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quidgizzer

Advice Please!

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I have decided that I would like to learn to play the concertina. I have never learnt to play an instrument before and I can't read music either!

 

Basically what I am asking is for any advice, what concertina to buy, what is the best to learn from? I want to get a fairly cheap one as I'm not very well off and I thought I could always move on to a more expensive one when I learn to play it and know a bit better.

 

Is it best that i get a 20 button anglo one?

 

I would be grateful for any advice or tips or even stories of what to expect as I learn. Is it very difficult for a novice like me? Is the learning process a joy or will it be frustrating?

 

I'm really excited about the idea.. I've been putting it off for ages but I really want to get stuck in.

:)

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Welcome aboard! There's a lot of friendly folk here who can help you out - as well as can reading through past posts - though finding those posts is very frustrating!

 

IMHO, "the best to learn from" would be the best quality concertina of the type that most suits the music you want to play. Plus there's the issue that people find one or another type of concertina inherently easier to play.

 

Of course you can start with any system and change as you go along. I started out on English for a couple of years mainly because that was the first box I encountered, and I managed okay as I was mainly into contradance tunes. But as I realized that I wanted a fuller sound I got an anglo.... But only briefly as I discovered duets a few months after that - and wound up getting one of them. For me that seems to have been the "right" choice and I've been playing Hayden duet now for about 20 years.

 

Let us know a bit more about the type of music you'd like to play and what your budget is - and we'll be able to give you more specifics. Do keep in mind that cheap concertinas can be frustrating, limiting, and NOT a joy to learn on or to play.

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I would agree with Richard. Get the best instrument you can afford. The cheap ones can be very frustrating and give you a very negative impression of what this wonderful instrument is all about. A better instrument will hold its value and will be much more easily sold when, and if, you decide to move to a better instrument. :)

Edited by Frank Edgley

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Perhaps you are aware that there are several types of concertina: Anglo, English, a few different Duet types. Each is very different to play, so your first decision will need to be which of these to start with. My usual advice here is (assuming you want to play because you were inspired when you heard someone else play) is to find out what they were playing and start from there. No type of concertina is intrinsically better than the others (although we all have our favorites).

 

I agree with those who have said "get the best instrument you can afford." I would go further: Remember that a cheap instrument will lose value quickly (unless it already has, I guess, if it's used), while a more expensive one will hold its value or even appreciate. So if the instrument you buy turns out not to be for you, you are better off with something you can sell decently. In addition, a good instrument is much more rewarding to play (not just the sound, but the amount of work required), so many who buy cheap instruments are unnecessarily discouraged early.

 

Unlike my two friends above, by the way, I have no financial interest in your choice of instrument.

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So ... perhaps a good thing to do initially is get to a gathering where there are a lot of concertinas, to learn more about the different types. If you let us know where you are, perhaps someone here can point you to an upcoming event. Or you may be able to rent a concertina to find out if that system suits you: a couple of shops in the States offer this facility.

A lot of information is available on the net about different types of concertina too, on the International Concertina Association website and here at concertina.net.

As to stories about starting - I had done a little research and then chanced upon a very cheap anglo concertina at a village sale. I played it for about one month before being forced by its inadequacies to get a modern instrument for around twenty times the cost of the first one. I plan to sell this instrument sometime soon, and expect to get my money back on it. My cheap starter instrument is, in my view, unsaleable and so could be considered to be money down the drain - except it IS what got me started...

Samantha

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Thanks for all your replies.

 

I'm not sure what music I want to play, possibly traditional folk type stuff but I'm open minded about it.

By the way I live in Manchester, England, but I don't now of any concertina fairs or anything.

 

I'm thinking perhaps that I shouldn't buy one straight away. I will save up a little rather than buy a cheap one. I was thinking about buying one new originally as I was reading somewhere that if you don't know about concertinas then you wont know what you are getting if you buy a second hand one. I'm still unsure. What should I be looking for? I don't really want to just go off price a measure of quality. I have been looking at ebay too but I'm a bit apprehensive about buying one from there.

Also how much do you think I should spend?

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Thanks for all your replies.

 

By the way I live in Manchester, England, but I don't now of any concertina fairs or anything.

 

If you can get along to Chorley (Lancs) on the second saturday of the month, I can recommend getting in touch with Jubilee concertinas - who run slow sessions and workshops and have some instruments to try and hire.

 

I think there was a post about them somewhere on this site .....

aahhh yes , have a look under "calendar events" where it says.....

 

"Workshop for players of all Concertina types and abilities. We are a friendly group who all love the Concertina. We run between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. st Eaves Green Community Centre, Chorley, Lancs. For more details contact Angie Bladen on 01257 263678."

 

They also run a slow and steady band session on the first saturday of the month for any instrument (including concertinas)

 

Chris J.

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Well as you are in Manchester why not pop into:

 

Hobgoblin Manchester

123 Oxford Road, All Saints, Manchester, M17DU Open 9.30am - 5.30pm

Monday to Saturday

Tel: 0161 273 1000

 

You can have a look at their concertinas, they will have some cheap ones that are ok for learning on but quite limiting when you start to get a little better (about £400 or cheaper secondhand).

They may also have some mid range ones about £1000 and up, or the odd connor or jeffries. They have a jeffries on the shops page for £3300 (anglo)!

 

Having said that you are probably better going to a session or to Jubilee concertinas as you will get lots of free advice and people will usually be happy to let you have a play on their instruments.

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Thanks for all your replies.

 

I'm not sure what music I want to play, possibly traditional folk type stuff but I'm open minded about it.

By the way I live in Manchester, England, but I don't now of any concertina fairs or anything.

 

Probably you might be good for awhile with inexpencive second hand brass reeded 20 button Lachenal.

I bought mine for $500 plus some $100 bucks fixing.

With brass reeds it was a little too slow, but it didn't matter in the beginning (read "a few years"). Sound was very good, it felt good, looked good and maintained it's value.

Now, 20 button Anglo can only play diatonically (read only white piano keys).

No mediterranian music, but english, french, skandinavian folk tunes - no problem.

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The first concertina in our house was a cheap Scholer 20 button Anglo that I got for my wife. Both of us found that we couldn't make sense of the Anglo system and our cats couldn't stand the sound the low quality accordian reeds made. Bad choice. It lives in my closet unplayed.

 

The second concertina I got was (and still is) a Gremlin (made by Stagi for Hobgoblin) English system. Moderate cost-- about 3 times the cost of the Scholer-- and a system I could understand. I've used that concertina for playing for dancing (ECD) and for a slow session for Irish music. It got me started, and it doesn't sound bad, and it is in tune with eveybody else I often play with. The big disadvantage is weight and the fact that both the bellows and the buttons are a little stiff. I don't think it was a waste of money.

 

About a year after I got the Gremlin I got an old (1851) Wheatstone with (mostly) brass reeds and a slightly leaky bellows (which I still need to get fixed). Once I had the (nonoriginal) thumb straps replaced I've found this a joy to play. It is very quiet, in tune with itself, but about 10 cents sharp (enough to bother one fiddler I sometimes play with). I can play it in my study with the door closed or in the occasional motel room while traveling without bothering anyone too much. This instrument is a bit too delicate and quiet for playing for dancing (we don't use any amplification). It cost me a bit more than the Gremlin, but I got lucky.

 

Right after returning from NESI this year I bought a (1913) metal ended Wheatstone with steel reeds. It is also a joy to play, though much louder than the early Wheatstone. It is in concert pitch, so it shouldn't bother the fiddler. My plan is to play it in noisy sessions and for dances-- situations where I would previously have used the Gremlin.

 

I seem to have developed concertina aquisition syndrome.

 

It took me a month or two of trying to determine that I couldn't figure out an Anglo, and another month or two to see that the English system would work (after I'd rewired my middle aged brain through sufficient practice). I think starting with modest instruments wasn't a bad way to go, but don't go too modest. Once you know how to play you will want to move up to a vintage or higher end modern instrument.

 

Larry

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First post for me here....I'm also a beginner and bought a Chinese cheapie anglo to start out with. I've found it OK and worth what little I paid for it but after 2 weeks of playing it's frustrating because of slow response. You'll find these on ebay, they are often solid black in color, I got mine from another board member because at least I would know all the keys worked. At least it has satisfied my initial curiosity and now I'm looking at purchasing a 'real' one.

Here in Seattle there's really only one shop to go to (Lark in the morning) but honestly most instruments I've ever seen there have not been all that great.

If there are any players here in the Seattle area I'd be glad to hear from you, my email is lejacobsen 'at' comcast.net

 

Lars

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I am a newcomer to concertinas and initially purchased a Jackie (English Concertina) in about Feb this year. If you search on here you will probably find information on the Jackie. It was inexpensive and was delivered very quickly. However, after about a couple of months I decided I was hooked and was also in a position financially to upgrade to something better.

 

I was recommended by a number of people on this forum to contact Chris Algar (Barleycorn Concertinas I think) which I did. He has a large number of concertinas (Anglo and English) and he was really helpful and not at all pushy - you can try out as many as you want. I purchased an English Wheatstone and am thrilled with it.

 

As a total beginner I cannot advise, but would agree with what has already been said about buying the best quality you can afford.

 

I chose the English system as I didn't feel I would cope with the Anglo - but that was just personal preference.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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