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lets straighten things out about Hohner concertinas!


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It seems to have become almost sacrilegious, verging on terrifying, to even mention the word Hohner to any free reed enthusiast; and certainly I have had my own share of thoughts on the matter, and many rude comments too - regarding my own use of such an instrument from other people.

But I must stand up in support of some of the instruments marketed under Hohners own name; WHAT IS HE DOING?  you may well say.. well just speaking with an alternative view to the usual  narrative.

After playing free reed instruments for over 34 years, and owning in that time only two instruments, showing how hardy they are  in construction in that time..  I like to think that  I speak from some considerable practical experience on the matter.

 

My first concertina was a simple two row affair [made in Germany]  and got me going very nicely;  I played it, loved the thing, cared for it, and eventually wanted to move on to  a more chromatic instrument.  From a good music store  in York [uk] where I live, I ordered a bigger model [ hohner].  And had to wait for several weeks for it to arrive in store from abroad [that was in 1999].

 

What a joy that day when I went to collect the instrument; I had  hundreds of transcriptions of music all ready at hand to try out.  Yes, true, there are many teething problems with the construction of such instruments, sticking buttons, slipping buttons, and so on; but I had it adjusted, and I persevered and learned to make my own subtle adjustments too, until over time it responded, the buttons freed up considerably, and the whole mechanism got easier to play.

The proof to the system is simply this; 23 years of use by this January 2022 in years of almost continuous use.  And I mean every day playing it, and complex pieces too.  The big steel reeds give powerful tone, and the button action is smooth to touch.  Every now and again you may have to service it which is easy overall, its only wood, with metal reeds, not electronic; and a few buttons I have replaced, which is likewise also easy to do. 

 

The sticking buttons I used a silicon lubricating agent applied to a fine brush first and applied over the fine escapement which freed up levers very nicely [never had do this more than once since!] And earlier on, when instrument was newer, I placed fine tape to levers to reduce slipping on buttons!  Not that drastic really, as most instruments will require some adjustment with use over lifetime.  And anyway these are internal alterations and do not show on the outside - nor do they affect the appearance or sound of tone.

 

I write a lot of music for soloist; not specifically for concertina, or any particular instrument, for any treble based  soloist.. and so I  use the concertina to compose my stuff with; much as someone may sit at a piano  to write.  I have yet to find limitations in the tonal range of my concertina [apart from my own mortal ones] as to the range of notes or sound  that I can find within it.

So persevere with your new concertina [specifically hohner make] - as you may well find you make a good friend for life!

 

 

 

 

 

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I believe that all or most Hohner-branded concertinas have been manufactured outside of Germany.  I think the older ones were made in Italy by Bastari/Stagi/Brunner and are typical of concertinas by that manufacturer: potentially decent low-end instruments, but with some quality control problems.  I believe that more recent ones (D-40 model) were made in China to a lower standard than that.

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On 12/30/2021 at 3:34 PM, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

t seems to have become almost sacrilegious, verging on terrifying, to even mention the word Hohner to any free reed enthusiast;

You must have a very unusual circle of free reed acquaintances.  Among diatonic accordion players Hohner have a place of honour as a good cheap playable instrument which is widely regarded as one of the best beginners instruments, and also finds a place in the playing of some professional musicians.  Unlike Hohner concertinas they are not prone to any of the the mechanical difficulties you mention.  The explanation is implied in Daniels post:  Hohner diatonic accordions are made by Hohner, their concertinas are outsourced to other makers.

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Thanks for replying to my debate over Hohner concertina makes. I hope it did not seem unduly rude or abrupt in content, however I think it is important that we sometimes re-establish our views on the many different makes of free reed type in the world.  My squeeze box was bought just at the point where the European makers still had a say in making of the musical devices; so maybe I just got it in time before everything was outsourced to the east!

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3 hours ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

My squeeze box was bought just at the point where the European makers still had a say in making of the musical devices; so maybe I just got it in time before everything was outsourced to the east!

Maybe you have one of these early Bastaris re-badged by Hohner.

https://www.concertina.net/kc_bastari.html

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Then I am very happy with my Hybrid; there are as many instruments called concertinas, accordion, bandoneon, and even a Russian one called 'Saratovskaya Concertina' that looks more like a one row melodeon, then there are stars in the sky.  They are all related  in some way or manner of form. Then there's a harmonium, with its own reeds.  Its all or should be very democratic.

vv.jpg

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Fanie, I think the term you are looking for is Hybrid Concertina. The newer Hohner branded concertinas are not very reliable, but they are still concertinas. I have one too.

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It's got to be one of the largest, often misunderstood family of instruments: 'free reed' instruments.. there's so many kinds, and most none enthusiasts do not realise, unlike us, just what a wealth of types of instrument exist!

If you look at encyclopedias even they show a variety of unusual types, many even I had never seen before.; Bandoneon, accordion, melodion, concertina... Anglo, english..And who knows what may still develop in the future?

Hundreds of years before there was even a portative organ which had bellows fitted!!

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Just replying to those other brave soles that are now  bravely coming forth into the light and saying they play other concertina instrumental names [many normally deemed abhorrent to most people!] Hohner, and like! Well done!  Sound that deepest bass note and C what happens!

Out of the closet we alternative players must emerge and to flourish with hearty cheer, our instruments at the ready like an army of brave musical soldiers, to use those deep wonderful [often steely reeded] little boxes, into the world to spread the song of democracy in music and art!!!

 

Concertina player image.jpg

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Bertram Levy, author of The Anglo Concertina Demystified and American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina, owned and played (when I met him a decade or so back, and presumably still does) a Stagi concertina very similar to your Hohner.  It's by no means his only instrument, but he said he likes its sound and prefers it for a number of tunes.  If it's good enough for him, there's no reason for anyone to feel any shame for having a perfectly serviceable instrument that doesn't break the bank to purchase--nor for anyone else to scorn them.

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Thanks Jdms for adding to my topic on concertinas; particularly referring the Higher make.

Yes, I believe there has, for a long time, been a lot of misunderstandings in 'free reed' circles, over certain makes being allowed to be included in the devine world of free reed family; whilst others are deemed slightly as "outsiders".

It is true that sometimes you can come across instruments which are harsh in tone, or could be better made, but that can go for many other makes of concertina too!

Just think how many thousands of guitars are made every year! And yet people can buy serviceable one for considerably little cost these days! So manufacturing in mass can be a good democratic thing to do, to give access to more people to have a go at something new.  Surely that is a good thing? Isn't it?

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