Jump to content

Piccolo English?

Recommended Posts

a piccolo edeophone 48b was posted on the for sale board.


having never come across such an animal… where do they fit? What is generally the use? Is this something you’d play all of your regular repitoir on? Or is this more of a niche, one song, or one part of a song type thing?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not an English concertina player, but my understanding is that piccolo instruments were made to take the high parts in the concertina bands of the late 19th and early 20th century. 


I have a piccolo Anglo concertina and my view (which is shared by the handful of other people I've met with piccolo Anglo and English instruments) is that the piccolo isn't something to play your entire repertoire on- just something a bit niche to add variety to a concertina collection and to play a couple of appropriate tunes on.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have an English System piccolo concertina, it was/ is used in playing Concertina Band music. You can use it for playing some tunes if you wish. Piccolo's have the same standard fingering as any standard English System instrument, but as the Baritone plays one octave down from the treble pitch the Piccolo plays one octave up  from the treble. 


The English system has two 'home' keys The treble has Middle 'C' level with the centre line of the thumb strap on the left hand side, and the 'D' above middle 'C' is level with the centre line of the right hand thumb strap. These are C4 and D4 respectively. the '4' being the Octave number. the key positions on a baritone are 'C'3 and 'D'3, and the bass concertina has 'C'2 and 'D'2. Not surprisingly, the key positions are 'C'5 and 'D'5. The Piccolo wind instrument plays 'D'5 to 'C'8 so if your tune would sound right on a proper-piccolo then theoretically it will sound right on an English System piccolo. 


From a practical point of view, they are extremely useful for annoying sound engineers. the metal ended pic's have some intense harmonics. The reed pans have many valves omitted to avoid reed air flow problems. The omitted valves can make the instrument feel breathy so I use clipped valves as a compromise. Tuning the reeds is like filing scraps of baking foil, and voicing them is an act of faith. Having said that, my own instrument is wooden ended and is a George Jones and goes with me to various band meetings, usually available to be played by others. I like my Bass and Baritone too much. 


As far as I am concerned the piccolo is not a gimmick instrument to add variety to a collection. I suspect that Cohen's observation may well reflect on musical choices rather than the instrument's potential.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites



it depends which model of English Treble extended up you have.


Again counting octaves, using the standard Octave nomenclature where Middle 'C' is C4,


48 K ET  G3 to C7

56 K ET G3 to G7

60 K ET G3 to A7

63 K ET G3 to C8


Piccolo 48 K G4 to C8.


One of the purposes of the piccolo is that it allows a part, or a tune, to be transposed down for easy reading on the stave rather than being forced to play off an extended instrument trying to find your way around multitudinous ledger lines on a less familiar area of the keyboard. My daughter has the 56k ext up treble, she is a much better player than I. She has used the upper reaches of the keyboard but I think she finds it hard work.


I hope that this helps, to match a Pic you need a 63k extended instrument


Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, d.elliott said:

I hope that this helps, to match a Pic you need a 63k extended instrument

It does, indeed. Many thanks. I can see the occasional use of a piccolo, and wouldn't mind having one.  I have a 56-button box (bought because I wanted 48 buttons) and have never has use for the upper range. In fact, I rarely go above the second C above middle C, but that's another topic. Thanks again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my earlier life I knew two ladies whose favored instrument; that they played their entire repertoire on; was the Piccolo English Concertina !  Both were Folk Music players.

The first was Helen Kennedy; the wife of Douglas Kennedy the first Director of the EFDSS after Cecil Sharp, and her sister was Maud Karpelees, who was Sharps' secretary. She played a Wheatstone Aeola Piccolo EC in the "Jolly Wagoners" who made many post WW2 BBC broadcasts; and Gramophone Records for use of local EFDSS groups. I met her on several occasions at EFDSS week and weekend courses.

She told me that she favored the piccolo EC rather than the treble as it stood out over the fiddles and accordions of the rest of the band.

The second was Gladys Thorpe; who I first met 70 years ago when I was only 13. We both lived in Rochester. Neither of us played any instruments then, but a few years afterwards she took up the English Concertina in a big way.

She had a Wheatstone Aeola Piccolo EC, a Lachenal Ediophone Piccolo  EC, and a Dickinson made Wheatstone Short Piccolo EC.

She was for many years a keen teacher of the English Concertina and liked the Piccolo as she could easily hear if any of her pupils made a mistake.

She also formed several Folk Bands, leading on one of her Piccolo ECs.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...