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richard

Some Concertinas Are “harder” To Play ?

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When I was first considering acquiring a good quality concertina reeded (Anglo) instrument, and wondering which make I should get someone told me “just get a good concertina and learn how to play it!” To me this implied what seems to be true that all good instruments have individual qualities that might be consistent amongst instruments of the same maker AND that perhaps each instrument, as well, has its own nature….. and getting each instrument to make the best music takes time and practice to play it in its own language and get the music out of it.

 

I have 2 great vintage instruments now and love playing both. They are very different playing and are different in the sound they make. My Wheatstone C/G (1932) was my first concertina and it is great to play and has a brighter and sweet sound. After a general fine tune overhaul at the Button Box (plug) it is in tip top shape and a joy to play.

 

Last year I was lucky enough to acquire a Jeffries Bb/F (ca. 1890). It has a rich, sweet, strong sound and plays wonderfully. This concertina also had a fine tune overhaul at the Button box and is in great shape too.

 

More recently I have applied myself to playing the Jeffries and to put is simply I find “learning how to play” the Jeffries is something that is a project with a learning curve. I think it definitely is improving my overall playing in profound ways too. I am getting better at getting the music out of the Jeffries too. Playing the Jeffries is a bit like running with weights and then removing them later when I play my Wheatstone.

 

To put it simplistically I would say getting the music out of the Jeffries is a bit “harder”. In concrete terms the Jeffries takes more physical arm and back strength to get the reeds to sound and keep them singing. The responsiveness of the Jeffries reeds is very good, they are not sluggish. It just takes more strength to play that instrument than the Wheatstone.

 

The Bb/F is lower pitched that the Wheatstone but I don’t think that would cause all the difference.

 

My question(s) are: is this just a random difference between my (any) two instruments? Is it a general difference between Wheatstones and Jeffries? What is other people’s experience in playing their own different instruments?

 

I do find that “learning” to play the Jeffries is a step that is improving my playing in general on many fronts.

 

Thanks,

 

Richard

Edited by richard

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More recently I have applied myself to playing the Jeffries and to put is simply I find “learning how to play” the Jeffries is something that is a project with a learning curve. I think it definitely is improving my overall playing in profound ways too. I am getting better at getting the music out of the Jeffries too......

Hi Richard,

 

I've undertaken a similar "project" in recent months. My B'/F Jeffries is of a similar vintage to yours, and my C/G Wheatstone dates from 1918. I treat them as "two different keyboard systems"; whilst the part of my repertoire which uses only the 20 key part of the keyboard can be played on both, using the same fingering (obviously resulting in tunes coming out in different keys), it is an interesting challenge to play some of the tunes which require "accidentals" when I switch across to the Jeffries. I have learnt some tunes which sound better on the Jeffries, due to the lower pitch. I have a small "Jeffries repertoire".

 

The physical effort to play two different boxes is an interesting point. For fast playing, I prefer the Wheatstone (it's a very fast box). However, I don't find it physically harder to play the Jeffries. But, the Jeffries has the small buttons, so prolonged playing (e.g. Morris) can be painful. No two vintage instruments are the same, even if identically built; it has taken up to 100 years of playing for each instrument to develop its characteristics. You might well receive posts from other players who have found Jeffries easier to play than Wheatstone.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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I have Tedrow, Edgley and Dipper concertinas, and for several months last year I had a 1920's Wheatstone as well (all Anglos). I've noticed quite a difference in how they play and the effort involved.

 

For example, the Wheatstone had a great sound, but compared to the others it took a firm bellows pressure to get the reeds to sound clearly, and my Dipper County Clare takes a firmer pressure than the Tedrow and Edgleys. That's not to suggest any are hard to play, but I need to adjust my approach when I switch between them.

 

I find it's more difficult to adjust when going from the ones that require the least pressure and lightest button touch to the ones that require the firmest pressure and more distinct button touch, than to go the other way. Then too, there's the response differences that must be adjusted for, especially on faster tunes.

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I find it's more difficult to adjust when going from the ones that require the least pressure and lightest button touch to the ones that require the firmest pressure and more distinct button touch, than to go the other way. Then too, there's the response differences that must be adjusted for, especially on faster tunes.

 

thats a good point. if you have two concertinas, start each practice session with the one you need to work on. so, start each session with the "harder" concertina, which you need to work on, then go onto the easier one in the middle, and finish with the harder one. even if you spend the majority of your time on your wheatstone, you will get valid practice in on your jeffries. of course, you can skip your wheatstone all together on somedays if you dont feel like it.

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I have a jeffreys concertina that I have played for many years it has a very light action.I have also obtained a wheatstone linota (1905) which is very easy to play the main problem is getting to grips with the button layout so this concertina will have its own tune list,I also find that some tunes that did not work to well on the jeffreys fit very well on the wheatstone.concertinas I find are very personal things I find it hard to pick up another concetina and get the best out of it

cplayer

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I think that another issue that can be considered is that there are differences within makers which include date it was made, model/grade of instrument. I have a 1914 6-sided Wheatstone english with raised ebony ends and metal buttons. Yesterday I got together with a friend who has a 1960's wheatstone english with metal buttons and flat metal ends (it seemed that it is aluminum) I found that my concertina played faster/smoother, and had more volume and a much different tone than my friends. In the past I owned a a 1920's wheatstone english with flat metal ends and metal buttons which I beleive was not as responsive,etc as my 1914 (current) english.

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I currently have and play two Wheatstone EC's: a brass reeded rosewood ended one with bone buttons from 1851 and a steel reeded metal ended metal buttoned one from 1913. I don't think you can get two examples of instruments by the same company (obviously not the same maker, given 62 years difference in age) which have more different tone. That said, both are very playable. The older one is a bit more delicate (and also has 4 fold bellows and no air button, so you need to plan the bellows work more carefully) and the younger one is easier to play stacatto and is much louder. If I were a singer (I'm not) I would prefer the 1851 and I suspect it is more suited for the "classical" repertory; when playing for dancing I use the 1913. The youngster is easier to hear in a session; the elder is the one to use for lullabyes and soft tunes in the dorm room at dance camp when I don't want to bother the neighbors.

 

Which instrument is harder to play depends a lot on what you are trying to get out of it. Both of these are much easier than my Stagi, of course!

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