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Hey there. I just joined this forum, and I want to ask for your advice. I've never played a concertina before, but I've been toying with the idea of buying one. What kind should I get?

 

Here's some background on me, in case that helps (which I think it will, at least a little bit). I've looked around, and here's what I think I know so far. Correct me if I'm wrong.

 

English styles are unisonoric, good for meldoy lines, and are fully chromatic. Anglo styles are bisonoric and diatonic, like a harmonica, but set up with two musical keys, like C/G. Because of that, I'm leaning towards Anglo-- I play a little harmonica here and there. But does that mean that I'd have to get different concertinas to play in different keys?

 

I play the guitar, and I'd like something that I can use the same way. What I mean is that when I play the guitar, it's just me by myself, playing the chords to the songs I know and like. Nothing too fancy, there.

 

I'd also like to find that sweet spot between not breaking the bank and not buying a piece of junk. But I'm not really looking at any specific brand names yet.

 

Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

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FrigginJerk, hmm nice name. Anyway, I'll take a stab at your question. Coming from a guitar as well, I elected for an Anglo. I was flatpicking Bluegrass and fiddle tunes and after listening to the hot young Concertina turks in the Irish Traditional genre I wanted to go for that style. Chording is possible on an Anglo but easier on the English. Rhythym is more accented on the Anglo. If you play Harmonica then you will find Anglo a bit more intuitive. Check out youtube and search on concertina's , there are some great english and anglo films on there and you can get a feel for what's possible and maybe what you might prefer.

What to buy...nobody wants to break the bank when starting out. Rochelle's(Anglo) or Jackie's(English) are a decent way to start for relatively inexpensive concertina's. You can shop around and get a decent 20 button Lachenal for under $600. They can sound good and play good with reel steel reeds but you are limited in Keys. With a C/G you have the 2 Major keys and then some of the Modal Keys you can play with. They are limiting but do-able. The Rochelle is more versatile. There are some decent italian Stagi's that have been set-up by some of the better shops. Don't bother with the Hohner's or those 'Mother of Toilet Seat ' Chinese cheapo's on ebay. You get what you pay for and they are crap. There are also some German ones that crop up on ebay that to the un-initiated look decent and they will be advertised as "Steel Reed's" but they are garbage. Avoid them unless you want a nice paperweight for work (I have one ;). Next step up is the "Hybrid's starting at $1500 and up. Then following level is the true Steel Reed Concertina's starting around 3K.

 

Watch this place for lots of info. I've found people here are very friendly and knowledgable, and readily dispense good advice unless your a frigginJerk ;) Good luck and I hope this helps. For what it's worth, Concertina is a blast.

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Thanks a lot. English is better for chording? I had thought it was the other way around. Good to have that cleared up. Steel reeds-- is that something to look for? Going back to the guitar example, is it kind of like a solid top (a starting point in regard to the instrument's quality)?

 

Six hundred dollars? That's quite a bit. I only paid about 300 for my guitar, and even though it was a good deal, I was a little uneasy about spending that much (But I'm glad I did). I saw a Hohner concertina on MusciansFriend for 150ish, which as you said is a piece of junk, but it's a pretty big jump to go from that to six hundred bucks, or over a thousand. Is there no middle ground? (Sorry if I sound whiney, I'm just curious.)

 

And on a side note, thanks for the compliment on my name. I try to not live up to it. Kind of an irony thing, I guess. And from what I've seen so far, the people here to seem nice and knowledgeable. I haven't see any of the hostility that's so common on internet forums.

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Thanks a lot. English is better for chording? I had thought it was the other way around. Good to have that cleared up. Steel reeds-- is that something to look for? Going back to the guitar example, is it kind of like a solid top (a starting point in regard to the instrument's quality)?

 

Six hundred dollars? That's quite a bit. I only paid about 300 for my guitar, and even though it was a good deal, I was a little uneasy about spending that much (But I'm glad I did). I saw a Hohner concertina on MusciansFriend for 150ish, which as you said is a piece of junk, but it's a pretty big jump to go from that to six hundred bucks, or over a thousand. Is there no middle ground? (Sorry if I sound whiney, I'm just curious.)

 

And on a side note, thanks for the compliment on my name. I try to not live up to it. Kind of an irony thing, I guess. And from what I've seen so far, the people here to seem nice and knowledgeable. I haven't see any of the hostility that's so common on internet forums.

Friggin:

Gosh I thought the name came from that sailing song "Friggin in the Riggin", and "FrigginJerk" was an obscure sailor term having to do with sailor knots, or possibly a sailors hornpipe tune. :lol:

 

The Jack/Jackie, and Rochelle line are in the $300 price range, and seem to be a good value for the money. From here:

http://www.concertinaconnection.com/

under concertina in the top menu.

 

Thanks

Leo :)

Edited by Leo
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I have a Jackie, that I've had for about 5 months. Now, having bought a Lachenal, I've been required by my wife to sell the Jackie.

 

So, I'm quite happy to sell an only marginally second hand Jackie to a beginner for a sensible price. I'm in the UK though.

 

 

Hope you find the right instrument for you and at a good price.

 

When you do, I think you will find learning and playing so much easier if you can abstain from the friggin' and jerkin' bit and come to see the concertina as a truly life changing experience. :lol:

 

Dave

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Chording is possible on an Anglo but easier on the English.

 

?

 

I think plenty of people on here would disagree with you. Chording is very easy on the Anglo, indeed to me it appears to have been designed to play that way.

 

Chording is certainly possible on the English, but only a minority of players seem to be able to play a melody and chord accompaniment together. The Anglo excels at this, with the melody on the right hand and chords on the left, although admittedly the range of keys is more limited.

 

But the OP said he wanted to play Irish-style, so full-chording isn't much of a consideration. There has been plenty of discussion on here on English v Anglo for Irish music, which I won't repeat. However, traditionally the type generally used for Irish music is the Anglo.

 

Unfortunately, concertinas are expensive. This is another point which has been bemoaned at length on here. They are considerably more complicated than a guitar, with a lot more parts, many of which have to be hand-made. The upside is that all but the very cheapest instruments appear to hold their value well. The advice that you should buy the best instrument you can possibly afford is particularly applicable to concertinas.

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Hey there. I just joined this forum, and I want to ask for your advice. I've never played a concertina before, but I've been toying with the idea of buying one. What kind should I get?

 

Check out the Button Box link. They always have less expensive boxes in stock. I bought my first Hohner from them. It was in perfect working order and a beautiful little box. If you grow serious about playing (which is a very addictive instrument by the way!), you can always upgrade. You may or may not grow out of this box. I gave mine away to a close friend for a wedding gift and that little box still plays very well, after some very heavy playing.

 

Their line of Stagis also come very well set up--that would be the next level up. The great thing about The Button Box is they back up what they sell. Music stores and even accordion shops many times do not, they can't because they are not a real specialty shop.

 

It is also very easy to play on the rows and just switch boxes for those different keys, right hand melody and left hand chords/ drones. You can get some very pretty music, even on a basic 20 button box. If the session goes into a key that you cannot play in, that calls for a beer break!

 

Good luck!

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Hi Friggin,

to correct my post of yesterday (or at least to clarify it) the Jackie/Rochelle's are that middle of the road 3-400 dollar 'Good' starter's that your looking for. Then Maybe the Stagi's which cost more but some are of the impression that the Jackie/Rochelle's are better value.

As for Chording, I am learning Irish style which uses both sides of the Anglo for melody and as for harmonic accompaniement you can 'stab' at 2nd's, 3rd's 4th's etc to accompany the melody while your playing it. Kind of like how an Old Time Fiddle uses drones or a Bluegrass fiddler uses double stops. There are other styles in Anglo that emphasize melody on one side and chordal accompaniement on the other. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think this is covered more in the Bertram Levy book. It seems easier to aproach the concetina (Anglo) from a fiddler's perspective than a Guitarists. As the bow (or bellows) travels , sooner or later your gonna have to change direction or your going to run out of bow(air). Some notes are not as available on the Anglo in one direction as the other. With the English the whole 'fretboard is available to you at all times in either direction. so as you change directions the fingering remains the same. It just seems to me that a G chord is the same fingering pushing or pulling as would be the inversions of that chord or any other for that matter. Hence easier (in my mind at least) for chording. The Anglo's Gchord is different on the push vs the pull. So that opens up all sorts of 'limitations' when trying to accompany a melody.

Anyway I'm just learning as you will soon be. Basic rule of thumb is there are people here playing very nice Irish style on English Concertina's. Rules are made to be broken. Good luck.

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The Anglo's Gchord is different on the push vs the pull. So that opens up all sorts of 'limitations' when trying to accompany a melody.

 

Or, some might say, "opens up all sorts of possibilities". Each instrument has its own limitations - it's how you exploit them that matters. Hmm, that wasn't meant to sound as pompous as it undoubtedly does :lol:

 

FJ: I'd really just offer the usual sage advice I was given: you've done some initial homework and research and canvassed opinion here. I'd say that either system _could_ suit your needs but the ideal would be to get your hands on one of each and have a go with them.

 

If you're already familiar with a suck/blow push/pull system via the harmonica you should find plenty of common ground with the anglo.

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I assume that from guitarist's point of view, music might sound strange without the chrods, and for this English is actually better in many ways, if you consider the various keys, inversions of the chords and possibility to play melody, while holding the chords as "drones", like playing one string melody on a guitar, while strumming.

Anglo will present a great deal of having to work around the push/pull.

But in the home keys of the anglo (or harmonica, or diatonic accordion) this 'may' be easier. It's easy to switch harmonicas for the keys, but concertinas are bulkier and more expencive, so if you are into key/style versatility - it's the English. But if you are into "folk" style of few keys, simpler music, but more "orchestral" sound with many notes - it's the Anglo (or diatonic accordion for that matter).

 

With the Anglo you'll find that you can play your harmonica tunes almost instantly, while with the English you'll be puzzled by it's incomprehencible ergonomics. ---------- at first.

 

Then you'll hit the wall with the Anglo, and reach hights with the English.

Then you'll find work arounds with the Anglo and it will force a style into you (push/pull and finding notes etc.), but you'll reach a plateau with the English, where melody playing will be boring, style will be too smooth, etc.

Then it will be repeated to the end of your life, let it be 120+ years.

Edited by m3838
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I personally think the point about coming from a guitarist's background is a bit of a red herring.

 

I am self-taught on a number of instruments, starting with guitar and moving on to anglo concertina, melodeon and hammered dulcimer. Being able to play another instrument has several advantages - some understanding of how music works (even if this is intuitive rather than formal); a developed sense of rhythm; and better manual dexterity and co-ordination. But I didn't find that experience of one instrument was much direct help with learning another.

 

But I am very much an intuitive musician - I can't read music too well, and can't play from music (except on the recorder, which is the only instrument I had formal lessons on). To me, a C chord is first and foremost a fingering position, whether on guitar or concertina, rather than the notes of C, E and G. So for others the experience may be different.

 

More important than your musical background is how you get on with each type of concertina. Some people can never get to grips with the push-pull of an anglo, whereas for others it is natural.

 

I would entirely agree with the advice to try both systems before deciding which one feels more natural to you.

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I assume that from guitarist's point of view, music might sound strange without the chrods, and for this English is actually better in many ways, if you consider the various keys, inversions of the chords and possibility to play melody, while holding the chords as "drones", like playing one string melody on a guitar, while strumming.

Anglo will present a great deal of having to work around the push/pull.

But in the home keys of the anglo (or harmonica, or diatonic accordion) this 'may' be easier. It's easy to switch harmonicas for the keys, but concertinas are bulkier and more expencive, so if you are into key/style versatility - it's the English. But if you are into "folk" style of few keys, simpler music, but more "orchestral" sound with many notes - it's the Anglo (or diatonic accordion for that matter).

 

With the Anglo you'll find that you can play your harmonica tunes almost instantly, while with the English you'll be puzzled by it's incomprehencible ergonomics. ---------- at first.

 

Then you'll hit the wall with the Anglo, and reach hights with the English.

Then you'll find work arounds with the Anglo and it will force a style into you (push/pull and finding notes etc.), but you'll reach a plateau with the English, where melody playing will be boring, style will be too smooth, etc.

Then it will be repeated to the end of your life, let it be 120+ years.

 

 

I think this post from m3838 should be required reading for anyone asking the question as to whether to play anglo or english. It very succintly summarizes the strengths and limitations of each type of concertina in a way I have never read or understood before. Nice job.

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:huh: ''Interesting name.......'' In England 'fr***in' is also used instead of saying 'fu**ing' and 'jerk'= 'idiot' ........ not a name to call oneself lightly, although it may have a totaly different meaning across the pond :) Anyway, back to the topic.... generally if you sight read a lot then the English system may be easier and if you generally play by ear then possibly the Anglo would be better :D
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Yeah, it would definitely be best to try the different styles before buying anything. Now I just have to find a place (or person) that has them. I imagine that I'd get some funny looks if I went into Guitar Center and started asking for concertinas. Maybe I'll also request a set of uilleann pipes and a zither while I'm at it.

 

Anyways, thanks a lot for all the input.

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Yeah, it would definitely be best to try the different styles before buying anything. Now I just have to find a place (or person) that has them. I imagine that I'd get some funny looks if I went into Guitar Center and started asking for concertinas. Maybe I'll also request a set of uilleann pipes and a zither while I'm at it.

 

Anyways, thanks a lot for all the input.

What part of the world do you live in. There just might be some close. The Button Box website mentions rental as a possible option. Althought I can't speak for them and the particulars, or availability, I find they are a reputable group to deal with. Just a thought

 

Thanks

Leo

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