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Jewish Leprechaun

Secondary Key: Ab/Eb vs Bb/F

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Would like some thoughts on which key to expand to first after C/G.

I found this discussion from back in '07, but was hoping I could get some additional and fresh input.  And if your opinion is there's no need to have anything but a C/G; I'd like to hear your rationale behind it.

 

-Lep

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I can't add much to the wisdom in the thread you cite, except to note that we have an A/E at our house and it is arguably the most popular box for noodling around at home (my wife uses it constantly). It hits my singing range just right for some tunes. I guess it is halfway from Bb/F to Ab/Eb...Sorry to muddy the waters!

 

Ken

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It really depends, as it always does, on what you want.

 

Last summer I was playing with a few pipers, in C. A young woman came a long with a C/g concertina. We asked if she had a Bflat/f but as she hadn't she said 'I'll try it on this one' and transposed on the fly, didn't miss a tune either in the five hours we played. She obviously didn't need the Bflat/f. Mileages vary though.

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A major consideration for me is the type of music I play, so ask yourself that question, namely, what type of music do you play (or want to play)?. Much of the klezmer music, which I'm playing a lot these days, involves D minor and G minor, so my Jeffries Bflat/F is my favored instrument. That said, I find D minor is also an easy key for my (male, low tenor, high baritone) voice, so C/G can easily cope with D minor and its associated chords -- F, Bflat, C(7) when it comes to accompanying singing. These chords + keys fall easily on a C/G; they fall more even more easily on  a Bflat/F. instrument So one consideration I would offer is to consider what role you and your concertina want to play -- in a band, where you'll need an instrument that has tonal & volume power enough to compete with other instruments? Or one that works with your voice and its range when there's little or no other (additional) instrumentation. Is there/are there common keys that you keep thinking you can't easily play on your C/G? Hope this helps.

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I have both auxiliary keyed concertinas. I can play most D, and Em tunes down a step, same for Bm, but when tunes from G to F really depends on the tune. I prefer the Bb / F for a C session, to make sure all patterns and ornaments the same as my C/G. Same for concert flute, having the lower keyed instrument makes it a really easy change. There is a definite sweetness to the lower pitched boxes. My Ab / Eb is a joy to play, but a few things to consider. If you are a soloist the audience can enjoy the new keys being played, as opposed to the repetitive choices. If you are playing in a group or session what is the most likely for other instruments to tune to. I guess, it is more common to find low pitched Irish sessions in C, or B. So Bb /F and A / E might be a good choice.

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Great replies from all, so a few more things are coming to my mind now.  From the get go I have been leaning toward an Ab/Eb, as I'm kind of partial to the lower option, but I have been finding the mention of the A/E and that it would be a nice "compromise" between the Bb/F and the Ab/Eb especially for solo work.

 

So now... how bad would it be to tune up an Ab/Eb up to an A/E?  For example one of our fellow members has a lovely 38button Suttner in Ab/Eb up for sale that could be tuned up to A/E...   I haven't seen a lot of A/E boxes floating around out there.

 

Just exploring some different ideas here.

 

-Lep

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If you are looking at new makers just order one in the A/ E tuning. If you find a vintage concertina in Ab / Eb old or high pitch it would already be 50% the way to A/ E. G/D boxes are also way to come by, but from a playing Irish Trad with others not going to be session friendly. If there is an uilleann piper in your area, see what chanter or set options they have for flat sets. Fiddles can tune tune down as low as Bb, but B and C are more common for pipes ( in my opinion ).

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One thing to consider that no one has mentioned so far is responsiveness. Even with the better quality instruments, the lower in pitch you go, the more air it takes to move the now longer and heavier reeds. So you can not expect to play as fast on a G/D or an Ab/Eb as you can play on a C/G. The difference between a C/G and a Bb/F will be much smaller. Of course, if you are Cormac Begley, it hardly matters! :)

 

Put another way, if you hope to play this new instrument in lively sessions, then a Bb/F might be the better choice than one of the lower pitched instruments. It's just something else to consider.

 

Ross Schlabach

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Ross, that's an interesting consideration about speed and playability, but if Cormac Begley is any evidence, I guess one can adapt to the individual needs of the instrument with enough practice :)

 

At this point I'm leaning towards placing an order for a Suttner A4 in A/E (just got an email from Juergen and while I couldn't find it on his website, he will produce A/E instruments!).  The idea behind this would be the sweet mellow tone for solo work and if I ran into the odd session in B.

 

Appreciate the input from all and if there's more thoughts, keep them coming!

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8 hours ago, Jewish Leprechaun said:

and if I ran into the odd session in B.

 

would love to listen then 🤓

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I’ve made C/Gs,(lots of them ) G/ds and an A/E which is my all time favorite.  Mine is every bit as fast as my C/gs, though the G/Ds are very slightly slower on the low end.  You can certainly play at session speed on any of them.  I love the sound of the G/D, but  it is just lower than I like to play.  The A/E  is just right though.  Richer than the C/g and without the shrillness of the high end,  everything just sounds better.  Bb/f is just too near C/g to make that kind of difference, though it is useful for playing transposed in certain sessions.  It really isn’t difficult to learn to play in the keys a Bb/f is mostly used for on a C/g.(F has become one of my favorite keys)

   I use my C/g at sessions or for teaching, but when I am playing alone, I always play the A/E.

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