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My Next Concertina


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Yeah, I know. I've only had my 30k mahogany-ended steel-reed Lachenal for a few months.... But I was just wondering about where to go when I'm in a position to 'upgrade.' I'd stress that I love the tone of the Lachenal, and I don't want anything too loud -- it'll be for song accompaniment. I suppose I have a few questions/concerns: -

 

* is there a signifinant difference in the performance of a rosewood-ended Lachenal, or am I paying for a fancier finish?

* as well as the completely different tone I got when PeterT let me loose on his Wheatstone was the amount of air I had to play with. Would I get this with a better -quality Lachenal, or would I have to switch makes?

* would switching to a higher quality brass-reeded instrument be an option?

 

I got my current 'tina from Chris Algar, so could do the part-exchange thing. However, it would mean replacing my only decent instrument, so I suppose that what I'm after is "what I've got now, but better," rather than another kind of 'tina entirely.

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Well, the first thing to say is rather obvious, but I'll say it anyway: try before you buy. That way you'll know what you're buying.

 

Rosewood ended Lachenals are in the main altogether better instruments than the mahogany ended ones ("in the main" because there are always exceptions). The reed work and general workmanship was better because they were the next range up, as it were.

 

You should get more air with a rosewood Lach, but don't expect as much as with Peter's Wheatstone. That is a top of the range jobby and would have cost rather more, both then and now, than a rosewood Lach. Lachenal did make some good anglos, unquestionably, mostly metal-ended, and the quality is reflected in the price you can expect to pay for them.

 

So far as brass reeds are concerned, probably not an option, at least with Lachenal. I stand to be corrected but I don't think Lachenal used brass reeds in their better instruments. Also I'd be leery of brass reeds in anglos anyway, unless you knew it was going to be used gently.

 

I like Lachenal rosewood concertinas a lot. I've owned several over the years and only one was bad (due to crap reeds - it's now found a new life as a MIDI anglo). Currently I have a 40-button C/G that's a really nice box, not as slick or economical with air as the Wheatstone/Dickinson 40-button I used to own, but it's nice to play and has the sweet rosewood sound I am very fond of and at half the cost it's good value for money.

 

Chris

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Yeah, I know. I've only had my 30k mahogany-ended steel-reed Lachenal for a few months.... But I was just wondering about where to go when I'm in a position to 'upgrade.' I'd stress that I love the tone of the Lachenal, and I don't want anything too loud -- it'll be for song accompaniment. I suppose I have a few questions/concerns: -

 

* is there a signifinant difference in the performance of a rosewood-ended Lachenal, or am I paying for a fancier finish?

* as well as the completely different tone I got when PeterT let me loose on his Wheatstone was the amount of air I had to play with. Would I get this with a better -quality Lachenal, or would I have to switch makes?

* would switching to a higher quality brass-reeded instrument be an option?

 

I got my current 'tina from Chris Algar, so could do the part-exchange thing. However, it would mean replacing my only decent instrument, so I suppose that what I'm after is "what I've got now, but better," rather than another kind of 'tina entirely.

Better quality in one respect is usually matched by better quality in other respects, but instruments are still individual... in timbre, volume, dynamic range, response, and more. My advice is that you not try to decide in advance what "type" of instrument will suit you, but go straight to Chris.

 

Tell him what you want -- both in direct terms and in comparison to what you currently have, -- and he will almost certainly select a few instruments that he thinks come close to what you've requested. You can then try them; there's no substitute for hearing and feeling an instrument "in person". Possibly your reaction to these instruments will prompt him to bring out another instrument or few, or maybe that won't be necessary. But almost certainly you'll come away with an instrument that will make you happy... because it will have made you happy as you tried it out.

 

And in the future you may want to go through the same process again, but I think that's really likely only if your budget this time holds you back from getting the one you really want.

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Yeah, I know. I've only had my 30k mahogany-ended steel-reed Lachenal for a few months.... But I was just wondering about where to go when I'm in a position to 'upgrade.' I'd stress that I love the tone of the Lachenal, and I don't want anything too loud -- it'll be for song accompaniment. I suppose I have a few questions/concerns: -

 

* is there a signifinant difference in the performance of a rosewood-ended Lachenal, or am I paying for a fancier finish?

* as well as the completely different tone I got when PeterT let me loose on his Wheatstone was the amount of air I had to play with. Would I get this with a better -quality Lachenal, or would I have to switch makes?

* would switching to a higher quality brass-reeded instrument be an option?

 

I got my current 'tina from Chris Algar, so could do the part-exchange thing. However, it would mean replacing my only decent instrument, so I suppose that what I'm after is "what I've got now, but better," rather than another kind of 'tina entirely.

 

Not a definitive answer to your questions but here are few observations based on my recent experiences with concertinas (mostly English rather than anglo). Degree of finish and nicer woods seem to indicate an overall increase in the quality of the instrument even at the cheaper end of the ranges, I'm not sure that that extends to the quality of the reed making however. The cheap and cheerful end of the Lachenal range had machine cut reed tongues which didn't fit the shoes to a fine tolerance, this slows down the response and uses a lot of air. The economy of air usage you noticed on Peter's Wheatstone is simply down quality of materials and engineering accuracy, Lachenal were certainly capable of producing reeds of equal quality but they appear in the high end models.

 

Unfortunately I've not had a happy experience with Edeophones, the half a dozen or so I've played were indifferent to say the least but they are so well thought of by others that I must simply have been unlucky. The Lachenal New Model on the other hand seems to be a fine concertina and although not cheap to buy they are significantly less expensive than the Edeophone, I just don't know if a New Model anglo was ever made because I haven't seen one.

 

I would be less worried about buying a concertina I thought was too loud, baffles are easily fitted, so find a concertina that plays well and you like the sound of before considering the volume. Hope this helps a little.

 

Pete.

 

p.s. I've been doing other things in between writing this (it's taken me about an hour!) so another couple of replies have already appeared from players far more experienced than myself.

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I would be less worried about buying a concertina I thought was too loud, baffles are easily fitted, so find a concertina that plays well and you like the sound of before considering the volume. Hope this helps a little.

One thing about better quality reeds is that they can generally be played more quietly, as well as more loudly.

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Try before you buy. Oh yes. But I just need a few things to fret about to feed into the months of prevarication that go with these things. For me, anyway. ;)

I was about to respond that I would try not to encourage you, because I don't approve of fretting. (I don't get on well with stringed instruments... unless they're in the hands of others.) But I suddenly remembered that generally speaking, finer concertinas are characterized by finer -- one could also say more -- fretting.

 

So I guess I shouldn't try to disssuade you. :D

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Currently I have a 40-button C/G that's a really nice box, not as slick or economical with air as the Wheatstone/Dickinson 40-button I used to own, but it's nice to play and has the sweet rosewood sound I am very fond of and at half the cost it's good value for money.

Here's a photo of that very same Wheatstone (with a little friend) photographed in early 1993. As we both know, it now lives with another C.net member. Wonderful, sweet, tuning from memory. :)

 

Regards,

Peter.

post-1710-1202047533_thumb.jpg

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* as well as the completely different tone I got when PeterT let me loose on his Wheatstone was the amount of air I had to play with.

Hi Nigel,

 

I "got lucky" with this particular Wheatstone. When I went to Hobgoblin, back in 1982, this, plus 30 and 40 key C/G Wheatstones had come into the shop only about a week earlier. Even with my limited ability, I tried them all and decided that "my" 36 key was the best. I say "tried", but the hand-strap on the one I bought had broken from the fastening, so I could not actually play it. However, the way in which the reeds "spoke", and the action played told me that it was the best instrument.

 

As an aside, Nigel Chippindale played the 40 key for a while, decided he liked it, and said "I might have that!". He didn't, since he already played a Jeffries Anglo.

 

I would not swap this Wheatstone for any other, and two C/G 40 key Wheatstones have come and gone over the intervening years, plus a 38 key C/G Jeffries which was absolutely stunning.

 

So, Nigel, good luck with your quest. Instinct should tell you when you've found an instrument which exactly meets your needs. With a few more months of playing "under your belt", you will be in the position to make the right decision. Meanwhile, you are welcome to try my Wheatstone, again, so that you can make a comparison.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Cheers for that, Peter. I might very well take you up on that.

 

My work takes me to Manchester quite a lot and the train stops at Stoke-on-Trent, so I reckon the thing to do when I'm ready to make the switch, travel home via the hallowed garden shed of Barleycorn.

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Unfortunately I've not had a happy experience with Edeophones, the half a dozen or so I've played were indifferent to say the least but they are so well thought of by others that I must simply have been unlucky.

 

 

I think you probably were unlucky. When I visited Chris Algar last year with a view to purchasing an Edeophone treble, he had eight to chose from and I got to play them all. :) Yes, some played better than others, had nicer actions and sounded sweeter. Eventually, I narrowed the choice down to one metal-ended one and one ebony-ended one and the metal-ended one won by a short head. The sound was just that bit brighter, as one would expect from metal ends and it had a lovely bottom end. Cosmetically, it was in excellent condition, with the original bellows and thumb straps, and came in an original leather case in great condition for its age, which was a nice bonus. Buying a concertina on Ebay is open to risks. Buying from Barleycorn, especially if you live in the UK, means you can arrange with Chris to pay him a visit and try his stock out before you buy. All his concertinas have been overhauled and tuned to mcp, unless otherwise stated. And, if you can, bring a more experienced player with you, you can listen to how the instrument sounds in their hands and also their opinion of it and its playability.

 

Chris

 

PS The place where he keeps his stock of tinas; it's a bit more than a garden shed - it's made of brick, heavily fortified and alarmed and a pair of Rottweilers prowl the garden. :ph34r:

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