachenal, Wheatstone, Jones) rather than the German ones, which work on a different system. Take it to pieces and store the parts for future repairs. It is a great way to get confidence in handling the guts of a concertina.

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Thank you everyone! I have a copy of David Elliot's book, and a wrecked concertina for that matter, that I can practice some surgery on, though it is a very cheap style one, with the straight rows of pads inside instead of radial, so I don't know how wel anything I learn from that will be useful for a 'proper' instrument. So far, on my scholer, the 'best' repair I have managed has been glueing pen springs underneath the buttons since all the horizontal springs are joined to gether and not made for replacing. The amount of ballpoints that have been sacrificed for this insturment...

Thank you everyone for the help! I'll keep poking away at the ones I've got and hopefully manage to get my hands on a decent one to have at later!

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If I were you, I'd make friends with people who will open up their concertinas for you to carefully look at. Ask some of the better repairers if they would mind if you came for a visit, and make a trip of it. You'll learn more in a few hours than you will in a year of going it alone. Concertinas are moderately complex instruments with a lot of non obvious stuff going on. If you are going to get into repair, the more knowledge you can pick up from people who have been doing it well for a long time, the better job you'll be able to do. Diagnosing problems is one of those things that having someone to tell you what that funny noise means can save you a lot of time and mistakes. Any concertina you may aquire isn't likely to have all the different problems you'll encounter doing repair work.

Making concertinas is actually easier, especially since you can get those semi hybrid concertina reed shaped accordion reeds to get decent mostly traditional results without having to make your own reeds until you are ready to tackle that job. You learn how to make all the parts without having to deal with things that have shrunk, cracked or are anything but uniform. Even there, it is a really good idea not to try to reinvent the wheel. Do your improving after you've done one similar to one of the better traditional concertinas.( or hybrids if they are your thing ) That will give you something to measure your " improvements " against. I have seen very few changes in concertina design that offer any real advantage. Modern CNC tooling is one of the few things that has decreased the need for expensive dies and presses, as well as providing greatly increased flexibility of design.

20 years ago Collin Dipper told me if you want to make good concertinas you have to put in the time. ( he figured 7years )

He was right. If you love the instrument, it is worth it.


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