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MrG

Beginner looking for cheap concertina

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Posted (edited)

EDIT: okay, I have been convinced that I'm being too cheap. After a little more research it looks like something like a Stagi 20b is probably what I'm looking for, something like that to start out. I can push my budget up to about $200 if anyone has a solid reliable little thing they are trying to upgrade from. Y'all are some pretty helpful people, I have to say. Lots of great advice I really appreciate. I'm trying to be a little more patient so I can find a decent instrument. 

 

 

I am totally new to concertinas, but I want one to play in my history classes for students and to play with family at family gatherings. I am looking for something really cheap - like $100 or less range cheap, something I can get started on. I'm fine with an old Italian or German beater just so I can get started while I learn more and save for a better instrument. As long as it works and I can get started on it. I am in Texas. 

 

Thank you!

Edited by MrG

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You might want to give some thought to what kind of concertina you want: anglo or English. On anglos you get a different note on the pull and the push of the bellows (bisonoric), on English, it’s the same note on pull and push (monosonoric). There are also duet concertinas (also monosonoric), but these might be harder to find. 

 

I prefer a challenge, so I’ve opted for anglo, but it also depends on what sort of music you want to play.

 

Buying a concertina is a bit risky; aside from the buttons, bellows, and box that you can see, inside there are many small springs, valves, and levers, any of which can (and do) break.

 

People selling concertinas on Ebay and other places often have no idea how concertinas are supposed to work, and will advertise an instrument as being in “good condition” just because they can get some sound out of it, even though the bellows won’t hold air and half the buttons are missing.

 

You might find something workable for $100, but save yourself some trouble and look for a used Rochelle (anglo), or Jack or Jackie (English) on this site or elsewhere. You might get one for $250.

 

Good luck!

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Do you already know how to play the harmonica?  If so, you have a head start on the anglo system (which could also include a 20 button German or Italian instrument).

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I think I would prefer an Anglo. From what I have read it is better suited to more folksy style music, which is what I want. I have already learned a few instruments, mostly piano and saxophone, and I'm okay with a bit of a challenge. 

 

I have looked on eBay, but I'm afraid I'll get something practically unusable. But my budget is tight, so I can't afford a new Rochelle for a while, and I'd rather start on something cheaper just to get started. 

 

Thanks for the advice though! I'm going to keep looking. It looks like getting one on eBay then trying to repair it myself is unlikely to go well. Are concertinas fairly difficult to repair?

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"Are concertinas fairly difficult to repair?"

 

Yes and no. If you can repair a lawn mower, a concertina's not bad, if you have the right parts and tools (I suppose that goes for a lot of things). 

 

There's a good book that'll get you started, The Concertina Maintenance Manual, by David Elliott: 

https://www.amazon.com/Concertina-Maintenance-Manual-David-Elliott/dp/1899512675

 

I've actually replaced a broken spring with a reworked safety pin, but it can get gnarly when you get the end back on and things aren't working the way they should.

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Frequent lawn sales, estate sales etc..  You need to get to the deals ahead of the speculators.   Don't buy a plastic concertina that doesn't work perfectly for over $50.  There are indeed good ones out there for under $100.  Be patient and you'll get lucky.  Good luck!

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Updated in main post. I am pushing my budget up to about $200, hoping to get a decent little Stagi or something like that. Thanks for all the help and advice!

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Smythe's Accordion Center has a cheap 20 button. I'm afraid I don't know if he ships, but if he does, it looks like a decent deal, and I believe he goes over all cheap instruments that come in, and makes sure they're in solid working order.

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10 hours ago, MrG said:

Updated in main post. I am pushing my budget up to about $200, hoping to get a decent little Stagi or something like that. Thanks for all the help and advice!

Excellent.  Be patient.  I recently picked up a Lachenal English needing repairs for $250.  

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As always, people will say spend more and buy the best you can.  Certainly a nice Lachenal 20b is easier to play and more beautiful to hold than a cheap and cheerful clunker.  However there are some pretty grotty Lachenals out there too.

 

Serious follow up to a comment above: on the basis that a nice instrument is always more of a pleasure to own and play, you could consider a very nice harmonica, perhaps something like a Hohner Meisterklasse.  this will get you into the idea of the suck/blow push/pull and will open up a range of tunes to you which you could then transfer fairly easily to an Anglo when you've saved up more.  I served my "musical apprenticeship" on harmonica.  It is a versatile melodic instrument (listen to Brendan Power, for example) although it has been almost completely reinvented in public perception as a blues and rock instrument.

 

Tip: if you do buy a harmonica, a good option is a Marine band 12 hole, and learn the melodies in the top octave.  They will then translate more readily to the right hand of an Anglo.

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On 10/13/2018 at 2:00 PM, Mikefule said:

 I served my "musical apprenticeship" on harmonica.  It is a versatile melodic instrument (listen to Brendan Power, for example) although it has been almost completely reinvented in public perception as a blues and rock instrument.

 

Tip: if you do buy a harmonica, a good option is a Marine band 12 hole, and learn the melodies in the top octave.  They will then translate more readily to the right hand of an Anglo.

Same here! My "apprenticeship" was on a Hohner Echo Harp, a 2-sided harmonica in C and G, which also gives you the feeling of having two rows of buttons available. I also have a Hohner Marine Band 12-hole. I can even play "The Londonderry Air" in the upper octave on both of them, which you can't on a blues-harp with its 10 holes!

Cheers,

John

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8 minutes ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

My "apprenticeship" was on a Hohner Echo Harp, a 2-sided harmonica in C and G

 

Same here, and I used to love it, particularly the G side......

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