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Beginner help - Anglo or Hayden Duet?

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Hi everyone



I am a guitar player that has dabbled with Accordion and Piano in the past. I really want to learn the concertina next.



I would like to play some of the popular pirate sea shanty style songs. I would also like to learn some nursery songs by ear for my son that is due in April next year! And maybe some popular songs transposed over to the concertina.



I was sold on the elite hayden duet at £415, as it sounded quite similar to an Accordion setup so would be easy to pick up, however I am now thinking that an Anglo would be more appropriate for sea shanties and there would be more resources around to help me learn, as Gary Coover does a whole book on pirate songs for the Anglo.



I have also played Harmonica in the past so this may help with the Anglo setup. 



What do you all think between hayden duet and anglo - and which concertina would you go for personally?



Budget is £400ish but really the lower the better if there are any good ones for their value I am happy with those. Thanks all in advance



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I have no idea about duet concertinas (others will be far more helpful there), but it's certainly true that there are many more resources for learning the Anglo. As long as you're not too concerned about playing easily in multiple keys, the Anglo sounds like it would fit your needs pretty well.

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  • You  have also played Harmonica in the past , and you play guitar.  On the anglo concertina you should be able to play melodies by ear, and the I , IV, and V chords are not hard to find.   If you don't want to be limited to the  keys of C and G, gi fior a 30 button.   The advantage of the Hayden is that the fingering follows a regular pattern, while on the anglo the system is in a sense arbitrary and irregular.  But I would try the anglo first.
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It is often happens that guitarists are frequently also taken to concertina; I knew a guitar player myself a while back who was tempted to buy concertina.. and kept asking me about them.

There is such a choice of instruments available and not really one answer to your question.

However as a player of Anglo style 30 key system, I can only encourage you to have a go. The system of two notes per button (note in and then another of pulling out bellows) as well as the two different sides of instrument; lower notes left side, and higher to right, makes all sorts of effects possible! Almost like playing two instruments !

It' s a very rewarding thing to play in fact.

As to music; I don't use concertina music myself, instead standard sheet music works best ( surprisingly recorder transcriptions suit excellently anglo concertina .. and I believe it's best to find your own fingering methods. Simple charts are available to help start you off; they can seem very basic.. but quite good to One going!

I have copied over hundreds of pieces suitable for Anglo concertina, and have found very few limitations to its potential. If you want I could send you copies I have found work very well ( but not nursery rhymes or hornpipes)!

Best of luck; and get going with the music!

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Speaking as one with 35 years experience playing the Hayden, and who plays several other instruments (but no other type of concertina)...


The kind of music you’re interested in can be (and has been) played quite satisfactorily on both the Anglo and the Hayden. The theoretical advantage that Hayden has over Anglo (able to play in many keys using the same fingering) vanishes with the Elise that has only 34 keys (mine has 46) and is therefore missing many accidentals. To get a fully chromatic Hayden you’ll have to spend quite a bit more than your budget.


I am immensely happy with my Hayden and for me it was the perfect choice. But for all the reasons mentioned in the above responses, I think Anglo makes more sense for you.

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Thank you everyone for your advice. I think I will go for an Anglo then! 


Which brands should I be looking at that are available in England? More than happy to go second hand if you can recommend any sources for finding them.


There is a 30 key C/G available in red cow - anyone heard of this brand or should I steer clear? Here is the link:




In terms of key I would just like something versatile and 30 keys is presumably better than 20 if it's within budget


Thanks all


Edit: also heard Stagi are a decent make. Would this one be recommended?




Edited by Darabin
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Everyone's points are well-taken, and when even the Hayden players recommend Anglo for your described musical goals, well, there you go!  I play both systems, though am merely approaching intermediate in each, and  play by ear the sorts of tunes you mention.  The Anglo was an almost instant "bond" with my pre-existing "harmonica brain" and it seems to be thus for most I've heard over the years.  My Elise does make it "the same" to play in G, C, D, and requires less "concertina contortion" in the face, and also a bit easier to self-accompany if you are a singer.  But many, many people do it all on an Anglo.


I started on an old, beat-up Bastari, which preceded Stagis from their original manufacturers, I believe.  I got 30 buttons in C/G for a little more than a hundred USD, and sold one two years ago for the same.  Sweet toned and easy to play, but not honking, lightning fast, or without little quirky maintenance now and again. The new Stagis seem to me a bit heavier to play, and I owned a G/D, but swapped for a nicer old one. The Rochelle seems to be the new instrument in your price range, but unless flat-out speed and a particular sound are already in your requirement set, you will probably find an old one for less, to get you started.  Of course, smart people here say, "get the best you can afford" and that's sensible.


I suspect someone on this site has the used instrument for you, if you decide to go that way.


It'll be fun, and your child will be a beneficiary!




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If anyone's looking for one of these Bastaris (C/G 30 buttons) There's one in a shop in Brockport NY USA for around $250. 

Ken Coles posted a picture of one in a recent thread but I can't find it now.  The ad is in Facebook Marketplace search concertina.

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