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Beginner which cheap concertina?


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I've got the Hohner D-20. It's my only squeezebox right now, so I've been putting a lot of time into it. I haven't played a Rochelle or any other box yet, so I don't have much to compare it to, but here's my thoughts on it....

 

The bellows are really tight. When you want to get really loud (I play in a rock band) it takes some pretty good strength to pull the thing...I've already ripped through the stock set of handstraps and had to replace them with a cut up pair of belts. (works tons better) The action is fairly sloppy, and the keys stick sometimes. (after playing a B on the RH, I have to pull it back out or it will constantly speak)

 

All in all, it feels like a cheap instrument (IT IS) and I'm sure that it's not going to hold up to the abuse I'm probably going to be putting it through. I'm already 2/3 of the way to my goal in my Rochelle fund.

 

Still, on the upside, without the Hohner, I probably wouldn't have ever got into playing it.

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Unless your wife is really just looking for an excuse for not letting you have a go at her instruments, you could try to modify the length of straps indirectly by putting some foam over the handlebars. Here's a description:

 

http://www.concertina.net/kc_foam.html

 

 

Otherwise, I can only agree with the Rochelle reviews. I started out on one and upgraded after 2 months to a Morse. The two instruments are worlds apart, but I was surprised how much one can actually do on the Rochelle. It's definitely a good instrument to test whether you and the concertina are made for each other.

My main complaint was that I couldn't really reach the air button with my thumb and ended up using my index finger. :unsure:

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I started on a Rochelle. It does what it says on the tin. The action is reasonably smooth, even, and fast. The external quality is good. It looks reasonably smart. It doesn't sound cheap. It doesn't leak. I heard it played by good players and it sounded acceptable. Look inside and it's a bit Heath Robinson, but it works.

 

The Rochelle is good enough to make you want a better one. I think a Hohner might be bad enough to make you want to give up.

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it feels like a cheap instrument (IT IS) and I'm sure that it's not going to hold up to the abuse I'm probably going to be putting it through. I'm already 2/3 of the way to my goal in my Rochelle fund.

 

Still, on the upside, without the Hohner, I probably wouldn't have ever got into playing it.

 

I've been entertaining with my MIC 20-button Hohner for several years. I think they make great beaters...and fine (affordable) for learning what a concertina feels like...as well as for playing Stephen Foster and contradance tunes. It's floppy, and soft-buttoned, but quite robust otherwise. If it hadn't been for a chance encounter with it in a pawnshop, I wouldn't be playing concertina today.

Edited by catty
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Complete beginner here, one lesson down.

I bought a Rochelle and while I realise it's quite big, it seems to me like a good instrument to learn on.

I figured also that if myself and the concertina ever part ways, the Rochelle would hold a good part of its value.

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Wow! I thought this thread was dead when I went out to the session last night. I just glanced at the forums today and see a heap of new posts. It seems like the Rochelle is still the way to go if I'm buying very cheaply.

 

I had a look at some other things this morning and the Sherwood a couple of people have mentioned seems better, if hugely more expensive. I'm seriously toying with spending the extra money after reading all the responses here, after all why spend three or four hundred if I'm likely to upgrade in three or four months? That seems to be the experience of most posters, although of course those who tried and failed wouldn't be posting here.

 

At the risk of annoying everyone by hijacking this thread into a follow on, is the Sherwood the best in its class range? I've taken in what people say about the buttons. The Sherwood would really be my max price give or take a few Euro.

 

Thanks very much.

Edited by Mayofiddler
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Wow! I thought this thread was dead when I went out to the session last night. I just glanced at the forums today and see a heap of new posts. It seems like the Rochelle is still the way to go if I'm buying very cheaply.

 

I had a look at some other things this morning and the Sherwood a couple of people have mentioned seems better, if hugely more expensive. I'm seriously toying with spending the extra money after reading all the responses here, after all why spend three or four hundred if I'm likely to upgrade in three or four months? That seems to be the experience of most posters, although of course those who tried and failed wouldn't be posting here.

 

At the risk of annoying everyone by hijacking this thread into a follow on, is the Sherwood the best in its class range? I've taken in what people say about the buttons. The Sherwood would really be my max price give or take a few Euro.

 

Thanks very much.

 

I was considering the Sherwood myself, as an upgrade to the Rochelle. (But, as described, went for a Lachenal instead.) They're fairly new to the market, and don't seem very widely used. My guess is that the brand will grow though, and that they'll be more common. When compared to other "hybrids", people seem to prefer other ones (such as Morse, Edgley, Tedrow), but not by much. I think you'd get a lot of concertina for the money if you bought a Sherwood.

 

On the other hand - and this is just speculations as I've never tried, heard or seen a Sherwood - you still might end up looking for an upgrade rather shortly. If so, you'll have spent a whole lot more on the initial instrument, but it is still too expensive (if you ask me) to use as a beater instrument for those rough times.

 

About holding it's value... Since Rochelles are cheap as it is, I think re-selling them to private users might be hard. On the other hand, many dealers (many more than the maker Concertina Connection) offer a refund on the Rochelle if you return it and buy a new instrument from them. I know very little of concertina economics though, so take my speculations lightly.

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Wow! I thought this thread was dead when I went out to the session last night. I just glanced at the forums today and see a heap of new posts. It seems like the Rochelle is still the way to go if I'm buying very cheaply.

 

I had a look at some other things this morning and the Sherwood a couple of people have mentioned seems better, if hugely more expensive. I'm seriously toying with spending the extra money after reading all the responses here, after all why spend three or four hundred if I'm likely to upgrade in three or four months? That seems to be the experience of most posters, although of course those who tried and failed wouldn't be posting here.

 

At the risk of annoying everyone by hijacking this thread into a follow on, is the Sherwood the best in its class range? I've taken in what people say about the buttons. The Sherwood would really be my max price give or take a few Euro.

 

Thanks very much.

I've no idea if the Sherwood is the best. I've only played the Rochelle and the Sherwood and they are the only ones that I've heard live, so to speak, rather than on line. The only Sherwood that I'd heard before buying mine was here.

 

I can say that the buttons aren't a problem - having now had my Sherwood for all of a day and a half I'm getting quite used to their feel and I appreciate their very positive nature. As I said before, I bought my Sherwood second hand so didn't pay the new price. If I had been buying new, I would have found it much harder to decide as there are others close to the price.

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Thanks again Gusten. I'll look at some others close in price. That new list of all makers that just appeared on the board is very useful for that.

 

Pete, great playing, I can almost see the handkerchiefs flying and hear the bells jangling :-) Not the sort of music I play but the sound of the box is nice and clear and crisp, it sounds like it would do the job if it responds quickly (both reeds and buttons).

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Thanks again Gusten. I'll look at some others close in price. That new list of all makers that just appeared on the board is very useful for that.

 

Pete, great playing, I can almost see the handkerchiefs flying and hear the bells jangling :-) Not the sort of music I play but the sound of the box is nice and clear and crisp, it sounds like it would do the job if it responds quickly (both reeds and buttons).

 

Just to be clear - it's not me playing (if only!). It was one of the few examples I could find of a Sherwood being played.

Edited by pete
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Sorry I'm coming in on this thread a bit late. I bought a Rochelle just before Christmas so I've only been playing maybe 6 weeks. I'm a total novice to concertina so I know it was the right choice for me. I love it, although I also know that there's no chance of an upgrade for at least a year though I am already coveting the qualities of more expensive instruments. Even as a novice I can see weaknesses with the Rochelle but as an instrument to learn on it is more than adequate. And I would join the ranks of those that recommend it as a first choice beginners concertina. Two issues that bug me most are slow response (more noticeable with some notes) and air button access. But the latter may just be clumsy beginner stuff. It's not good to blame the instrument.

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Well, just to be perverse I think I'll learn that awful blaring style that Noel Hill uses, that should be suitable revenge :-) Maybe a bit of that

dragging-the-bellows-to-their-extreme-and-shaking-it-madly-to-get-vibrato too. Very traditional (cough).

Was that really necessary?

 

On a different note, and being one of those who has played for a fair bit, I've never had the pleasure of owning a Rochelle, but I have had a few students with them who moved on as soon as they could. I was always amazed at the dramatic increase in their progress after they changed to something easier to play. Rochelles probably have their place. I imagine they could be good to accompany singing, or for slower music, but while you can play at a reasonable clip with one, the amount of effort involved is immense. I never understood why Wim Wakker designed it the way he did, since it is really just a hybrid and doesn't have any more reeds than the others that are much smaller and play dramatically better. ( even Wakkers other hybrids ) It is the size of the box that makes it so hard to play. ( requires much more force to bring the reeds up to playing pressure )

If you really want to learn to play, get one of the hybrids. They may not sound quite like your wife's concertina, but they may play close to as easily and quickly ( the better ones will anyway).

I played Irish fiddle for 20 years before I picked up my first Anglo ( Jeffries were a lot cheaper then ). I fell in love with the things partly because I could do most of the same sort of music available to the fiddle, and partly because it extended the sorts of things I could do. Now I might play my fiddles a few times a month, but the concertina is my main instrument.

Good luck, spend as much as you can manage and you might find you can sell it for as much as you paid for it if you don't like it. You have a lot better chance of liking the thing if you aren't fighting it.

Dana

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I started out on a Hohner 20 btn, but had the fortune to get a Frontalini 20 btn. Then I went over to a Stagi 30 btn (all C/G), and finally got my Morse two weeks ago. From what I have heard others say, I wish I went for the Rochelle rather than the Stagi.

 

Snorre

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Thanks again Gusten. I'll look at some others close in price. That new list of all makers that just appeared on the board is very useful for that.

 

Pete, great playing, I can almost see the handkerchiefs flying and hear the bells jangling :-) Not the sort of music I play but the sound of the box is nice and clear and crisp, it sounds like it would do the job if it responds quickly (both reeds and buttons).

Just to be clear - it's not me playing (if only!). It was one of the few examples I could find of a Sherwood being played.

That's Liam Robinson, a fine player who occasionally visits c.net. His playing makes a great case for the Sherwood (as does Asher Perkins', on Frank Edgley's web site, for the Edgley).

 

 

On a different note, and being one of those who has played for a fair bit, I've never had the pleasure of owning a Rochelle, but I have had a few students with them who moved on as soon as they could. I was always amazed at the dramatic increase in their progress after they changed to something easier to play. Rochelles probably have their place. I imagine they could be good to accompany singing, or for slower music, but while you can play at a reasonable clip with one, the amount of effort involved is immense. I never understood why Wim Wakker designed it the way he did, since it is really just a hybrid and doesn't have any more reeds than the others that are much smaller and play dramatically better. ( even Wakkers other hybrids ) It is the size of the box that makes it so hard to play. ( requires much more force to bring the reeds up to playing pressure )

If you really want to learn to play, get one of the hybrids. They may not sound quite like your wife's concertina, but they may play close to as easily and quickly ( the better ones will anyway).

I played Irish fiddle for 20 years before I picked up my first Anglo ( Jeffries were a lot cheaper then ). I fell in love with the things partly because I could do most of the same sort of music available to the fiddle, and partly because it extended the sorts of things I could do. Now I might play my fiddles a few times a month, but the concertina is my main instrument.

Good luck, spend as much as you can manage and you might find you can sell it for as much as you paid for it if you don't like it. You have a lot better chance of liking the thing if you aren't fighting it.

Dana

I think that Wim designed the Rochelle with that oversize box because he wanted to keep the price as low as possible and the Chinese maker he was working with was already set up to make their ends at that size. Rochelles are good for people on a limited budget or those who aren't sure if they're going to stick with the concertina. There's definitely demand out there for used Rochelles (they seem to usually sell for $200+ on eBay) for those who want to move up or who decide that the concertina is not for them.

 

I agree with Dana in that the hybrids that I've played are definitely more enjoyable to play than a Rochelle, but they're also a big step up in a price. There have been a couple of attempts (Triskel, Clover) to make an instrument that's better than a Rochelle but cheaper that today's hybrids, but they haven't made it to market so far.

 

Daniel

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Well, just to be perverse I think I'll learn that awful blaring style that Noel Hill uses, that should be suitable revenge :-) Maybe a bit of that

dragging-the-bellows-to-their-extreme-and-shaking-it-madly-to-get-vibrato too. Very traditional (cough).

Was that really necessary?

 

 

Vitally necessary. ;) When a tradition has developed over centuries, there must be a universal agreement on how to develop the style on a new instrument that has only been available for 180 years. Otherwise there would be chaos. People might start experimenting and then where would we be? What if some of us liked a sound and some of us didn't? That way madness lies. ;)

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Guest Peter Laban

And you didn't even mention the cathedral setting reverb and Brian McGrath's woolly keyboard that usually accompanies the airs. With those added 'novelty' doesn't quite cover it.

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