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Hi,

 

I've just joined the list, and I suppose this is the best part of the forum for an introduction.

 

I'm an Irishman resident (for over 35 years) in Germany. I'm a singer, and play several instruments in an eclectic style that you'd probably tag as "folk" if you had to put me in a pigeon-hole.

 

My free-reed section comprises a 30-button anglo and a small, 51-button Bandoneon dated around 1900. I caught the concertina bug as a very small child, when my parents took me to the Salvation Army on Sunday mornings. I have enjoyed listening to brass band music ever since, but it was the Triumph duet concertina that really caught my imagination. I just loved the sound of it!

At 18, I got a cheap 20-button German concertina for my birthday, and having played my father's harmonica, began playing immediately. Later, when the cheap concertina had gone out of tune, I discovered the Bandoneon in a Berlin junk shop, took it for a sort of square anglo, bought it, and enjoyed exploring all those extra buttons. Then, about 12 years ago, I bought a new Stagi 30-button anglo (with metal ends), which, after some tinkering with the action by myself and a new bellows by Concertina Connection, performs very well, and gives me that hard concertina sound that originally attracted me to the instrument.

 

The other main instruments that I also use for public gigs are 5-string banjo, mandolin and autoharp. I also have a German guitar-lute, a ukulele and a Thueringer Waldzither (a relative of the English guitar), which I play only occasionally.

 

I tend to explore each of my instruments intensively turn about, and I'm in "concertina mode" at the moment. The anglo is a wonderful singer's instrument (C and G are the only keys I really need for singing the folk repertory), and I can get pretty sophisticated instrumental arrangements out of it in those keys, too. But I do hanker after more chromatic capability, and I feel that a Crane/Triumph duet would be the thing for me. Which brings the wheel full circle!

 

Looking forward to interesting exchanges on this forum,

Cheers,

John

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Welcome, John. I'm a very recent member here, and I do enjoy the community so very much.

 

I play a 20-button Anglo, double-string-bass, acoustic-string-bass, melodica, piano, and most recently, autoharp.

 

It's great to know there's other squeezers out there. I feel like a freak here in North Texas, where everyone plays acoustic guitar, but the crowds always hush when I break out my box, Helen, and let her breath into the mics.

 

Cheers, John.

Michael

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Hi, John. Where are you in Germany? I spent most of the '80s stationed there w/ the US Army, the first half in Hessen between Frankfurt and Giessen and the second half in Augsburg. Several times I encountered street musicians playing Waldzithers, which, as you say, is more like an English guitar or maybe some kind of mandola/portuguese thingy.

 

Eric Root

 

 

Hi,

 

I've just joined the list, and I suppose this is the best part of the forum for an introduction.

 

I'm an Irishman resident (for over 35 years) in Germany. I'm a singer, and play several instruments in an eclectic style that you'd probably tag as "folk" if you had to put me in a pigeon-hole.

 

My free-reed section comprises a 30-button anglo and a small, 51-button Bandoneon dated around 1900. I caught the concertina bug as a very small child, when my parents took me to the Salvation Army on Sunday mornings. I have enjoyed listening to brass band music ever since, but it was the Triumph duet concertina that really caught my imagination. I just loved the sound of it!

At 18, I got a cheap 20-button German concertina for my birthday, and having played my father's harmonica, began playing immediately. Later, when the cheap concertina had gone out of tune, I discovered the Bandoneon in a Berlin junk shop, took it for a sort of square anglo, bought it, and enjoyed exploring all those extra buttons. Then, about 12 years ago, I bought a new Stagi 30-button anglo (with metal ends), which, after some tinkering with the action by myself and a new bellows by Concertina Connection, performs very well, and gives me that hard concertina sound that originally attracted me to the instrument.

 

The other main instruments that I also use for public gigs are 5-string banjo, mandolin and autoharp. I also have a German guitar-lute, a ukulele and a Thueringer Waldzither (a relative of the English guitar), which I play only occasionally.

 

I tend to explore each of my instruments intensively turn about, and I'm in "concertina mode" at the moment. The anglo is a wonderful singer's instrument (C and G are the only keys I really need for singing the folk repertory), and I can get pretty sophisticated instrumental arrangements out of it in those keys, too. But I do hanker after more chromatic capability, and I feel that a Crane/Triumph duet would be the thing for me. Which brings the wheel full circle!

 

Looking forward to interesting exchanges on this forum,

Cheers,

John

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... Waldzithers ... more like an English guitar or maybe some kind of mandola/portuguese thingy.

And it may be worth adding that the similarity between the English and Portuguese guitars is by no means coincidental. The Portuguese sent their Port wine to England, where it became the national drink and everybody got gout, the English sent English guitars in return and the Portuguese made it their national instrument, and got sore fingers... :unsure:

 

They're all citterns anyway!

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The Portuguese sent their Port wine to England, where it became the national drink and everybody got gout, the English sent English guitars in return and the Portuguese made it their national instrument, and got sore fingers... :unsure:

 

They're all citterns anyway!

 

By chance I was enjoying a glass of port as I read your post. Damned near snorted it out my nose as I laughed. I and my brother also have the gout. Believe I'll confront my Portuguese colleagues on the morrow and demand reparations!

 

Welcome John!

Edited by Mark Evans

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... Waldzithers ... more like an English guitar or maybe some kind of mandola/portuguese thingy.

And it may be worth adding that the similarity between the English and Portuguese guitars is by no means coincidental. The Portuguese sent their Port wine to England, where it became the national drink and everybody got gout, the English sent English guitars in return and the Portuguese made it their national instrument, and got sore fingers... :unsure:

Well, the Portuguese would never admit to having gotten their guitars from Spain <_<

 

Seriously, is the "English guitar" a different instrument from the usual 6-string guitar? I know what an Austrian zither is (even could tune one in a pinch), but hadn't heard of English guitar.

 

BTW, I read that ordinary wine turned bad on the long voyage from Portugal to England, so they fortified it with a little brandy to "retard spoilage." Passing the spoilage onto the consumer :-)

--Mike K.

Edited by ragtimer

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Well, the Portuguese would never admit to having gotten their guitars from Spain <_<

 

Seriously, is the "English guitar" a different instrument from the usual 6-string guitar? I know what an Austrian zither is (even could tune one in a pinch), but hadn't heard of English guitar.

 

--Mike K.

 

Mike,

This may be a bit off topic - but the relationship getween Spanish guitar - English guitar - Portuguese guitar goes to show that the complexityof the concertina family tree: English, German, Anglo-German, German Anglo, duet, Bandoneon, Chemnitzer is not unique in the world of musical instruments.

 

To answer your question: the English guitar (or guittar) is flat backed, but it has a tear-drop body outline, as oppose to the Spanish guitar's figure-of-8 shape. It also has 6 courses, but the strings are wire, and at least the top 3 courses are double, tuned in unison. The standard tuning is an open major chord: C-E-G-C-E-G.

The Portuguese "guitarra" is very similar, but has all 6 courses doubled in unison. I believe they used to have English-guitar tuning, but that varys nowadays.

The Waldzither, which I play, is again similar in build, but has one course less, and is tuned C-G-C-E-G, with the top four courses double. A typical - but not defining - common characteristic of all three is the "Preston"-type tuning mechanism, with which the strings are hooked to a linear screw mechanism, rather than to pegs or geared machine heads as on most stringed instruments.

Generally, these instruments are classed with the Renaissance Cittern and are typologically termed "citterns" (as somebody mentioned) - tear-shape; flat or flattish back; wire strings in pairs.

The name of my "Waldzither" may be misleading. The instrument has nothing whatever to do with the Alpine zither!

Back in the 18th century and earlier, the German word "Zither" was the direct translation of the English word "cittern". The cittern as an instrument had mostly died out by the time the modern Alpine zither emerged, so the name "Zither" was reused for it. The few citterns that survived in localised pockets of the German-speaking areas were thereupon given a distinguishing name element, like "Waldzither" (forest zither) or "Halszither" (necked zither). My Waldzither adopted some fratures of the Portuguese guitarra fairly recently - features that the guitarra had acquired from the English guittar!

 

So if your have problems explaining to people that the "concertina" that they inherited from their grandfather is not the "concertina" that you can play - well, fretted-string players have the same problems!

 

Cheers,

John

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And just to add to the confusion, what most of us know as a guitar is referred to as a viol by the Portuguese.

 

Alan

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Mike,

This may be a bit off topic - but the relationship between Spanish guitar - English guitar - Portuguese guitar goes to show that the complexityof the concertina family tree: English, German, Anglo-German, German Anglo, duet, Bandoneon, Chemnitzer is not unique in the world of musical instruments.

 

To answer your question: the English guitar (or guittar) is flat backed, but it has a tear-drop body outline, as oppose to the Spanish guitar's figure-of-8 shape. It also has 6 courses, but the strings are wire, and at least the top 3 courses are double, tuned in unison. The standard tuning is an open major chord: C-E-G-C-E-G.

The Portuguese "guitarra" is very similar, but has all 6 courses doubled in unison. I believe they used to have English-guitar tuning, but that varys nowadays.

So these are really more like mandolins -- flat back, doubled wire strings. Probably played with picks?

The Waldzither, which I play, is again similar in build, but has one course less, and is tuned C-G-C-E-G, with the top four courses double. A typical - but not defining - common characteristic of all three is the "Preston"-type tuning mechanism, with which the strings are hooked to a linear screw mechanism, rather than to pegs or geared machine heads as on most stringed instruments.

Now that's different! I hadn't seen any instruments tuned like that, and I thought I'd seen plenty.

I do have one of those commercial "folk zither" type things with L-shaped tuners operated by a wood screw -- not very satisfactory, but what you describe is quite different.

 

Oh well, back to squeezables. Thanks for the info.

So if your have problems explaining to people that the "concertina" that they inherited from their grandfather is not the "concertina" that you can play - well, fretted-string players have the same problems!

Cheers,

John

Well, at least string players can re-tune to maybe match another version of the instrument, and at least salvage some fingerings. Pretty hard to do that with a concertina, at least while-you-wait!

Thanks, Mike K.

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The Waldzither, which I play, is again similar in build, but has one course less, and is tuned C-G-C-E-G, with the top four courses double. A typical - but not defining - common characteristic of all three is the "Preston"-type tuning mechanism, with which the strings are hooked to a linear screw mechanism, rather than to pegs or geared machine heads as on most stringed instruments.

Now that's different! I hadn't seen any instruments tuned like that, and I thought I'd seen plenty.

I do have one of those commercial "folk zither" type things with L-shaped tuners operated by a wood screw -- not very satisfactory, but what you describe is quite different.

 

 

Mike,

if you want to see what I mean, visit http://www.etcetra.eu/ and click on "Instruments".

Yes, these instruments are all wire strung. The Preston machines are no use for gut or nylon strings, because they aren't long enough to take up the stretch.

Some are played with a flat pick, some with the fingers.

 

Those linear tuners are turned with a clock key, by the way!

To tune a concerina, you need a file ...

 

Cheers,

John

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