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Beginner dive into first "real" Concertina

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Hello all! 

 

About a month ago I started to explore playing an instrument and the concertina caught my eye. Being a little too eager I purchased a "cheap" Chinese Bonetti "concertina". Soon as I picked it up I knew I made a mistake by cheaping out. I do not know much about the feel of a concertina but the reeds were extremely hard to push/pull and sound was not the best. Luckily I am able to return it for a full refund and with the assurance I definitely do want to learn the Anglo concertina! (Got some light practice in too)

 

 

After doing some more proper research I have found some more quality concertina options online. Although my budget is limited (About $500 USD) I have seen multiple recommendations for the Rochelle and the Wren 2. I am leaning towards the Wren 2, because of a couple negative comments about the Rochelle's bellow being "stiff". If anyone has any recommendations between the two (or in general) I would love to hear it. I am a complete novice, but I am excited to join the music world!

 

I have seen some other similar threads about this topic, but wanted to see some new opinions/share my experience. Appreciate the help! 

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Hi, I have Wren(not 2). 

I don't recommend Wren to you, because I think there are not so much differences between Chinese one; hard to make sound, easy to be broken.

Have you ever disassembled your concertina? Cheap concertina has same mechanism and it is "completely different" from above mid-range model.

 

Mechanism of a chap model

 

Mechanism of a mid-range model

 

I think Swan is good choise, I have not played it yet but I heard from my good friend that Swan has nice cost performance.

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I started on a Rochelle and have since moved to a Minstrel, and then a Clover. If you already know you like the instrument and want to keep playing it long term, I advise skipping the intro phase all together and going straight to the beginner-intermediate ones like the Swan or the Minstrel. It might take a bit more savings time but it's not such a huge difference between the two as to make it impossible. The playability difference from the intro concertinas to the beginner-intermediate ones is HUGE. You can't get dynamics out of the Rochelle - it's loud and louder. The Minstrel let me actually practice playing quietly and musically. Massive difference in action quality as well.

 

I don't know that there's a big enough difference between the Swan or Minstrel to make a strong case for one or the other, so pick one that either fits the aesthetics you like, or has the upgrade program you want to commit to. If you get the Rochelle now, you could change it up to a Minstrel or Clover and receive the full price of the instrument back (if ordered via Concertina Connection). I think the Swan might have a similar thing.

 

Here's a Rochelle video:

 

Here's a Minstrel video:

 

 

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I started with a Bastari M CG 30, bought locally for cheap, and then a Swan from McNeela, and then a Morse Céilí from Button Box (and then others with concertina reeds).

 

I still have the Bastari because it's too cheap to sell; it's somewhere in my office, currently closed due to the shelter-in-place order. The Swan has found a new home.

 

Even I now own some concertinas with concertina reeds, I'm still playing the Céilí, and plan to do so for the  foreseeable future.

 

If I were to start all over again, I'd start with at least a good-hybrid such as Morse Céilí or the likes (Edgley, Clover, Marcus, ...).

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On 10/15/2020 at 7:32 PM, GoHokies said:

Hello all! 

 

About a month ago I started to explore playing an instrument and the concertina caught my eye. Being a little too eager I purchased a "cheap" Chinese Bonetti "concertina". Soon as I picked it up I knew I made a mistake by cheaping out. I do not know much about the feel of a concertina but the reeds were extremely hard to push/pull and sound was not the best. Luckily I am able to return it for a full refund and with the assurance I definitely do want to learn the Anglo concertina! (Got some light practice in too)

 

 

After doing some more proper research I have found some more quality concertina options online. Although my budget is limited (About $500 USD) I have seen multiple recommendations for the Rochelle and the Wren 2. I am leaning towards the Wren 2, because of a couple negative comments about the Rochelle's bellow being "stiff". If anyone has any recommendations between the two (or in general) I would love to hear it. I am a complete novice, but I am excited to join the music world!

 

 

I have seen some other similar threads about this topic, but wanted to see some new opinions/share my experience. Appreciate the help! 

Size has been mentioned in other similar threads, but not (I think) so far in this one.

 

The Concertina Connection instruments are 'over-size' at 7-1/4" across the flats. When I tried a

Jackie at the beginning of this year, I found this a very awkward size. The Wren is 'standard' size.

I note that it is not getting a very good press in this thread, but I do know two new players who

bought one recently, and they seem happy with them.

 

If your budget is limited, you are stuck with the Wren or the Rochelle or something similar. 

 

I suspect the Wren might be the better deal, but don't swallow the idea that it's a high-quality

instrument - it's medium-quality at best.

 

The alternative is to hunt around for a vintage instrument. You will almost certainly only get

a 20-button instrument for your $500, but I'd rather have a decent 20-button vintage instrument

than a poor 30-button instrument any day (in fact, I have my original 20-button Lachenal at my side

as I type this - at least 100 years old and still going strong...)

   ___my_friend_music____by_kalia.gif.1a9b7e0eb5fbeb4296a3b3ef89153684.gif_accordion__by_mr_jaunty.gif

Edited by lachenal74693

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The OP specifically mentioned "Anglo concertina."

 

>> The Concertina Connection instruments are 'over-size' at 7-1/4" across the flats. When I tried a
Jackie at the beginning of this year, I found this a very awkward size. 

 

This is not necessarily true for Anglo concertinas designed/built by Concertina Connection. The Jackie is not an Anglo concertina.

 

The Minstrel and the Clover are Anglo concertinas designed/built by Concertina Connection, both measuring "6 1/4 inch across the flats" according to Concertina Connection's website.

 

>> I don't know that there's a big enough difference between the Swan or Minstrel....

 

I know the Swan doesn't have any bushings. I think the Minstrel does. That's a huge difference in my opinion. I used to own a Swan, and would have kept it for mobile playing if it had bushings.

Edited by pentaprism

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34 minutes ago, pentaprism said:

The OP specifically mentioned "Anglo concertina."

 

>> The Concertina Connection instruments are 'over-size' at 7-1/4" across the flats. When I tried a
Jackie at the beginning of this year, I found this a very awkward size. 

 

This is not necessarily true for Anglo concertinas designed/built by Concertina Connection. The Jackie is not an Anglo concertina.

Aye, but as far as I am aware, the Rochelle is the same (large) size as the Jackie, which is the point I was trying to convey...

 

The other models in the CC range are (I think) 6-14" ax the flats. They are also outwith the OP's stated price limit.

I think that may be the kicker here - $500 (or £500/€500) seems to be a common upper limit for prospective

new players. If it were $1000, the problem would 'go away'.  Not an easy place for new players to be, which is

(presumably) why the question arises so frequently, both here and on reddit/concertina...

Edited by lachenal74693

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2 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

I think that may be the kicker here - $500 (or £500/€500) seems to be a common upper limit for prospective

new players. If it were $1000, the problem would 'go away'. 

@GoHokies,

This is a good point! Also bear in mind the old adage that "if you buy cheap, you buy twice."

I believe a lot of beginners shy away from a more expensive instrument because they don't know whether the concertina, or this type of concertina, is going to work for them. 

However, you say:

On 10/15/2020 at 8:32 PM, GoHokies said:

Luckily I am able to return it for a full refund and with the assurance I definitely do want to learn the Anglo concertina! (Got some light practice in too)

So why buy a $500 model now, and then a $1000 model later on? 

Even as a learner, you'll make better-sounding music on a good concertina than on a bad one, and when your competence increases, a good concertina won't limit you, as a bad one would.

Think about it!

Cheers,

John

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13 hours ago, pentaprism said:

I still have the Bastari because it's too cheap to sell; it's somewhere in my office, currently closed due to the shelter-in-place order. The Swan has found a new home.

 

18 minutes ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

@GoHokies,

Also bear in mind the old adage that "if you buy cheap, you buy twice."

I believe a lot of beginners shy away from a more expensive instrument because they don't know whether the concertina, or this type of concertina, is going to work for them. 

However, you say:

So why buy a $500 model now, and then a $1000 model later on? 

Even as a learner, you'll make better-sounding music on a good concertina than on a bad one, and when your competence increases, a good concertina won't limit you, as a bad one would.

Think about it!

Cheers,

John

Those are important considerations. If you buy at the very cheapest end you haven't spent much but you'll get little or nothing back when you either move up to a better instrument or abandon the concertina in favour of something else. If you spend a bit more (or a lot more) to start with you can re-sell and get something back. Your net expenditure may not be much different, but you'll have had a better instrument in the meantime. You could think of it as effectively hiring an instrument. There will almost inevitably be some net expenditure, even on the good instrument, because it will need a service from time to time.

 

These days, when I buy another concertina, I justify it to myself partly as an investment. Even if it doesn't gain value over the years, if I get old and feeble and need the money I can probably sell it for, at worst, a good fraction of what I have paid.

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Some very interesting points brought up so far by many of you that I have not seen in other threads. 

5 hours ago, Richard Mellish said:

 

Those are important considerations. If you buy at the very cheapest end you haven't spent much but you'll get little or nothing back when you either move up to a better instrument or abandon the concertina in favour of something else. If you spend a bit more (or a lot more) to start with you can re-sell and get something back. Your net expenditure may not be much different, but you'll have had a better instrument in the meantime. You could think of it as effectively hiring an instrument. There will almost inevitably be some net expenditure, even on the good instrument, because it will need a service from time to time.

 

These days, when I buy another concertina, I justify it to myself partly as an investment. Even if it doesn't gain value over the years, if I get old and feeble and need the money I can probably sell it for, at worst, a good fraction of what I have paid.

 

6 hours ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

@GoHokies,

This is a good point! Also bear in mind the old adage that "if you buy cheap, you buy twice."

I believe a lot of beginners shy away from a more expensive instrument because they don't know whether the concertina, or this type of concertina, is going to work for them. 

However, you say:

So why buy a $500 model now, and then a $1000 model later on? 

Even as a learner, you'll make better-sounding music on a good concertina than on a bad one, and when your competence increases, a good concertina won't limit you, as a bad one would.

Think about it!

Cheers,

John

 

Both of you make great points about the price and the prospect of buying another concertina in the future to upgrade. I guess it is a certain type of fear factor that is keeping me from pulling trigger on a more expensive model. I do get a pretty substantial raise come January so maybe I will just have to wait until then to afford a Swan (or Minstrel but again that is a 33% rise in price and from what i can see the Minstrel is comparable to the Swan).  I definitely want to learn the concertina so I will just have to budget and wait a couple of months!

 

Additionally the first two posts were a little concerning when it came to the similarity of the cheap Chinese models vs the Rochelle (and even the Wren). Hopefully new players will see this thread and learn from my mistake!

 

 I really appreciate the feedback so far and anymore knowledge on the subject at hand is appreciated. 

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New player here. I got a Rochelle a couple months ago and have enjoyed playing it every day since. I don't doubt the advice of others here that a nicer concertina is a huge step up but personally I'm glad I got what I did at the time because I can enjoy it now.


Sure it has problems which have mostly been mentioned on this thread. My main complaint right now is like @perspiration mentioned, the inability to play softly with ease. Will I upgrade before too long? Yeah probably. But at least I have something to play with while I save my pennies. Plus with trade in options it's not a total loss.

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