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Anglo Concertina Weight


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1. My Morse 30 button C/G is way easier to play than my other Anglos standing or sitting. It just takes less effort. I often have gigs where I'm dancing around, or standing, or playing for long periods of time and the Morse is my instrument of choice for those at 2.3 lb.

 

2. My Dipper 40 button G/D is heavy at 3.5 lb and requires much more effort to play standing or sitting. I perform on it often for singing gigs and often stand when doing so. The sound is richer and deeper and worth the extra effort.

3 . How much of that difference of effort between playing the two is caused by the weight difference as opposed to how hard I have to squeeze them? Hard to say, but at a guess, I would say 50/50. Weight is not everything in determining playability, but it seems to me to be important... and more to the point of this discussion... it is easy to measure whereas the other factors are much more complicated.

 

4. The joys and pitfalls of playing while standing probably deserves it's own thread, might even be one here that I don't recall.

Jody, very interesting! Please allow me to try separating the issues a little bit however...( I have added "1- 4" in your reply)

1. "..easier standing or sitting" This is somewhat surprising but it depends on *how* you play when sitting. If you rest both ends of the instrument on the legs or the instruments ride symmetrically and you don't play with the bellows much open there should be NO difference related to the weights of the two.( I guess they have the same external size...or do they not? otherwise this is a factor)

If ( when seated) you use wide open bellows or rest just one end on one leg you have to lift at least one part of the instrument of course and the mass of it will be of importance.

Otherwise the difference when sitting I suspect is related to different reed mechanics. What kind of reeds does the Morse have?

Maybe the Morse simply needs less pumping effort?

Since YOU perform long periods and thus carry or swing or wave the instrument about various ways certainly the weight/mass of the instrument will be of importance!

2. Again ...your declared experience seems to be related to a great deal to long sessions and a considerable total amount of work!

*Carrying* the instrument(s) thus surely becomes a factor of relatively great importance compared to constantly playing seated and maybe taking frequent rests as well..Now, your Dipper...being a 40 key and so much heavier is it possibly a bit larger as well??

Considering "pumping effort" specifically this is significantly depending on the end area and even a seemingly slight difference of cross section may result in say 10-15% larger area and this is expected to be noticable ( with otherwise a similar instrument) This can be easiest observed with englishes of the same mark ( everything is the same except the external size )

3." Weight is not everything in determining playability, but it seems to me to be important... and more to the point of this discussion... it is easy to measure whereas the other factors are much more complicated".

Yes...that is why comparing *weight* is so confusing or even seductive...it is easy to measure but you just as easy forget other factors which often have greater importance... or particularly that playing methods or instrument design may entirely eliminate the influence from problems related to factual weight differences. You don't judge the quality of apples by their weight even if can be done easily....

4. Yes, I agree, since weight/mass potentially IS an issue of importance when playing standing firstly this is someting that really deserves a constructive discussion in order to help many players overcome the resistance against playing concertinas standing. They ARE instruments which really seem suitable for that BUT obviously there are obstacles against it. Since you can never get away from the *weight* entirely - either it is 3,5 or 2,3 or even 1,9 lb - I think you have to accept that it is more important finding means to manage the weight than discussing differences of a couple of 100 grams between models.

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If one bushel of apples weighs more than another then it is likely to be more juicy and so I might assume I would enjoy eating it more. Even though juiciness is not the only factor of enjoyment in an eating apple, it still might be a valuable guide in choosing which snack will be more delicious. However, taking a bite will be a superior guide regardless.

 

With the two concertinas I mentioned as examples, the big powerful Dipper and the light nimble Morse, each has it's uses for my play and I am lucky to have both to choose between for my gigs. Compared together, each sounds slightly different, each feels vastly different to play. Agreed... weight alone should not be the deciding factor in choosing the concertina you should buy. Rather how it feels to play and how it sounds are way more important.

 

Still... if I had to decide what to buy without being able to compare many instruments on the spot, I would want to consider the weight among all the other information available and I would consider low weight a plus rather than a minus.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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With the two concertinas I mentioned as examples, the big Dipper and the light Morse, each has it's uses for my play and I am lucky to have both to choose between.

I do see that!.. and I just checked some of your You Tube clips so I think I understand you a bit better....Now...the Dipper as I guessed obviously has larger ends and that inevitably demands more effort for *pumping*. Please measure the cross-section end to end of the Morse and the Dipper respectively just for curiosity! And what about the reed type of the Morse? (You referred above to the Morse C/G, metal ended I guess, but on YT you also play "Hop and skip" on a wooden ended black Morse G/D - is that one also a bit larger than the C/G? in such case you can compare the pumping effort of the two Morse instruments also...) )

You use some different ways holding the instruments..."Boda waltz" with the Dipper in one clip resting one end on left knee and doing the bellows work with right end in the air ....and another clip "Zelda" ( same instrument I guess) resting each end on the knees working the bellows wide open. I guess you agree that the later method entirely eliminates the influence by the *weight* ? Or?

 

(off the topic...I also noticed that you have upholstered the handstraps...would you like to comment on that? have you tried any other modifications holding the instruments? )

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Thanks for all your input .I would like to add that previous to owning the larger Dipper G/D.I played a Edgley 30 buton G/D which although not having the same sound quality was much easier to play.

My right hand is not good ,"to much DIY in the past" .So yes the pushing effort does have a part to play.

When I sing I do like sometimes to stand ,The sound travels better over the adience .I am still thinking of trying a G/D again with smaller reeds and thus lighter construction for song accompanyment. It may be another hybrid and I may have to accept less quality of sound .Bob

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1. I would like to add that previous to owning the larger Dipper G/D.I played a Edgley 30 buton G/D which although not having the same sound quality was much easier to play.

2. My right hand is not good ,"to much DIY in the past" .So yes the pushing effort does have a part to play.

3. When I sing I do like sometimes to stand ,The sound travels better over the adience .

4. I am still thinking of trying a G/D again with smaller reeds and thus lighter construction for song accompanyment. It may be another hybrid and I may have to accept less quality of sound .Bob

Excuse me for nagging a little but I just try to sort out what your problems are and the easiest ways to solve them...

1. This Edgley I guess got accordion type reeds? I have no experience from the model myself but as I said to Jody

I assume that it demands less pumping effort than the Dipper (with trad concertina reeds) and this has nothing with

*weight* to do. Only if you twist, turn or rotate the ends all the time or swing the instrument around the mass of it may

become important. You say the Dipper is "larger" as well and that may add to pumping effort as such...again...not the

weight/mass...

2. Hmm..is your left hand ok then? ... again...is it the thumb, or the fingers, or the wrist of the right hand that is

troublesome? These things decide if modifications of the handbar and handstrap may help, or adding a thumb strap?

Since you are talking about a Dipper...they have experience from such modifications...

3. Now...if you like to stand...excuse me for nagging again.... IF you get a lighter instrument you may reduce whatever

problem that is caused by the load carrying the instrument at most ca 50% but you can not eliminate it. By using some

shoulder strap(s) however you can get rid fo the *weight problem* completely. You said you did not like a neckstrap.

Of course not... they better not be used, but have you really tried shoulder straps ? Are you sure you would dislike that

also? and why in such case? It is not self-evident how you use them in the best way...

4. Honestly...this kind of concertinas are really not *heavy* any one of them and the weight difference is mostly marginal.

If you have to play long sessions standing and swing the instrument around a lot certainly the mass of it is significant but

otherwise the "weight" issue should not be made a major problem. Other factors can be attended to firstly. Musically

"speaking" I think control of the bellows and the effort needed to "pump" is of greater importance than weight/mass....

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I can't see why a single shoulder strap, like this couldn't solve the right hand problem. Or at least alleviate it to make it pleasurable to play.

Yes, why not...conditionally that a chest high position is practised as this accordion player does. Also depending on

what problems there actually are with the hand and what position is most comfortable. Since Bob wants to sing in the

act I think that I ( and maybe he..?) would prefer a very low position to free the chest from the instrument. In that case

I would have the strap over the left shoulder and under the right arm with the instrument below the waist, or resting

at the right hip, so that the right hand is not engaged in working the bellows, just keeping the right end in place and

doing the fingering. All active pumping then done with the left arm and the left end of the instrument is hanging more

freely "in the air" than the right one.

( Generally speaking I am surprised that so many concertina players who play standing do it holding the instrument

either chest high, or with forearms horisontal above the waist. This is a lot more strenuous due to static load than

holding the instrument with stretched, almost vertical arms, and as low as possible. For an audience maybe the high

position looks more pretty and maybe it exposes the instrument more if that is an object...who knows?

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I find that holding the instrument either too high or too low increases tension in the arms and results in reduction of fine motor control in the fingers. Could be due to slight changes in blood pressure in the arms or something to do with restriction on the tendons if the surrounding muscle is more or less tense. Alternatively gravity could be forcing the instrument towards or away from the wrists. Open to ideas about this.

 

Robin Madge

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1.I find that holding the instrument either too high or too low increases tension in the arms and results in reduction of fine motor control in the fingers.

 

2. Could be due to slight changes in blood pressure in the arms or something to do with restriction on the tendons if the surrounding muscle is more or less tense.

 

3. Alternatively gravity could be forcing the instrument towards or away from the wrists.

 

Robin Madge

1." ..too high.." Certainly, that always means extra tension and continuous static work. .." too low..." That may be

more relative. The arms are voluntarily hanging as low as they can if not occupied with active work and they seem fairly

satisfied with that circumstance, BUT joints generally don't like extreme positions and the muscles belonging to them -

flexors and extensors - prefer being relaxed or in balance so some kind of neutral mean position is preferred. Let's say

that if the upper arm hangs almost vertical and the elbow angle is ca120 degrees a comfortable position is achieved,

and regarding the action of finger muscles a neutral position of the wrist is essential in the same way.

2. Blood pressure ...or circulation in general...Definitely a negative factor with high positions. If important regarding

(" too") low positions is more questionable... maybe it has been tested lab-wise, or it ought to be...interesting...

static work is negative vs dynamic work and reduced circulation then is the primary problem

Tendons and muscles...yes, according to 1. if working under not ideal conditions, but I can't see that a (fairly) low position

while playing the concertina standing can be but preferable in this respect.

3. In high positions gravity will affect the wrist by compression and joints generally don't like that while in a low position

gravity will cause de-compression - probably preferable...

 

A fairly good indicator what position is better of course is testing for how long you manage energetic playing of a test

piece holding the instrument at different levels ( and a follow-up regarding possible injuries from the activity...)

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this is all getting very very technical..

?? Isn't *weight* ( or mass..) a rather technical subject whatever way you look it?.. but if I expressed myself

poorly please ask for some elucidation...Some of it is biological rather than technical I think which also may

call for additional comments particularly if you don't recognize your own body in the description...

 

My ultimate intention however was to reduce the importance of *weight* - as a technical issue - in contrast

to other playing circumstances of greater importance from a general ergonomic outlook and even more from

the musical aspect. Maybe I failed expressing that...

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this is all getting very very technical..

?? Isn't *weight* ( or mass..) a rather technical subject whatever way you look it?.. but if I expressed myself

poorly please ask for some elucidation...Some of it is biological rather than technical I think which also may

call for additional comments particularly if you don't recognize your own body in the description...

 

My ultimate intention however was to reduce the importance of *weight* - as a technical issue - in contrast

to other playing circumstances of greater importance from a general ergonomic outlook and even more from

the musical aspect. Maybe I failed expressing that...

 

 

Dont get me wrong, what you are saying is perfectly clear and the thread is very interesting indeed. I was just remarking that this is the most in depth analysis of this issue I have ever seen, that is no bad thing.

Edited by Jake of Hertford
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Dont get me wrong, what you are saying is perfectly clear and the thread is very interesting indeed. I was just remarking that this is the most in depth analysis of this issue I have ever seen, that is no bad thing.

 

Many thanks! Very glad to hear this I feel inspired to summarize my view so far on the weight issue and it goes like this:

 

- Concertina people seem to be the most technically focused music instrument lovers I have come across. Maybe since

concertinas are mechanical devices, many are old, used, worn and need being attended to if being playable. Maybe

they attract certain individuals like those interested in bikes, clocks or whatever you can potter and tinker with...

- Anyway...concertina *weight* repeatedly comes up as a subject of interest although it has hardly anything to do with

the *music* or performance qualities the instrument may offer. You never hear fiddlers spend hours or days discussing

the weight of their violins - do you?

- Instrument *sound* ought to be of greater interest but difficult to compare and utterly subjective for the scientific kind

of concertina fans. Measuring the *weight* however is easy to do and an obviously objective parameter. Is that why?

- Despite being light and compact and thus seemingly easy to handle concertinas are in reality surprisingly complex

from an ergonomical view and this soon becomes an obstacle for the beginner and remains being a challange for the

player for ever, because the instrument concept itself contains unsolvable conflicts. *Weight* being just one of them...

- The necessary duties doing music with a concertina are 1) pumping the bellows 2) fingering the buttons

- Instrument weight does not have to be considered as being of any importance for these tasks unless the instrument

end is lifted while doing the pumping or the whole instrument is waved, twisted, rotated or swung around in the act

of doing music with it

- IF - for individual/circumstantial causes - weight nevertheless seems of importance that issue can be eliminated

entirely by playing seated with the instrument resting on the legs or by hanging the instrument up on shoulder straps

...or why not hanging it from the ceiling....

- Weight IS of importance when packing the luggage for a flight, when carrying the instrument between gigs or to

know how many instruments you manage to bring to the next session. For *playing*....forget it !

- Do NOT consider swapping to a "lighter" instrument if a good one feels "heavy". You may at most reduce the

weight ( " issue" ) by that procedure by 30% or so ( talking about similar models) but you can never eliminate the

other 70% . Thus that worry is irrational and what you ought to do is learning to deal with the "problem* by other

means

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If I go for a long walk with arms hanging freely I find that my fingers eventually become swollen and movement in them is affected and slowed.

I can feel the beginnings of this condition when holding the concertina too low, say and angle of greater than 120 degrees.

 

Robin Madge

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If I go for a long walk with arms hanging freely I find that my fingers eventually become swollen and movement in them is affected and slowed.

I can feel the beginnings of this condition when holding the concertina too low, say and angle of greater than 120 degrees.

 

Robin Madge

You mentioned this before... as said then it may certainly be related to blood pressure or circulation in general but since

it sounds as being a true problem for You maybe it is not an entirely common or normal sensation after all... now, let's

not make this a medical chat site since that can easily run astray...but if you are not quite young the observation more

often may be related to some disturbance of blood pressure or return of blood or lymph from the arms at low position,

compression of vessels in the wrist or elbow region and other things...talk it over with your doctor !...we better not try

to solve that here but concerning concertina playing positions I have to add the reservtion that for You personally my

otherwise advocated low playing postition probably is not the best advise....but try hanging it up in shoulder straps

at an angle of 90-110 degrees instead and tell what happens. If no good stay seated....

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I think the phenomenon of fingers swelling at least slightly during a long walk or other exertion is nearly universal, not an individual medical condition, or just related to age, although obviously individuals will vary. If more people played concertina, then I expect those that try to play holding the instrument with the arms too near full extension would commonly experience the same as Robin has described.

 

So the optimum is likely around 100- 110 100 degrees. Perhaps with a heavier instrument the additional stresses of holding it up increase that optimum angle a bit, and a lighter one would be at a higher position. That doesn't mean that the lower angle completely eliminates the increased stress, only that the compromise changes because of the increase stress created by that additional weight.

 

So I don't agree that weight is a negligible factor, although I fully agree that good sound and operation are more important! A 30% reduction from 2 kg to 1.4 kg seems like a big difference to me, but if it was only a 30% reduction from 1 kg to 0.7 kg I wouldn't care. Likely the point where it becomes significant will be different for each individual, based upon their size, posture, physical condition, and experience

 

Edit to correct suggested angle in paragraph 2

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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1. I think the phenomenon of fingers swelling at least slightly during a long walk or other exertion is nearly universal, not an individual medical condition, or just related to age, although obviously individuals will vary. If more people played concertina, then

 

2. I expect those that try to play holding the instrument with the arms too near full extension would commonly experience the same as Robin has described.

 

3. So the optimum is likely around 100-100 degrees.

 

4. So I don't agree that weight is a negligible factor, although I fully agree that good sound and operation are more important! A 30% reduction from 2 kg to 1.4 kg seems like a big difference to me, but if it was only a 30% reduction from 1 kg to 0.7 kg I wouldn't care. Likely the point where it becomes significant will be different for each individual, based upon their size, posture, physical condition, and experience

1. Certainly also young and healthy individuals vary and some as you say likely notice these variations but you hardly

expect it to be a significant problem unless there is some sort of impairment of normal conditions

2. "Full extension" of the elbow s with all joints is NOT the ideal position. I suggested ca 120 degrees and ( by accident?)

that also is the angle at which treble size british style concertinas of most models - anglos,duets,englishes - balance in

their handles by gravity and this may contribute to a relaxed situation. IF shoulder straps are used this coincides fairly

well with a relaxed position when the instrument hangs freely in the straps also

3. 100-100...a misprint I suppose...what did you mean if so?

4. Well, we speculate a bit both of us and the span of variation where people may find it being important should be

investigated to know of course but generally speaking...most individuals likely manage fairly well carrying 20000 grams

using both hands in this "low position" . Your 2000 g instrument weighs 10% of that "maximum" performance. Mostly

that is "not much" and you should be able to manage that degree of static effort for a "long time". The reduction by 30%

we talk about would mean just 3% of the max load and that really is not expected to be of major physical importance.

Psychologically it evidently IS of importance since so many players make the "weight issue" a big affair.. but again...

like I said before ...IF "weight/mass" IS some problem for someone it CAN be entirely eliminated by playing seated

or using shoulder straps or avoiding waving the instrument about. The point being that the weight is of NO importance

for the necessary musical activities the player is engaged in...pumping the bellows and fingering the keyboard...

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1. I guess while we agree that there is individual variation, we'll disagree on how common it is that a bit of pressure in fingers shows up during exertion, at any age, and whether that is enough to cause any noticeable change in dexterity.

2. I missed your previous comment suggesting 120 degrees, and that full extension is not ideal. My apologies. It seemed from your response to Robin that you thought it unusual to experience any negative effect from an angle beyond 120 degrees.

3. I meant 100-110 degrees, so perhaps not so far different from your suggestion of 120 degrees. Chosen admittedly by my personal experience of playing, but also from observation of others. Also I admit I hedged high just to keep it a bit less than the 120 degree limit Robin mentioned, since that was the point beyond which he observed some slight loss of dexterity. Maybe 105 - 115 would have been closer to my optimal experience?

4.I agree that most people can carry 20000 grams (20 kg, or 44.1 lbs) with both hands in a low position without other support fairly well, but only for short periods, not for a pleasant couple of hours of music, and I would expect a very significant loss of dexterity to set in early on. I had the "pleasure" of carrying such a package just yesterday for some distance. NO problem to pick it up, but I was more than glad to set it down after! While 2.0 kg is only 10% of that load, I still maintain that that the difference between 2kg and 1.4 kg would be significant enough to effect dexterity after a time. So in that way it is of importance to the specific musical activity of fingering the keyboard for one who wishes to avoid what should be the unnecessary constraint of adding shoulder straps. Even someone who plays seated will feel the difference if they do not rest the instrument upon at least one leg. Perhaps more so, since when playing while seated it isn't really possible to hold the instrument as low as 120 degrees as the legs are in the way. I agree that around the 1.4 - 2.0 kg range, weight is not significant to pumping the bellows.

 

edit: I would like to repeat that I still agree such things as sound and smooth operation of the instrument are more important than any reasonable differences in weight.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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