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toothwright

Why ? - From A Tyro

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Having become interested in the concertina only recently (and with a largely accordion background) I have wondered about the reason for the popularity afforded to old concertinas?

 

Why is there such a difference between an old accordion - almost valueless these days and often recommended for the tip on the grounds of cost of restoration - and the much older, and arguably more decrepit, examples of concertina that seem rarely to be discarded.
For example this Ranco from the '30's (which plays and sounds decently) has been suggested only as a room decoration not a musical instrument.
Does this happen with concertinas too?

post-11999-0-45444300-1457871180_thumb.jpg

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One reason I've seen a repair tech show me is the dependence of piano accordions on wax. Not only to hold the reeds in place, but in other parts of the mechanism (levers attached to keys, etc.). Even if you keep it out of a hot attic/car trunk/boot, it breaks down over the decades and is a lot of labor to replace. You don't typically see waxed construction in vintage concertinas, certainly not holding the action together.

 

There may be other reasons...concertina players may be a little daft!

 

Ken

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It is much less labour intensive to restore a Concertina (of good original construction) than putting a neglected Accordeon back on the road. I have a Ranco CBA from about 1930. I was quoted 600 to 1600 euros to restore it by one of the few professionals who specialises in Vintage Accordeons here in France. A friend has just paid 2000 euros to have his Ranco restored.

 

I have currently made an offer of 300 euros on a beautifully decorated Ranco, all mother of pearl etc., expecting that although it looks fantastic I am told that it has not been played since the War... so a complete restoration of the musical parts has to be taken into account.

 

Replacing all the leather valves in a concertina can be done in a couple of hours whereas to do this job in a larger accordeon , even one with nailed and screwed down reeds is monumental. I bought an old accordeon last week, it has 600 reeds that could need tuning but will definately need most of their valves changed , which is something that needs doing with almost all older accordeons.

 

Concertinas , good ones that is, are nothing like as numerous as accordeons; In France where the accordeon WAS very very popular there are upwards of 3000 offered for sale on classified adverts everyday. It is definately a buyer's market because the fashion has changed and far fewer people play accordeons here.

 

Lots of houses in Co.Clare used to have a cheap German made concertina sitting on a shelf near the fireplace... they were mostly weazy old things that had had their day.

 

The quality of construction of the Wheatstones, Crabbs and Jeffries and up market Lachenals was so high that many are still going strong a 100+ years later and used to their full potential. I use my 1898 Wheatstone in a dance band where it is played hard and long.

 

I really like those old accordeon, they sound so different to the modern versions. my favourite is a 1931 Cooperativa Armoniche from Vercelli... still playing fine and sounding voluptuous!

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Good accordions are still being mass produced. Although they have lots more reeds, they are mechanically simpler than concertinas and lend themselves more to mass production. They are also used in a wider range of music types so there is inherently a bigger market, which encourages mass production.

 

Good concertinas are individually made by a limited number of single craftsmen or small companies. Therefore, even before you look at differences in tone between reed types etc., an old concertina is more valuable than an old accordion simply due to supply and demand. There may only be a small demand for good concertinas, but there is only a tiny supply!

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There are old concertinas that are not really worth restoring, but they're wanted for parts if they are Jeffries, wheatstone, or lachenal. with accordions, it's like Geoff said, if they're really dilapidated, they are super-expensive to fix and there are so many good playable old ones laying around that it isn't worth it to fix old ones that need serious restoration.

 

sooner or later that will change, the surplus that seems so endless now will dry up. but right now PAs in the US are like Geoff is saying with cbas in france. you can get wonderful ones for a grand and less. I live a mile from a wonderful accordion tech who sells used PAs, and the stock is off the shelves. I asked him recently if he buys on craigslist and ebay and reconditions, given that he's a wizard tech and can do it. and he said, no, people are constantly just bringing them in. I guess somebody passes away in a family and the accordion is laying in the attic or something. that will stop at some point, but I think it's gonna go on for another decade or so . . .

 

cbas and accordions can do so, so much, much more than concertinas can. but for the SIZE, what concertinas can do, is amazing. they are too expensive for that fact to have penetrated to the kind of market there would be for them if you could get a fast, responsive, powerful one for an affordable price, hence, there just aren't that many quality concertinas out there. it is maddening to a sane shopper who believes you should, ya know, have a choice, and ya know, be able to play and see the choices in person before laying out $6000 or $10k on an instrument you're going to live with. Yes, top-quality, premium accordions cost as much as concertinas. But you can get great-sounding, great playing new ones in that lower price range. And you can get premium used ones made in Europe and needing minimal restoration, in that range and often cheaper still. so, the teensy-eeensy concertina community is more than enough people to keep those old concertinas snapped up, whereas the bigger, but merely tiny accordion cohort is not making a serious dent (yet) in the supply of old accordions.

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Thanks to everyone for such a comprehensive assessment.
I can see the arguments concerning lower supply of concertinas coupled with the greater volume of work involved in re-valving etc. for a larger accordion being very good reasons.
It is always informative to enquire from experience and I'm grateful for members clarity.

From sublime vintage concertina back to my 'Jack' bought new a few months ago.

I think this image shows why vintage concertinas are a touch more expensive than these.....
The Jack has always showed wheezing on a couple of notes - Oh, I thought, it's a baritone, heavy reeds, just needs playing in.
Exasperated, eventually I opened it and found some slightly curled valves.

 

I've marked the worst one.....is it enough to account for the wheeze ?

post-11999-0-01793900-1458001887_thumb.jpg

Edited by toothwright

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That valve looks bent . but these plastic valves should shut quite easlily and are ,apparently, not prone to curling away from the reed plate like the leather variety.

 

Still, really, what can you expect for a half nothing price ? These things are perhaps too cheap... could be made a little better.

 

The idea that supplying the market with cheap starter models will generate a demand for fine instruments down the line is not curently backed by much manufacturing capacity for the quality models, especially in regard to the EC. OK so most concerina makers produce the Anglo, because there is a demand for those but if a bigger market does materialise for the English keyboard could this be fulfilled by the current crop of makers?

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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[[[The idea that suppling the market with cheap starter models will generate a demand for fine instruments down the line is not currently backed by much manufacturing capacity for the quality models, especially in regard to the EC. . . . if a bigger market does materialize for the English keyboard could this be fulfilled by the current crop of makers?]]]

 

No. Not if the Anglo demand didn't slack off. New blood would have to get in the game. And the motivation is just not there currently. Quality EC design and engineering needs some tweaks, to produce ECs with the fatness and lung power of the Anglos. If there are structural reasons why this differs, you need to devise ways to augment the ECs. It can be done, but bc the demand hasn't been there, that visionary-dreamer maker has not sat down to cogitate about it and change the world.

 

I actually don't think the "cheap starter models" are any great shakes in terms of lighting a fire of hunger. I know the Jack/Jackie/Rochelles are improvements, but they are still pretty frustrating and annoying. So I think that is part of the issue. But the big issue remains . . . Who's got seven grand to order that quality concertina? It's a limited cohort. The Irish have the context of a musical community to play it in, so the mums and dads are more willing to go for it, though I suspect the numbers have gone down since the economic crash. But mum and dad here are gonna pass on it in favor of violin or piano, saxophone or guitar.

Edited by ceemonster

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Having had my moan at 'Jack' I must say that I bought it to see what the button arrangement was like to play, similarly with the Rochelle.

I find the instruments challenging..but fascinating too... and in the case of the CC models I like the clean and simple styling.

Their sounds are very decent .. even given the odd EC wheeze (which I will now accept, particularly in the light of Geoff's remark about the valves).

It is unlikely that I will progress to the quality models (just as ceemonster suggests) but I would not have felt able to satisfy my curiosity about these instruments without the availability of the entry level models.

I am glad to have the opportunity for extended trial without financial embarrassment.

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If I recall correctly, Concertina Connections started making their Rochelles, Jacks, etc. because there is a market for a less expensive model of reasonable quality that can see you to an intermediate stage of playing. About the only other new concertina of repute in that price range appears to be the Stagi, and if the things I read are right (which they may not be) they are hit or miss.

 

For me at least having a Rochelle is a reasonable way for me to dip my toes, see if this isn't a fleeting passionate hobby, learn the basics and decide if I am willing to spend US$2k+ ordering a North American or European made concertina. Since I've reliably returned to it I might get a better one later.

Edited by Roy M.

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That valve looks bent . but these plastic valves should shut quite easlily and are ,apparently, not prone to curling away from the reed plate like the leather variety.

 

 

Looks to me that somebody has got a little too close to those mylar valves with a soldering iron whilst (re)waxing the reedplates, and a messy job they've made of it too..... I doubt that the valves on the other side of the reedplates will have been damaged.

 

Easy to obtain replacements. http://www.cgmmusical.co.uk/CGM_Musical_Services/Reed_Valves.html

 

Glue the new ones on with a contact adhesive, but apply only to about 5 or 6 mm of the valve and not the reedplate. Ten minute job for a competent repairer. DIY might take you 15 because a telemarketer will probably phone you half way through....

 

Good luck.

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I might well have a go as it sounds straight forward (if the more hidden valves are unlikely to be affected) but, alternatively, the best option might be to just return it to the music shop for attention.

 

Jack was bought new in December 2015 so it should not be doing this - even if it is starter model -wouldn't you say?

 

I'm sure it has always been 'wheezy' on a few notes but with a baritone I found it difficult to tell - my Rolands don't do this!

 

Thank you for the advice.

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I might well have a go as it sounds straight forward (if the more hidden valves are unlikely to be affected) but, alternatively, the best option might be to just return it to the music shop for attention.

 

Jack was bought new in December 2015 so it should not be doing this - even if it is starter model -wouldn't you say?

 

I'm sure it has always been 'wheezy' on a few notes but with a baritone I found it difficult to tell - my Rolands don't do this!

 

Thank you for the advice.

 

Yes it sounds like a send it back job to me.

 

Rolands ? Are they not Electronic ?......My two favourite accordeons are 66 and 85 years old, respectively, and they don't do this either, but then they were not made on the cheap.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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