Jump to content
Davida

Are hybrids lower maintenance?

Recommended Posts

I’m on the look out for a good quality Anglo concertina and facing the typical dilemma of old vs modern hybrid. Whilst I’ve seen many posts on the differences regarding sounds, I am particularly interested in the differences in the ease of maintaining and repairing concertinas. If I were to take a refurbished older 30b Lachenal for instance and compare it to a good quality, modern hybrid, which seem to sell for a similar price, would it be fair to predict that the hybrid would likely to require less tweaks/ repairs than the older model over the next few years?   Not only am I asking re potential additional costs but also lost time , trying to find repairers, sending it away etc. Any guidance would be most welcome for an enthusiastic novice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it depends on how well the Lachenal was refurbished. If it was returned to 'good as new' condition then they should be comparable. If they just replaced a few parts and gave it a quick polish, maybe not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not the biggest expert here by a long way, but I can advise on the basis of decisions I have made.

 

I've owned a Rochelle, Marcus, Jeffries, Dipper, and 3 different Lachenals over a period of 12 years, and I currently still own the Marcus and the 3 Lachenals.  I play as near as possible every day.

 

Maintenance in the sense of taking action to repair and maintain (rather than just looking after and storing carefully) has never been an issue.  Each used purchase has been given a once over by a friend who plays for fun and restores concertinas as part of his business.  I invested £100 or so in each "once over".  After that, little or nothing has gone wrong.

 

I had a spring go on the Rochelle which I temporarily fixed with one improvised from a safety pin until I sourced a new spring.  I had a valve fall off the Marcus and I stuck it back on.  That's the two "modern hybrids" which I bought brand new.  I have needed no repairs to any of my older ones, other than the once over and tweaking of the tuning when I bought them.

 

There are some very nice modern instruments available, as well as some very poor ones.  I won't name brands, for fear of misremembering details and causing offence, but I have seen some that I would passionately love to own, and some that I wouldn't give house room.  Price has seldom been a reliable indicator of which would be good or bad.

 

There are some very nice vintage instruments out there, and some that are in a dreadful condition.

 

In either case, try before you buy.  There is more to this than choosing one that will be easy to maintain.  Does it feel nice in your hands?  Does it sound nice to you?  Will it make you reluctant to put it down, rather than reluctant to pick it up?

 

The choice is not entirely rational.  When I wanted a 30+ button G/D Anglo, I tried half a dozen on one afternoon and fell in love with one that had exactly 30 buttons and a non standard layout.  It felt right and sounded right to me, and it is still my absolute pride and joy years later.  When I bought my Lachenal 20b, I sat and tried about 7, and there was no doubt which one I wanted.  In both cases, the vendor expressed surprise at my choice, but I knew which one would be my "voice".

 

For comparison one of the finest players I ever met had several instruments from one modern manufacturer.  He could play them better than I will ever play nd they sounded wonderful in his hands.  I tried them all and struggled to get them to sound nice.  They worked for him.

 

Try every concertina you can get your hands on, take a knowledgeable friend with you if you're unsure, and never buy a used one "sight unseen".  Don't be drawn into any sort of hybrid/vintage snobbery or Top Trumps; find one you think you can love, then play it.  It won't be your last.

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Davida said:

I’m on the look out for a good quality Anglo concertina and facing the typical dilemma of old vs modern hybrid. Whilst I’ve seen many posts on the differences regarding sounds, I am particularly interested in the differences in the ease of maintaining and repairing concertinas. If I were to take a refurbished older 30b Lachenal for instance and compare it to a good quality, modern hybrid, which seem to sell for a similar price, would it be fair to predict that the hybrid would likely to require less tweaks/ repairs than the older model over the next few years?   Not only am I asking re potential additional costs but also lost time , trying to find repairers, sending it away etc. Any guidance would be most welcome for an enthusiastic novice.

 

In my experience: there's significantly more variability in vintage instruments, in terms of reliability.  For top quality vintage boxes sold by reliable dealers/restorers, problems are more likely to be minor than catastrophic - loose shims, misalignments, etc., but you will almost certainly have to do more DIY tweaking that you would with a new modern hybrid.  Still, a well restored Jeffries can be pretty much bullet proof.

 

 Lower end vintage instruments, and those maintained/ restored by amateurs, can be problematic. 

 

Top quality hybrids - Morse and Edgley are the ones I've owned - are pretty much trouble free, once you get past new-instrument glitches and warranty fixes.  I have Morse GD and CG concertinas that I use for Morris playing, which means they get a fair amount of abuse (played at maximum volume and in bad weather,  getting bounced around in pubs, etc).  In 15 years or so, the CG was opened only once - a DIY repair to a pad that came loose - and  the GD has had only one problem, a  back-to-the-shop repair last year for a reed that went wonky. The Morse has the disadvantage of waxed-in reeds, which limits your (or at least my) ability to do some repairs, but in 15 years, that hasn't been a problem for me.  My Dipper-restored Lachenal requires frequent minor adjustments/fixes, had a broken rivet and a collapsed bellows; my Jeffries has been terrifyingly reliable, but it gets checked over and fine tuned by Greg J ever few years.

 

So: the odds is that you will spend more time and money on repairs/tweaks with a good vintage instrument than with a new or fully refurbished modern hybrid; with a lower end vintage box or one not well maintained/restored, the risk goes way up.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Davida:

Can depend on how far you are from your source of repair.  

For example if you are two days UPS each way to Button Box with 3 day turn around, then not too inconvenient for a glitch.  If you are five days international plus customs plus long turn around plus the expense then it's a bit different.  If you are driving distance, well, no brainer.  

If you are handy and ready with the concertina repair book that's different than if you don't like to look under the hood. Some maintenance and repairs are easy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/10/2019 at 4:10 AM, Mikefule said:

I'm not the biggest expert here by a long way, but I can advise on the basis of decisions I have made.

 

I've owned a Rochelle, Marcus, Jeffries, Dipper, and 3 different Lachenals over a period of 12 years, and I currently still own the Marcus and the 3 Lachenals.  I play as near as possible every day.

 

Maintenance in the sense of taking action to repair and maintain (rather than just looking after and storing carefully) has never been an issue.  Each used purchase has been given a once over by a friend who plays for fun and restores concertinas as part of his business.  I invested £100 or so in each "once over".  After that, little or nothing has gone wrong.

 

I had a spring go on the Rochelle which I temporarily fixed with one improvised from a safety pin until I sourced a new spring.  I had a valve fall off the Marcus and I stuck it back on.  That's the two "modern hybrids" which I bought brand new.  I have needed no repairs to any of my older ones, other than the once over and tweaking of the tuning when I bought them.

 

There are some very nice modern instruments available, as well as some very poor ones.  I won't name brands, for fear of misremembering details and causing offence, but I have seen some that I would passionately love to own, and some that I wouldn't give house room.  Price has seldom been a reliable indicator of which would be good or bad.

 

There are some very nice vintage instruments out there, and some that are in a dreadful condition.

 

In either case, try before you buy.  There is more to this than choosing one that will be easy to maintain.  Does it feel nice in your hands?  Does it sound nice to you?  Will it make you reluctant to put it down, rather than reluctant to pick it up?

 

The choice is not entirely rational.  When I wanted a 30+ button G/D Anglo, I tried half a dozen on one afternoon and fell in love with one that had exactly 30 buttons and a non standard layout.  It felt right and sounded right to me, and it is still my absolute pride and joy years later.  When I bought my Lachenal 20b, I sat and tried about 7, and there was no doubt which one I wanted.  In both cases, the vendor expressed surprise at my choice, but I knew which one would be my "voice".

 

For comparison one of the finest players I ever met had several instruments from one modern manufacturer.  He could play them better than I will ever play nd they sounded wonderful in his hands.  I tried them all and struggled to get them to sound nice.  They worked for him.

 

Try every concertina you can get your hands on, take a knowledgeable friend with you if you're unsure, and never buy a used one "sight unseen".  Don't be drawn into any sort of hybrid/vintage snobbery or Top Trumps; find one you think you can love, then play it.  It won't be your last.

 

 

What Mikefule said...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An instrument which has been properly restored shouldn't need much doing to it, although an older instrument might need a bit more tlc than a new one.  However they are mechanical instruments with a lot of moving parts, and things can occasionally need attention.  Usually these are fairly minor things such as a broken spring or dust in a reed, which can be easily fixed, with a little knowledge without needing to go to a repairer. Dave Elliott's Concertina Maintenance Manual is well worth getting and well help you to diagnose problems as well as show you how to fix them.  

 

Apart from age, the only substantial difference between a hybrid and a traditional concertina is the reeds used and how they are mounted.  Tuning should be left to an expert, but should only be needed very occasionally if the instrument is handled carefully.  If you will be playing for morris and trying to maximise volume  outdoors in adverse weather conditions then reeds may need more frequent attention!

 

Worn bellows can also be a problem and best left to the experts (unless you are confident DIYer), but assuming the bellows are in good condition to start with it is far better to take care of them in the first place and play in a way which will minimise damage and wear.

 

I think there are more important things to consider when choosing between a restored vintage and a new hybrid, the most important (in my opinion) being how it sounds and how responsive it to play.  You will know when an instrument feels right for you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for all your helpful responses -much appreciated. My ‘take-away’ from these is that I should not rule out an older anglo  based on maintenance/repairs required etc but go to a reputable dealer/maker to make sure that it has been properly reconditioned  and find one that feels right. I have tried to play as many as I can at my concertina club (WCCP) but have also received a lot of potentially conflicting advice too! The nature of concertina players , I guess. Ask two players a question and get three opinions back!. All I can say is that it is fantastic to be part of this newly discovered world of concertina players, and what a great resource this forum is in terms of the the time and help people put in . So thank you! Greatly looking forward to getting my own asap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

However they are mechanical instruments with a lot of moving parts

 

Like Howard Jones says, concertinas are mechanical instruments.  Does not take much to kick it out of line, but often does not take much to get it right again.

54 minutes ago, hjcjones said:

I think there are more important things to consider when choosing between a restored vintage and a new hybrid, the most important (in my opinion) being how it sounds and how responsive it to play.  You will know when an instrument feels right for you.

 

And also, you are likely worrying about the wrong things.

 

Main problem, in the US$3K territory, is that it pretty straightforward and easy to get oneself a nice hybrid but a little more time consuming and variable to secure that "perfect" restored" vintage at that price point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Davida said:

Thank you so much for all your helpful responses -much appreciated. My ‘take-away’ from these is that I should not rule out an older anglo  based on maintenance/repairs required etc but go to a reputable dealer/maker to make sure that it has been properly reconditioned  and find one that feels right. I have tried to play as many as I can at my concertina club (WCCP) but have also received a lot of potentially conflicting advice too! The nature of concertina players , I guess. Ask two players a question and get three opinions back!. All I can say is that it is fantastic to be part of this newly discovered world of concertina players, and what a great resource this forum is in terms of the the time and help people put in . So thank you! Greatly looking forward to getting my own asap.

 

This seems to be the right general approach.  Ask for advice, listen carefully, but understand that everyone has their own experience and preconceptions that will influence the advice they give you.

 

You're not choosing a car, where you might prioritise speed, or fuel economy, or luggage space, or social prestige, or some compromise between these factors.  You're choosing something that has one purpose only: to make you enjoy playing it.  It has to feel right for you.

 

Concertina players are generally a lovely and welcoming bunch, but perhaps a little obsessive about one detail or another that particularly matters to them.  Given that there are several distinct styles of playing each system, there are bound to be different opinions about any individual instrument.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...