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Why Choose Concertina


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Tried an anglo when I was young - couldn't begin to get on with it.  Didn't like the sound of what English players were doing - found it boring.  So that was it.  Until I was 50, when I discovered the duet.  I wanted an instrument I could play in pub sessions, and my piano accordion (plus its case) was far too big for a crowded pub and was a bit lacking in 'ethnic cred'. Bought a Maccann.  Never looked back.  10 years later bought a bigger one, eventually selling the smaller one.

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Posted (edited)

What got me started?

 

Someone I know saw a Scholer Bb/Eb anglo  in a charity shop and gave it me (because I play piano accordion I think!)

 

The way the notes are laid out intrigued me - I began to fiddle around seeing what it wanted to play!  And new tunes just fell out of that process of investigation.

 

Frustrated by the feel of the instrument I got a lachenal 20 and am obsessed with it, still playing with the myriad possibilities it offers.

 

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCyfaF1wA2EZagdS7E8i3ixw

 

 

Edited by Kathryn Wheeler
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Posted (edited)

Up to the age of about 20 I started and gave up the piano several times and dabbled with several other instruments, never getting very far. Soon after I got into folk song I decided that there were already too many mediocre guitar players about and that I had no wish to add to their number. One day, when I was living in a university hall of residence, I found a concertina in a store room, twiddled for a bit and found I could make sense of it. I found out who it belonged to and he offered it to me for the £2 that it had cost him. It was a cheap and cheerful East German 20-button one but it got me started. Then a chap I knew through the university folk club had (I think) recently upgraded and offered me his old one, which was a 30 key Lachenal, for nothing. It was in poor shape, having had leaks plugged with toilet paper, but I made it a bit better and it served me for a while.

Edited by Richard Mellish
Correct a typo
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I played guitar and that led me to folk music. The first LP I got was a compilation album from the BBC's 'Folk on Friday' programme, which included the late Tony Rose accompanying himself on concertina.  I liked the sound, and it seemed like a "proper" folk instrument.  My local music shop had a bright red 20-button concertina in the window, and I saved my pocket money until I could afford the £5 it cost.  I struggled with it at first and put it to one side, but was later inspired to pick it up again by Richard Plant, who I knew at university, and later by Colin Cater. Eventually I started to make some acceptable noises on it, at which point the instrument gave up!  My next move was to a 26-button Lachenal (leaky, but it taught me bellows control) and I didn't look back.

 

It was only later that I discovered there are different types of concertina, and that Tony Rose had played English whereas I had acquired an Anglo.  Ah well.  I'm very happy with Anglo, although if I were starting again I might consider duet.

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My background is more Morris than folk.  I started playing harmonica at folk clubs and got fairly good, moved on to melodeon and got moderately OK, and tried various other instruments including guitar, pipe and tabor, drums and even, briefly, piano.  I never got very far with any instrument because I didn't love it.

 

Then one day I had a whim, a stray idea  on its way to somewhere else got entangled in my brain: I could try concertina.

 

I did a bit of research, decided that the logical, consistent, and chromatic English concertina was obviously the one for me.  I tried it and got asolutely nowhere.  Then I heard an English and an Anglo played expertly on consecutive nights (English was Dave Ledsam, Anglo was Keith Kendrick) and I knew Anglo was the one for me.

 

The initial decision to try concertina was a bit random, but what has engaged me over the last 15 or so years is the constant puzzle of finding the best route through the maze of the keyboard, and how incredibly versatile the instrument is if you work at it hard enough.  As Keith Kendrick says: it's the thinking man's piano.

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I used to play organ and wanted something more portable, and the concertina reminded me of the sound.  Also, everyone else in the house plays violin so I wanted something that would work well with that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ive played scottish bagpipes for approx 25 years in bands, solo playing, military tattoos, weddings, funerals, graduations and many other public events.

 

In retirement, I decided to find a way to play publicly in small settings with my talented music teacher wife(piano, cello, bass guitar, etc) so I resurrected a set of lately used shuttle pipes (440 pitch) and we used them for several years..pre-pandemic

 

Given the limited range and keys available for that instrument, I looked for something else. I now own a beginner 30b english stagi and find it a good fit to play with her on cello and with background recorded piano accompaniment. We do lots of current tunes (country, folk, movie themes,  pop and even some irish/scottish music).  Its nice to see how well the music is received. I also like the ability to play many keys. Harmonies created by interplay of stagi and cello are very pleasant to my ears.

 

Its also a great indoor instrument to play for me personally

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Posted (edited)

I was playing the uke, the guitar, and the tenor banjo by the time I was twelve years old. Through most of the ‘60s and early ‘70s I was a member of a folk group that regularly played at resorts in the mid-west booked through the Old Town School of Folk Music.

 

Later when living in the Washington DC area I ogled a cheap German mother-of-toilet seat anglo in a pawn shop window while out walking with my wife. When I moved on from the job I had at the time the anglo turned up as my parting gift from fellow workers. I played around with the anglo for a year learning a few songs when I had the privilege of eating dinner with Alistair Anderson when he appeared at my local folk club. While we ate Alistair suggested I might like the EC better and the reasons why. After his performance that night I was hooked on ECs and traded in the anglo on a Trinity Tenor and never looked back. Years later I moved up to an early New Model lovingly restored by Wim Wakker for his daughter. Now Wim has just finished a complete restoration on a Tenor Aeola I recently acquired and I am eager to soon get my hands on it.

 

As the years have past arthritis and tendinitis have taken their toll and I have had to curtail playing my stringed instruments. I am very glad to have the more ergonomic concertinas to fall back on.

Edited by Syncopepper
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Posted (edited)

Long story short: decades ago, played guitar and hammered dulcimer in contra dance bands, but hacked around on a wheezy German 20 button Anglo.  

 

A band member, the late Michael Reid (an early and frequent c.net contributor) played EC; when he moved to Colorado, I missed the sound in the band, so got more serious about concertina, and bought a few good ones, eventually giving up the other instruments.  Quickly got sucked into playing for a Morris side, and later our area's only English ceilidh band.  Still do contra.  Always loved the sound, the way Anglos work well with ear learners, and the fact that you don't spend more time tuning than playing (spoken like the recovered hammered dulcimer player that I am).  

 

And love the feeling of playing 100-year-old-plus instruments and feeling connection to generations of previous owners.

Edited by Jim Besser
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Fascinating reading everyone's stories.  Me, during high school years I played guitar, learned with friends, played Dylan, PP & M, Beatles etc. A bit later I discovered traditional Australian folksong and moonlighted in "colonial" type restaurants. THEN at a folk festival I saw someone playing and singing with a concertina, don't know who, could have been Danny Spooner.  Immediately I knew that was the instrument for me, especially as I intended to travel, backpacker style. Didn't know about systems but inquired and was told for song accompaniment english was the way to go.  Found one, a Lachenal, not in great condition I soon discovered but later while traveling I picked up one from Boris Matusewich after noticing a tiny advertisement in the NYTimes.  He had some made, in Italy I think, for his students and that was the instrument that got me going.

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In 1977 someone took me to my first contradance and I realized I had to play this music. Already a cello, guitar and recorder player, I learned to play 5-string banjo, hammered dulcimer (78-string), mountain dulcimer and pennywhistle in rapid succession.

 

In 1983 I started going to the “Fiddle & Dance” workshops at Ashokan. I was there Halloween weekend in 1986 with my girlfriend, Julie, who is now my wife of 34 years. I’d known Rich Morse for four years as a melodeon player and he was there. He showed me his new “toy,” a 46-key wooden ended Wheatstone Hayden concertina. He explained how the notes were laid out and put it in my hands. Without effort on my part, a familiar tune came out. I was hooked. Unbeknownst to me, Julie later approached Rich and arranged for me to receive one on my next birthday. Not a Wheatstone, but a Bastari. The Wheatstone came a few years later.

 

This was clearly what I’d unwittingly been searching for all these years. With the concertina, all the other folkie instruments went on the back burner (I still play cello and recorder).

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The time line eludes me but I was playing guitar a bit pre-Woodstock (I attended but awoke in the mud and drizzle, then got the hell out of there.  For me It was the end of an era of small folk clubs Like the Blues Bag in Provencetown, The Village Gate in NY and Cafe' Lena in Saratoga, still alive 😃).  I played a few gigs but never warmed to the audiance/performer thing.  I got inspired by the Quebeqois fiddle style and was introduced to Contra Dance in the early 70's.  I hitchhiked around Europe etc. and stopped in Crabb's Shop in Islington to see about an EC.  (I believe my first exposure was to the playing of Louis Killen and John Robert's but there may have been others!).  EC's were way too dear in Crabb's but (Neville I believe, although the bill of sale is signed by Geoffry) mused that it didn't matter which system If I was just starting out and promptly trotted out a rather large Wheatstone Jeff duet!  The bill of sale reads 30 pounds sterling.  I acquired a second JD shortly after getting back to the states and they both went into the closet for 50 years while I happily sawed away on the fiddle for dances.  I got so I wasn't practicing or learning anything new and my intonation was starting to slip.  I opened them up a little over three years ago.  Pandora never infiltrated these boxes!  Thanx to all who helped us😊 along.

 

Peace, Health and Harmony

 

Erik

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