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Evalution, Comments: The Jackie


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Hello:

 

I know someone here with loads of experience had mentioned they had ordered some of The Jackie model English concertinas for students. They were waiting to take delivery. Since, I have been patiently waiting, ready and eager, to hear an evaluation and opinions about this instrument.

 

Anyone have experience with this instrument? Would it be a good first instrument for someone who wants to play English?

 

All ideas appreciated. Many thanks!

 

ldp

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I know someone here with loads of experience had mentioned they had ordered some of The Jackie model English concertinas for students.

I think that was me. Sorry for the delay, but thanks for the compliment.

 

They were waiting to take delivery. Since, I have been patiently waiting, ready and eager, to hear an evaluation and opinions about this instrument.

 

I only recently received my three Jackies (I was the one responsible for the delay). I definitely do recommend them as beginner instruments.

 

Though bigger (18½ cm across the flats) and heavier (1.3 kg) than my 48-button Æola (at 16½ cm and 1.15 kg) I find the Jackie surprisingly manageable and even comfortable. All three instruments are in good tune and balance and response and action are good. These are the ones with the riveted action.

 

I did have to make minor adjustments (not tuning) to a couple of reeds in two of the instruments, but when I contacted Wim he indicated that they've had some problems with instruments shipped 3-6 to a box. I guess the greater combined weight may result in stronger shocks during shipping. If you order a single instrument, you should have no problem... but even if you do, an email to Concertina Connection should get you prompt assistance.

 

I have no real complaints, though it would be nice if its range went at least one note higher. The Jackie's top note is G, while a lot of Irish tunes include the A above that. It's always possible to substitute another note, but it would be simpler if one didn't have to. On the other hand, probably few beginners will be trying to play such tunes.

 

Each instrument comes with its own gig bag. It's very handy, though not heavily padded. But it also has some extra room, where you can wrap padding -- or music -- around the instrument. I put the tutor book there.

 

Yes, each instrument comes with a tutor for beginners, written by Wim Wakker, which introduces musical notation and various musical concepts, as well as instructions on how to begin to play the instrument. The only drawback, to my mind, is that any talented and motivated student will quickly exhaust this book and want something more.

 

I also don't agree with everything Wim says in his tutor about holding the concertina, but I don't believe that following what he says will cause any harm. My own technique favors greater freedom, and I feel his recommendations are overly restrictive, but anyone who agrees with me can certainly work to develop greater flexibility at a later time.

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Thanks to you both! It's great to get as much feedback as possible.

 

Choosing an instrument is certainly a very personal matter, but it is near impossible to make a good decision when you have nothing on which to base a decision -- no expertise or experience. That's why I am going to rely on the kindness of strangers, to borrow from Blanche DuBois and Tennessee Williams.

 

 

Russell: I'm glad to know they have good customer service. That guarantee is a reason that I became interested in patronizing them.

 

Jim: Thanks for your detailed response. That was precisely the information I was seeking. I do have a few questions, if you will indulge me, I'd appreciate it.

 

Though bigger (18½ cm across the flats) and heavier (1.3 kg) than my 48-button Æola (at 16½ cm and 1.15 kg) I find the Jackie surprisingly manageable and even comfortable. All three instruments are in good tune and balance and response and action are good. These are the ones with the riveted action.

 

The weight will not be a problem. What does concern me is "bigger." Is the spacing between the keys comfortable? Or is it a good stretch for some notes in a chord or chord voicing? I have a smaller than average hand. It's teeny. (I never knew this until we measured hands in an English class in college. Don't ask! We had a good, but odd bird for a professor. Mine were the smallest.)

 

I think it speaks well of the company that three of three instruments are relatively playable out of the box. I'm not sure I'd be able to tell if there were a reed problem. There is a button/Cajun player locally who might be able to help diagnose and repair if need be. But that's down the road.

 

Hm. That A *will* be a problem on several tunes. I can think of several old time and Irish tunes that go to or above that A off the top of my head -- "Over the Waterfall" and "Whiskey Before Breakfast" for starters as well as "Fly Around," "Falls of Richmond" ... And the harmony for the song our band plays (one of the main reasons I really want to play concertina is to play it on this tune! It's begging for it. One of the members is trying to get someone to take her toy accordion and work something up. ... I want to surprise them with a ready to rock version!) goes up to an A as well. I suppose playing an octave below is the only work around? I won't worry about it for now.

 

Each instrument comes with its own gig bag. It's very handy, though not heavily padded. But it also has some extra room, where you can wrap padding -- or music -- around the instrument. I put the tutor book there.

 

For traveling, I suppose it would need eggshell or some other type of foam. Thinking ahead. (Cornwall in 18+ months perhaps?)

 

Any materials that can help speed one down the path of learning are fine by me. I also read in another thread about two other English books that appear may be a fine adjunct to this, but I have to fund and purchase the instrument first!

 

Many thanks. I'll be interested to see what follow up comments either might have as well as any additional comments from others.

 

Many, many thanks!

 

ldp

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The weight will not be a problem. What does concern me is "bigger." Is the spacing between the keys comfortable? Or is it a good stretch for some notes in a chord or chord voicing?

It's only the size of the entire instrument -- the width of the ends -- that is larger. The size and spacing of the buttons, thumb strap and finger plate are deliberately made to match vintage concertinas. If you have trouble with the Jackie, you'll have trouble with any concertina.

 

Hm. That A *will* be a problem on several tunes. I can think of several old time and Irish tunes that go to or above that A off the top of my head -- "Over the Waterfall" and "Whiskey Before Breakfast" for starters as well as "Fly Around," "Falls of Richmond" ...

Not being a musical beginner can be a disadvantage. "Fly Around" I don't now off hand. In "Over the Waterfall" I would repeat the F# where the A should be; not quite the same, but I think it works. I can't advise on "Whiskey Before Breakfast", since I know two versions, but neither goes above a G. On "Falls of Richmond" I'd just play the entire C part down an octave.

 

And the harmony for the song our band plays...

What song is that? Without knowing the details, many possibilities suggest themselves: e.g., substituting an F# or E (depending on the chord), leaving it out entirely, or dropping a few notes -- or even just the A's -- an octave. Experiment.

 

Or if you can afford it, get a Stagi (2.8 times as much) or an Albion (6.7 times) from The Button Box. The Albion, especially, is worth the money, in my opinion, though they currently advertise an 8-week wait. And there's probably also an import duty on the Jackie. (Anybody know how much? Living in Denmark, I paid VAT, but no import duty.)

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Or if you can afford it, get a Stagi (2.8 times as much) or an Albion (6.7 times) from The Button Box.

I forgot to mention -- though I believe others have done so previously -- that The Button Box also does rentals. That could be a good way to start with an instrument you can't afford to purchase outright, and find out if concertina is really for you.

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Jim:

 

Thanks for your thorough responses.

 

Not being a musical beginner can be a disadvantage.

 

Well ... I get by. Certainly I'm no expert, but there's got to be some teeny, tiny advantage derived from playing another instrument -- even if it's knowing about the time and practice needed to get new neurons developed to be able to connect mind to body.

 

As for specific tunes ... I was simply thinking of tunes I play on mandolin off the top of my head since you mentioned the range issue. ("Fly Around" is also known as "Western Country" in some circles." And that B part could be played down an octave.) The song I mentioned that our band is playing is by The Iguanas -- "Nervous." We play it in Am. The harmony line goes up to an A, but melody does not. It would sound nice and spooky in a lower octave.

 

Thanks for your suggestions on other instrument options. The Jackie is attractive to me because of its price, which is why I asked about it. Those other instruments are way out of range for the moment. I also like the trade up policy.

 

And there's probably also an import duty on the Jackie. (Anybody know how much? Living in Denmark, I paid VAT, but no import duty.)

 

The company's website advertises that there is no VAT. They apparently have a drop in the United States from which they ship throughout the United States, thus avoiding duty. At least that was what I gathered from the information provided without asking specifics.

 

Russell? What can you add?

 

Many thanks,

 

ldp

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I bought my Jackie outright, without any duty or tax added, THAT I SAW. It might be included in the price. The price on the web site is the price you pay, shipping included, and mine came from the Netherlands. Double boxed.

 

My lack of knowledge hasn't helped me any that I can see. I am ploughing through the tutor that came with it pretty slowly. It probably doesn't help that I am going "around" it and trying to force Ashokan Farewell into my head before I am really ready for it.

 

The Tune - O - Tron has lots of stuff that I suspect was intended for Anglo drivers, including Ashokan Farewell, but lots of it seems to fit the range of the Jackie just fine.

 

Russell Hedges

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The Tune - O - Tron has lots of stuff that I suspect was intended for Anglo drivers, including Ashokan Farewell,...

PLEASE! :o

 

"Ashokan Farewell" is a fiddle tune.

I find it does work very nicely on the English, though. :)

Probably on the anglo, as well, but I won't actually try it until tomorrow, since it's now past my neighbors' bedtime. ;)

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The Tune - O - Tron has lots of stuff that I suspect was intended for Anglo drivers, including Ashokan Farewell,...

PLEASE! :o

 

"Ashokan Farewell" is a fiddle tune.

I find it does work very nicely on the English, though. :)

Very few tunes that are played on the Anglo were written for that instrument. I suspect that what Russell meant was that it was submitted to the Tune-O-Tron by an Anglo player as an example of a tune to be played on the Anglo.

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Sorry, I wasn't too clear there, was I? Yes, I meant that I think it was posted by an Anglo player for Anglo. Jay Unger is a fiddle player, I know.

 

If you could be famous for only one thing, I guess Ashokan Farewell is a pretty good reason.

 

Is it luck that many tunes that work on the typical Anglo work well on the English as well?

 

And back on topic, the Jackie has just enough range for it, "straight out of the bottle", without key changes or octave jumps.

 

Russell Hedges

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Thanks for the value-added information!

 

My lack of knowledge hasn't helped me any that I can see. I am ploughing through the tutor that came with it pretty slowly. It probably doesn't help that I am going "around" it and trying to force Ashokan Farewell into my head before I am really ready for it.

 

I had to giggle!

 

I have been trying to perfect Ashokan on mando. It doesn't help that there's phrasing in there that reminds me of a John Denver tune. I start singing "like a night in a forest" and next thing I'm forgetting that nice arpeggio run.

 

If you like that tune, you really should get Jay and Mollie's new CD. It has some really, really great tunes that they're having FUN playing.

 

And, yes, Jim, I've been thinking about the neighbors. One side only. Hooray!

 

It's a sad reflection on either my neighborhood or society that I am the only person I see carrying an instrument case -- and I get odd looks when I do. On the converse, my friend is surrounded by musicians and her house is full of 'em, too. This past summer her family helped throw one heck of a block party with live music from noon 'til 6 p.m. ... when the police permit expired, the party and music moved inside !

 

Thanks all of you!

 

ldp, soon to be a concertina player ... but how soon ? ! : )

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And, yes, Jim, I've been thinking about the neighbors. One side only. Hooray!

Things were much easier for me when I lived in NYC.

 

My only neighbor who wasn't insulated from me by at least a couple of layers of brick was the lady downstairs.

Though I sometimes practiced in the middle of the night, she had only two complaints: 1) that she couldn't hear me well enough, and 2) that she wished I would take up highland pipes. :)

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I had to giggle!

 

I have been trying to perfect Ashokan on mando. It doesn't help that there's phrasing in there that reminds me of a John Denver tune. I start singing "like a night in a forest" and next thing I'm forgetting that nice arpeggio run.

There are a lot of familiar tunes buried in "Ashokan Farewell." That's the first one I spotted, too, but few others seem to have noticed it. Also the Star Spangled Banner.

 

Ashokan Farewell was the first tune I ever played on the concertina. I was at Ashokan at the time, and Rich Morse was showing me how his Hayden was set up. I found the tune with no effort.

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My only neighbor who wasn't insulated from me by at least a couple of layers of brick was the lady downstairs.

Though I sometimes practiced in the middle of the night, she had only two complaints: 1) that she couldn't hear me well enough, and 2) that she wished I would take up highland pipes.

 

LOL! It's great to get a neighbor like that, Jim. I hope you serenaded her in person from time-to-time as thanks for being supportive!

 

As for "Ashokan" ... well, David, I had no idea there were all those seek-and-find bits of intervals in there. Now, of course, I'll be trying to pick them all out next time I play the tune!

 

Thanks!

 

ldp

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