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Retailer has a number of new German-made 20b Anglos for $299; would those be remainders from when Klingenthal went out of business, or is someone in Germany still building? Okay option for 20b buyers?


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I'm putting together info on 20b Anglos for a post on Reddit for fans of the current craze for sea shanties (seriously, it's a huge viral thing on TikTok and YouTube this month). I was looking around to see if any retailer had good prices on 20b Stagis, like low enough to maybe make a 20b Stagi worth getting over a 30b Rochelle or Wren, for the purposes of sailor songs (yes I know a true shanty is acapella, but it's a broad genre).

 

I checked the website for Liberty Bellows of Philadelphia, a pretty known and reputable accordion dealer, and they have as low as $350 for a Stagi 20b G/D (arguably a better option for a certain kind of Anglo fan than the Rochelle in terms of being a lower pitch and "hot-rod"-able), and some other interesting Stagi and Castiglione models, including double-reed and several pitches. But what caught my attention is they have some new stock German models under names like Scholer, Weltmeister, and just "German" running as low as $299 and available in C/G, D/A, and G/D.

 

https://www.libertybellows.com/shop/Concertinas/Anglo-Concertinas--20-Buttons.htm

 

I called the shop to inquire, wondering if it's obsolete listings or "maybe we can order it for you" stuff, but the staffer confirmed they physically have those boxes on the shelf, they're new, and they're made in Germany and not China. So would these be boxes made by Klingenthal before they (apparently) went out of business, just old new stock hanging around, or is someone still building? At $299 for German vice $439 for a new Rochelle or $500 for a new Wren, would these Germans be an okay option for someone who's researched the matter and feels a 20b meets their needs over a 30b?

ScholerConcertina.jpg

weltmeisterconcertina.jpg

Edited by TapTheForwardAssist
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I'm no longer in the business of importing new concertinas, so I wasn't aware of it until now, but it looks very much like Harmona/Weltmeister have started manufacturing new German concertinas (since the demise of BGK/Silvetta) under the Harmona and Scholer brand names - though I can't find anything about it on their website.

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12 hours ago, Stephen Chambers said:

I'm no longer in the business of importing new concertinas, so I wasn't aware of it until now, but it looks very much like Harmona/Weltmeister have started manufacturing new German concertinas (since the demise of BGK/Silvetta) under the Harmona and Scholer brand names - though I can't find anything about it on their website.

 

Yes, seems likely based on what's on the Liberty Bellows site. Any ideas as to how we could find out more about this?  I owned a BGK/Silvetta 20b double-reeded G/D (branded and sold by Castiglione) at one time and it was pretty decent for an inexpensive instrument.

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I don't know the industry, so don't know the best way to track down the details, but would look forward to seeing someone savvier than I track it down. I will say though (and I see this in many niche product fields), it's kinda vexing that whoever is rebooting a concertina brand and targeting new players, that they're being so slipshod about promoting their launch that we need to engage in investigative research to even figure out if that's what they're doing. How hard would it be for them to have a staffer on a slow day set up a Twitter account and Facebook page to say "Yo, we're Wumpenfratzen GmbH out of Frankfurt, check out our new line of concertinas"?

 

In any case, let me first caveat that if we were in the Before Times and I had a steady salary and fixed residence with my workbench, I would totally drop $299 tomorrow to get one of these puppies, and do a basic YouTube clip and little photo writeup for Reddit (and here) of how it plays and what it looks like inside. But for better or worse I'm a gig worker and freelancer of unclear address at the moment, so not in a position to do so.

 

I'm not saying anyone needs to scrimp and save and suffer to take one for the team, but if anyone here is financially cozy enough to do so, could use a spare Anglo for a beater/loaner (adding a G/D to the kit could be a good justification), and likes taking photo or video and posting threads, it'd be kinda cool if some someone could buy one of these and report back to us.

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I don't know if this is still true, but some years ago I was told in both the button accordion and violin worlds that Germany has pretty lax labeling laws. An instrument could be made in another country (violin in Romania, accordion in China), have some finish work done in Germany, and be marked "made in Germany." Rebadging is common all over the world these days (and maybe always was). These may nevertheless be serviceable instruments wherever they are put together, but it is an interesting question.

 

A decade ago Nirschl imported brass instruments from China and India and did quality control in Germany before marketing to US and elsewhere. The US importer (a flute manufacturer IIRC) only sold them for a couple of years. I've played a couple of their (french) horns and they were excellent instruments at a very competitive price. They were marked "Germany" with no mention of Asian manufacture.

 

Ken

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5 hours ago, Ken_Coles said:

... An instrument could be made in another country (violin in Romania, accordion in China), have some finish work done in Germany, and be marked "made in Germany."

 

Hmmm, the mystery deepens. My initial thought was that they resembled something distinct from the usual bog-standard boxes made in China, visually speaking, but I'm open to more familiar folks weighing in.

 

The real question, again if anyone wants to pony up for one of these, is what the guts would show us. If it's a Chinese product rebadged for Germany, it would be obvious in seconds when one takes the end off. But if opened and it's got zinc unitary plates and all, it's likely as German as bratwurst. If anyone knows the techs at Liberty Bellows, that could be an easy way to resolve this. It's just I'm not sure "hey I'm a stranger from the internet and want you to prove you're not selling a misleading product" is maybe not the optimal approach.

 

I'm getting pretty curious, I will admit.

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I'm always the cynical skeptic.  No where on the web site does it say "Made in Germany".  It say its a Geman Anglo concertina.  No reference to place of manufacture.  If the OP is really interested in buying up some of these, why not contact Liberty and state that and ask to see a photo of the guts or simply ask where it was made.  Kinda looks asian to me.  Just sayin'

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8 minutes ago, mike_s said:

If the OP is really interested in buying up some of these, why not contact Liberty and state that and ask to see a photo of the guts or simply ask where it was made.  Kinda looks asian to me.  Just sayin'

 

Valid, valid. If you think I'm being sketchy though, being a new account here, if you glance at this same username on Reddit you can see that I have a couple years of posts of nerding out about folk music stuff, with nothing resembling profit-driven promotion (just lots of advocacy).

 

If nobody personally knows any Liberty Bellows staff, sure I suppose I can send them an email and politely and clearly lay out our interests and concerns and ask them if they're willing to give us a clearer picture (figurative or literal) as to what's going on with these 20b creatures.

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3 hours ago, TapTheForwardAssist said:

I checked Liberty Bellows' YouTube account, and they have some demo clips of the German concertinas, but I don't know how much even y'all that are expert can assess from a brief clip:

 

 

 

Yes, I saw that, but it's a demonstration of a "Like New" one that they had for sale 5 years ago (possibly a sample?), and not one of the current models - the descriptions of those on their page say "Video coming soon!"

 

But it doesn't appear to have the "wobbly button syndrome" that the Italian ones, and their Chinese imitations, have - so I'd strongly suspect it has traditional German construction with the buttons glued to wooden levers...

 

 

 

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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On 1/24/2021 at 12:50 PM, Ken_Coles said:

I don't know if this is still true, but some years ago I was told in both the button accordion and violin worlds that Germany has pretty lax labeling laws.

On a similar note, I have a couple of small, colourful, plastic nose flutes which are marked very visibly on the front as 'Made In Germany', but they are definitely made in China. Then again, they aren't concertinas...

 

71yzfhkfMFL._AC_SL1455_.jpg

 

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On 1/26/2021 at 9:06 AM, Squeezebox Of Delights said:

On a similar note, I have a couple of small, colourful, plastic nose flutes which are marked very visibly on the front as 'Made In Germany', but they are definitely made in China. Then again, they aren't concertinas...

 

71yzfhkfMFL._AC_SL1455_.jpg

 

 

Curiously enough (as it happens!) they bear the Trade Mark of the (Klingenthal, Saxony) German concertina and melodeon maker Otto Weidlich. Whilst, in its days, Saxony (and especially Klingenthal for musical instruments) was the equivalent of China today, when it came to manufacturing cheap goods...

 

Are you sure these weren't made under the old German Democratic Republic? (The Weidlich firm was nationalised by the state in the late 1940s.)

 

 

 

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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13 hours ago, Stephen Chambers said:

But it doesn't appear to have the "wobbly button syndrome" that the Italian ones, and their Chinese imitations, have - so I'd strongly suspect it has traditional German construction with the buttons glued to wooden levers...

 

That's the thing: another commenter noted that at the end of the day, even if Liberty emailed us a photo of the guts, it wouldn't really tell us much about quality.

 

In a certain sense, that's true, but if they open it up and it's the same basic design as cheap Chinese concertinas, then we know what that is and the only question is whether it was done with notably better QC than China usually employs. And it still leaves open the possibility that the instrument itself was all or partially made in China and just badged in Germany.

 

But if Liberty confirms it's wooden levers and that the reeds are on a unified zinc slab, then that's something that so far as I know they don't do in China, and makes it quite likely it's largely/all done in-house in Germany. That doesn't entirely solve the question of quality and performance, but it would be an interesting indicator.

 

I've been holding off as we ponder this out, but can anyone think of a good reason I shouldn't send Liberty a polite and concise email saying the concertina community would like further information, and that communicating it to us might get them a few more sales? If anyone personally knows Liberty staff, or resides in Philly, that'd be easier, but I'm shameless enough to send them an email, which I would carefully review to make sure it sounds less obsessive and crazy so I don't weird them out.

Edited by TapTheForwardAssist
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13 minutes ago, TapTheForwardAssist said:

 ... if Liberty confirms it's wooden levers and that the reeds are on a unified zinc slab, then that's something that so far as I know they don't do in China, and makes it quite likely it's largely/all done in-house in Germany. 

 

Only, they haven't used zinc plates for the reeds since the 1930s, they should be on aluminium long plates instead.

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2 minutes ago, Stephen Chambers said:

 

Only, they haven't used zinc plates for the reeds since the 1930s, they should be on aluminium long plates instead.

 

Ah, okay, I've never messed with Scholers. But still that would be something distinctively German that would largely confirm the "Weltmeister" and new "Scholer" boxes are not China-made, yes? Or not necessarily?

 

Any good reason I shouldn't email Liberty in a day or so, if nobody drops into this thread who knows them personally?

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5 minutes ago, TapTheForwardAssist said:

But still that would be something distinctively German that would largely confirm the "Weltmeister" and new "Scholer" boxes are not China-made, yes? 

 

Yes. The Chinese only use long plate reeds in their toy accordions.

 

Quote

Any good reason I shouldn't email Liberty in a day or so, if nobody drops into this thread who knows them personally?

 

Please do.

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4 hours ago, Stephen Chambers said:

 

Only, they haven't used zinc plates for the reeds since the 1930s, they should be on aluminium long plates instead.

And the later small German-made concertinas used accordion reeds, though I believe long plate reeds continued to be use on at least some German-made bandonions.

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