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Help me shop for a G/D!


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I believe the Potteries Museum still has the Staffordshire Hoard, a wonderful collection of amazing Anglo-Saxon jewellery which was found buried in a field.  As with all museums, it's worth checking beforehand as their exhibitions can change.

 

I don't about castles, but Little Moreton Hall between Stoke and Congleton is a splendid Tudor manor house with parts going back to 1504.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

OK, here's another question for you.

Three potential high end options.  What would you do, and why?  Assume cost is not the deciding factor.  Player interests: Irish traditional music with a partner who plays Morris; prefer sound not too harsh or too loud; easy to play (I suspect I will have thumb joint issues as I get older).  Sounds files of the instruments are not available.

 

Option one: G/D Dipper, early one from the 70s.  34 keys (no left hand thumb key).  Given a tuneup by Barleycorn within the past six months (it was sold at auction last November and I'm guessing they were the buyer) but no mention of bellows work.  Fitted with a microphone jack - not sure I would ever use it, has not been tested, looks a bit weird sticking out of the side of the frame.  No case as far as I know, might come with a soft one. 

Option two: G/D Jeffries.  Fully restored by the Dippers "within the last few years" including new bellows.  31 key - the 31st is a left hand thumb key and I don't yet know what notes are on it, but I've asked.  Comes with a fitted Dipper hard case.

Both of those options are within 200 pounds cost of each other.  I could possibly try the Dipper before buying but it would take 10% of my ten day trip to England this summer.  It's even farther to visit the Jeffries and that is probably not a realistic plan.

Option three: New Carroll G/D.  A bit less expensive than the others.  This is the only wooden ended option and I do prefer wooden ends.  I still can't try it in advance as it'd be a new build in standard size.  Comes with a fitted hard case.  I would have the option of getting a Carroll some other time, as long as they are still being made.  No issues with shipping/customs as the maker and I are in the same country.
 

Edited by Geraghty
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2 hours ago, Geraghty said:

OK, here's another question for you.

Three potential high end options.  What would you do, and why?  Assume cost is not the deciding factor.  Player interests: Irish traditional music with a partner who plays Morris; prefer sound not too harsh or too loud; easy to play (I suspect I will have thumb joint issues as I get older).  Sounds files of the instruments are not available.

 

 

The obvious answer: there is no obvious answer.

 

All three could be superb instruments.  For the Dipper and Jeffries - being older / vintage instruments, so much depends on how they were cared for over many years, who did the maintenance/restoration, etc.  My personal preference is always Jeffries for sound and feel, but a great Dipper is no doubt preferable to a mediocre Jeffries.

 

And there are mediocre Jeffries, Dippers, and every other nameplate.

 

I do know that Barleycorn will give you honest answers to your questions about an instrument's mechanical quality, and they try to respond to questions about sound.  I bought my Jeffries GD from them, sight unseen,  and what I got was exactly what they described to me.

 

Carrolls are also superb instruments, and buying new from Wally, you'll be getting an instrument with a guarantee and great service on this side of the pond.  I've played Carroll CGs, never a GD, so I can't comment on the sound, but every Carroll CG I've laid hands on has been a superb player with equally good sound.

 

The Dipper with the built in mic - that makes me a little nervous, suggesting some fiddling with the internals that could have an impact on sound.  I don't know that it's a problem, but I'd certainly want to know more.  I see it on the Barleycorn site; I'd definitely ask lots of questions about that.

 

The Jeffries: is that from a dealer or a private individual?  I'm comfortable buying at a distance from Barleycorn or Dipper (or any of the other well known restorers).  Much less comfortable if it's from a private individual, and you can't try it.

 

"Easy to play" - that's also not easy to answer.

 

Jeffries are pretty heavy, and for me - thumb arthritis, some carpal tunnel - that's a problem, which is why I do a lot of practicing and all my stand-up Morris playing on Morse hybrids, which are very light.

 

My memory is that Carrolls are probably the lightest of the pack, and probably the least stressful for aging appendages. But that's a guess, not an informed judgment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jim Besser
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1 hour ago, Jim Besser said:

The Jeffries: is that from a dealer or a private individual?  I'm comfortable buying at a distance from Barleycorn or Dipper (or any of the other well known restorers).  Much less comfortable if it's from a private individual, and you can't try it.

A dealer - Theo Gibbs of the box place.

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18 hours ago, Geraghty said:

A dealer - Theo Gibbs of the box place.

 

Hmmm, thought I replied to this already.

 

Theo is a highly respected repairer / restorer, and I'd be totally comfortable buying from him.

 

 

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Oh yes, as would I - I trust any of the well known dealers.  It's the not being able to necessarily play them beforehand which is tricky, not only for sound purposes but for ergonomic concerns.

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1 hour ago, Geraghty said:

Oh yes, as would I - I trust any of the well known dealers.  It's the not being able to necessarily play them beforehand which is tricky, not only for sound purposes but for ergonomic concerns.

I have known of a well known dealer supplying an instrument which had supposedly been put into top condition, and an expert maker/repairer then criticising the quality of the work. (I won't identify the instrument or either party.) It is perhaps just that some have higher standards than others.

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2 hours ago, Geraghty said:

Oh yes, as would I - I trust any of the well known dealers.  It's the not being able to necessarily play them beforehand which is tricky, not only for sound purposes but for ergonomic concerns.

 

Yes, I feel your pain.  

 

When I was shopping for a GD Jeffries, my only option was to buy from England - and my travel plans did not include the UK.  I emailed Chris at Barleycorn and told him exactly what I was looking for in terms of action and sound.

 

I did contact him about several instruments he had advertised, and he waved me off, telling me they weren't what I was looking for.  He did email me when one came in that met my specifications.  It did require some work on this end, but all issues were ones I knew about in advance.  That was maybe 15 years ago, and I haven't regretted the decision for a minute.

 

That reminded me of something else: at the time I was in the queue for a Concertina Connection GD with traditional reeds.  I never played one, but heard from several players that the sound was excellent and - more importantly - the instruments are comparatively  light.  

 

Since you're on the Pacific coast, that could be an option for you, as well.  There's a lot to be said for local builders who can take care of any initial problems.

 

That said, I'm sure Wim's instruments don't sound like a Jeffries. Nothing does. 

Edited by Jim Besser
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10 hours ago, Richard Mellish said:

I have known of a well known dealer supplying an instrument which had supposedly been put into top condition, and an expert maker/repairer then criticising the quality of the work. (I won't identify the instrument or either party.) It is perhaps just that some have higher standards than others.

 

Not to name names, but I have also seen shoddy repair work in an instrument brought to me that had been recently bought from a well known dealer. If you can't examine it in person before buying, at least make sure you have the option to return it if it isn't as described.

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Sorry, no experience with G/Ds, Jeffries, or Dippers.  Hopefully some day!  But last June I ordered a Carroll C/G "Small" and took delivery last month.  As expected, it is a phenomenal instrument in every way.  

 

I own a Morse Ceili and a Morse ESB (baritone), both in C/G, as well as an old 20b Jones.  The Ceili is quick, but the Carroll is noticeably quicker.  I haven't weighed them, but the Morse instruments are known to be light, and if the Carroll is heavier, I haven't noticed.  Wally was fantastic to work with as I explored a few minor customizations.

 

I would love to own a top quality Jeffries, since they have such a wonderful, distinctive sound, and since they are so iconic.  But the uncertainties of buying a vintage instrument have put me off.  I could not be happier than to have instead acquired the Carroll.  Eventually I'll get around to posting some pics and sound clips here.

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