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Beginner's First Impressions Of Anglo

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Although it might have been sensible to gain more familiarity with concertinas before actually buying one, the opportunity arose of accumulating a refurbished 20-button G/C Anglo at an affordable price so I took the plunge. I'm very pleased with it, although I haven't yet had a chance to subject it to experienced hands. I do, however, have a couple of queries.


Firstly, it has been fitted with new leather "end runs". I presume these are the parts which edge the bellows folds? In any event, the bellows are currently quite stiff - at least in comparison to my melodeon. Will this ease up with use?


Secondly, and again in comparison with the melodeon, I find that left-hand chords tend to overwhelm right-hand melody in the struggle for air. I understand that the box has its original leather baffles, so maybe this is just something I need to overcome with technique.


As a complete beginner I'd be very grateful for some perspective on these issues.



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Hi there,


I'm going to have a go at answering this, I'm still fairly new to this myself, but I think I've had the same problems as you.

When you say 'struggle for air' do you mean that it's hard to pick out the higher, melody note when playing a three note chord on the left? In terms of air flow, it seems to work the other way round; if I'm sounding a full chord and a higher note, the high notes sound first, and the bass of the chord can be late sounding. This is due to the lower reeds needing more air to get them going. This is overcome with practice, you just need to know when to put a bit more effort into the start of a push or pull to get enough air to all the reeds at once.

However, I think what you're getting at is that the chords can swamp the sound of the higher notes? I'm familiar with the workings of a melodeon, and if you're used to one of those you're used to having melody buttons that play more than one reed, and very low basses? Now you have to get used to one-reed-per-button, and some of the chords you play on the left may not be that much lower than the melody line which may be what makes the melody harder to pick out at times.

When I first started putting in chords I found that I was too heavy handed with them. Options are to use them more sparingly, so if you're playing a run of notes all on the push, don't play your main push chord (C or G) for all those notes, just on the beats or off-beats. Or, use vamping where you play the root of the chord on one beat, then the 3rd & 5th notes on the next. Or, just play the root & 5th instead of a full chord all the time.

If you have 'Son Of Morris On' listen to the concertina playing on that. John Watcham uses full chords far more than vamping, but he has a very light way of playing and never dwells on one chord too long, so never swamps the melody line. I'm not claiming to be an expert analyst of other people's playing, I've had a couple of lessons off John so he's shown me how he does it.


Hope that's of some help, I've only been playing a couple of years, so if anyone wishes to take issue, feel free.







I can't help with the mechanical question btw,

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Simon: Thanks for your response which was both very helpful and reassuring.


Owing to my previous experience of the melodeon, I'm probably expecting too much volume from the right and being too heavy-handed with the left. Playing a concertina seems to be a lot more 'subtle' than playing the melodeon. Despite my need to readjust, I think the melodeon experience has been useful.


I'll ask an experienced player to check out the 'stiffness' as soon as I get the opportunity.





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