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Gremlin/norman (?)


Daniel Hersh
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I've played Andrew's current production when visiting - much, much nicer than a Stagi etc.

Also, the action he makes is a precision item.

So I can believe what the ebay seller says.

 

I know that his recent instruments have a good reputation. I'm just wondering if he had the same skills 25 years ago that he does today.

 

Daniel

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I've played Andrew's current production when visiting - much, much nicer than a Stagi etc.

Also, the action he makes is a precision item.

So I can believe what the ebay seller says.

 

I know that his recent instruments have a good reputation. I'm just wondering if he had the same skills 25 years ago that he does today.

 

Daniel

A member of the Morris team that I played for 20+ years ago had a Gremlin before he upgraded to a new Wheatstone. I have to say that I wasn't overly impressed, but, since I was already playing a Wheatstone, it probably wasn't a fair comparison.

 

I'm certain that Andrew's current instruments will be far superior to his early ones (I've seen the same improvement with Colin Dipper's instruments), however, the one on ebay will probably be better than the Stagi end of the market, and can be repaired if required (ie. it is constructed like a traditional concertina).

 

Regards,

Peter.

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I used to have a Gremlin almost identical to the one on e-bay and it was an excellent instrument, I only sold it after getting the Dipper as it wasn't getting played and that seemed a waste of a good concertina.

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this can be confirmed with a little research, but i am nearly certain that the gremlin was a cheaper-priced and cheaper-grade concertina than the current normans, which are also sometimes called in ireland "the clareman," and were formerly also sold in the uk under the name "ashdown" for hobgoblin. i do believe that the gremlin was at one time done by andrew norman for/with one of the cheaper, lower-grade producers. gremlins are closer to a beginner instrument. but people do not know this when "gremlins" come up for sale on ebay. they mistake them for normans. again---norman can confirm, plus there is something out there google-able about this, but i am virtually sure that the gremlin was a lower-grade and lower price than the "norman" or "clareman," which are superb hybrids on a par with edgeleys, etc. absolutely DO NOT pay what you'd pay for a used tedrow, edgeley, etc, for a gremlin!!!!

 

btw---i have a norman/clareman and adore it. i would love to have one of his 36-key models, but i am u.s.-based and the exchange rate price at present is appalling.....

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... i am virtually sure that the gremlin was a lower-grade and lower price than the "norman" or "clareman," ...

I think the most significant difference lies with the reeds, though you have to look at the seller's page showing photographs of the reedpan details to discover that: "The reeds are by Hohner", whilst I believe that Andrew has since been using more expensive Antonelli "Tipo a mano" reeds?

 

Mind you, I like Hohner reeds! (Though I'm not sure how they would compare in this application. :huh: )

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Good point about the reeds, Stephen--I noticed that too but didn't mention it my own posts.

 

I e-mailed Andrew Norman about the debate here and received the following reply. He doesn't comment on this particular concertina but has a lot to say about his relationship with Hobgoblin, the Gremlin line and more.

 

Andrew writes:

 

"Dear Daniel,

Isn't it always easier to go straight to the person who knows! Around about 1980 (I think) Hobgoblin Music of Crawley, in Sussex (for whom I did a lot of repairs, to mostly concertinas, in a self-employed capacity) decided to go into wholesale. Gremlin Musical Instruments was established at that time. They import instruments from all over the world, as well as sourcing from U.K. manufacturers. The intention was that I would be contracted to make a certain number of concertinas of a better standard than the Italian or German made concertinas. These would look and sound similar to traditional instruments but would be designed to be made and sold much cheaper than traditional concertinas. These were sold by Gremlin (marked Gremlin) under the Saxon brand name, at the same time Italian made concertinas (also badged Gremlin) were sold under the Roman brand name. Cases were sold under the Viking name. See the pattern emerging? The intention was to later make better concertinas under the Norman name. I stopped making Saxon concertinas as there were too many other people involved, too much cost cutting, and it would have been too demanding to make them all myself ( I was living in London and driving down to Crawley, working late, and playing in a band in the evenings). The workshop was only rented temporarily too. I didn't fall out with the owner of Gremlin/Hobgoblin I carried on repairing for him and occasionally supplying them with an A.C.Norman. concertina. The few Saxons that I was entirely responsible for were signed by me, although I did some work on all of them. About 60 were made over 1980-81, 30 key anglos in G/D and C/G, and 40 key English. Later on when I was making the instruments as they are now, I sold to Gremlin (badged Gremlin, and made down to a lower price, sold by Gremlin as the Ashdown), Accordions of London (badged Exselsior), Bob Tedrow in Birmingham U.S.A. (badged Homewood, sold as the Model H) and Jim Shiels (badged Clareman). I have supplied to other dealers under the A.C.Norman name in Ireland, U.K and Germany, who may sell under their own model name! Just to make things even more confusing, Hobgoblin/Gremlin have been advertising their own anglo concertinas under the Ashdown name with an end design based off the original Saxon end! (this is the design I use as my logo) This will be a cheaper concertina, and although I have not seen one, nor had any input whatsoever, I'm sure it will be much better than the Italian Stagis(badged Gremlin!). I reckon that's the definitive history, and you are welcome to quote from this letter, or forward it to anyone who really wants to know more. I can provide more technical information on how they were built and who was involved, but that's enough to put it all into perspective, I hope! Best Regards,

Andrew Norman."

 

... i am virtually sure that the gremlin was a lower-grade and lower price than the "norman" or "clareman," ...

I think the most significant difference lies with the reeds, though you have to look at the seller's page showing photographs of the reedpan details to discover that: "The reeds are by Hohner", whilst I believe that Andrew has since been using more expensive Antonelli "Tipo a mano" reeds?

 

Mind you, I like Hohner reeds! (Though I'm not sure how they would compare in this application. :huh: )

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And if you want to hear those reeds the seller has now helpfully added a couple of sound files. They definitely have that Hohner sound, at least to my ear.

 

... i am virtually sure that the gremlin was a lower-grade and lower price than the "norman" or "clareman," ...

I think the most significant difference lies with the reeds, though you have to look at the seller's page showing photographs of the reedpan details to discover that: "The reeds are by Hohner", whilst I believe that Andrew has since been using more expensive Antonelli "Tipo a mano" reeds?

 

Mind you, I like Hohner reeds! (Though I'm not sure how they would compare in this application. :huh: )

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Good point about the reeds, Stephen--I noticed that too but didn't mention it my own posts.

 

I e-mailed Andrew Norman about the debate here and received the following reply. He doesn't comment on this particular concertina but has a lot to say about his relationship with Hobgoblin, the Gremlin line and more.

 

Andrew writes: (edited down to relevant paragraph.... annl )

 

"Dear Daniel,

Isn't it always easier to go straight to the person who knows! Around about 1980 (I think) Hobgoblin Music of Crawley, in Sussex (for whom I did a lot of repairs, to mostly concertinas, in a self-employed capacity) decided to go into wholesale. Gremlin Musical Instruments was established at that time. They import instruments from all over the world, as well as sourcing from U.K. manufacturers. The intention was that I would be contracted to make a certain number of concertinas of a better standard than the Italian or German made concertinas. These would look and sound similar to traditional instruments but would be designed to be made and sold much cheaper than traditional concertinas. These were sold by Gremlin (marked Gremlin) under the Saxon brand name,. The few Saxons that I was entirely responsible for were signed by me, although I did some work on all of them. About 60 were made over 1980-81, 30 key anglos in G/D and C/G, and 40 key English. Best Regards,

Andrew Norman."

:D That helps my memory, my old concertina was a Saxon, a 30 key C/G bought 2nd hand in the mid 1980's and played daily for about 7 years. I still have fond memories of it, lots of Morris tours, Ceildahs and sessions before it was replaced by the Dipper.

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