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Need Info/advice On "concertina Reeds" Concertinas


Azalin
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Hello,

 

I have been playing a very good "accordeon reeds" C/G anglo concertina for a year and a half, but I made the mistake of trying a very good Jeffries concertina a few weeks ago, and now I'm just obsessed with getting a responsive concertina with concertina reeds. I just love the sweet, creamy, wonky sound of the Jeffries I tried, and I assume I would get the same sound from good Wheatstone or Dipper concertinas.

 

Is there any other makers out there who make concertinas with concertina reeds similar to those mentionned above? Is getting on Dipper's long waiting list the only logical thing to do? There are Wheatstones for sale sometimes, but I would not want to buy an instrument that expensive without trying it first, unless it's made by a maker who's making them and trying them before he sends them.

 

The thing is, I would not want to sacrifice responsiveness for a better sound. I think a drawback with accordeon reeds is that the lower the note, the less responsive it is. Anyway, this is what I noticed with the Jeffries I tried. I could play the low "a" (pull on the left button/"c" row) on it without any extra effort, but the same note is a little bit harder to pull on my concertina.

 

I guess it's realistic to say that responsive, "concertina reed" concertinas go for at least 6000$US?

 

Thanks.

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Maybe the Wakker Phoenix is an option for you?

 

Do you or anybody have some experiences with the Phoenix?

 

Chris Algar wrote me that he will have some in november. But he might have a long waitinglist. Price will be between 2000 and 3000 british pound as far as I remember.

 

Azalin, it is the same case to me, I play a Norman, but I would like to have the original sound with this good working mechanic. So, can somebody tell us a bit more about the Phoenix?

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Guest Peter Laban

Az, admit it, you can't take us slagging your 'little accordeon' :P .

 

I think you must realise Claire Keville has a very nice concertina and not all 'concertina reeded' boxes will play just as well. I was looking at a similar one during the summer and it came with a pricetag of 8000 euro.

At some point you have to be realistic about you needing such an instrument, in my case buying such a quality instrument was never an option, considering it was going to a twelve year old who has yet to prove he'll be worth it. From a whole batch of wheatstone and other good mid range boxes I picked a (presumably) Crabb which is a lovely concertina at slightly less than half the price. We'll get an awful lot of mileage out of it, as I am sure you would.

Edited by Peter Laban
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Maybe the Wakker Phoenix is an option for you?

 

Do you or anybody have some experiences with the Phoenix?

 

Chris Algar wrote me that he will have some in november. But he might have a long waitinglist. Price will be between 2000 and 3000 british pound as far as I remember.

 

Azalin, it is the same case to me, I play a Norman, but I would like to have the original sound with this good working mechanic. So, can somebody tell us a bit more about the Phoenix?

I have an Amboyna Wakker Phoenix (Second picture down the page) It an excellent concertina with a fast smooth action, but its not a Jefferies, lacking the characteristic "honk". The tone is very good and amazingly loud. The only 'tina I've heard with more volume is Colin Cater's Dipper.

 

My best advice is to go visit Chris Algar and play a range of concertina's right across the price range - even ones beyond your buget. There's just nothing like getting a hands-on feel for what's available, and you won't find a larger number of concertina's in one place anywhere. Also try to find and get to as many sessions as you can, and talk to other 'tina players. Most will let you have a go once they see your interest is genuine.

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Hehe Peter, my friends keep on telling me that my concertina is like a Porsche with a Lada engine inside. I can't go through this anymore! ;-)

 

Thanks all. What have you guys heard of the Carroll's concertina? There is a long thread about it, *but* no one actually comments on how the instrument plays. Is the waiting list for a Dipper still more than 5 years?

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Well while we are including the list of makers who use English Style reeds, we might as well add Jergen Suttner and Dana Johnson. The Suttners I have tried are very nice indeed. Dana's Kensington Concertinas are also very nice and at a price that is suprisingly affordable; they are are heavy compared to other 30 button instruments but very responsive and they sound well.. right.

 

--

Bill

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I have Wally Carroll's first flat pitch concertina, a Bb/F (serial #10), and I can say this instrument has a very wide dynamic range and and very rich, full sound. Since the Carroll is a reproduction of an early Wheatstone Linota and has the pie-shaped chambers, it produces a different sound from instruments that have rectangular chambers so I would not say that it "honks" quite like a Jeffries.

 

The Carroll concertina is easily capable of holding it's own in a large session. I also own a fine Jeffries and an equally nice Dipper, and this Carroll concertina has it's own unique sound that can rival these masters' instruments. I think it is safe to conclude that his C/G concertinas have the same type of character. Unfortunately, like Dipper and Suttner, Wally Carroll now has a 3 yr + waiting list. But I can vouch that the instruments Wally is making now are well worth the price and the wait.

 

Another maker to consider is Dana Johnson and his Kensington Concertinas. These concertinas are made with true concertina reeds but as Dana acknowledges, he is NOT trying to recreate a Jeffries but instead is making an instrument with a different but still very attractive rich sound. You need to try one to hear the difference and decide if it is right for you.

 

Enjoy the search!

 

Ross Schlabach

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I think Ross, as Chris T would say, "Is spot on!"

 

I am still amazed by my Carroll concertina, but most of you have heard this before, so I'll leave extolling the Carroll accolades to others.

 

I will second Ross' comments as to how all concertinas are a bit different and you really need to play as many as possible to find out what is right for you.

 

And although I am firmly in the "traditional concertina reed" camp I would not lump all the accordian reeded concertinas into one bunch. I have heard some great sounding instruments from these makers. It may be the right instrument, the right player and the right music coming together to make the right sound.

 

Best of luck in your quest.

 

Greg

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if you want something that sounds "just like a jeffries", i'm not sure you can expect any new concertina to have quite the sound you're looking for. also keep in mind, that any particular jeffries sounds quite a bit different than it did 100 years ago when it was new. and there is quite a bit of variation from one jeffries to another. i've heard from others that the best way to get a jeffries you'll be happy with is to visit chris algar in person and try out several different instruments.

 

with that said, i'm satisfied with the quality and sound of several of the new instruments i've played. but you'll have to wait four years or more to get one of them directly from the makers, and you'll probably spend as much as you would on a good jeffries to get one sooner. i think these instruments are worth the wait and/or extra expense, and once you get one, it will seem just as irreplacable as a vintage jeffries. but don't expect them to have that "jeffries sound" (whatever that is...) as each instrument has a sound of its own that changes over time.

 

another good way to get a feeling for different instruments is to attend something like noel hill's concertina workshop. i would strongly recommend doing this before buying a really expensive instrument since it will give you a better idea of what you want based on what you hear other people playing and how they like it. another reason this is a good idea, is that anyone who has given up an entire week of his/her life and $600+ to attend is pretty serious about playing the concertina, so you can expect some very informed opinions.

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I will second the idea about attending some sort of event where there are likely to be a number of different concertinas present. The Catskills this past year were great because there were Dippers, Suttners, Morse, Edgley, and Herringtons there. I am sure there were some other makers represented, but I didn't get a chance to try them out. While I have never been to one, Noel Hill's School is a known quantity; alot of people attend regularly. The Catskills is alot of fun, but it appears that its concertina can vary abit from brilliant last year to so so in other years.

 

I will also second the idea that accordion reeded concertinas can sound dramatically different, my Edgley and my Marcus sound totally different. Certainly before giving up on accordion reeded concertinas, I would check out the sound files of various ones.

 

--

Bill

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Greg: "And although I am firmly in the "traditional concertina reed" camp I would not lump all the accordian reeded concertinas into one bunch. I have heard some great sounding instruments from these makers. It may be the right instrument, the right player and the right music coming together to make the right sound."

 

Frank: Well said, Greg. I would like to say a few words regarding accordion reeds. Just as there are some English-reeded instruments which are outstanding, and some that are mediocre, there are some Italian-reeded instruments which can be described with the same wide variation in tone & responsiveness. You wouldn't put most mahogany-ended Lachenals in the same class as a Jeffries, for example, or, indeed, any Lachenal. Likewise, you wouldn't class a Chinese button accordion along with a Castegnari, just because they have "accordion reeds." As far as accordion-reeded instruments are concerned, the range of reed quality varies from "durale, to tipo a mano, to a mano, and a couple of makers, like one continental maker and myself, have special modifications made to the reeds. A lot also depends on the time spent setting up the reeds. Even a poorly-responding instrument may possibly be improved with some work on reed timing. Not to say that would definitely be the case with Azalin's concertina, not having played it.

 

:)

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You wouldn't put most mahogany-ended Lachenals in the same class as a Jeffries, for example, or, indeed, any Lachenal.

Almost agree! (That's probably better than usual, for me :) ). Horses for courses, as ever. I would not normally use a C/G Jeffries for song accompaniment - much too harsh. Whereas those Lachenal rosewood ended jobbies with the red baffles have a delightfully sweet tone that really appeals to me. A couple of years back I sold my Dickinson/ Wheatstone C/G and replaced it with a Rosewood Lachenal and pocketted the (considerable) difference in price! I've felt no inclination to go back.

 

Chris

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You wouldn't put most mahogany-ended Lachenals in the same class as a Jeffries, for example, or, indeed, any Lachenal.

Almost agree! (That's probably better than usual, for me :) ). Horses for courses, as ever. I would not normally use a C/G Jeffries for song accompaniment - much too harsh. Whereas those Lachenal rosewood ended jobbies with the red baffles have a delightfully sweet tone that really appeals to me. A couple of years back I sold my Dickinson/ Wheatstone C/G and replaced it with a Rosewood Lachenal and pocketted the (considerable) difference in price! I've felt no inclination to go back.

 

Chris

 

 

I think that is a fair way of looking at things, but I think it should also be noted that there is alot more to making a good concertina than tone. One could imagine a very leaky and abused jefferies that still sounds wonderful but which is virtually unplayable. A really good instrument regardless of the specific reeds it has, or tone it produces must also be very responsive, airtight and just very playable.

 

--

Bill

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Chris: "Almost agree! (That's probably better than usual, for me ). Horses for courses, as ever. I would not normally use a C/G Jeffries for song accompaniment - much too harsh. Whereas those Lachenal rosewood ended jobbies with the red baffles have a delightfully sweet tone that really appeals to me."

 

Frank: You're absolutely correct. I forget there are other musical needs than what I have. For singing, a Jeffries is probably not you first choice. :)

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I'd like to say that I'm very happy with my Edgley concertina, and I think I made the best purchase I could have made for the money I spent, and it's gonna take me years to reach half of the potential the instrument has to give.

 

But having tried Clare Keville's Jeffries, it's as if a new world opened up. I really doubt that the concertina I have can be made as responsive as the Jeffries I tried. I consider the Edgley very responsive, but that Jeffries was magical. That low first octave "A" was as easy on the pull as let's say, the second octave "A". All smooth, and most low notes didnt requires any extra effort and were as responsive as higher notes. I don't know if there is any other brand or concertina out there that's as responsive, so you're right, I've got to try many to find out.

 

As for the sound, well, there is no question that the sound of the Jeffries I tried is one of the sweetest sound I've heard. I can also hear the same type of sound coming from Tim Collin's Dipper, or Michael Rooney and Edel Fox's concertina (what are they playing?). I guess it's that special "honk" people talk about.

 

But the instrument I tried was worth something like 8000EURO, so I've got to be realistic here :-)

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