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As a now elderly life long Stradella bass CBA accordionist (who converted from acoustic to digital + expander almost as soon as that became possible) I have become fascinated with playing both the English and the Anglo concertina.

I have been lucky in buying starter instruments - Jack & Rochelle from Concertina Connections - which have decent sounds and a realistic price when you are uncertain about whether the concertina is for you.

Two months into the concertina it is evident that the systems are very different from the accordion and require, in this beginners view, a much more knowledgeable approach to music - even to play part A of Shepherds Hey - when compared with producing the equivalent simple tune in an accordion.

It is fair to say that I have been helped and educated directly by members and via their many postings but, equally, it is becoming evident that it is unlikely that I will become competent in the way the soundcloud music from members shows to be possible.

At present I prefer (to my surprise) my Rochelle and find 'Playing the Anglo Concertina in Bush Music Style' to be great for a beginner.

The more academic and esoteric EC is still painful to play - though more natural for me - and I ponder the the possibility of rotating the playing angle though 90 degrees and adding an anglo style strap and bar (guided by the work of Goran Rahm). There is plenty of room on the concertina and not much to damage!

I will not forsake the comfort and richness of my accordion sounds for the Concertina or the Northumbrian Pipes but neither will I give up the joy of the undoubted intellectual exercise afforded by these other instruments.

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Hi again, John,


I would definitely encourage you to alter your Jack to your needs as it's not a vintage instrument which should be cautiously kept (however, I altered mine anyway) and you won't find out what suits you well until you'll give it a go. As you're still discontented with the state as is it's certainly worth the try...


Best wishes - Wolf

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Had you considered a Hayden Duet concertina ? It has quite a lot in common with a Stradella bass CBA. On the left hand side The chords are arranged in the same order from left to right, as the Stradella bass, but concertinaed into half the space.

A number of different keys play with exactly the same fingering, just like a CBA. 6 on a 46 button instrument, (E, A, D, G, C, & F); 8 on a 65 button instrument, (those plus Bb & Eb); and just 4 on the 34 button "Elise". The octaves repeat as on a CBA, which is very unusual on concertinas !

Many years ago when I was actively promoting this system at the Towersley Folk Festival, a CBA player came into my caravan and tried one of my concertinas. After a few minutes without any instruction he saw the similarity with his CBA and started playing tunes on the righ hand side, then added accompaniments on the left hand.



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I'm going to have to think about how/whether to approach the conversion of the Jack in the light of (to me) the Duet bombshell.

A mangled Jack remains an option though Wolf.

I'm such a beginner that I had only heard of, not explored, the strange world of the duet.

Since you posted about the Duet, Inventor, I have been given to enthusiastic wondering about whether, as you pointed out, that this might be a better way for me to go than the surgical approach to the Jack....even given the somewhat limited range of the Elise.....as it certainly overcomes the 'holding' difficulty I have with the Jack.

So I'm going to continue my investigation into the duet (Elise level only).....the problem is that theoretical experimentation is never ..quite...enough.....and now I understand how collections grow....

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John, if you'd choose the Duet as your system that would of course be perfectly fine with me. If you're looking upon the English as "academic" (instead of getting hooked by its specific "logic") the Elise might be worth a try - but as you say, you would have to give it a try then, and decide later on which of the three entry-level concertinas (if any) you'd like to part with and thus resell, which shouldn't turn out a big problem).


Best wishes for your enduring concertina journey - Wolf

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2 months in is barely scratching the surface with either instrument, never mind both.


I found the English intellectually logical but completely unintuitive. I found the Anglo quirky to the point of absurdity, but very intuitive, and that's the one I chose. A few people can play both with equal facility, but they are possibly evidence of aliens living among us.


Once you've made your choice, you need to play and play and suddenly one day it starts to make sense.

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As an older person who has recently gone in the opposite direction to yourself Toothwright I think the problem is with the Jack. Being larger than the normal EC that people used to use as a starter instrument, and you have the 'baritone' version, this might make it quite a strain on the newly developing strength of the beginner's thumbs... so if you could get a try on a 48 key Treble EC of vintage make (in fine condition) you may find quite a difference. I have never tried a Jack but I did have an Elise Duet and that was harder work when new than a vintage concertina.


I've played the EC for 45 years now but in the last several years I took up two different Duet types of concertina, The MacCann for a couple of years then the Hayden for the same period. My wife told me that I was making better duet music on the EC than either of the proper Duets.... hmmm. So, at her encouragement and suggestion I began playing the CBA and although I do not recon to ever be any good at it, I too enjoy the brain exercize.


I agree with Inventor that the Hayden Duet has some similarities to the CBA, especially the left hand when using it to produce chordal accompaniment. But unlike the CBA when an accidental is needed it is not just behind or in front of the 'in scale' note but out to one side or the other of the keyboard. However I recommend the Hayden for late starters as it is very simple to get going on.... playing complex music is just that, complex, and thus no matter which instrument one chooses there are difficulties.


I find the EC and the CBA are so different that no confusions arise between them whilst my friend who has played Diatonic accordeon for many years is making slower progress on taking up the CBA, like me, in retirement !


I recall when my wife began playing the Fiddle, someone who had played it a long time said to her " the first five years are the worst'. So, I suggest giving any new instrument at least a year's trial... I'm 16 months into the CBA and now I begin to see the daylight.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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I have appreciated the opinions and advice offered to me by members in this thread.

The underlying view seems to be one of too many stools and not enough practice.

I find the EC better for me because of it's unisonic nature.
The Anglo is more comfortable.
The Duet provides yet another keyboard and note range.

Current plan, which I believe is sensible in the light of members advice, is :-

  1. Drop the Duet idea
  2. Shelve my recently acquired (used) Rochelle
  3. Concentrate upon my original purchase, the Jack.

Thanks to everyone for their patience.

Edited by toothwright
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...Two months into the concertina it is evident that the systems are very different from the accordion and require, in this beginners

view, a much more knowledgeable approach to music...


...and find 'Playing the Anglo Concertina in Bush Music Style' to be great for a beginner...


How very percooliar - speaking for myself - Three months into the melodeon it is evident that the systems are very different

from the concertina and require, in this beginners view, a much more knowledgeable approach to music.


Ho hum - I suggest that you persevere with the 'tina and I'll plod on with the melodeon. Good luck!


I concur wholeheartedly with your observation in respect of the ABM (Australian Bush Music) site. I now use the tabbing

system employed on that site to edit my ABC scripts to quickly get a score with tabbing displayed above the notes (as on the

ABM site). Once I worked out how to do it, it only takes a few minutes to do this editing for simple(ish) tunes, and it's helping

me pick up tunes much more quickly than previously, (and also to become more musically literate!). It's also encouraged me to

re-aquaint myself with a few songs from Oz which I first heard 40 years ago (probably sung by Martin Wyndham-Reade?).

A really useful site!



Edited by lachenal74693
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