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Minstrel vs Clover anglo

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I'm considering trading in my Concertina Connection Rochelle for one of their intermediate instruments, but I'm not sure which one to go for. Other than fancier-looking wood ends on the Clover (and the prices!), their website doesn't say much about the differences between Clover and Minstrel. Can anyone here weigh in? 

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I have the Clover and I'm very satisfied.  I think that there are several upgrades:  Italian accordion reeds, choice of wood, etc.  I opted for the custom Clover, mostly because of the Wakker bellows and wood finish.  It's a beautiful instrument and I don't regret spending the extra cash to get what I wanted.

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When I placed my order, William told me, "All the woods listed are filtering woods, meaning they reduce the brightness of the reeds, which is what you want with accordion type reeds."  The woods were four different walnuts, two padouks and a quilted maple, which is the one I selected.

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I cannot comment on the Minstrel but I too have a Clover that I bought 2nd hand off Ebay at the 1st of the year. It's serial # 200 so it was built in 2007. It's a wonderful instrument. I previously had a Wren 2 that I bought from McNeela and experienced some unfortunate reed failures that caused me to return it almost immediately. Their customer service was very helpful. Thankfully that provided the opportunity to compare what a basic model versus what a top of the line hybrid would be like.


The Clover is very smooth with it's bellow movements, as mentioned already; the Wakker bellows are worth having. I've seen a lot of past comments from folks about if they got a Minstrel to get the upgraded bellows which is nearly half of the cost of just going for the top of the line Clover. I find often now I'm having the problems of my bellows being too compressed rather than too open which was not my issue with the Wren. I think that's a good problem to have. It has ample bellow room though; it will expand quite far.


It's very light which I think cannot be underrated; it can be cumbersome holding a heavy concertina for hours especially when you are a beginner. I can play fine while standing now which was not possible with the Wren. Certainly not possible for me with a 48 button english or duet that has 96 reeds. Some 60 reed 30 button C/G anglos are heavier than others though I'm sure. The Rochelle is certainly heavier than the Clover but I'm not sure about the Minstrel.


The Clover is louder than my Wren which was also very loud; but I have more dynamic range now. Meaning if I push with less force for a quieter note I actually get it which I think is next to impossible to have that level of control when you are using a beginner concertina. The Clover reeds are of superior quality I believe comparing the Minstrel vs Clover.


The bushings on the buttons cannot be overrated but both of the Minstrel and Clover have that if I'm not mistaken so it shouldn't matter. Bushings on buttons are 100% necessary as far as I'm concerned. The Clover does have metal buttons which is the only type I've used so far. I've bought a few fixer upper lachenals with bone buttons I believe and those are much softer if I'm not mistaken. I've heard this comment made before. Might want to think about that with the Clover vs Minstrel. Probably both have metal buttons.


The action board probably isn't much different there; but it's a consideration. Might want to look into that. The clover compared to the basic concertina it's night and day having the proper action. And I still think riveted action is superior than the hook and lever form of most hybrids/old lachenals. Going from the Rochelle up to a higher model will improve your playing; it will be more crisp with less effort. 


I find that I lack responsiveness in the low and high range of notes at time which I think its more attributed to my lack of technique. Sometimes notes just won't come out if I'm playing fast and try to land a low harmoney note. I find that I struggle to get a clean note when I want to play a note and subsequently hit the air button close to that to get my bellows back in position; again technique but I would say different concertinas behave differently when it comes to the way the pads and valves and air buttons move. Responsiveness. A real concertina reeded instrument might have that responsiveness I'm looking for. Every instrument is different.


I have some videos of my Clover if you're interested to hear what one sounds like. Mind my playing; it's been 4 months since I started.


Overall, I highly recommend the Clover. It's a great concertina. I think it's worth the extra money. I will also suggest to head over to Barleycorn concertinas and consider what you could get C/G anglo wise for the cost you will pay for either the Minstrel or the Clover. Paying that much requires a lot of thought and it's nice to explore your options. Just wanted to mention that, if I had to go back and buy my 30 button anglo again I'd probably have thouht about Barleycorn instead for an old fixed up lachenal or something. I got lucky with finding a Clover 2nd hand. Proper concertina reeds are just different than hybrid reeds and that cannot be understated. They sound more sweet to the ear at least I think.


Hope whatever decision you make it empowers you to be a better player. Good luck!



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1 hour ago, rockportland said:

I would like to see your videos. I’m considering a Clover or a Morse Ceili. 
Thanks for all the info in your post. Very helpful when trying to make a decision!



You're welcome. Here is a link to some of my videos; hope it helps you make a decision!




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Late to the party, but I also recommend the Clover. When I got mine in 2015, it was the only intermediate option made by the Concertina Connection. I just got the standard one; only choices of wood I had were "natural" or "ebonized". General consensus (I won't speak for everyone) seems to be that wood choice is mainly aesthetic and doesn't affect the sound. I've found this to be the case when trying out other concertinas, myself. The main differences I can detect are between wooden-ended and metal-ended concertinas, though there are a lot of factors that go into the tone.


I've tried a Minstrel, and while it's light-years better than the Rochelle, it's still very noticeably not as nice of an instrument to play as the Clover—which is exactly as expected, for the price. I can't speak to the actual internals because I haven't had a chance to open one up, but the action feels quicker and more solid on the Clover, and to my ear the Clover has a more traditional concertina-like sound, though it's got accordion reeds as well.

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Aesthetics:  You can call me shallow, but this played a large role in my first concertina purchase.  I love beautiful things:  a stirring aria, Bernini statues, fine perfumes, the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Beautiful woods, fine leather, and simple, artful designs all played a role in my decision to get the Clover, especially since I had no opportunity to actually hear any instruments in person.   I get all tingly when I pick up my concertina with it's lovely French polished wood, and that feeling is multiplied when I start to play it.  Sound, feel, looks all matter to me.  I'm sure by the time I'm ready to step up from the hybrid concertina, tone and action will override aesthetics, but for now I am very happy with my choice!

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28 minutes ago, Caroline said:

Aesthetics:  You can call me shallow, but this played a large role in my first concertina purchase.  I love beautiful things [...]


I'm sure the same can be said of many, if not most of us :D


I certainly am not planning to compromise on the finer details in my next purchase. YOLO, as they say!


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Posted (edited)



I purchased my Minstrel (1st generation) with Wakker Bellows upgrade in 2018. It was my first instrument and I still enjoy playing it.


If you are thinking of trade-in program offered by Concertina Connection, your choice would be either Minstrel, Clover, Clover plus or Wakker Concertina.


If you can afford, I strongly recommend Clover, as there is no upgrade path from Minstrel to Clover. I believe Wim Wakker wrote sometime back in this forum that the difference between Clover and Minstrel are bellows and buttons. I chose Minstrel with Wakker bellows because I liked the look of ebonized black end, I could upgrade the bellows, and I did not care about the material of the buttons. The overall total was a little bit less than Clover.


Ceili of the Button Box is a very light instrument with smooth bellows action and the Button Box used to offer trade-in program from Rochelle to Ceili. Ceili is a good instrument and you will be happy with it, but the production of Ceili has already ended and the upgrade path is closed. However, Ceili appears here at reasonable price now and then on and you may have chance to buy one.


It may be an idea to explore stock of Barleycorn at your budget range, as someone else has suggested, but you would need to pay S&H plus import tax from UK to US. What is more, you cannot take advantage of trade-in program of Concertina Connection.


For your information, most of my YouTube videos are recorded using Minstrel+Wakker bellows and they may give you some ideas on how Minstrel sounds.




Edited by gtotani
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