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I am a complete novice and should be very grateful for some advice.

I have a musical background playing Piano, Piano Accordion and Melodeon (with difficulty) and would now like to learn to play the Concertina.

I have discounted the Anglo because of difficulties in mastering the changes of direction needed, as testified by my terrible and tortuous melodeon playing.

I have also discounted the English concertina after having tried to play one as my brain can’t seem to deal with the alternate fingering required, even for a simple scale.

So that leaves the Duet system.

However, I am not sure as to which Duet system I should go for. The Hayden system seems to me to be logical and fit in with what I expect, as a Pianist. The Maccann system seems to be a little more hap-hazard.

The problem I have is finding a dealer that has both systems available for me to compare.

Can anybody recommend a dealer or organisation here in the UK that is likely to have both systems or suggest a way that would enable me to try both systems

The dealers I have contacted over the past week, who have all been extremely helpful, don’t seem to have any Hayden concertinas.

All advice and opinions would be gratefully received

thanks

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Posted (edited)

why have you ruled out a Crane? It's sort of similar to the Hayden system with the scale  moving zig zag. I'm sure you have seen this comparison here:

 

http://www.concertina.com/other-systems/index.htm

 

Your first step should be Barleycorn concertinas. Very likely Chris (is he still running it? I hope) has specimens of all systems in stock.

 

Edited by RAc

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2 hours ago, RAc said:

why have you ruled out a Crane? It's sort of similar to the Hayden system with the scale  moving zig zag. I'm sure you have seen this comparison here:

 

http://www.concertina.com/other-systems/index.htm

 

Your first step should be Barleycorn concertinas. Very likely Chris (is he still running it? I hope) has specimens of all systems in stock.

 

Hi

Thanks for the reply.

I don’t know why I omitted the Crane system, but thanks for mentioning it again. I will certainly add it to the list of systems to try.

When I recently contacted Barleycorn Concertinas (Chris is still running it) they didn’t have any Haydens in stock but I would agree they are certainly worth a visit.

Thanks for the suggestions

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Chris doesn't stock hybrid (accordion-reeded) concertinas, which is what most Haydens are; but he's likely to have a good selection of vintage Cranes. Some other dealers might have a new Hayden in stock, but unlikely they will have a Crane. So side by side comparison will be difficult.

 

Where do you live? It's possible that a Hayden-playing member of this site would let you try their instrument. Or Hobgoglin are listing one secondhand Elise.

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11 minutes ago, Little John said:

Chris doesn't stock hybrid (accordion-reeded) concertinas, which is what most Haydens are; but he's likely to have a good selection of vintage Cranes. Some other dealers might have a new Hayden in stock, but unlikely they will have a Crane. So side by side comparison will be difficult.

 

Where do you live? It's possible that a Hayden-playing member of this site would let you try their instrument. Or Hobgoglin are listing one secondhand Elise.

Thanks for that information. That’s an interesting point about what Chris tends to stock.

I am based in North London.

I did visit Hobgoblin in London but they didn’t seem to know where that listed “Elise” was located. It was there that I tried the English system.

Thanks for your response

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Just to complicate your choice, the Wicki system is identical to the Hayden except the latter has the buttons on a slope relative to the hand rest. Both are available from Concertina Connection / Wakker. The Hayden slope moves the buttons away from the little finger, making it difficult to use that finger. As a piano player you might find that frustrating. As a Crane player I use that finger all the time, both for accidentals in the outside column and for smoothing transitions like D-G and G-D (in the same column) or for fast repeated notes.

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For an Elise, you should contact "Button Box" or "Wim Wakker". They are both in the U S , but are very experienced in sending to the U K .

Wim Wakker is the man who has Elises made in China. He used to sell them in the U K via the "Music Room" (no longer in business), but he will no doubt have a new agent now.

Both BB & WW also make very fine high quality upgrades, and will even take your Elise back and give you a full price refund off  for one of their higher quality instruments. Look for the "Beaumont" (BB), and "Peacock" (WW).

 

Inventor.  

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Posted (edited)

It is a pure myth that the Hayden slope is awkward: it is there for a very good reason, which I have exhaustively written about in this website in the past.

For the right hand I use the little finger also for accidentals, and chromatic decorations where it is probably no better or worse than on a Crane. Playing consecutive notes a fourth apart are never a problem on the Hayden as they fall on buttons that are diagonally to the left in the next row rather than immediately above as on the Crane.

On the left hand I commonly use the left little finger when playing an Um-Pah accompaniment (the sort of thing an Accordion Stradella bass is set up for); to play the Um in the lowest octave available;  together with the same note an octave higher, on the ring finger. Then a higher chord for the Pah.

The offset given by the slope facilitates this nicely.

Please don't think that I am in any way knocking the Crane as I think that it is a very good system in many ways. If one had come into my hands fifty years ago, rather than an A flat Jeffries Duet, the Hayden duet might never have been invented ! 

 

Inventor.

  

Edited by inventor
spelling mistake
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@Little John & @Inventor

Thank you both very much for the additional information.

Whether the Wicki system or the Hayden Slope version is suitable for me is something that I could only determine by actually physically handling both systems, but thanks for pointing out that the two versions exist.

Similarly, before I purchase either a Vintage Crane or Maccann Concertina from a UK dealer or a New Hayden Concertina from a US dealer I would ideally like to try them first.

This brings me back to my original dilemma, being able to try these different systems first and then make the investment.

Anyway, thanks again, as all this information is useful in helping me decide which route to take.

 

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4 hours ago, Little John said:

Just to complicate your choice, the Wicki system is identical to the Hayden except the latter has the buttons on a slope relative to the hand rest.

Just to add that the Wicki layout is also diffferent from the Hayden system in that the LHS buttons are reflected. 

 

If it is hard to source a Hayden system then Wicki systems are almost unobtainium.  The Concertina Connection (Wim Wakker) will make you one if you ask them nicely (with money up front).

 

Used Haydens show up only occasionally, used Haydens with concertina reeds show up only once every few years. 

 

It sounds like your best bet is to go to Barleycorn and try some of Chris Algar's Cranes. 

 

 

 

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Button Box in the US has a Beaumont which they keep on hand because they know people need to try them.  Contact them to see if can arrange to send it to you.  I played it and it was love at first squeeze - I traded my Elise on the spot and I'm still delighted with my Beaumont. 

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I‘d second the suggestion to try out a Crane - it‘s the thing closest to an English I guess, but without the alternating fingering you seem to dislike (despite my own finding it incredibly great)!

 

Best wishes - 🐺

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I would agree that the difficulty in finding a decent (not a budget model) Hayden Concertina might force me to concentrate on the other systems, the Crane in particular.

The Concertina Connection quoted me a waiting time of 48 months for a Hayden. At my time of life that’s a bit too long to wait.


The reason I didn’t get on with the English was that I am used to playing, say, a scale on the piano with the fingers of one hand and I just couldn’t adjust to the alternating fingering of the English. But that’s just me.

Thanks again to everybody for their advice and suggestions

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, inventor said:

Please don't think that I am in any way knocking the Crane as I think that it is a very good system in many ways. If one had come into my hands fifty years ago, rather than an A flat Jeffries Duet, the Hayden duet might never have been invented !

 

In case you haven’t figured it out, “inventor” is indeed Mr. H., the guy who invented it.

 

11 hours ago, Little John said:

Just to complicate your choice, the Wicki system is identical to the Hayden except the latter has the buttons on a slope relative to the hand rest.

 

6 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Just to add that the Wicki layout is also diffferent from the Hayden system in that the LHS buttons are reflected.

 

That was true of the instrument that Wicki built and played (and wrote about) 100 years ago, but modern concertina makers have been using the name the way Little John used it. Wicki’s instruction book with the mirrored left hand layout didn’t surface until after the terminology gained currency.

Edited by David Barnert

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I don't want to head you off, because  I think playing duet is cool, and if I'd known when I started, that's what I'd have done, but the peculiarity of the English system is absolutely no excuse. There aren't any of us anywhere who found it immediately intuitive under our fingers, but we all worked it out, and so could you. If you ever played guitar, it's a lot like alternate bass thumb picking--you can't do it, you can't do it, you can't do it, no one could do that. . . .and then suddenly, you are, and you never even think about it, ever again. That's why we practice. :-)

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13 hours ago, David Barnert said:

 

In case you haven’t figured it out, “inventor” is indeed Mr. H., the guy who invented it.

 

I did manage to work that one out, but thanks for confirming it.

13 hours ago, mdarnton said:

.... but the peculiarity of the English system is absolutely no excuse.......

I appreciate the points you are making but there are many reasons why other concertina players chose the systems they presently play, and not all play the English.

However, you are not the first person to recommend the English system to me.

I realise I need to get more in-depth experience of the systems on offer before I make an investment.

 

Thanks for the advice

 

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I guess not many would contradict me stating that choosing a system is a highly personal matter, and what is absolutely thrilling some may appear totally awkward to others. I can assure you, dedicated players of the English do exist! 

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Posted (edited)

RW--I'm not recommending English, in fact I think I said the opposite, that duet is a more interesting instrument. What is said was that a beginner's evaluation of a situation may not necessarily be accurate in the long run, so I wouldn't use comfort in the first 40 minutes as a major criteria for how you are going to feel in 20 years.

 

That's in the same vein as the advice you will find here if you look around for beginners not to immediately start to want to have their concertinas modified to move buttons around, since they will eventually discover that buttons are where they are for good reasons.

Edited by mdarnton

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