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One man's tin is another man's gold!


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It's just a thought .. but generally I have never been one that particularly believes in dividing instruments into grades of usability, or desire; I am often concerned over the term beginners when applied to instruments, and certain makes of instrument.. In visual art there are student grade paints, for example, something which I have also seen as being an unnecessary term; and you can get basic pencils from any shop if you like too; but an artist should be able to get the most out of what is at hand, or available within their budget, without the feeling that somehow they are somehow not working with the ideal dream package.

Of course the desired instruments are lovely, no doubt, and always in demand; but we must not expect that everyone has the need, maybe beyond their means, due to fashion perhaps, to afford the crown jewels, when they will find a perfectly good alternative, in instrument makers.

There's some wonderful players on a penny whistle, and silver flute. But it all comes down to what you can afford, and how well you form that sound regardless.

At the end of the day I believe very much that ' one man's tin really is like another man's Gold.. ( so let people play within their means and the talent will soon polish up, and will shine through ).

Edited by SIMON GABRIELOW
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I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes, great music does come out of the more basic instruments. I've seen some really impressive playing on a Rochelle, for example. And I like the philosophy of making the most of what you have.

 

On the other hand, for those that can afford it, the difference between lower and higher quality concertinas is astounding. Switching to a higher end instrument is like taking off heavy weights. The cheaper instruments generally have stiffer bellows and slower reed response. A skilled player may still get wonderful music out of them, but they'll likely do far better still with a nicer instrument, and it will be a more pleasurable experience for the musician.

 

I think the right answer is actually the the usual advice: get the best concertina that you can afford. If all you can afford is the "entry level" instrument, then get that, and enjoy playing it. If/when you can afford something better, you'll be glad for the upgrade.

 

Finally, once you get past a certain threshold of quality, I think the differences become more a matter of taste: do you like the sound of this instrument better than that, which one fits your hands better, etc. There may be trends in those preferences, but it's ok to disagree with the fashion. And there is something to be said here for the character of those cheaper instruments. Sometimes it might be just what you're looking for. For some music, a cigar box guitar is a better fit than a Martin. But given the choice, I'd spend most of my time playing the better instrument, and keep the cheapy around as a backup.

 

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14 hours ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

It's just a thought .. but generally I have never been one that particularly believes in dividing instruments into grades of usability, or desire...

51 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:

Switching to a higher end instrument is like taking off heavy weights.

 

Simon, I’ve been reading (most of) your posts in the year since you joined concertina.net and am impressed with how happy you are with your Hohner Anglo. But this thread brings to the fore a question that I have been wondering about all this time, so I feel I must ask:

 

Have you ever tried a “higher end” concertina? Do you have any recognition of what @Steve Schulteis is talking about?

 

I have two concertinas, both 46-key Hayden duets. A Bastari (on the right in photo) that I was very happy with while it was all I had, and a Wheatstone (left) that I acquired about seven years later (1994). Wow! The Bastari is a useful tool (I still play it occasionally), but the Wheatstone has become part of me. It’s as if it knows what I’m thinking before I press the keys.

 

Haydens.jpg?raw=1

 

Bastari:

 

 

 

Wheatstone:

 

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Lovely playing and the obvious joy you show also is nice to see. I am not, or at least hoping not to seem to be criticising one make against another; just that sometimes, people can be discouraged by hearing of certain instrument makers over others and can be discouraged to get going at the onset. 

Many years back I came into some money and could well have afforded a concertina at upper range, however, the one I have serves me well enough, and has many sentimental memories attached to it too, which outweighs the need to change at this present time.

Edited by SIMON GABRIELOW
Silly little phone screen error!
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1 hour ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

... the one I have serves me well enough, and has many sentimental memories attached to it too, ...

 

I can understand both sentiments you express, but it's interesting that you haven't actually answered either of David's two questions:

 

2 hours ago, David Barnert said:

Have you ever tried a “higher end” concertina? Do you have any recognition of what @Steve Schulteis is talking about?

 

LJ

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Hi

 

I have never heard anyone suggest that someone should not play what instrument they wish to.

 

Some instruments might be easier to play, rather then one that is more difficult to pull sounds out of the reeds or push the buttons down. I would think concertinas in that realm are less conducive to a begginer finding pleasure and making more progress, and might discouraging.

 

Some concertinas would also have tone that sounds better than another concertina to someone comparing them, and I couldn't blame that person for choosing the instrument that sounds better if that is possible.

 

But again, who is saying that everyone should not play the concertina they want?

 

Richard

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A bit tangent, but as visual arts are my bread and butter I must say this - there is a very, very good reason to differentiate student and pro ranges of paints. Just as there is a reason to differentiate pro power tools from hobby power tools. Can you make a nice art piece/wooden cabinet with either? But yes of course. Can you make a large series of art pieces/many wooden cabinets with them? No, you can’t. They will either brake, run out, frustrate you, waste a lot of time and effort etc. With concertinas it is pretty much the same. If I play occasionally and for pure pleasure and I don’t ever plan to earn money with my play or make a career with it, then my minimum requirement is pretty much equal to my maximum requirement from a squeezebox - that it has enough range to cover my desired repertoire and does not work against the pleasure I get from the act of playing (which is quite high bar on it’s own sadly*) I don’t need the purest tone, the fastest response, the smallest dimensions and featherlight weight.  But if I were to earn money from playing concertinas? Absolute reliability, volume, ease of transport (especially if I had to cary multiple instruments to every gig), those all become very important factors. 
 

*for a long time I only had access to Elise and I thought, that the only important restriction was the limited range and I could be happy with „Elise XL”. And then I played my first tune on my big box. Suddenly, all difficult or straight up impossible passages became accessible or trivial and advanced techniques became intuitive. Overnight my ability to play grew, because I no longer had to wrestle with bad ergonomics, stiff buttons, slow bass response, wrist movement restrictions etc. I had fun with Elise for sure, but at some point it turned into frustration from all restrictions it imposed on my progress. The same applied sooner or later to all different work/hobby activities I had in my life. Beginner/student tools are there only to try, if a given activity is interesting for you. You will always benefit from upgrading from begginer to intermediate tools and you will not know just how much until you try. Where there might not be a reason to upgrade is from intermediate to pro level, especially in activities where „pro” means increased longevity or robustness and not necessarily an upgrade to quality. 

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Some paints supplied by manufacturers employ modern synthetic colours, and are occassionaly also classed as less expensive; but are still of good lightfastness or resistance to fading.. they just take advantage of modern methods. (I prefer acrylics to oil.paints myself..)

Not really much to do with concertina subject here, but just to clarify things, we will just have to agree to difference in opinion here? As I also have a lifetime of art experience . ( I am not saying this in a sarcastic way please understand) But is an interesting debate, I have started, and hope it will not be taken too seriously .. as Recently I put a topic on here,quite innocently,  and it got a bit serious.🌝🌝🌝😁😁

 

 

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"Beginner",  "intermediate", and "pro" are marketing terms when we're talking making money.  I worked on the railroad for 37 years and I've seen the most beautiful spray can art imaginable flying by on the sides of box cars.  An artist works with the media, is not controlled by it.

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I am primarily a bass player. I have nice gear. On many occasions I have played other instruments that, to me, were unplayable. But, often, these players never played above the 5th fret and were perfectly happy with their gear. 
 

so, really, it is as much what you do with the instrument as the instrument itself.

 

if all you ever do is play G, D and A chords to accompany your own singing. It really does not matter how fast or in tune your box is in the 2+ octaves above those basic chords.

 

I think, that somebody in this situation really needs to try to expand their range and broaden their abilities. But, if they are a singer that uses an instrument to back up their singing. And not a instrument player the tries to sing on top of their playing. It is all about what works for them.

 

 

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When I listen to someone playing music, any instrument, I listen to the music itself, and the feeling and expression within that sound world created by them. I do not primarily look just at the instrument they may be performing on.  If this is the  effect it can have on an observer; the sound is expressed in such a way that you do not have to notice the tools they use in the music, all the time, then the musician or artist has achieved a great thing.

There's been times on this forum when I have listened to music, the form and energy, the performers, and enjoyed listening, and maybe later on only then consider the type of instrument used. This should be seen as a really good achievement when performance can take you into another world of imagination, ultimately formed by the individual behind the sound world created.

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2 hours ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

When I listen to someone playing music, any instrument, I listen to the music itself, and the feeling and expression within that sound world created by them. I do not primarily look just at the instrument they may be performing on.

 

Absolutely. While drastic changes in the instrument can definitely affect the result (for an undisputable example consider trading a violin for a banjo), I think that a lot of the differences in quality have more of an impact on the performer than the audience. That's not to say they don't matter, though. The musician's enjoyment is important too, and it will help produce a more natural performance.

 

 

12 hours ago, wunks said:

An artist works with the media, is not controlled by it.

 

I agree, but there's still the option of changing media when it's not appropriate for the works you want to produce. That doesn't always mean an "upgrade", either. Every tool has its limitations, and part of the artistry is deciding when to work within them and when to switch to something else. Limitations can breed creativity, but they can also be... limitations. 20-button Anglos are a great example of this. The notes that are available together force a different approach to some music, but other music is simply impossible to play on that instrument.

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A concertina described as suitable for a "beginner" is likely to be harder to play well than one that an expert would choose to play.

 

The expert is likely to have a strong preference for certain features, and be willing to commit financially towards the cost of an expensive item because they already know that they can play it and that they will enjoy doing so.

 

However, that expert can probably get decent music out of the beginner's instrument.

 

In many hobbies, the term for a beginner's item is "entry level".  This generally means "good enough for serious use, but cheap enough for someone who is not yet sure if the hobby is really for them."

 

Specifically for musical instruments, I'd always say do your research, try before you buy if possible, and buy the best you can afford.  Money "saved" on buying a cheap instrument is often money wasted.  A cheap instrument that is difficult or unrewarding to play may discourage you from practising.

 

The ideal situation is where you have to force yourself to put the instrument down, rather than persuade yourself to pick it up.

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1 hour ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

Hee hee  Steve Schulteis - be prepared for banjo players reactions -  ' consider trading violin for banjo' [ in your comments] they may be a little uncertain and shaking their plectrums [I am NOT one myself]!😁

 

I'm not trying to say better or worse in that case. Just clearly different as a consequence of the instrument itself.

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