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Baritone options


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I play Irish trad tunes on treble ec but every now and then I fancy the idea of a baritone version. I expect the baritone to be slower but sound good.  I like the tone of the Aeola baritone as played by Dick Glasgow in several videos.
I have read on this forum several times that the Morse Geordie is a good one, and that it sounds great - but I haven’t been able to find a video or recording that demonstrates what I would call a good tone. It could be that I haven’t heard a good one, but they do not sound sweet on the videos. On the other hand the Jack sounds ok to me but looks like hard work on the bellows.
I am used to the sound of traditional concertina reeds, but I also play melodeon and accordion, so I sort of know where the ball park is.

So I wonder what other baritone fanciers think - what are the options for a good sounding instrument? The Wheatstone are a lot of money! Can anyone point me to a good video of a Morse Geordie?

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Cannot  help  with  and  links  to    Geordie  baritone  videos.  I  tried  one  once, or  perhaps it  was  the  smaller  Albion,  but  for  me  it  did  not have enough puff  for  the  larger  reeds.


The  instrument  played  by  Dick  Glasgow  is  a  Baritone/Treble  and  that is  what I play  also.  Basically  a Treble  keyboard with  an  octave  downward extension , which  means  if  you wish to  play  a tune  one octave  lower your  fingering  has to  be  reversed.  A  Standard  Baritone  is  like a Treble  tuned an octave  lower, but I'm  sure you know  that.


The  Baritone /Treble  takes a wee bit  of  getting used  to    but I  do  not  find  mine at all  slow for playing  Irish sessions , though my main use  for it  is  adding  harmony  and  chords   in the lower  regions  whilst  maintaining the melody  in the treble  ranges.


Dick Glasgow's  is  the  biggest  version ( 64 keys)  and my own is  the  smaller  56 key  which is  8"  across flats. This one  from  1927,  looks a bit  rough  around the edges  but  it's a player!


Edited by Geoff Wooff
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  • 1 month later...

Well I found a good sounding video of a baritone by chance, and I thought it was a Wheatstone. So I messaged the player and found that it was in fact a Morse Geordie!

Fast forward a little and I can now confirm what others have said both on the forum and privately  - it is a very well built but light instrument. It has an easy action. It sounds really good to my ears and is a joy to play.



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I have played baritone for some years now, and have restored quite a few, these comments relate to 'true' baritones,that is the transposed down by one octave. 


There are two broad classifications of instrument, double action, and single action. Double action,  are built like the trebles and have reeds on both sides of the reedpan. they rely on valves to optimise and direct air flow on changes of bellows direction. Single action instruments have no reed pan valves as they only play as bellows are compressed,. Reeds are fitted on to the inner face of the reedpan only. They are fitted with 'gulper' flap valves which allow you to refill the bellows at the end of musical phrases, a bit like refilling the lungs by snatching air when you sing.


Double action instruments are heavier (twice as much metalwork) and slower in response on the lower end of their compass due to the size of their leather valves. Skilled repairers will know about valve springs and valve restrains. to try and address this.


Of the double action instruments there are two styles of reed pan:

 - Fully radial,  just like the treble pan. Unfortunately the chambers for the lower notes  do not permit reeds a big as might be ideal. So to get the lower notes into such relatively small chambers the reeds are usually made shorter, with thinner tongue bodies and then they are weighted, making them easier to sound flat when playing at higher pressures.


- The there is the 'band baritone'  where the reed pans  are semi radial, and the reeds for the  lower octave and a bit are set into parallel chambers with full sized and powerful reeds. The valves in these parallel chambers tend to be heavy and valve springs are really needed. The main downside is that there can be a tonal shift as you move up the scale and from parallel chambered reeds to radial chambered reeds. Often these instruments can have 42  keys rather than the radial 48 keys.


My own baritone for the last ten years or so, was a Lachenal ebony ended new model band baritone, ideal for ensemble, band and a joy to play, however I have been looking out for a chance to upgrade to a single action instrument,  mainly to reduce weight, avoid any valve issues and it's more immediate response time. 


For my money a single action big reed instrument beats a double action instrument hands down. The double action band baritone is better than the radial pan baritone for accompaniment and ensemble work, but the radial pan baritone has a more consistent tonality has long as the reeds are not forced.


The Geordies are good instruments, light and easy to play, but on two I have played I found that the lower reeds, could 'bend' their pitch if played loudly. For voice accompaniment fine but for rhythmic play, Oom Pah Pah,  and 'fff'  perhaps a bit suspect. It probably needs the lower notes playing in chords under these circumstances.


I hope this rambling helps.



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Your post mentioning single action baritones reminded me that I have one.

Now, I usually play anglo, this is the only English concertina that I have and my playing ability is limited.


But, here's a quick clip of a piece that I used to play as a song accompaniment.  You can see the "gulping" on occasions.


The instrument has weighted brass reeds and the bellows have been recently replaced by Mark Lloyd-Adey.







Edited by Howard Mitchell
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