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What To Buy?


Larryo
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Hi,

Am playing c/g anglo for about a month now and making a good enough "go" of it for the time being, having had the tunes from a previously played string instument. I am aware of the huge waiting time for the better grade concertinas and because I feel that I want to continue playing for the foreseeable future, I should perhaps be thinking of ordering now. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what instruments might be the best. The reason I ask is that although I live in Ireland, I have very little access to the range of instruments already available and it will be next summer before the concertina festivals begin and by then the price will be gone up and six months will have passed. Obviously the Suttner is a big contender but I have heard it said that it tends towards the harsh ? Would the timber ended one be better? The sound clip on the Carroll seems to be a bit mellower and there is not much in the price. Does anyone know the waiting time on a Dipper? Although I know this can come in under the "how long is a piece of string" category and that everyone to their own, I would still welcome opinions as I really haven't a clue. All I know is that if a good one was available today, I would be talking very nicely to Mr Bank Manager and don't really want to wait six or seven years. All help will be appreciated. thank you. Larry

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Does anyone know the waiting time on a Dipper?

Hi Larry,

 

If you go for a fairly standard 30 key Dipper, with wooden ends, Colin will probably quote you in the region of 3 years. If you decide to go this route, it is best to discuss your requirements with Colin, place an order, and then check progress every few months. Details via the link below.

 

http://www.concertina.info/

 

Regards,

Peter.

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The reason I ask is that although I live in Ireland, I have very little access to the range of instruments already available and it will be next summer before the concertina festivals begin and by then the price will be gone up and six months will have passed.

You're clearly in a position to a afford a top flight instrument, so why not talk to Chris Algar about getting a good vintage instrument, a Wheatstone or a Jeffries? I know he makes fairly frequent trips across to Ireland. and he's very approachable over the phone. I'd be very surprised if he didn't have a decent concertina or two in stock that you wouldn't be very happy with. Contact details in the FAQ.

 

Chris

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You're clearly in a position to a afford a top flight instrument, so why not talk to Chris Algar about getting a good vintage instrument, a Wheatstone or a Jeffries? I know he makes fairly frequent trips across to Ireland. and he's very approachable over the phone. I'd be very surprised if he didn't have a decent concertina or two in stock that you wouldn't be very happy with. Contact details in the FAQ.

 

Chris

Chris has just returned from Ireland, so may have sold the best instruments from his current stock.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Chris has just returned from Ireland, so may have sold the best instruments from his current stock.

Nevertheless he might have something quicker than a three year minimum wait for a Dipper. Chris has always got new concertinas coming in. It's got to be worth asking.

 

Chris

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Hello Larryo,

 

I think you are wise to pause and ponder before making a significant financial commitment to the concertina of your dreams. You have already gotten suggestions. I'll add a few more and remind you of the best advice I ever received: "Try every concertina you can lay your hands on." Perhaps one particular brand or kind or maker will speak to you in particular.

 

On to considerations:

 

Of those you mentioned:

A number of top Irish players use Suttners and the wood end ones that I have seen and played were quite nice. And they have a 38b option if that appeals to you.

 

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Carroll concertina. I find the sound loud but smooth, reminescent of the good Wheatstone Linotas. A great instrument. 30b

 

I still remember the wonderful sound of a wood end Dipper at Noel Hill camp. One of the best instruments I've ever heard. It was a 30b. Lots of options for a Dipper.

 

You may want to investigate the Kennsington and the Wakker/Concertina Connection instruments. Both have traditional style reeds and may have a lower cost and shorter delivery time than the above.

 

While you are waiting for delivery you might consider an accordion reeded instrument to play in the meantime. Misters Tedrow, Edgely, and Morse are producing fine responsive instruments at prices that provide much value for the cost. The resale value seems fairly stable.

 

On the used instrument front:

I have done business with Chris Algar of Barleycorn Concertinas and find him very reliable, helpful and trustworthy. He has an ever evolving inventory of fine instruments.

 

Paul Groff specializes in top notch instruments. He also has a reputation for honesty and quality.

 

Concerning wood vs metal; cutting tone vs mellowness:

These are personal preferences that you alone can answer. The best way to answer these questions goes back to the best advice: "Play and hear as many different instruments as possible."

 

Lots of choices. Aren't you lucky to be in a position to have to make one.

 

Enjoy!

 

Greg

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What are the advantages of having the extra eight buttons on a 38 button as opposed to 30? What are these notes? Are they primarily for chord use?

The extra 8 buttons fulfil the same sort of role as the outside row on a 30 button; that is, they are a collection of accidentals and reverses designed to generally add to the versatility of the instrument. The disadvantage is that they add to the weight of the instrument, and Irish players in particular do not favour them for that reason; however many English players like them. My main squeeze is a 38 button Jeffries G/D and while I don't use the extra 8 buttons a huge amount there are a few tunes which would be very difficult to play otherwise (Waltz Bruno being the latest example).

 

Chris

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What are the advantages of having the extra eight buttons on a 38 button as opposed to 30? What are these notes? Are they primarily for chord use?

The extra 8 buttons fulfil the same sort of role as the outside row on a 30 button; that is, they are a collection of accidentals and reverses designed to generally add to the versatility of the instrument. The disadvantage is that they add to the weight of the instrument, and Irish players in particular do not favour them for that reason; however many English players like them. My main squeeze is a 38 button Jeffries G/D and while I don't use the extra 8 buttons a huge amount there are a few tunes which would be very difficult to play otherwise (Waltz Bruno being the latest example).

 

Chris

Thank you again Chris. Having had a dose of the dreaded RSI's on another instrument, the weight is a big factor as there is an inherent weakness in the arms so as I say, weight will play a role in what I buy,so if these are accidentals and there is no great pressing need for them in Irish trad( my words), then the 38b is a no no.

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Hey Larryo

 

If weight is a critical consideration for you, this is from a 1999 review of a 30 button Morse Ceili in the Concertina FAQ:

 

"Now for some first impressions. The first shock is the weight. There isn't any. It weighs just 915 grams. It is much the lightest concertina I have ever encountered. You could play this thing standing up for hours."

 

Micheal O'Raghallaigh is the Morse agent in Ireland.

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I've had my new Bb/F Carroll for about a month now and it is just a fabulous instrument. The finish is immaculate and the action very fast. Wally has changed the buttons from solid metal to capped plastic and this is also a reasonably light instrument. I asked for the extra (7th) fold and there are never issues with running out of air. It compares well with my 28B Jeffries.

 

I did recently get to try a brand new Dipper and this was an absolutely superb instrument in all respects. In my opinion you can't go wrong with either of these concertinas.

 

Of the accordion-reeded instruments I've tried, my Morse is very light and responsive but the Edgley's are even faster and, to my mind the sound is better balanced (left vs right). Bear in mind, however, that my Morse is an early model and I believe they have developed significantly since.

 

 

I would say that all of the above would be excellent purchases.

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"Now for some first impressions. The first shock is the weight. There isn't any. It weighs just 915 grams. It is much the lightest concertina I have ever encountered. You could play this thing standing up for hours."

Yes I wrote that, and I stand by it to the extent of buying a Morse a few years later specifically to play standing up for the morris, my Jeffries being somewhat heavy for that sort of thing. Morse Ceilis aren't as good as a Jeffries or a Dipper, but they are not trying to be. They are, like Tedrows and Edgeleys and the others in the same price range, decent, good quality instruments that will last a lifetime with care. If RSI is a concern then I concur, try a Morse.

 

Chris

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Thank you again everybody. I thought I had mentioned but see now that I didn't, that I am playing a Norman which as you have touched on is a fine instument. Perhaps some of the others in that category, such as the Edgely might have been more suited to my taste and with the benefit of hindsight and a liitle knowedge gained, might well have been but I got a chance to get the Norman immediately which , because I had no other instrument, was a bonus. So now looking ahead a few years I know from experience that my little eyes will start to wander and I will be looking for something better, hence the original post. I am sorry again for omitting to say I was playing a Norman.

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Just to follow up on the issues relating to the 38 button instruments. Not only is there the extra weight to consider but also a degree of crowding of buttons. I regularly play 30 button anglos but purchased a 38 button Suttner. When it finally arrived, the tone was a delight (not harsh) and the construction was top quality, but I found the button spacing somewhat challenging. It may very well boil down to a "what are you used to" issue, but I would suggest that if your hands are large or you have big fingers, then you might want to pass the 38 button concertinas by. Many excellent players, Noel Hill included, do not find the need for more than 30 buttons, so you may not either.

 

I too had past RSI issues but subsequently found out that my condition was more a result of excessive time on the PC keyboard and bad office ergonomics -- and not the concertina. So hopefully this will not be a serious issue for you.

 

Since you live in Ireland I would hope you might have access to lots of different instruments. If so, try to get a chance with as many different instruments as possible. You might find, as I did, that there are instruments that really fit you much better than others. My experience is that Wheatstones are easier for people with small hands to negotiate while the Jeffries, Crabbs, and Kensingtons suit those with larger hands. The Carrolls are patterned after an early Wheatstone Linota, so they will be like the Wheatstones in favoring smaller handed players but Wally Carroll can make adjustments to give you more room if you need it. Then too, button height can be a comfort issue for some. So if you can hold off on placing an order until you get some playing time with varied instruments, you may save yourself some grief down the road.

 

Good luck with your concertina hunting.

 

Ross Schlabach

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The extra 8 buttons fulfil the same sort of role as the outside row on a 30 button; that is, they are a collection of accidentals and reverses designed to generally add to the versatility of the instrument. The disadvantage is that they add to the weight of the instrument, and Irish players in particular do not favour them for that reason;

 

Chris, I am not sure I would completely agree with the blanket statement... certainly some Irish players don't like the 38 and 40 button instruments, but there are a few that play them... and even a few that choose them over 30 button instruments (Chris Droney choose his 40 button from all the instruments in the Wheatstone showroom.. though he probably doesn't use many of the extra buttons. Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh certainly chooses to play 38 button instruments and seems to use the extras... though I will grant that his playing is not necessarily typical of many concertina players.).

 

--

Bill

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The extra 8 buttons fulfil the same sort of role as the outside row on a 30 button; that is, they are a collection of accidentals and reverses designed to generally add to the versatility of the instrument. The disadvantage is that they add to the weight of the instrument, and Irish players in particular do not favour them for that reason;

 

Chris, I am not sure I would completely agree with the blanket statement... certainly some Irish players don't like the 38 and 40 button instruments, but there are a few that play them... and even a few that choose them over 30 button instruments (Chris Droney choose his 40 button from all the instruments in the Wheatstone showroom.. though he probably doesn't use many of the extra buttons. Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh certainly chooses to play 38 button instruments and seems to use the extras... though I will grant that his playing is not necessarily typical of many concertina players.).

 

--

Bill

What is funny with some players of 38-button instruments is that you can tell which buttons they use on a regular basis and which for them are really "extra," at least if the buttons are metal (or metal-capped). The oft-used buttons stay nice and shiny from constant use and wear, while the less-used tend to corrode and discolor. Just shows you that people tend to stay in familar patterns even if their playing is otherwise unique and excellent!

 

For my own preferences my ideal instrument would be at least a 33 button, with the extra three being the drone and alternate direction fingering for the f#s (on a C/G or equivalent in other keys), especially on the left hand side. I know that the best players (ie Noel Hill) are not limited by this lack, but I lack his skills and would be helped with that note the other way.

 

-David

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Chris, I am not sure I would completely agree with the blanket statement.

As a point of information I wasn't making a blanket statement, more a sort of continental quilt statement. Just as warming but lighter :rolleyes:

 

What I was saying was that of those who prefer 30 to 38 button boxes, disproprtionately more play Irish music, which is not the same as saying that all Irish players dislike 38 button concertinas.

 

Chris

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