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Suttner A2 Or A3?


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A friend has all but convinced me to put an order in on a Suttner (I think he feels it won't hurt as much if he takes the leap with a friend lol). The 4 year wait is just about perfect for me... If I put $20 a week in a special bank account dedicated to the Suttner, i ought to have the cash on hand when it comes due :).

 

Anyway, despite my fondness for the idea of going for a 38 button system I have realized that by the time I finally get the beast I will probably be too set in my playing style to ever take advantage of extra buttons; so I am probably going to order a 31 button. I figure Jefferies System because that is what I play now... but with the push Eb on the right hand accidentals replaced with an F# on the push (since an F# push is the button I most desperately want) and the C drone with a D drone. So i am pretty sure about the layout.. but if anyone has any specific thoughts. As you folks probably all know by now, I am a dedicated Irish player and I think these changes will increase the concertina's flexibility for that.

 

The one question I have is.. does anyone have any opinions on the differences between the Suttner A2 versus the A3. I know the A2 means a parallel reed pan and the A3 means a radial pan. I have plenty experience

with parallel reed pans being that my Kensington, Marcus and Edgley are set up that way. Does the A3 offer any particular advantages in tone action or response?

 

Anyway, thanks to everyone in advance for your input.

 

--

Bill

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The one question I have is.. does anyone have any opinions on the differences between the Suttner A2 versus the A3. I know the A2 means a parallel reed pan and the A3 means a radial pan. I have plenty experience with parallel reed pans being that my Kensington, Marcus and Edgley are set up that way. Does the A3 offer any particular advantages in tone action or response?

Bill

 

Read what Wim Wakker writes about reed pans on this page:

We offer a choice of two reed pan designs: Radial, as found in Wheatstone and Lachenal concertinas, and parallel, as used by Jeffries. The tonal differences are subtle. The radial design tends to sound "warmer" or "rounder" whereas the parallel design is a little more "direct" with a little "bite".

 

The important question for you is: "How should my new concertina sound". Should it be (extrovert) bright and loud or more introvert mellow. Should it be "wet" or "dry as a bone". Etc. etc.

Communicate about this with Juergen Suttner and he should be able to advise you. He even might do something extra (choice of materials, etc.) to meet your demands.

Edited by Henk van Aalten
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It would be nice to be able to compare the Suttners with the new Wakkers wouldn't it. I'm sure there has been a detailed discussion of radial vs parallel on C.Net before.

 

I think that Henk's suggestion of talking with the maker would be the best way of getting the specific answers you want (and will raise the associated issues).

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The one question I have is.. does anyone have any opinions on the differences between the Suttner A2 versus the A3. I know the A2 means a parallel reed pan and the A3 means a radial pan. I have plenty experience

with parallel reed pans being that my Kensington, Marcus and Edgley are set up that way. Does the A3 offer any particular advantages in tone action or response?

 

i have been thinking about ordering an a3 ever since i attended noel hill's workshop in 2001 and heard his wheatstone that the a3 is modelled after. if you're interested in this design, wally carroll's instruments are also worth considering since, as far as i know, they are also modelled on a very similar instrument to noel hill's wheatstone. (but you're looking at a similar wait either way). i used to own a suttner a2, (which i'm supposed to get a replacement for in a few months), and i thought it sounded a lot warmer than any jeffries i've heard. i've been told that one reason for this is that some materials used to construct jeffries concertinas are no longer available (such as cuban mahogony used for the reedpan). it's hard to say what a suttner a2 will sound like 100 years from now or what any particular jeffries sounded like 100 years ago. so i'm not sure what this observation is worth.

 

one other thing to keep in mind is that the a2 is suttner's most popular model (based on the number of suttners i've seen), so he's built more of these than any other model. i don't know if this makes a difference, but according to at least a few people i've talked to, the quality of this model has improved quite a bit over the years.

 

i decided against ordering mine with any changes to the key layout. i can see how a d drone would be useful, but something about changing this just didn't sit right with me. i also didn't want to get used to having anything more convenient on the accidental row since it would just make it difficult for me to play other instruments. (it's enough trouble just switching between wheatstone and jeffries layout.)

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Anyway, despite my fondness for the idea of going for a 38 button system I have realized that by the time I finally get the beast I will probably be too set in my playing style to ever take advantage of extra buttons; so I am probably going to order a 31 button.

Actually, I would disagree with that. I'm not going to argue that this right in all cases (I belive you have the phrase "Your Mileage May Vary" on your side of the Pond) but I think that it takes an experienced player to know what they want from a 38 button and start to make use of it when they get it. What I would expect to happen is that you would play a 38 button using your 30 button approach, then over time you would explore the additional facilities ofered to you.

 

Chris

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CHRIS: "What I would expect to happen is that you would play a 38 button using your 30 button approach, then over time you would explore the additional facilities ofered to you."

 

FRANK: I agree with Chris. However, once you've played a 36-38 button it is difficult to switch back to a 30 button to play the tunes you've learned using the extra keys.

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Well I certainly agree that it would be nice to try the Dipper, the Wakker, the Carroll, the Connor and the Wheatstone. The fact that they can and have all generated enthusiasim on C-net suggests that they are all excellent instruments... and if I ever win the lottery when the lackput is in the 10s of millions one can be sure I will have deposits down on all of them as fast as I can :). As it is, I have had the opportunity to try both the

Dippers and the Suttners at Irish Arts week in the Catskills last year and found both to be excellent instruments.

 

As it is, we all live in the real world and are unlikely to ever be able to afford all of them... at least at once. Maybe over a period of 20 years I will be able to get one of each :). but right now I am assuming that the next instrument will be my last... at least for a while.

 

Anyway, I have made my decision abotu which make to get; as much as I love Dippers, I have lusted over the Suttner Website far too long, and have been too impressed with the CDs of Tim Collins and Micheál Ó Raghallaigh to really order any other instrument. (at the moment they are the only CDs I own that appear to feature any of the new Concertina Makes).

 

The problem of course is that too many of these makers off too many choices ;). Getting the Kennsington was easy... Dana, while making an excellent concertina, offers no options. Its a take it or leave it affair. The Edgley I went fairly close to the top of the line... and that decision was easy to make. Alas, Suttner offers perhaps literally dozens of variations on the basic 30 button concertina (if you count all the possible variations). The toughest, to my mind is to choose between A2 and A3... oh well :).

 

--

Bill

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I have owned, at one time or another, all three of the Suttner models in this discussion, so I'd like to add my thoughts on the hopes that they will help you choose.

 

First, I had a 38 button A4 (Ab/Eb). While its tone was fabulous, my hands are like farmer's hands and I found the buttons challenging to negotiate. This instrument was also a bit heavier than I would have preferred -- but I believe that's just a result of having 38 buttons and 76 reeds. So if your hands are large or you like a lighter instrument, this might not be the way to go.

 

Second, my first concertina was an A3 Linota -- with raised ends. This was one of his earlier instruments -- serial #48. The sound and the action were superb. One thing that was uncomfortable was the position of the air valve. It was situated too low and this required me to bend my thumb down to reach it. Again this may be a big hands issue, but for me it was a concern.

 

For a while I owned an A2 and while I didn't keep it cause I had a Dipper I love, the Suttner A2 was by far the best model of the three. The instrument fit my hands perfectly, the air button position was perfect, and the instrument was comfortable in weight. Tone, playability, action, they're all excellent.

 

So I would recommend the A2 -- but check Juergin's site. There's now a new version of the A2 that offers two more buttons and this might offer the opportunity to get that F# on the right hand press.

 

Good luck and hope time flies for you.

 

Ross Schlabach

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... and if I ever win the lottery when the lackput is in the 10s of millions one can be sure I will have deposits down on all of them as fast as I can :).

 

yes, even if i win the lottery, i still have to wait for the concertina i want. if someone said to you "i'll pay a million dollars for your concertina", would you really sell it? i know i'd have to give the matter some thought. weighing the options "never work another day in my life" vs "still have concertina to play". not an easy choice.

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... and if I ever win the lottery when the lackput is in the 10s of millions one can be sure I will have deposits down on all of them as fast as I can :).

 

yes, even if i win the lottery, i still have to wait for the concertina i want. if someone said to you "i'll pay a million dollars for your concertina", would you really sell it? i know i'd have to give the matter some thought. weighing the options "never work another day in my life" vs "still have concertina to play". not an easy choice.

 

Thats because you only have one concertina ;).

 

If someone asked me to sell my concertina for a million dollars I would be happy to sell.. heck, even if they wanted all of them. I could afford a Suttner and then get a hybrid while I wait. I guess it would have to be a Morse.. almost anything else would take too long.

 

So just curious, does anyone else have experience with the A3? Or do most people have A2 experience?

 

--

Bill

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The toughest, to my mind is to choose between A2 and A3... oh well :).

Bill, Have you asked Suttner if its possible to pay the deposit and get on the waiting list, but to firm up the details of the order nearer to build time? I know the website says otherwise, but it might be worth asking. It'll give you a little more time to decide which way to go.

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The toughest, to my mind is to choose between A2 and A3... oh well :).

Bill, Have you asked Suttner if its possible to pay the deposit and get on the waiting list, but to firm up the details of the order nearer to build time? I know the website says otherwise, but it might be worth asking. It'll give you a little more time to decide which way to go.

 

Gerry,

I am not going to worry about that. This is mostly a question of me being me. I tend to over-analyze things... almost everything. You think this is bad? you should see me agonize about telescopes (Amateur astronomy is my other hobby). Really when it comes down to it, I am absolutely positive either instrument is wonderful. I doubt Suttner has made many improvements to the A2 that did not also make it to the A3. Certainly by all appearances, the

A2 (and its variations) seem to be his big seller, the question is, is that mostly the result of fashion or because of

some particular quality of the instrument.

 

--

Bill

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Greetings,

 

I currently own the 38-key Suttner with ebony ends, C/G. I also play other anglos, and so I find that I gravitate toward learning a tune on the home 30-keys, since if I use the extra keys on the A3, I can't play the tune on my other concertinas.

 

Another thought: the ebony is gorgious, but does add to weight. The instrument is somewhat heavy anyway and the ebony just adds to it, though I've become accustomed to it. Also, Juergen warns that the ebony might crack. My A3 has held up well, but my A2 (G/D) has developed hairline cracks in the ends - cosmetic only, but still unfortunate.

 

I had "button envy" a while ago where I thought the more the merrier. After a while, I realized that having more buttons, in some ways, makes it harder... You have so many options of how to play a certain passage that it is harder to etch a tune into your memory...

 

So my recommendation is going to 30 buttons, that is what my current dipper order is... But, my preference of the RH accidental row is what Noel Hill uses..... C#/C# on the first button is really handy... Also, put the push F# on the second key... Be sure to have a pull G on the accidental row as well, I use the pull F#, G, A on the right all the time...

 

Hope it helps.

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But, my preference of the RH accidental row is what Noel Hill uses..... C#/C# on the first button is really handy... Also, put the push F# on the second key... Be sure to have a pull G on the accidental row as well, I use the pull F#, G, A on the right all the time...

 

I'm curious about these recommendations. I play traditional Irish music on a Morse with their stock version of the Jeffries layout.

 

I wouldn't give up the push C# on the second button of the accidentals row, because it enables me to play B-C#-D triplets smoothly (playing the B and D on the left-hand G row). I see this as analogous to the F#-G-A combination mentioned above, which I also use.

 

I use the C# pull on the first button occasionally. But I've never found a use for the push D# on the first button. Which is why, for the Suttner I have on order, I've been thinking about a push F# -- from the lower octave, i.e., the F# above middle C -- in that position. I still would have a D# (push) on the second button.

 

Thoughts, anyone?

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I use the C# pull on the first button occasionally. But I've never found a use for the push D# on the first button. Which is why, for the Suttner I have on order, I've been thinking about a push F# -- from the lower octave, i.e., the F# above middle C -- in that position. I still would have a D# (push) on the second button.

 

Thoughts, anyone?

 

I have a dual C# on the first button with a D# and F#low on the secondbutton push. The F# removes some of the reliance on the weakest left finger, plus providing an alternate direction, and the C# doesn't need thinking about, being on the same button. If I was starting again and thought I might never try to play anyone else's concertina I would put the C#s on the second button to aid the *B/C#* runs and the F#/D# on the first button.

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Ghent
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Michael,

 

With the "Noel Hill" layout, you can still do a very smooth B-C#-D draw... As you do today, use the left hand for the B and D, and use your first finger on your right hand for the C# (instead of the 2nd finger -presumably - that you use today)...

 

The only thing you can't do with the "Noel Hill" layout is a B-C# draw on the right hand only since it requires the same first finger... Whenever I need a B-D# quickly, I do it on the push.

 

Onward,

Craig

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The only thing you can't do with the "Noel Hill" layout is a B-C# draw on the right hand only since it requires the same first finger...

"Requires"??? It's allowed to use other fingers. I do that sequence by starting with my middle finger on the B, then index on the C#. In fact, that's often followed by a D, which I can also play on the pull using either the middle or ring finger. Of course, the hand-crossing push run is also convenient.

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Flexibility, not dogmatism is the answer to any awkward sequence of notes on the concertina. There is a local concertina player (30 button) who learned his fingering style from a certain tutor. He, for whatever reason, will not deviate from it. This means that the way he plays the B-C#-D sequence of notes "draw B-push C# (with the same finger), and draw D. This makes tunes like the slide Connie Walsh VERY difficult and awkward sounding. If he would use the push B and push D, his playing would be much easier for him. Not that I would recommend wandering all over the keyboard and not having set "default buttons." But for ease of playing and phrasing, one should come up with an efficient way to play certain note patterns that occur frequently, even if they do not fall within your chosen "default button" patterns. In other words, even if you usually play a draw B, and D, you should consider a press B and D for the fairly frequent B-C#-D sequences, as Craig mentioned. (At least on a 30 button) As I use the G row for my "default buttons" this run is very easy for me, but I very frequently cross over to the first two buttons of the L.H. C row for certain limited note sequences.

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