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mivers

Good Anglo Baritone?

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I'm new to the forum, but I signed on because I'm trying to figure out if there is an affordable and playable anglo baritone concertina on the market. I've been playing a Rochelle for long enough that I know I love playing, but that high pitch isn't good for me or my dogs. Tried a Jack (English) and love the lower tones, but I can tell I'll never be happy playing the English system. And, since the lowest notes on the Jack have pretty slow response, I'm guessing that I'll have to pay more to get an Anglo baritone with good response on the low notes.

 

I'll never be a professional, but I've been playing music in various ways all of my life (lately, I play double bass bluegrass, country and folk music), and will play whatever good instrument I buy now probably forever. But realistically, it's all for fun, and some of the prices out there are not so much fun.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

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I'm new to the forum, but I signed on because I'm trying to figure out if there is an affordable and playable anglo baritone concertina on the market. I've been playing a Rochelle for long enough that I know I love playing, but that high pitch isn't good for me or my dogs. Tried a Jack (English) and love the lower tones, but I can tell I'll never be happy playing the English system. And, since the lowest notes on the Jack have pretty slow response, I'm guessing that I'll have to pay more to get an Anglo baritone with good response on the low notes.

 

I'll never be a professional, but I've been playing music in various ways all of my life (lately, I play double bass bluegrass, country and folk music), and will play whatever good instrument I buy now probably forever. But realistically, it's all for fun, and some of the prices out there are not so much fun.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

 

I have a Morse ESB C/G Anglo baritone, built by the Button Box in Amherst, Mass., and I love it.

 

This is a hybrid instrument, with accordion reeds but traditional mechanism. They've figured out a way to speed up the response of the low reeds; essentially, it plays as fast as my non-baritone boxes. The sound is rich and deep; the low notes are organ like.

 

For me, this is a specialized instrument - for use in band situations when I want to emulate a string bass. But I can play leads on it. It's super fun to play, and like all the Morse instruments, built with extreme durability and fast action. They do a C/G and D/A version. Wish I had both.

 

Here's a somewhat rough rehearsal recording that should give you an idea of the sound. I'm playing bass lines, but do lead 3rd time thru. BTW, Randy Stein, of this forum, is playing English concertina.

 

Regarding cost, these are not cheap, but I can pretty much guarantee you won't find a playable baritone for less.

Edited by Jim Besser

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That depends in large part on everyone's personal definition of 'affordable', but as for 'playable' -- balanced tone, responsive even in the lowest octave -- the Morse ESB is pretty good. But as an instrument built to perform well and hopefully to last 'probably forever' (at least as far as the lifespan of a purchaser is concerned...), the ESB is well above the price range of the Rochelle or Jack.

 

I should note that I'm the least unbiased person who could possibly say this (as I was a co-designer and built all of the ESBs from their introduction until a couple months ago). But others on c-net have ESBs and have given some positive reviews in the past as they may do again here :-) And as one of the very few (or possibly only) readily available new hybrid anglo baritones out there, it may be just about your only readily available option aside from a vintage Lachenal or a custom order from the likes of Colin Dipper.

Edited by wayman

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I have a C/G baritone Geuns-Wakker hybrid from the days when Wim lived in Europe and he and Harry G. together made these. It too is fun to use, like the Morse (which I also admire). I find it really needs a different style of play; for me it is not just a "lower treble anglo" (if that makes any sense). When I get to the northeast Squeeze-In I bring it to use in the concertina band. I don't know if Wim has anything like that in his catalog now.

 

Bob Tedrow also makes baritone anglos.

 

Ken

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The Morse ESB model comes stock with "tipo-a-mano" reeds, also known as "TAM," "hand-type," or, "hand-finished" reeds. This is a premium reed grade below "true a-mano" or true hand-made reeds, but a higher grade than the highest-grade "factory" reed, which are often called "Super Durall." Morse Anglos usually come stock with Super Durall factory reeds, with TAM reeds as an upgrade option, at a very reasonable price.

 

Making their Baritone Anglo stock with TAM reeds, is a big part of the reason why its low reeds are responding better/faster than accordion reeds usually respond in baritone concertinas. (The trademark Morse light weight and super-fast action mechanism are also in the mix, of course.)

 

TAM reeds can usually be counted on to give a quicker, more supple response than factory, and usually have somewhat more dynamic range than factory. They also often stay in tune longer than factory, and often have a bit brighter/squawkier of a tone than factory (whether that floats your boat is subjective, of course. I like this tone.) I prefer TAM reeds in "hybrid" concertinas, and would not consider a hybrid without them, that going double for a baritone. I have a baritone Morse EC on order with TAM reeds, and would like to have an ESB Anglo as well, for that matter. I think they sound great, and if they respond as well as noted by the earlier poster in this thread, that is a wonderful development for an accordion-reeded baritone Anglo. or for any baritone concertina, really. Even concertina-reeded baritones can respond quite sluggishly.

 

(Footnote: to my knowledge, "true a mano" reeds have not appeared in hybrid concertinas. TAM seem to be the highest grade used for concertinas. I wonder if this is because "a mano" reeds are more fragile and don't cut down as well in the way accordion reeds must be cut down to fit concertinas. Don't know.)

Edited by ceemonster

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Having TAM reeds is part of the equation, but the real 'special sauce' of the ESB's balance and responsiveness is the size and shape of the chambers for the low reeds. A lot of math and prototyping went into their design, and the improvement in response over the course of several major design revisions and prototypes (before the ESB launched as a production model) was fun and rewarding to experience! :-) All that high school geometry and trigonometry finally got put to great use and I did all the drawings and calculations by hand -- my beloved high school maths teacher Mr. Boe would be so proud!

 

At some point, we redesigned the chambers of the Morse Geordie Baritone taking into account what we learned from developing the ESB, and the lowest half-octave or so of the Geordie Baritone became brighter and more responsive. I couldn't tell you offhand when exactly that change happened (somewhere between eighteen and thirty months ago roughly?), and no, it's not possible to retrofit older Geordie Baritones in this way. But recent ones, and all future ones, are a bit better than the earliest ones.

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Re: speed of response - even the lowest notes on the C/G ESB respond faster than the low notes on my older G/D Morse. It's truly remarkable what Wayman and the BB crew accomplished. I played the prototype ESB, and decided right then and there that I had to have one. And I haven't been disappointed.

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Wayman - did these ESB chamber design improvements change the Morse G/D design too?

 

OP Mivers... Try a G/D Anglo. A 4th lower than your Rochelle in C/G, it is not called a baritone Anglo but might well be what you are looking for. Lots more available to buy new and used.

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Thanks to all for your responses, and for the sound clip, what a beautiful-sounding instrument. Guess I'll keep saving for that ESB and keep an eye out for a G/D Anglo.

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The Morse G/D Ceili is unchanged. As a 6-1/4 inch instrument with full-scale hybrid reeds, there just isn't any extra room to work with. I don't think the BBox has considered making a G/D as a 7 inch instrument, but it's certainly technically possible to do it with not that much custom designing. It would have to be a custom order and I couldn't say for sure whether they'd go for it. (Anyone who wants to try ordering one, give them a call and ask!)

 

I think by doing this one could certainly get a bit more out of the G/D's lowest notes. The trade-offs of course would be that it's larger, heavier, and probably more expensive. And I have no idea what model name it would get. Extra Special Ceili? ESC? :-)

Edited by wayman

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As Jody said, a Morse G/D might be a good option for you.

 

I own 3 Morse instruments - a C/G, C/G baritone and G/D. To my ear, the regular C/G sounds the most like a traditional concertina (but I can tell the difference, as can my bandmates. The G/D sounds the most accordion-like. It's not a bad sound, but it's the least concertina-like. The contrast to my Jeffries G/D is striking.

 

After a few months of squeezing away on it, I find the C/G baritone sound more pleasing than the Morse G/D - that could be the result of all the experimentation Wayman and co. did in producing the ESB. And I find the C/G baritone more responsive in the lower registers than the G/D.

 

Just one player's opinions.

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The Morse G/D Ceili is unchanged. As a 6-1/4 inch instrument with full-scale hybrid reeds, there just isn't any extra room to work with. I don't think the BBox has considered making a G/D as a 7 inch instrument, but it's certainly technically possible to do it with not that much custom designing. It would have to be a custom order and I couldn't say for sure whether they'd go for it. (Anyone who wants to try ordering one, give them a call and ask!)

 

I think by doing this one could certainly get a bit more out of the G/D's lowest notes. The trade-offs of course would be that it's larger, heavier, and probably more expensive. And I have no idea what model name it would get. Extra Special Ceili? ESC? :-)

Some years ago I asked Doug Creighton about this very possibility: Couldn't they use the 7 inch carcass (as he called it) to do a 36-button model, including a G/D? He said probably, but he didn't know at the time when it would get to the top of the list; making the Hayden was the priority at that time. I'd certainly get in line for a 36 G/D in that size.

 

Ken

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