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EC or Duet (or neither)


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Hey y'all, I need some advice. 

 

Here's my situation, I finally caved and got myself an anglo C/G concertina 6 months ago and absolutely loved playing it. To my surprise the squeeze box is the first instrument I really connected with. I also got it because around the same time my husband was getting into guitar and I wanted something I could play with him. Now we both like Irish folk, but more in the Irish folk revival style (Clancy Bros style). I was a bit disappointed to learn that most of the irish stuff that is out there for Anglo is more trad. I also started getting really into Klezmer which can be tough on the anglo. 

 

Now, I've been playing on a used instrument that was already cheap before I bought it second hand. It's held up well, but I'm looking at getting something a bit more solid. Because of that I am also thinking I should switch styles of squeeze box, because the Anglo is pretty eh for Klezmer and because I'm not playing a lot of trad music, I am not losing much on the irish front. So the way I see it, I have three options 1) English Concertina, 2)Duet, or 3) cave and buy a piano accordion. 

 

So 1) I've read on an old thread here that English is actually really good for Klezmer plus it can handle most Irish stuff as far as I know. My only worry is that I understand you can't really play accompaniment on the left hand. That isn't a huge deal when I'm playing with the husband as he usually plays chords under me, but I do like to play a bit of accompaniment sometimes and it'd be said if that wasn't possible. 

 

2) Duet seems like the best idea except that it's impossible to find. I'd absolutely love to get an Elise but it's keys are limited because it doesn't have a D# or G#, meaning I can't play Bb major which is a huge key in Eastern European folk. And the next one up is like 1500 dollars if I'm lucky. 

 

3) Cave and get a piano accordion. As I understand it, PAs are the msot versitile of the squeeze boxes. I've been told by my fav accordion icon Daniel Kahn that they are really the best bet and so I've been strongly considering the switch. Plus it is good for bass accompaniment. Still, one of my favorite things about the concertina is how compact it is. I also really don't know how well it'll mesh with a guitar, I'm worried I'll just drowned my husband out. Finally, my husband has sensative ears and the concertina's already a bit loud for him, I don't want to be perpetually giving him headaches with a PA. 

 

Thank you guys so much, I've been mulling this all week. 

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Just one thought for you.  With English concertina it is true that "you can't really play accompaniment on the left hand", but you can certainly use both hands play chords and melody.  Lots of examples here of Rob Harbron

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If you're already doing right-hand-melody-left-hand-accompaniment on the anglo then a duet would be the natural choice. An alternative to the piano accordion is the continental button accordion (CBA). Just as versatile as a PA but somewhat more compact. Still nothing like as light and compact as a concertina though!

 

LJ

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I've  played  the English  for  close on 50 years  and  managing chords with melody is  quite  doable  but I  made a deep  forage into  the  Duet  a few years ago. Firstly  on  a  McCann  where there are lots of  very fine instruments  available, from  small to  large.  Then  I  tried  Hayden  and  that is  a very accessible  keyboard  IF  there are enough  buttons. After a year  on the Hayden, I  had   a quite  nice  46key  but  was looking for something  better  and  I  just did  not find it. I  had   by  then forgotten  how to play  the McCann... so  all  duets  got  sold and I   moved  on  to  the  Chromatic  Button  Accordéon   which is  a very popular instrument  in  France, where I  live.  As Little John  says  the  CBA  is  more compact  than the Piano Accordion  and  models do  exist  that  are    closer in weight  to  a  medium/large  Duet.  Changing keys  is  easy  though, like all   instruments,   you  only get out of it what you put in.

 

I  still play  the  English  and for me it is the most  versatile  probably  because  I  learned it  when I was   young.

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Just a thought,  but you can try a pa for very little money - they are super cheap at the tatty end of the market.

They aren't all loud - if I  play mine on one or two treble reeds they are pretty tame. The bass/chord volume can vary a lot between instruments.

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The advice that I always give is essentially "try before you buy (if at all possible)". You may find that one system fits your brain much better than another system. One major difference between systems is whether the fingering stays much the same in different keys (Hayden, CBA, etc), changes considerably (English concertina and other duets) or changes radically (Anglo).

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If you decide to go with accordion.....

 

I started with PA, just because used ones are abundant and inexpensive on local Craigslist.

 

A year later, I switched to CBA and never looked back. I know of many people switching from PA to CBA but I don't know of anyone switching the other way around. There must be reasons why. To me, the main reason is the CBA's compactness (and me being an engineer, its "logical" button board).

 

Do a quick comparison of two comparable Roland accordions: FR-1X and FR-1Xb. They are identical except for the keyboard (2 octaves) vs the button board (3 octaves).

 

I have no regret starting with PA (otherwise I wouldn't have started with accordion at all). But had I consulted the Oracle, I would have been told to go with CBA in the first place.

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Alright, I've decided to go big. I'm between a PA and a CBA. Basically the dilemma comes down to which ones is going to feel better to play. I love the feel of the concertina, so I'm worried that switching over to a keyboard (I've never played piano) will ruin that for me. I also am worried that a CBA will be impossible to find literature for, and would rather have an instrument that has more help available online. 

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>> CBA will be impossible to find literature for....

 

I use this book:  Complete Accordion Method

 

I have this but dropped it for the one above: Metodo Complete for Accordion (it's OK. but the left hand fingering doesn't suit me).

 

They have both PA and CBA fingering.

 

I think that's sufficient, and then you develop your own fingering, styles, .....

 

Note that bellows techniques and the left side are the same for PA and for CBA.

 

The only thing CBA can't do (or to be exact, I don't know how to do) is glissando. But how often do you need that?

 

>> an instrument that has more help available online.

 

How much help do you need? Take a look at this forum: The Accordionists Forum

 

I've never counted; but I think for each PA contributor, there's at least one CBA contributor.

Edited by pentaprism
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I will start by saying I am NOT an expert. 
 

that said. I think you could look at it this way. Dumbing it down A LOT. I think the EC can easily viewed as an alternative to a violin. As far as range. Playing notes in different keys etc. to me it just falls really easily in that slot. And for any kind of music and keys, it just falls in there. Chords, are doable. Holding notes and playing melody, is doable. 
 

piano accordion. Possibly the best all around solution for right hand playing as far as lead line, and chords. But Are the  left hand buttons chords? Also, possibly the cheapest route to try.

 

duet. Possibly the best for left hand chords and right hand melody. Down side (again given my lack of experience)  price. Learning the fingering. And possibly finding the right box that has a good amount of notes for the keys you want to play in. Example, you might find a duet, that plays great for left and in c or g and gives you 2 octaves. But if your Klezmer does a lot in Eb or F# major, there may be a lot of compromise on the right and left as far as chords or possibly right hand scale range.

 

 

I think a piano accordion would be the cheapest and most available option to try. You could probably have one in 2 hours from your local music store or craigslist. It will probably be the easiest to dump quickly at a break even or a small loss. It is also hands down the nerdiest most uncool instrument on the planet.  Well maybe except the trombone..

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On 8/19/2020 at 2:13 AM, The Bee's Proverbial Knees said:

I love the feel of the concertina, so I'm worried that switching over to a keyboard (I've never played piano) will ruin that for me.

A friend of mine, who is a bayan (Russian CBA) virtuoso and also a teacher of CBA and PA, has voiced the opinion that the CBA (C-Grifff or B-Griff) is the instrument of choice if you're serious about accordion music. The PA is an alternative for those (and they are many!) who have taken their first musical steps on the piano.

If, as you say, you've never played the piano, then there's no reason not to opt for the Chromatic Button Accordion. Bear in mind that, if you ever get to te advanced stage of wanting to play a free-bass accordion, the fingering of the left-hand side is modelled on the right hand of the CBA, not on the  piano!

Cheers,

John

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37 minutes ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

A friend of mine, who is a bayan (Russian CBA) virtuoso and also a teacher of CBA and PA, has voiced the opinion that the CBA (C-Grifff or B-Griff) is the instrument of choice if you're serious about accordion music. The PA is an alternative for those (and they are many!) who have taken their first musical steps on the piano.

If, as you say, you've never played the piano, then there's no reason not to opt for the Chromatic Button Accordion. Bear in mind that, if you ever get to te advanced stage of wanting to play a free-bass accordion, the fingering of the left-hand side is modelled on the right hand of the CBA, not on the  piano!

Cheers,

John

 

I mostly agree.  (I play PA and piano in addition to Anglo and Crane concertina.)  One correction: some free-bass PA's have a "stradella" left hand layout that's very similar to the left hand side of a standard PA and is not like a CBA layout.

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It's a shame that a person comes to Concertina.net and gets directed to an accordion!

 

I hadn't heard "continental" for CBA (I always thought it was chromatic). Looking into it, I found this video of a very compact one:

 

same author has a nice video on English concertina too 

 

 

I can hear the difference between accordions and concertinas, so that might be something else to think about, even if it is only to make sure you get an instrument that makes a sound you really like.

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, DaveM said:

I hadn't heard "continental" for CBA ...

 

6 hours ago, David Barnert said:

Neither had I.

 

I used "continental" without thinking about it in my earlier post. Maybe it's a British thing. "The Continent" probably has a more specific meaning here. Whatever you call it, Bernard Loffet makes an instrument very similar to that played in the video by Sean Folsom, called the "petit chroma" http://diato.org/chroma_e.htm

 

LJ

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