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Anglo Concertina Weight

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Tradewinds Ted,

1. I still think that ought to be an almost negligable issue, if being healthy, but as I said before it probably has not been

investigated scientifically since occupational "precision work" often is some kind of bench work (angle ca 90 degrees)

but precision work while standing certainly exists. Try to find out...

We may however compare ourselves with guitarists who nowadays quite often play standing and a very low position

seems to be preferred.... If good for them, why not for "us"..?

2-3. Roughly the same idea then...let's hear what Robin says if reporting back....

4. The point with the 20000/2000/600 grams example is that continuous static work with less effort than 8-10% of max

in most situations is considered being both feasible and not harmful. The average load from a fairly small concertina

thus ought to be regarded as practicable but of course there are several more factors involved, this being one

5. "one who wishes to avoid what should be the unnecessary constraint of adding shoulder straps".

What "constraint" ?? What "unnecessary"?? IF there is a *weight* issue - solve it ! And the shoulder strap is an ultimate

solution since it has the capacity eliminating the weigth "problem" entirely !

6. "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".

The pressure difference between 2kg or 1,4kg on the knees - is that really significant?? A discriminating factor when

choosing a concertina model? When seated resting the instrument on the legs the elbow angle will naturally be ca

90 degrees and that is the recommended situation for seated work in general so it can't be better.

7. "I agree that around the 1.4 - 2.0 kg range, weight is not significant to pumping the bellows".

For the *pumping* itself the weight/mass is hardly significant at all - for any common concertina playing. As I said before -

only if you wave the instrument around one way or other

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We are not so far apart. I hope you don't mind if I respond to two points.


5. Shoulder strap. "What constraint??" Certainly you don't mean to say that a strap isn't a constraint of any kind? Constraint is the very nature and definition of a strap, otherwise it is just an idle strip of leather or cord. But the real question is whether a strap is necessary. In most cases, weight of a concertina won't be an issue, I think we agree there. But when weight is an issue, then the problem can be solved either by using a strap, or by paying attention to weight when choosing an instrument. That is why I described the strap as unnecessary. I'm not saying a strap isn't a valid choice, if a particular instrument warrants it.


6. Perhaps I wasn't clear. I wasn't claiming that the pressure on the legs of a seated player would be significant. Quite the opposite! I was pointing out that IF a seated player chooses NOT to rest the instrument upon either leg at all, then they must hold the instrument clear of the legs (perhaps 90 degrees or higher) and since that is well above the 120 degree angle you had suggested as an ideal, the weight becomes more significant.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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Some progress it seems, let's struggle on hoping we may reach some concensus in due time...

5. "Constraint is the very nature and definition of a strap, otherwise it is just an idle strip of leather or cord."

If you wrap it around your neck - yes ! The suitable "strap(s)" you can use for hanging a concertina up for

supporting it while playing are elastic braces/suspenders . Just relocate the front ends to the instrument instead

of the trousers. A little bit simpler is using just one such "strap" ( i e half the (double) suspenders attached with

one end to each of the concertina end plates, and then running over one shoulder the same way as a guitar


" But the real question is whether a strap is necessary".

Yes of course, and it IS if the player got a "weight problem" since it solves that problem when playing standing.

If playing seated you solve the "weight problem" by resting the instrument on the leg(s) . Can it be easier?

" paying attention to weight when choosing an instrument".

Many players perceiving a "weight issue" obviously talk a great deal about solving the "problem" this way - but

frankly speaking I see it as a terribly awkward, expensive, and often musically inferior half-measure when you

can deal with it so easy and more efficient by using a shoulder strap which for some reason seems controversial

or unattractive.

6. Well you are right of course so far, but I see no sensible reason at all NOT resting the instrument on the legs

WHEN playing seated.

I see no anatomical disadvantage with the spontaneous 90 degree angle at the elbow when playing seated -

on the contrary THAT ought to be dead right! When standing the 100-120 degrees become more adequate!

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If you someone were to be swinging a concertina around through all of their performance and weight was an issue, couldn't you just choose a lighter instrument but it would compromise the loudness and power, I have a Suttner rosewood ends it is oh so so light but same suttner with ebony ends is heavier, why not attach mics to the concertina? Also I wouldnt go with a shoulder strap for long periods youll only end up getting pains in your back and headaches.

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"If you someone were to be swinging a concertina around through all of their performance and weight was an issue,

couldn't you just choose a lighter instrument but it would compromise the loudness and power,"

?? So what is the point? You don't want to compromise sound...so keep the instrument you've got , swing it around,

but use shoulder straps ! As I said before IF this minor weight (1-2 kg) IS an individual problem an instrument that

is 100-400 grams lighter can not be expected to solve the problem ! your arms only weigh at least the same as the

instrument...you better eliminate the instrument weight/mass factor entirely then, i e shoulder straps or stay seated !

"why not attach mics to the concertina?"


Yes, why not? Search these Forums and you will likely find several suggestions! Or get yourself a MIDI-instrument...

"Also I wouldnt go with a shoulder strap for long periods youll only end up getting pains in your back and headaches".

​Sounds very strange to me...unless you individually are extremely sensitive to that kind of load. Most healthy people

can walk around with a back pack of at least 5 kg "for ever" without any problems so I have to ask :

1) for have long period have you actually tried to "go" with shoulder straps? 2) what kind of shoulder straps did you use?

3) how did you hold the instrument when you used them? 4) after how long period did you get pains in the back? and

where in the back? 5) after how long period did you get headaches? and where? 6) an impertinent question: do you

have any significant ageing or fitness problems?

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For playing for morris I usually have to play standing holding the concertina because quite often we are processing and I use a light canvas case on these occasions.


For performance with the trio I mainly stand holding the concertina(s), (we need to sing in several keys!) but have my custom built concertina case in front of me to put my foot on if I want to use my knee for support during instrumental sections where I might need better control of the bellows.


My custom concertina case is in the form of four pigeonholes, two above two, with an additional centre section for odds and ends, with a vertically removed front face. It means I can quickly put a concertina away and extract another on stage. I can't fit the baritone in it though!

If you look up Caffery/McGurk/Madge on youtube it can be seen in some of the videos.


Robin Madge

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Robin, I envy you your hard case to have a foot up. My case is soft.


For sword and morris dancing events I mostly play Anglo standing with a band, occasionally solo. A strap would be clumsy and fussy I think, having to put the instrument down and pick it up frequently between sets. A chair would not be right because the other musicians are standing. Even playing solo, sitting is so much less active than standing, even kind of wimpy looking. Of course I play better music seated and I always sit for contra dances where my visual stance is unimportant. Still, for these sword and morris performances... a casually macho attitude is good theater and that trumps the music, so I stand and deliver as best I can.


I use a variety of positions and would not be happy with only one "optimal" position but rather a fluidly changing posture keeps me happy and flexible. Each phrase of the music has different requirements in terms of instrument placement.


1. Standing with my weight on the left leg and the right leg up, so the toe is on the floor but not the heel and the 'tina tucked in close at my right hip. This works pretty well... just enough support to be helpful.

2. Fully extended at 180* or partially at 110*, both are fine for a bit.

3. 20* extended with the 'tina up by my face works too.

4. Sometimes I have to sacrifice my pinkies to wrap around the lowest button or even lower to grab the edge of the frame. I would rather use those pinkies to press buttons, but some tunes require more stability or don't really need those pinkies for button pressing duty.

5. Sometimes with the band or a bunch of marching musicians, I get relief and support by using all of my left hand fingers to support that end and only play the right hand buttons. This is kind of cool too, but I have to substitute for some missing left hand notes and end up playing mostly rhythmic chords when I play one-handed like that.


All of this becomes easier when the 'tina is light. Just a few oz. make a big difference to me.


It has taken decades of trial and error to figure this stuff out about how to stay comfortable and avoid injury while playing the Anglo standing in a dynamic performance situation. It's one of those shows that present their best when they look really easy and natural. No one should know that in reality they are physically extremely taxing, inherently stressful and took years of practice to do.


Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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