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Recommendations For "moving Up" To A Concertina With Faster Ac

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I have been playing an Edgley concertina for several years and am feeling it might be time to move up to a concertina with faster action for playing ornaments. Many people have suggested getting a Suttner but the ones I have heard sound really loud! What other concertinas (in the same price range of a Suttner) would people recommend and why?

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Hello

 

From my experience most Edgleys should be play as "fast" as many traditional and high quality concertinas. Its the accordion reeds that distinguish them from the traditional instruments. Although I understand that Frank Edgley does make instruments with concertina reeds now.

 

I would think a Suttner would be in the general price range of many other makes of wonderful traditional concertinas, vintage and more recently made. A nice older Lachenal could be a good choice and be less pricey.

 

Perhaps an adjustment to the spring pressure to lighten it up would help. Maybe Frank Edgley could do that for you. Practice can help to speed up ornaments and facilitate articulateness and subtlety.

 

Richard

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What you heard from Suttners may be more due to the player than the instrument. You should try one and see if You can play it at your preferred volume level. Some concertinas have more dynamic range than others. Hybrids tend not to have much, really good concertinas can be played softly or much louder if the occasion requires it. Sometimes it can be how the concertina is set up. People who are looking for volume can want a greater starting elevation( set ) at the reed tip, which allows the reed it's maximum volume at some sacrifice to speedy response. Lower set can give quick response but not be able to reach a high volume. Concertinas with badly made reeds can cause ornaments to suffer because even at their best they will be slow to respond. While I have seen a few concertinas with very heavily sprung buttons, too little spring tension can actually make ornaments less crisp because moderate spring pressure actually helps to speed up lifting your fingers off the buttons which counts at least as much as how fast you can push them down. I consider 40 grams a minimum which may not be enough to resist the bellows pressure on some notes. 50-70 grams is a good range, depending on personal preference, but over 70 can start to be uncomfortable and be difficult especially for the little finger.

Dana

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From my experience most Edgleys should be play as "fast" as many traditional and high quality concertinas...

 

Perhaps an adjustment to the spring pressure to lighten it up would help. Maybe Frank Edgley could do that for you. Practice can help to speed up ornaments and facilitate articulateness and subtlety.

 

I was thinking the same thing. When I hear Frank Edgley play one of his instruments, the farthest thing from my mind is "too bad his ornaments are being cramped by the inferior mechanism." Talk to Frank. Maybe it just needs a little adjustment.

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I don't know the Edgley, but can say that when I moved from a Lachenal to a Suttner, I found it easier to play fast.

The other thing I found was it was easier to play LOUD - what needed some work was to play fast and quiet at the same time - I still have trouble there. Fast bellows reversals tend to lead to higher pressure on the bellows in my experience.

The Suttner has a big dynamic range - the reeds can speak very softly, but they can also shout.

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I never found my Edgley to be wanting when it came to smooth, fast action but probably never played it to anywhere near its limits. I have tried some very nice vintage and top modern concertinas, and i thought the Edgley played as well as any of them. However, I will also allow that everything else being equal some concertinas "fit" better than others.

 

If a remarkable action and excellent dynamic range are what you are after, I would recommend trying a Kensington if you can. They are beautifully built, have traditional concertina reeds, and are priced new at barely more than a good hybrid box. I think there are a few of them in your neck of the woods. I tried one out in Boston at a DART gathering. More benefits: Kensingtons are built in Maryland, and I don't think there is a long wait for delivery.

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On the question of loudness, I find it harder to maintain the flow, if I'm trying to play quietly.

I actually have a couple of layers of blanket rigged up so that I can hang it round my neck and drape it over the instrument, to drown out some of the volume of concertina or melodeon if I want to practice quietly.

It's pretty effective, and I would rather do that when practicing, than try to play gently.

 

From what I've heard of Edgeleys, I doubt if you will find anything substantially quicker, unless yours needs setting up, which isn't very likely.

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I'm thinking it's my finger speed that is at fault - not the instrument's buttons!

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everybody has different needs. but people who are purchasing a concertina to be played at least some of the times in session/dance hall/party settings, can't afford to invest $6K and up, in an instrument without the capacity to be as loud as a concertina "can" be. even the loudest, honkiest, barkiest concertina is gonna be drowned out eventually. that is why concertinas were supplanted by accordions when the dance-hall era came in. and accepting that, and not needing to be the noisiest instrument that crushes all the others, is part of playing concertina. but for that kind of money, somebody whose playing will include sessions and dance, does want all the lung power a concertina "can" have. provided it's a quality instrument with a wide dynamic range, you then get your choice. I have a very loud, metal-ended dipper anglo, and the wonderful piper who leads sessions in my region is always admonishing that the concertina can not be heard. it's not because I am shy with the bellows. it is because even the loudest concertina will be drowned out by powerful instruments in a noisy session. fair enough, but for my $6K-plus, it's gotta have all the reserve lung power a concertina is capable of having.

 

there's this thought--don't know if the Suttner you tried was metal or wood ends. but wood does often impart a sweeter, less-bright tone.

 

 

edgeleys are very fast instruments. there are people who buy a lovely edgeley accordion-reeded instrument and are set for their pro career.

Edited by ceemonster

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I find that the fiddle drowns out anything that sounds remotely similar, however loud.

When a fiddle and concertina are playing together, it sounds like the concertina is just playing the bass notes.

 

I think the answer isn't louder concertinas, but various players taking a break, to allow others a little solo interval.

I really like it when they do that, and it adds variety to something that can get repetitive if everyone plays together, all the time.

 

That's just me, others might disagree. But I like little solo breaks, for concertina, pipes, fiddle etc

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When a fiddle and concertina are playing together, it sounds like the concertina is just playing the bass notes.

 

Patrick,

In many types of music, it's regarded as the ideal in ensemble playing when the instruments or voices merge in such a way that you as a listener can't identify who's playing what. It's the mix that matters.

 

In my folk group, I often play the Anglo concertina along with the fiddle, accompanied by guitar, bodhran and double bass. We have three basic strategies for fiddle and concertina together:

 

1. Strictly in unison. Here, you can't tell fiddle and concertina apart, and you don't have to. It just gives a fuller sound to the melody. But if fiddle or concertina stopped in mid-tune, you'd notice that.

 

2. Concertina chords to back up the fiddle. I play notes that the fiddle doesn't, and can add rhythnic accents to the tunes without drowning out the fiddle melody. Playing the melody on the concertina over the chords would be superfluous, as you point out, and would make the concertina part unnecessarily more difficult.

 

3. In fixed arrangements - again with double bass and guitar - the fiddle takes the treble line and the concertina the alto, or vice versa. This creates an effect like 1st and 2nd violins with basso continuo, especially when the bass is bowed.

 

BTW, my Anglo is a metal-ended Stagi hybrid (accordion reeds). Interestingly enough, when I'd procured a wooden-ended Lachenal Crane duet (traditional steel reeds), and tried it out at rehearsals, the lads all said I should forget it, and go back to my Stagi - it blended better with the other instruments!

This was in a performing-group setting, of course. Session situations are probably different.

 

Cheers,

John

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I played an Edgley hybrid until last winter when I got a Carroll with true concertina reeds. From my experience, the Edgley hybrd was very responsive and fast and also played with great tone, albeit a hybrid sound. I think they are great instruments. The bellows was tight and allowed for good ornamentation, so sending it into Frank would definitely be a good first step.

 

That said, the Carroll (and probably most high end true concertinas) plays cleaner and with much more dynamic in each button... .like driving sports car. Each note starts and stops with a clean edge, if that makes sense. This means that the ornament is better defined and all the notes of the tune are more precisely sounded. The feedback to your ear helps you tighten up your rhythm and also makes it painfully obvious when you are sloppy and just a bit off. I liken it to putting on a pair of reading glasses and seeing the edges of the letters - you could read the page before, but could not distinguish the type set. All of this does not mean you will play faster, but you may better enjoy playing slower because there is more depth/nuance in what you hear from your instrument. One other thing I have noticed is that the reach on the Carroll is better for me, making it easier to get to notes that are outside of the central area with my poor desperately stretching pinky finger. This will be different for every layout and may or may not suite your hand size. Regarding volume, the Carroll plays evenly at low volumes and you have to take care not to screech on the high notes because they can be piercing. You have more control and can put more volume-driven pulse in the tunes. If you can afford it, I would not hesitate to move up into one of these instruments, and I believe Edgley is making them as well now. That said, I do love my Edgley hybrid, and still enjoy playing it when I pick it up.

 

Hope this is helpful,

Claire

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@ ANGLO IRISHMAN,

thanks John, I found your post interesting, and you obviously know your stuff and your audience.

 

I agree that the instruments playing together is a fuller sound, and I wouldn't want to lose that at all. But I think that when you have concertina and fiddle, the combined sound is much more fiddle than fifty fifty. It's more like a very full fiddle sound than a blend of the two. Nothing wrong with that at all, but over an evening, it's a lot of fiddle, and it can get same ish.

This is one example that I linked recently, that I think makes the point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4RnjuIT6pI

That's why I suggest a little solo break for the concertina, in the middle of some numbers.

 

You say that people would notice, but that's the point, you want them to.

Whenever I've seen people use that device, there's usually a little round of applause at the end of the solo bit, as the others chime back in.

You can do it with fiddle solo, pipes, and even bodhran. In my experience the audiences like it.

If I remember rightly, the Chieftains used to do it quite a lot, and it always got a round of applause.

 

Edit : This is an example of where Tony McMahon could easily drown out Noel Hill, but they get over it not by solos, but by Tony taking a back seat for some passages, and then coming back in when they play in unison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5hlyYC6A9U

It's sort of semi solo, but it works, and you can enjoy hearing concertina, accordion, and both together, all in one number.

Edited by Patrick McMahon

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