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Some concerns about the 40-button instrument


LazyNetter
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Over the past year I've tried a 40-button Stagi Anglo, a Chinese made 30b and an English, I finally settled on Anglo and I'm looking for a step forward, getting a better instrument. And in 30b vs. 40b, I think the more is the better. Based on my own research, it seems only those fancy workshops produce the instruments have more than 30 buttons, like Wakker or Suttner (too expensive!) But the Phoenix, Clover or Morse Ceili level instruments, which the prices are in the range that I can afford, are seems all 30-buttons. 

 

Actually, Stagi is not too bad for me, if there is no a proper 40b, I'll just go on my Stagi until my budget is enough for a traditional instrument like Wakker or Suttner, etc. (Could that come true?)

 

Does anyone have or have had the same thoughts as me? What decision did you make eventually?

 

Yuxin

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I should start to by saying that I don’t play Anglo, but I have been reading concertina.net and hanging around fellow concertina players for decades. That said, two things I would point out:

 

  • 30 buttons is plenty for an Anglo. You’ve played a 40, so you know what it can do. Is the difference really worth the extra weight, expense, and difficulty finding one?
  • You’ve considered new hybrids, but have you considered looking for a classic vintage instrument? They come up for sale frequently. I know nothing about what it would take to get one into China.
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I understand 40 button C/G Anglos are relatively common in South Africa, and there are at least a couple of modern makers who specialise in them. You might be able to find somebody there who is willing to sell you a 1950s-1960s Wheatstone for a reasonable price. They aren't best instruments Wheatstone ever made, but they are significantly higher quality than a Stagi.

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Many years ago I ordered a new Anglo from Steve Dickinson. When he was ready to start building it we dicussed the specification. He suggested 40 buttons, on the principle that it you don't use all of them that's not a problem but if you have 30 and wish you had more you're stuck. I agreed and I have been playing 40 button Anglos ever since. I think I do use all the buttons, though some of them not very much.

 

That first one was in G and D. In 2012 I paid a lot of money for a 40 button C-G Wheatstone. A few months later a Koot Brits (South African) C-G came up for sale at a much lower price. I bought it, with the idea that I could keep either that or the Wheatstone and sell the other one. It is not as good as the Wheatstone but I have recently had it overhauled and it is not bad. I am open to offers for it. (But I would prefer not to part with it immediately because the C-G Wheatstone is currently away for overhaul).

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I used to have a how to play concertina type book when I first started years back; and it did show layouts with 40 button Anglo! But never ever saw one!

I agree with others here; 30 buttons seems plenty ( to me at least) I haven't myself found limits in its potential ( excepting human ones!).. in fact it's general range exceeds some orchestral instruments many times; and all within easy scope and reach of the hands!

Edited by SIMON GABRIELOW
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I had a George Jones "improved" 40 key concertina and found the extra buttons a bit of a distraction and sold it. I now have a Crabb 40 key and find I only play the "conventional" 30 key layout as I want to maintain consitencey with my other (two 30/32 key (George Jones)) concertinas.... other than the fact that the Crabb is such a quality instrument I'd just as soon stick to 30 keys for the style of music I play (Irish/Scottish)

 

(BTW I'm thinking of selling my two George Jones in the near future.... 😀)

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17 hours ago, David Barnert said:

I hate hearing stories about people who have had Steve Dickinson make instruments for them since I put two significant payments toward a 55-button Hayden Aeola from him 30 years ago and have heard next to nothing from him since.

 

Sorry to hear your sad story. I'm curious what was actually happened behind it.

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I think I should respond to those who argue that 30 keys are enough. Indeed they are for many people. (And one contributor on here, Kathryn Wheeler, is doing very nicely with only 20.) Whether more are useful depends on what you want to do.

 

I was influenced by John Vernon (not that I'm his equal as a musician). I don't know whether he is still playing Anglo nowadays, but when I knew him as a regular at the Herga Folk Club he made much use of the extra buttons to avoid what he called "Anglo players' shake"; frequent rapid changes of bellows direction to get all the notes you want. Observers sometimes assumed that he was playing a Duet, and they sometimes assume the same about me.

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On 1/15/2022 at 7:02 PM, David Barnert said:
  • 30 buttons is plenty for an Anglo. You’ve played a 40, so you know what it can do. Is the difference really worth the extra weight, expense, and difficulty finding one?
  • You’ve considered new hybrids, but have you considered looking for a classic vintage instrument? They come up for sale frequently. I know nothing about what it would take to get one into China.

 

For Stagi or Chinese Anglo, it's hard not to get caught when playing in a quick change of direction. For this, a 40-button would somehow keep a phrase in the same direction without switching direction frequently. I assume the situation I'm talking about would be less pronounced on better instruments with better reeds, but I haven't been able to get my hands on any Hybrid or traditional models so far, so I don't know for sure.

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I’m trying a 30button at the moment - a very recent thing) (as well as continuing with my 20) and find that it opens up new doors of possibilities and choices.  So I can imagine having even more buttons does the same!

 

(Goodness, just having a button with G on the pull and A on the push, is a lush and amazing thing. That’s what I am enjoying right now! Such gorgeous dissonance possibilities as well as providing smoothness if needed).

Edited by Kathryn Wheeler
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I play Jeff duet not anglo  but I've realized that having just one bisonoric button (F#/G# in each octave) sorts out all kinds of irregularities and limitations.  Reading this thread I'm wondering if a unisonoric button or two on anglo might be of some use.

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2 hours ago, wunks said:

I play Jeff duet not anglo  but I've realized that having just one bisonoric button (F#/G# in each octave) sorts out all kinds of irregularities and limitations.  Reading this thread I'm wondering if a unisonoric button or two on anglo might be of some use.

Jeffries layout has Eb/C# on one button on the third row, and C#/Eb on the adjacent one. If sometimes wonder if these couldn't be C#/C# & Eb#Eb.

 

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On 1/15/2022 at 9:02 PM, paaudio said:

... other than the fact that the Crabb is such a quality instrument I'd just as soon stick to 30 keys for the style of music I play (Irish/Scottish)

For Irish-style playing there is probably not much advantage in having more than 30, especially as many players seem to have quite specific ways of playing which are based on the 30 button instrument.  The benefit comes when playing harmonic-style, as the left-hand chords often dictate the bellows direction. The additional reversals give you more options to match right-hand melody notes with the bellows direction of the chord or bass runs, and to play more legato when the tune calls for it.  

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