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Help me shop for a G/D!


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Anyone want to play "Which concertina should I buy"?

 

I am in the market for a G/D concertina.  I've been toying with the idea of getting one for a few years now. I primarily play Irish traditional but my partner mainly plays Morris/English music.  I also just generally like playing around with different keys.  There are no sessions in my area (Oregon US) at this time.

 

I currently have:

A Dipper C/G - primary instrument when I do get to play

A Tedrow 8-sided C/G

An Edgley C/G (needs repairs and am saving for my kids to learn on if they wish)

A Bb/F that is probably a Jones or similar, restored by Barleycorn.  It's not quick by any means.

A German mini Eb/Bb (more a novelty than a properly playable instrument)

A German mini G/D an octave higher than normal (restored by AC Norman but still somewhat in novelty-land)

A 13 button AC Norman mini

 

I could go one of two ways on this...go big and get something really nice, or go medium considering it won't be a C/G.  Options that have come up include the following:

 

A very early Dipper G/D (late 1970s), and it would still need to be available in June when I will be in the UK. 

A new Kensington G/D - wait time is about 2-3 months currently, and mailing within the US is straightforward.

A new Carroll G/D - wait time is about 10 months currently, and mailing within the US is straightforward.

One of two secondhand Morse G/D that have come to my attention in the past few days.  One is in the UK.  The other is outside both the US and the UK and would likely incur customs fees on mailing.

 

With the exception of the Dipper if it's still available in June, I wouldn't be able to try any of these before purchase.  Trying it would require an entire day of driving to get there and back to where I am supposed to be in the UK, and it's only a ten day trip.

 

I like instruments that are quick and lightweight - I know that as a lower instrument than a C/G, it will have longer reeds and more weight.  Also my Dipper is a very small one so anything else is going to feel big.

 

Price is not the defining consideration.  I am likely to have enough in my Concertina Savings Account to handle the purchase, especially if I can sell a mini anglo that I listed recently.

 

I prefer wooden ends over metal, and warmer tones over super loud.  Kensington says wooden ends would be possible.  Carroll offers wooden ends as a standard option.  The Dipper has metal ends.  Both Morse have wooden ends.  The one in the UK has a G drone on the left side.

 

I'm not sure whether I should go the cheaper route and get one of the Morse, or figure "you only live once" and get one of the others.  I started this journey assuming I'd get the Dipper, but the age of it worries me slightly.  And I don't think I've heard any of these makes in person. 

 

I think my gut is trying to decide between the Morse in the UK with the drone key (the cheaper option) or the Carroll.  I guess the Kensington is the middle option.

 

What would you recommend and why?  Is there something else (instrument or factor) that I should be considering?

 

Edited by Geraghty
Adding final sentence
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I have Dipper no 35, a nice wooden inlay 30 button Anglo, and Alistair Anderson reckoned that it was the best Dipper he had seen up till then. It was made in 1980, and is very nice to play, with a very nice tone for Morris and folk stuff, and is still my favourite instrument.  I  doubt if anything earlier even exists in G/D, let alone is that good. It is NOT for sale!

 

My avatar is a sketch of me playing it.

 

Nick Oliver

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My G/D is a Morse.  I've been playing it hard for Morris, Contra, sessions and performances for 12 years and it has been absolutely bomb-proof.  It is very light.  The action and reed response are quick, and I personally like the sound of the hybrid reeds in a G/D box.  (I had a Morse C/G for a while and didn't like its tone as much)

 

I owned a Kensington C/G which was a delight to play, and Dana was a pleasure to deal with ( I bought it used from a 3rd party, but Dana offered a tune-up for the cost of postage!).  Even though it was a later, lighter model, it was still considerably heavier than the Morse.

 

I currently own a Carroll C/G- also a dream to play, and a wonderful tone.  Noticeably heavier than the Morse. Like Dana, Wally has been great.

 

Just weighed the two:

 

Morse G/D:   1037 g (2 lbs 4.6 oz)

Carroll C/G    1180 g (2 lbs 9.7 oz) note- a G/D might be slightly heavier due to larger reeds

Edited by Bill N
typo
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12 hours ago, Geraghty said:

Anyone want to play "Which concertina should I buy"?

 

 

I think my gut is trying to decide between the Morse in the UK with the drone key (the cheaper option) or the Carroll.  I guess the Kensington is the middle option.

 

What would you recommend and why?  Is there something else (instrument or factor) that I should be considering?

 

 

Well.

 

I love Morse boxes - they're super light, very reliable, etc.

 

But one caution: if you're used to the sound of traditional reeds,  the GD Morse may prove jarring to you.

 

Good CG hybrids like the Morse produce a sound that's not that far off from the sound of a good vintage box. Good GD hybrids, with the lower register, produce a much more accordion-like sound.

 

I have both Morse and good vintage CGs and GDs, and I've had other brand hybrid GDs.

 

I use the Morse boxes primarily for outdoor Morse dance playing, and when my tendons need relief from the heavy Jeffries.  I find the sound of the Morse CG remarkably similar to the sound of my vintage, traditional CG.

 

 I'm not in love with the sound of the Morse GD, nor any of the other hybrid GDs I've tried.

 

DOn't get me wrong; it's not  bad sound, it's just further from a traditional concertina sound.  My dance group can't really hear the difference, especially on crowded, noisy streets, and the difference largely disappears when playing amplified.  

 

But when I'm playing for my own pleasure, I always reach for the Jeffries when playing something I do on a GD box; when playing a CG, it doesn't matter all that much.

 

Just one player's opinion.  This is all subjective, personal stuff.

 

Edited by Jim Besser
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Thanks for the thoughts everyone!  I am leaning toward the Morse at the moment, I think.  I suspect my ear is not refined enough to be bothered by the fact that they are not traditional reeds.  Speed of response and overall weight are greater factors.

 

Plus if I get the Morse then I have more savings for another concertina down the line!

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37 minutes ago, Geraghty said:

Thanks for the thoughts everyone!  I am leaning toward the Morse at the moment, I think.  I suspect my ear is not refined enough to be bothered by the fact that they are not traditional reeds.  Speed of response and overall weight are greater factors.

 

Plus if I get the Morse then I have more savings for another concertina down the line!

 

If those are your primary preferences, you can't go wrong with a Morse. They are as responsive as the best vintage instruments I've played, and the light weight is a big plus.

 

 

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As an English System player, I have played a number of Morse 'Tinas over the years. I also reviewed the Morse Baritone. I can only agree with Jim that the lower reeds tend to sound a bit more 'not-concertina' than the treble ranges. my other observation is that the lower reeds can flatten with pressure. I know that Anglos are usually played more chordaly so the tendency to over pressure the reeds is much reduced, but please be aware.

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Quote

 

go big and get something really nice

 

A new Carroll G/D - wait time is about 10 months currently, and mailing within the US is straightforward.

 

Price is not the defining consideration

 

        Simple man that I am, Geraghty, this is what I call a "no brainer" !

                 You will never regret it.

Cheers..............Robin

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My G/D Dipper Cotswold (wooden ends, 6" across the flats) weighs in at 1.27 kg. 

 

Any these instruments is probably a good choice. However, in your position I would delay a decision until I'd had a chance to try the Dipper. Colin has always been a superb maker, and all the ones I have handled have been very good, and most have been special.  What you don't know about the one for sale is what sort of a life it has had.  I once tried an older Dipper which had been hard-used for morris for several decades, and although it was still a good instrument it lacked that magic quality I've come to expect from a Dipper.  The only way to know if it will suit you is to try it.  Opportunities to purchase second-hand Dippers, especially G/Ds, don't come around very often, and the waiting list for their new instruments is an unknown variable.  Of course if it sells before you can get to the UK that's too bad, but I think if you were to let it go you might always wonder "what if?".

 

I've not tried a Morse, but everyone speaks very highly of them.  However, as Jim Besser points out, even the best hybrids sound different from traditional concertina reeds.  That's not to say worse, and many people like the sound. You say you don't think your ears are sufficiently attuned to tell, but I'm not so sure, especially if you're already used to the sound of a Dipper and will be directly comparing them.  I'd certainly advise trying one before making a decision.  I would guess that these might now become more difficult to get hold of, but probably not as rare as Dippers.

 

A brand new instrument can be had at any time, subject only to makers' waiting lists, so you lose only a few months if you delay to try other instruments.

 

 

 

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Thanks, Howard - good points. Maybe I should keep figuring out how to include a trip to Barleycorn on my UK visit (if the Dipper is still there).  We were looking at it but it'd be a full day in the car with two small kids, not fun for them, and a full 10% of the whole trip.

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To add the the possibilities, the price of a Suttner is fairly attractive in USD at the moment, and his wait list is listed as 1 year. 

 

If it were me, I'd go check out that Dipper. Chris might have other G/D instruments on hand by then to compare to also. He usually has at least one Jeffries in that key kicking around the shed. 

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It obviously depends on where you'll be staying, but Stoke on Trent is on the West Coast Main Line and is less than 2 hours by train from London. Expensive though, especially if you drag the family along. You can get considerably cheaper fares if you book in advance.

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15 minutes ago, hjcjones said:

It obviously depends on where you'll be staying, but Stoke on Trent is on the West Coast Main Line and is less than 2 hours by train from London. Expensive though, especially if you drag the family along. You can get considerably cheaper fares if you book in advance.

That's how I got there a few years ago. Chris met me (by arrangement) at Stoke station. (I then went by train, with my newly purchased concertina, to Derby, for a ride by steam to Crewe, then home from there.)

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, most of our time will be spent in Dorset (flying in/out of London) which is even farther.  The other half is willing to go up to Stoke area (likely driving due to cost), but I'd like to find interesting things for the family to see in that area too.  They (at least some of them) like castles and other historical things that can't be found in America - does anyone here know the area and have any suggestions?

Edited by Geraghty
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When I was in Stoke two decades ago (missed connecting with Chris A., which probably saved me a lot of money) I toured the museum that preserves a huge bottle oven of the sort where they used to fire the pottery (Staffordshire, after all, isn't it?). An interesting bit of history I knew nothing about.

 

Ken

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