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Introducing a new Holden concertina

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So here it is! My new Holden Crane. It's described in detail on Alex's blog so I won't repeat it here. You'll also find on his blog a medley of tunes. They were recorded only minutes after I'd made the instrument's acquaintance and I was just playing whatever came into my head, so you'll have to forgive a few slips.




I've actually had this for a while, but I collected it from Alex on my way to a long holiday so I've been unable to post anything until now; which is probably a good job as I'd have just gushed with enthusiasm for my new acquisition. Instead I've had a fortnight to give it a thorough work-out so I'm able to  give a much more considered assessment: this is, quite simply, the best duet I've ever played*.


The bellows are supple: no need to "break them in" - they were as flexible as you could wish from the outset. Capacious too - I can play long passages in one direction even using a lot of heavy chording.


The reeds are very sensitive. They respond evenly and quickly at very low pressure, so that one can play really quietly but still maintain crispness. They also have a wide dynamic range, so plenty of volume when you need it. This means I can play quietly to sing against then ramp up the volume for a musical interlude. The balance is also excellent. A frequent (almost ubiquitous) complaint of duets (and to some extent anglos) is that the lower notes can overpower the high notes. That's not the case with this one. Certainly from my position as the player (and that's usually the worst position!) the melody never gets lost.


Tone is a subjective matter, and Alex generally prefers not to describe the sound of his instruments. I would probably say it sounds "solid and full". Others who have heard the recordings have said variously "what a brilliant rich sound", "very nice, full and open sounding", "marvellous sound ... I very much like the bass side", "Wow! Even on the phone this sounds lovely!" Alex, despite his usual reticence, says in his blog "I am really happy with how rich and well balanced it sounds (even more so in person than recorded on a built in phone mic)".


Finally, as a general point, it's really easy to play. The light weight and the lightness of the action contribute to that, but I think it's the result of several factors working together that make it so. I've had the concept of this instrument for many years, and Alex has translated it perfectly into a reality. Having played it for hours, day after day, I can find no fault with it and there's nothing I would change about it.




*Possibly the best concertina I've ever played too, but a strong contender for that would have to be the special English built by C&R Dipper which I sold about fifteen years ago when I realised I had neither the time nor the talent to be proficient on two different systems.


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