Pete Dunk Posted April 5, 2007 Share Posted April 5, 2007 Hello, my name is Pete and I live in the middle of nowhere some twenty minutes or so from Ashford on the Kent/East Sussex border. I’m just deciding which English concertina to buy after a gap of twenty five years since I last played! First a little background story… I was inspired to buy and play a concertina after seeing a Lancastrian folk trio called Jolly Jack playing in the local folk clubs (I lived in Yorkshire then), so I decided to have a look in a few antique shops to see what I could pick up. The first place I went in had a concertina! It was pretty boring to look at, being all black with just the 48 nickel silver buttons and finger rests to relieve the sombre hue. I was standing on top of its battered black leather case and priced at £65. This was 1977 remember, that was more than a weeks wages and I knew nothing about concertinas so that seemed like quite a lot of money. The shop owner had done a little research and proclaimed that the maker, Wheatstone, had invented the concertina; the thing looked well made and in reasonable condition. An inscription on the thumb strap screws proclaimed it to be First Prize in a concertina competition held in September 1911 which gave it a little provenance so he thought the price fair. After several minutes of bargaining I bought the instrument for £60, most of which was borrowed from my girlfriend, and took it home to gloat. One note didn’t play and although I hadn’t a clue how to play it I was musician enough to realise that it needed tuning. I popped into a large music shop in Leeds to see if their repairman could do anything with it and it turned out he was a bit of a specialist. The repair and tuning cost me another £32 and when I called in to collect it the repairman came out from the back of the shop to see me. “Nice Aeola” he said, “don’t see many like that these days” I left the shop feeling a little glum that I hadn’t even managed to buy a proper concertina! I learned to play to a moderate standard and accompanied myself whilst singing in the local folk clubs, eventually using the concertina more often than the guitar. Then one day a spring broke, so I trotted off to the same shop to buy a replacement. The old repairman had retired and the new chap said he needed the concertina in the workshop to make a new spring that was weighted like the rest so as to maintain a balanced action. I picked it up the following week and was disappointed to find that the new spring was much heavier than the others but I persevered thinking that the new spring would need time to bed in. After several weeks I returned it to the shop for adjustment because it wasn’t any better but it still wasn’t right when I got it back. My playing declined after that and I found myself back playing guitar more and more ending up playing with a band making a few quid ‘playing the clubs’. In the meantime I’d amassed quite a collection of old concertinas at flea markets, mostly tutor model Lachenal anglos in six sided rosewood cases but I also bought a 30 button Jeffries with metal ends for £42 and a battered black duet in pretty poor condition. When I spotted a newspaper ad for old concertinas I decided it was time for a bit of a clearout. I got £150 for the Jeffries and £200 or so in total for most of the old wrecks as a job lot. In a moment of madness I took £400 for the Wheatstone, it was a hell of a lot of money at the time and all in cash. I thought I would be able to find another but this was a time when the supply was drying up and of course I never saw another. Now I have itchy fingers and a real desire to play concertina again but I’m not sure I want to invest in a vintage concertina again at the moment. So am I mad to buy a Jackie just to get back into playing? I remember the Aeola had a lightening fast action and pretty short button stroke compared to others I tried but I doubt my hands will remember the feel of it after all these years. I’ve enjoyed reading through umpteen threads on here and I’m really surprised there isn’t a pinned ‘Hello’ thread for newbies to introduce themselves instead of starting a new thread. I’ll let you know how I get on with the Jackie. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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