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JackJ

Upgrade from a Rochelle: Clover vs. Morse

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I'm about to purchase my first concertina, primarily for Irish traditional music where I currently play whistle and a bit of flute.  Having done some research, it looks like a 30 key C/G anglo is what I'm after, and unless I come across something used under $1K that I'm confident won't need any work, I'm leaning toward a Rochelle, just to get started.  I know it's not a great instrument, but its shortcomings are offset by the fact that once I've gotten my feet wet and feel ready for an upgrade, I can trade it in on something better and not lose any money.

 

Both The Concertina Connection and The Button Box offer a Rochelle full-price trade-in program.  But I'm not sure which of these firms to buy from.

 

With the Concertina Connection, I could incrementally move up from the Rochelle to the Minstrel and eventually (or maybe directly) to the Clover model.

 

With The Button Box, the trade in would be for their Morse Céilí, which is approximately the same price as the CC Clover.

 

Of course I may not take either of these upgrade paths, especially if I find a vintage anglo that I feel good about. But I'm curious how the Clover and Morse Céilí compare, or if there are other factors in considering which vendor to go with for a Rochelle.  Any thoughts?

 

I'm very glad to have found this community to help me along my concertina journey!

 

Jack

 

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If you buy from the Button Box then you can then upgrade to a Ceili from them, or upgrade to a Clover from the Concertina Connection.  Do check with the CC that this is still true.

Edited by Don Taylor

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I went through the Button Box and started with a Rochelle and traded-up to a Morse Ceili. I was very pleased with it. That would be my recommendation.

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They are both highly regarded, well-made concertinas. I have owned/played both. You can play Irish on them unless you reach the very highest level (which I haven't). This isn't what you may want to hear, but there is no substitute for trying them yourself as the fit and preference is very individual. I guess that needs to wait until you can play a little...otherwise I'd send you to the Button Box shop the next time you are in western Mass if you ever are, or Bob Tedrow in Alabama (or any other dealer/player/member-owner here) to try them for yourself. It might make sense to do that anyway. Where are you located?

 

Ken

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I know you mentioned not wanting to spend more than $1K.  I will offer up a different opinion than those above.  I started on a Rochelle.  It is touted as the best beginner Anglo by many and it may well be.  But, I found it to be a miserable instrument-stiff bellows, stiff reeds big and unwieldy.  My recommendation would be to try to find a used Clover, Morse, or Edgley.  If you don’t over pay and decide concertina isn’t for you, you should be able to sell it for what you paid for it.   Or just go for a New Minstrel.   I certainly don’t know your circumstances, but you will make faster progress on those and hence more enjoyment.  Just my $.02, but then again, what do I know......

 

Good luck, regardless!

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Jack,  what country are you in?   Barleycorn Concertinas in the UK have commissioned and starting selling a new line of concertina reeded Anglos for £999,  not sure if it's C/G or G/D.    It's called the Blackthorn, I think.     I've heard one and it sounds good.    Might be worth a chat with them. 

 

Good luck in your search

 

Joy

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The importer says the "Blackthorn" will be available in C/G and G/D, but I would expect retailers to provide the C/G model in any case. It can be bought from several dealers, possibly in the US as well?

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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I have a Clover, and it's very nice, for whatever that's worth. The Rochelle I tried out was OK, but admittedly had been given a once-over by Bob Tedrow, so may not represent how it comes out of the box. The main problem I had with it was bulk. It seemed very big.

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7 minutes ago, MJGray said:

The main problem I had with it was bulk. It seemed very big.

 

I think one needs to see it in the flesh (or even give it a try) - either you like it (many do) or you don't (like myself, true for the Jack/Jackie as well). It's a highly personal thing...

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2 hours ago, Spectacled Warbler said:

a new line of concertina reeded Anglos for £999, 

The Blackthorn is certainly worth a look, but it is an accordion reeded hybrid like the Morse or Clover.

 

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It were me, I would consider skipping the cheap stuff, they are OK but not really fun to play, don't "spark joy" of ownership and don't have a pleasing tone, IMO.  They are fine but...

I would look at 20 button refurbs like Greg Jowaisas does (did I spell that right?) which give you a Lachenal or similar, playability, tone, looks, pride and best, re-sale.  Then learn to play.  Next year or the year after, decide what you want...

2nd choice would be upgrade plan from Button Box.  Nothing to lose here.  Starter instrument thats been fettled, trade-in plan, etc. I think it does limit you to trade in on a Morse tho, so if you end wanting to get into the hard stuff... 

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Thanks for all these very helpful replies!  I'm located in southern Indiana, and don't know of any place within an easy drive to sample different models.  But being completely new to the instrument, I'd have no ability to make meaningful comparisons anyway.    I have sent some emails out to vendors (including Greg Jowaisas) whom I'm hoping might have something refurbished that's near my price comfort zone.  Fingers crossed.   Probably don't want to go for a 20 button, though.  I have no doubt it would be a great learning tool, but I'm eager to learn the tunes I already play on tin whistle, and the lack of a C# would be bothersome.

 

If the Northeast Squeeze-In weren't sold out, I could almost justify trying to make the trip there to absorb as much as possible in a condensed time, and to visit the Button Box.  But it's too far if I can't partake in the full experience.

 

Including the one above, I've now had a couple recommendations for the CC Minstrel.  A bit more than I want to spend, but maybe I can stretch the budget.  Not sure how it differs from the Clover, apart from the thousand (!) bucks.  I'll research that more, but any insights appreciated.

 

And the Blackthorn wasn't yet on my radar.  I'll be researching that one, too.

 

Thanks again for the help!

 

 

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Jack,

 

I have a handful you can try, and I get to northern Indiana every couple of months. Are you in Bloomington? Definitely the highest concentration of Irish players I know of down that way (if so, say hi to Grey for me). Dropping in on Greg J. even if you don't buy anything would be worth your time.

 

The second year in a row that I went to Noel Hill school with a 20-button Stagi, he encouraged me to consider a 20-b Lachenal on offer then. I ended up saving for another year and getting a 30. But Noel was perfectly willing to teach me on a 20-Stagi and to his credit never said anything negative about the instrument (he did make a few good jokes). One night he borrowed it and played it (the Concertina Reel, naturally) like lightning! He said, "I started out on one like that...I wrecked it!" I'm sure he was working hard to get it to play, but there you are. What a better instrument gets you is ease of playing and range of control, as you no doubt know from flute and whistle.

 

Ken

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10 hours ago, Spectacled Warbler said:

Jack,  what country are you in?   Barleycorn Concertinas in the UK have commissioned and starting selling a new line of concertina reeded Anglos for £999,  not sure if it's C/G or G/D.    It's called the Blackthorn, I think.     I've heard one and it sounds good.    Might be worth a chat with them.

There were three C/G Blackthorn concertinas on the Barleycorn trade stand at Whitby folk festival and I tried them all.

They are very well made indeed, with proper riveted action. Lightweight and with good bellows. They are hybrid concertinas with good accordion reeds and therefore comparable with Morse and Marcus concertinas. The ones I tried at Whitby had only just come in from the makers, and had still to be properly set up.  Hence the reed response, while OK, could have been improved with a bit of tweaking. Most likely the reed tip gaps needed adjusting - nothing that an experienced melodeon fettler couldn't do.  But overall, potentially a very good mid-range instrument and excellent value for money.

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On 9/10/2019 at 2:47 PM, Ken_Coles said:

 

I have a handful you can try, and I get to northern Indiana every couple of months. Are you in Bloomington? Definitely the highest concentration of Irish players I know of down that way (if so, say hi to Grey for me). Dropping in on Greg J. even if you don't buy anything would be worth your time.

 

 

Yes, I'm down near Bloomington.  Grey has kindly offered to let me give his backup concertina a whirl, and I'm looking forward to taking him up on that later in the month.  It's a 40 button D/A, so pretty dissimilar from what I expect to end up with, but at least I'll learn something about how a well functioning instrument feels.  

 

In fact, getting a D/A has significant appeal.  I believe Grey started on it simply because it was what was available to him;  but he said if he were to start over, he'd still prefer that tuning for Irish traditional music.  It would probably make lessons easier for both of us.  But from what I see, these are not common, and of course there are many reasons to stick with the standard C/G.

 

If Noel Hill is back near here next summer, I'll plan on attending his workshop.  

Edited by JackJ
Orthography

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23 hours ago, Spectacled Warbler said:

Jack,  what country are you in?   Barleycorn Concertinas in the UK have commissioned and starting selling a new line of concertina reeded Anglos for £999,  not sure if it's C/G or G/D.    It's called the Blackthorn, I think.   

 

Worth a look but it has accordion type reeds, not traditional concertina reeds.

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18 minutes ago, Theo said:

 

Worth a look but it has accordion type reeds, not traditional concertina reeds.

 

I'm not sure if this is much of a concern for the OP, given that the models they expressed an interest in are all hybrids and that they are looking for something in a < $1K range...

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2 hours ago, MJGray said:

I'm not sure if this is much of a concern for the OP

Likely not, but Theo and I were responding to a previous response that claimed that the Blackthorn was concertina reeded. Didn't want the OP confused by the idea that a new, concertina-reeded instrument could be had for less than 1000 Pounds.

 

Edited by Bill N
Clarification

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