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Gunnar

Looking to learn concertina: suggestions?

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Hey y'all, I'm a multi instrumentalist in the genres of bluegrass and Irish trad, (and other things occasionally) and I want to learn the concertina. 

So I'm looking for a concertina that is playable and sounds tolerable, but my budget might be $500 at best. What should I buy in that range? Is going used a good idea, or am I likely to just buy a money pit? I've been looking at the Wren, and someone suggested a Rochelle, what would y'all suggest? 

 

Thanks for any help 

Gunnar

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I've not tried the Wren, but it does look intriguing.  I did try the Rochelle in a shop a number of years ago.  It seemed a good solid instrument for the price, but it is heavier and less responsive than a good vintage instrument. Still a good choice to learn on though, many people have.  I suggest you search this site for "Wren" and "Rochelle" and take some time reading what is already written here, there will be quite a bit about the Rochelle, as many people have learned on it.  The Wren is more recent, so their will be fewer comments to sift through.

 

I'm assuming you have decided on an Anglo system concertina then?  The 30 button "C/g" Anglo (such as the two instruments mentioned above) is the most common choice for Irish trad but since you just said concertina and didn't specify, just be aware that there are others such as the English and several Duet systems. Each has different advantages, but don't want to be surprised, if you didn't know.

 

A good vintage instrument is a joy to play, but will likely require some maintenance. (not as hard as it sounds)  A bad used instrument will require frequent repairs, and may not ever be playable.  You are not likely to ever find a good vintage 30 button instrument for $500 dollars.  You just might find a nice vintage 20 button instrument at that price, but even that is somewhat rare.  The 20 button only offers the notes in two home keys (most often one row in "C" and the other "g" one fifth higher).  It is more versatile than you might think, and I love mine, but it doesn't offer the all important C# for playing in the key of "D".   I found my 20 button instrument while living in England, where there are more vintage concertinas played and still available.   ( I still love it, but have since added a 26 button to gain additional notes/play in more keys.)  I'm guessing that you are in the USA because you quote your price range in dollars, so that makes finding any good vintage instrument even less likely at a low price.  The good news is that the modern instruments like those you are looking at are less expensive here.

 

Note that the purchase price of the Rochelle can be considered a down payment toward a higher end modern instrument.  Concertina Connection offers credit for the full price of their Rochelle toward their upgraded instruments (Minstrel, Clover, Wakker)  http://www.concertinaconnection.com/rochelle anglo.htm  and the Button Box offers credit for the full price of a Rochelle from them toward their upgraded instruments (Ceili, ESB)   https://www.buttonbox.com/new-concertinas.html

It appears that McNeela music also offers trade-in credit toward their upgraded models (Swan, Phoenix) although I'm not certain of the details.    https://mcneelamusic.com/beginner-concertinas/

 

I have also seen mention of the "Tina" from the Irish Concertina Company, in your price range, but I have not heard much about them.  They also offer some upgraded models. (Swift, Clare, "Vintage", Eiru)    https://irishconcertinacompany.com/

 

I would guess either of the two you were looking at already would be a good start.  The Rochelle has been around longer so it has a better known track record, but the Wren looks similar.  What you don't want to do is buy a cheap knock-off instrument, as are often available on E-bay, or a broken wreck.  (Good concertinas on E-bay are rare, and any of quality are usually mentioned on this site too.)

 

 I'm not mentioning several excellent builders because they are out of your current price range.  Go ahead and get one of these starter instruments and once you fall in love with the concertina then take another look around when you want more.  Have fun!

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Hello,

 

I'm in a similar boat and here's what I've got for you:

 

1.  I tried the Wren, but had to send it back due to sticky buttons--if you're in the states the postage is pricey.  It has a hard case,  a good sound, and and it is smaller than the Rochelle--if it hadn't had the problems, then I would've kept it.  I found the G-row a little too close to the handle and the bellows and buttons a bit chintzy. McNeela was very easy and responsive to deal with and ultimately fair regarding a delayed return.  They also have a Swan that goes on sale for 750ish USD sometimes that seems nicer--leather bellows and lever-action.  People seem to like it.

2.  I haven't tried the Rochelle, but if you want it cheap, call the Button Box on the phone (skip the website) and talk to them about a used or new one.  I think they have 2 or 3 used for 375 right now that aren't on the website.

3.  I'm currently borrowing a Stagi that I like better than the Wren.  I had a rarely used accidental-button that busted through a thin piece of wood, but a friend fixed it.  The construction is pretty neat inside otherwise.  This one looks almost identical, but it's flat-black.  I can't vouch for the dealer here:  https://www.jimlaabsmusicstore.com/store/stagi-w-15-ln-anglo-concertina/

4.  I'm currently having the dilemma of going up to an intermediate and skipping the beginner problem concertinas.  I'm considering the Rochelle so I can trade it for the Minstrel without taking a loss (through CC or Fiddler's Green), but if I knew that I would never trade up and had to keep it near 500, I'd buy the Stagi listed above, since it has leather bellows, metal buttons, and a sturdy lever system.  Sometimes the air button feels a little awkward on my thumb after playing for awhile.

5.  I think I've spent more time shopping and reading about these damn things than actually playing one.

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Ok thanks, I am looking for a C/G Anglo concertina. 

The Tina looks good, and the price is good too.... 

I am in America (currently, though I live in Africa) so I'll call those stores and see if they have any discounted used ones. I've seen that McNeela has a trade in policy, do they sell the used ones at a discount? 

 

Thanks 

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McNeela has some used--usually they're over 500.  I've never seen the Wren used, but you could just email them.  Also, the Swan has rivet-action (I called it lever-action--oops).

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