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nula

Newbie: A 'hello' and some questions and advice

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Hello

 

I'm thinking of taking up the 30-key Anglo Concertina and would appreciate it greatly if members could clarify and give advice on some things I'm unclear about. I have read the forum/archives and have learned a lot from that, but still need advice on the following:

 

Basically, I did buy an Anglo about 5 years back, intending to get stuck in then. Unfortunately, the concertina (a Stagi, I think) turned out to be very poor quality (for around $750...) and had faults that led to my having to return it. There wasn't anything else in that price range available, so I just gave up and moved on. But I've got the bug again...

 

Questions

 

1. I'll be using 'Anglo Concertina Demystified' and 'How to Play Anglo Concertina' (Edgely) DVD, plus the other stuff that I've seen here linked to You Tube. No teacher within, I'd guess, thousands of miles, so I'll have to go with this. Should I add anything to the list?

 

2. The Anglo I had years back (for a week or so) gave me some problems/discomfort because of the leather strap design. It just didn't seem to be adjustable to the degree I needed it. I've seen references here about what seems to be an intrinsic design problem with the Anglo (vs the 'ergonomic' designs some are working on). I read that one make has an option of adjustable palm/hand/wrist support block, which sounds great. Is there such an option? Also, could anyone suggest which strap type would offer the most comfort and flexibility?

 

3. Connected to 2 above, really. My reason for asking about hand rest and strap is that I picked up a slight carpal tunnes/tenonitis problem (left hand) over some years of playing guitar. It's under medical control, but I do have to be very careful about left hand positioning and stress. Is this kind of injury common with the Anglo?

 

I also have small hands. Is that something I should put to the maker when I order a hand built model? Is there a danger that standard size will be hard for me to play?

 

4. Re buying an Anglo (I haven't got one yet), after reading up here all the info and links, I'm thinking of going for something like a Tedrow/Homewood or Edgely. As far as I can tell, they both have the option of buying a starter Rochelle model to upgrade later, which is sound. Is the Rochelle good enough for a starter, though?? That's a very low price and I'm just worried it will be a beast to hold or play.

 

Can't recall why, but it seems the Jeffries layout would be better (and the tutor book is based on that). Tedrow's site quotes $50 for 'modified Jeffries system and $150 with full Jeffries system. What's the difference and if I plan to go for Jeffries system in the made to order one later, should I opt for the $150 option now?

 

5. Is a 30-key enough or would anyone recommend a larger size?

 

Many thanks in advance!

 

'nula'

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I'm not going to try to address all your questions (there are others more knowledgeable than I who will no doubt weigh in shortly), but I will mention this: the Morse Ceili, available from The Button Box, is a well-regarded instrument (I have one) and costs the same whether the layout is Wheatstone or Jeffries. They also sell the Rochelle and offer a full-cost upgrade if you go from the Rochelle to a Morse.

 

On the button question: some players, especially more advanced ones, prefer the added flexibility of more, but 30 is enough for most.

 

On the hand question: I know someone with small hands who had difficulty with his Stagi because his thumb couldn't reach the air button. He has since bought a Morse, which gives him no trouble in that regard. Any instrument at or above the Morse/Tedrow/Edgley price level should be fine for most hands. It would be best, of course, if you could find an instrument to try--I know there's at least one woman in Japan who plays an Anglo (she was at the Northeast Concertina Workshop last year, and if memory serves, she has a rather nice Wheatstone), but I don't remember her name, let alone where in Japan she lives. Not helpful, I know.

 

Joshua Mackay-Smith

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.............to address only one point.

I'll be using 'Anglo Concertina Demystified' and 'How to Play Anglo Concertina' (Edgely) DVD

If you use both of these excellent tutors, you will be learning two distinct styles of playing ( put simply, English and Irish ).

You may consider deciding what type of music you hope to play and go with one method at the beginning. They are not exclusive of each other, but as a beginner it may be confusing.

Good Luck

Robin

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I'm a newbie too. In the far north of California, of all places.

 

I love my Rochelle. It's not as pretty as Bob Tedrow's beauties. But I could afford it, and it plays and sounds good to me.

 

I like the wrist straps. I hate the thumb-straps. I tried 'em both, the wrist straps worked best for me.

 

I also noted no difference in button layout because I had no previous experience with concertinas before I bought. The Rochelle simple felt better than the Jack. So now that's what I like.

 

30 buttons is enough. Heck, I only got six strings on the guitar and I haven't mastered all the notes there yet. The 30 buttons will keep me busy for years.

 

I love the keys of C and G. I hate D and A. I like bass notes. I want a concertina that sounds like an upright bass next time.

 

Stagis suck!

 

Concertinas are very individual (like most instruments). You need to try before you buy.

 

Concertinas are easy to learn. You don't need a teacher. Especially if you already play another instrument. The hard part is developing more than a simple single-note melody line. I can't do it on the guitar either. Yet....

 

Buy the best instrument you have money for. Don't worry about it. Just don't buy a Stagi. They're only suitable for use as wheel-chocks when changing tires. Besides guys like Bob Tedrow need to earn a living too. But don't feel guilty if you only feel you can afford a Rochelle. It's a nice instrument.

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I'll take a whack based on my limited experience...

 

1. I started with "Demystified" and it helped with finding the notes. I used http://www.tradlessons.com/ to learn a lot as well since it had tunes I'm familiar hearing at sessions. There's nothing like finding a live teacher though, even if it is just for a few hours to get you started. There are a lot of workshops and music camps available that I found very helpful.

 

2 & 3. As a carpal tunnel patient myself I know the problems all too well. I've had a few surgeries and had some problems playing, but spending some time with Bob Tedrow, Grannie Hambly and Fr. Charlie Coen helping me with setting up the straps correctly and learning to hold the concertina properly allowed me to avoid many problems I likely would have had otherwise. I can play with little to no pain these days thanks to their advice.

 

4. I own an Edgley C/G and love it, but I used to own a Tedrow G/D and it was a great instrument as well. I don't think you would be unhappy with either. I've played a Rochelle and wasn't particularly happy with the straps, but I've got pretty big hands so that is always a contributing factor. I think the Rochelle had good action, not near a Tedrow or Edgley, but for the money it seemed a good deal. I don't think you would go wrong getting one, especially if you can trade it up later. Regarding Jeffries vs Wheatstone, I personally have a Jeffries layout and like it better, but I would go with the recommendations of others much more knowledgeable than me.

 

5. I can't comment on 30-key vs others as I've only owned a 30-key.

 

The one suggestion I make is if there is any way you can make it to a workshop or find someone to help you get started, even over the internet via webcam, it will be time well spent. The Anglo is a precocious little beastie and it is easy to get into bad habits, especially around button choices. The folks on this forum are extremely helpful and generous with their time, so you have a ready resource available to ask questions.

 

As a further suggestion, listen to good players. Henk van Aalten has a great site with recordings of cnet members @ http://www.anglo-concertina.net/links.htm. There are many great CD's available from different sites e.g. the Button Box and others.

 

And most importantly, have fun!

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Buy the best instrument you have money for. Don't worry about it. Just don't buy a Stagi. They're only suitable for use as wheel-chocks when changing tires. Besides guys like Bob Tedrow need to earn a living too. But don't feel guilty if you only feel you can afford a Rochelle. It's a nice instrument.

Couple of things:

 

First, newer model Stagis have a lot better button feel than the older designs, which used rubber tubing to (sometimes) keep the buttons from slippping off the levers. The only real complaint I have with Stagi is the stiff springs -- you have to work to push a button with your pinky. And they're bigger and heavier than the hybrid instruments, tho so is the ROchelle, which is a bargain.

 

Second, of the quality hybrid instruments, the Button Box Morse instruments tend to be in stock, so you may be able to get one of those much sooner than from the other makers. They are very lightweight too (but any hybrid is lighter than a Stagi).

 

Oh BTW, a "hybrid" instrument mounts good accordion reeds flat on the action pan, and sounds "almost as good" (depending whom you ask) as "the real thing." You may like the tone even better.

 

Stagis and Rochelles moutn the reeds vertically off the action pan in wooden cells, which makes the ends deeper and heavier, and the sound is definitely more liek accordion than concertina (but you may like it just fine).

 

Best wishes on your squeezin' -- Mike K.

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Stagis suck!

(snip)

Concertinas are easy to learn. You don't need a teacher. Especially if you already play another instrument. The hard part is developing more than a simple single-note melody line. I can't do it on the guitar either. Yet....

 

Buy the best instrument you have money for. Don't worry about it. Just don't buy a Stagi. They're only suitable for use as wheel-chocks when changing tires. Besides guys like Bob Tedrow need to earn a living too. But don't feel guilty if you only feel you can afford a Rochelle. It's a nice instrument.

Hey, this is a real "wheat and chaff" posting, IMO!

 

YES, (Anglo) concertina is easy to learn!

 

But NO, getting more than a single-note melody line on an Anglo is NOT the hard part. It's easy in the 2 home keys. The hard part is playing in other keys. Be aware that the Anglo philosophy offers very simple harmonies and chords in a couple of keys, at the expense of making other keys difficult to impossible to harmonise, the more sharps and flats are needed. (Let's just forget those magicians who can play anything on anything ;) )

 

The real "chaff" in this posting is the bit about Stagis and wheel-chocks. :angry:

 

I've been performing with a 30-button Stagi for over 10 years now, and it's loud enough, in tune enough and playable enough for the non-virtuoso music that I play. It's one of the older ones with the aforementioned rubber muffs to stabilise the buttons, but these have kept my buttons stable since the playing-in phase. The worst I can say about it is that it just doesn't have the "presence" of a vintage concertina-reeded instrument. (My comparison is with a Lachenal duet.)

Above all, the sound is well balanced - the bass doesn't overwhelm the treble, or vice versa, which is particularly important in the middle octave, where a tune wanders from one hand to the other. I once got to play a new Rochelle, and found it very unbalanced in this respect. I didn't weigh either my Stagi or that Rochelle, but the Rochelle "seemed" heavier because of the thin, limp handstraps, which give poor control and cut into your (well, my) hands.

 

Put it this way: the dealers offer incentives to upgrade from a Rochelle. On the other hand, if I had a Rochelle, I'd WANT to upgrade. My Stagi I can live with, which is financially better in the end. :lol:

 

Is the Rochelle "nice"? For me, "nice" has to do with good looks as well as inner qualities, and, quite frankly, I just cannot fathom why, in this day and age of PC-controlled laser cutting, the fretwork on the ends of the Rochelle had to be made so ugly. :unsure:

 

The present Stagis are reputedly better designed inside than mine - and even mine (the metal-ended model) comes closer in both appearance and timbre to the classic concertina than the Rochelle does. So if you an afford a Stagi, there's no real reason to try a Rochelle! (And of course, if you can afford a Lachenal, Jones, Wheatstone or Jeffries, you'd be silly to buy a Stagi!)

 

You get what you pay for. Rochelle and Stagi are part of this scheme.

 

Cheers,

John

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I'm a newbie too. I ordered a Rochelle as folks here advised that it was the best of the cheapos. I'm a bit obsessive when I do things so whilst waiting for the Rochelle to arrive I recklessly ordered a Morse.

 

The Rochelle only arrived two days before the Morse. Not expecting the Morse for a while I plunged straight in with the Rochelle. I found it very breathy/wheezy, with floppy cheap feeling buttons and springs and horrible thin straps that offered no solidity at all. Not to mention the huge size and general ugliness. However, as someone else mentioned, you get what you pay for so I was happy enough realising that it was a rock bottom instrument price-wise.

 

Anyway, the Morse turned up unexpectedly a couple of days later and the difference was so vast it's hard to describe. All I can say is if you want to kick start your playing, get the best you can afford. That is nearly always true of instruments (even though expert players can make a cheap anything sound great). I'm really glad I bought the Morse.

 

Yes, Jeffries layout Anglos are considered best by the majority of players for Irish music. I don't know what is best for English folk music. From what I read here, if you want to play classical stuff you'd need possibly something else again, but others will help there more than I can.

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2. I read that one make has an option of adjustable palm/hand/wrist support block, which sounds great. Is there such an option? Also, could anyone suggest which strap type would offer the most comfort and flexibility?

 

4. Re buying an Anglo (I haven't got one yet), after reading up here all the info and links, I'm thinking of going for something like a Tedrow/Homewood or Edgely. As far as I can tell, they both have the option of buying a starter Rochelle model to upgrade later, which is sound. Is the Rochelle good enough for a starter, though?? That's a very low price and I'm just worried it will be a beast to hold or play.

 

What's the difference and if I plan to go for Jeffries system in the made to order one later, should I opt for the $150 option now?

 

I was in the same place as you are just under a year ago, and here is my experience.

 

I started with a cheap 20 button German concertina ($45 at a flea market) and a Rochelle for around $300. The Rochelle was much easier to play(in fact, the cheapo was almost unplayable), and I was very happy with it. After about 5 months I got my Morse after a wait of only a few weeks from ordering (a Wheatstone layout, but also available in Jeffries for same price) and the difference was incredible. Playing became easier, and practice more enjoyable. It's very light, with supple bellows allowing me to practice for hours with no discomfort. Since receiving the Morse, I have tried several Edgleys, which I'd put in the same league, as well as Suttners, a Wheatstone, a couple of good Lachenals and a Jeffries. All of those expensive modern and vintage boxes were very nice, but the differences were largely a matter of preference. The difference in playability between my Rochelle and Morse is huge; between my Morse and the high end concertinas I've tried: not so much (at least at my level of playing). To avoid starting a row, I'll leave aside the question of quality of sound, although I do like the tone of my Morse.

 

So if I was doing it over, I think I would have started with the Morse (or a comparable "hybrid") especially since I ended up ordering one within months anyway. It would have provided a faster and more gratifying start, and even if I had ultimately decided it wasn't for me (which I think would be less likely with an instument that is very playable) I could have resold it for a very small loss (probably less than the cost of a Rochelle).

 

Wally Carrol's concertinas can be ordered with an adjustable hand rest, but are definitely in the higher end. I fooled around with modifications to the straps and handrests on my cheap concertinas (eg. foam blocks, etc.) trying to get comfortable, but with the Morse, once I got the strap tightness set, and most of all, learned to keep my shoulders and arms relaxed I had no problems with hand discomfort using the standard set-up.

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A huge thanks for all the great advice so far, everybody!

 

It's good to hear from other (ex-) newbies who recently were in my position, and seasoned players, too.

 

My usual inclination with musical instruments (beautiful enough in their own right before you even touch 'em...) is to get the best right off, and I'm inclined to do this with the anglo concertina as well. The only caution I have is that it might be wise to see if and how my carpal tunnel problem works with the new instrument. From this perspective it might make sense to hold back, go with the Rochelle (positive and neg points noted) for a few months or so, then upgrade.

 

On the other hand... :rolleyes:

 

nula

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The real "chaff" in this posting is the bit about Stagis and wheel-chocks. :angry:

 

Ho-Ho! Struck a nerve there. :P

Really, I was just kidding - I can't say all Stagis suck as I've only played with the two that were in the shop the day I bought the Rochelle. I'm actually glad to finally read a positive comment on them from someone. It seems everyone else is eager to pan them; it's an easy target.

 

Somebody want to say the Rochelles suck"? It'll be broadswords at noon. ;)

If you can't have the concertina you love, love the concertina you have.

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Carpal tunnel problems took me out of commission for nearly a year in 1999. Part of my solution is here. It may not help anyone else, but it does help me, for what it may be worth.

 

Have fun!

Ken

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A huge thanks for all the great advice so far, everybody!

 

It's good to hear from other (ex-) newbies who recently were in my position, and seasoned players, too.

 

My usual inclination with musical instruments (beautiful enough in their own right before you even touch 'em...) is to get the best right off, and I'm inclined to do this with the anglo concertina as well. The only caution I have is that it might be wise to see if and how my carpal tunnel problem works with the new instrument. From this perspective it might make sense to hold back, go with the Rochelle (positive and neg points noted) for a few months or so, then upgrade.

 

On the other hand... :rolleyes:

 

nula

 

one thing i would like to say as far as carpal tunnel... the rochelle/stagi will be MUCH harder to play. i own a stagi, and playing it is a form of exercise. the amount of strain and exertion that go into playing it is unbelievable compared to a midrange or top level instrument. so, a cheap instrument is great to see whether or not you like it, but it will not give you an accurate depiction of how the instrument puts stress on your body.

 

i have seen many people use the foam and they swear by it. proper stretching as well can be a huuuge help to prevent injury.

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Really, I was just kidding - I can't say all Stagis suck as I've only played with the two that were in the shop the day I bought the Rochelle. I'm actually glad to finally read a positive comment on them from someone. It seems everyone else is eager to pan them; it's an easy target.

 

Of course a Stagi is not a Wheatstone, or even a Lachenal, so it's easy to knock, as you say. But then, it's much cheaper, and more available in the shops, where you can try it out.

And the price/performance equation is, IMO, one of those 20:80 situations. For 20% of the price, you get 80% of the performance, compared with a top-notch new Anglo. And to get that last 20% in performance, you have to pay 80% of the price of a top model.

 

Another aspect is the appearance. I play with a folk group, so my instruments have to be able to bear the visual scrutiny of an audience for a whole evening. When I saw "my" metal-ended Stagi in a shop, I had no qualms about being seen (or even photgraphed) in public with it. The fretwork is not as intricate as the more expensive models, but to a casual observer, the similarity is there (see my avatar). If the Rochelle had been available at that time, I'd have just left it on the shelf in the shop without a second look.

I must add that if there had been a Stagi metal-ender and a Rochelle for me to try out, my choice based on the timbre alone would have also been the Stagi. (BTW, I wouldn't have spent the money on a wooden-ended Stagi either, because of the timbre.)

And the comfort of the thick, stiff Stagi straps would have have further carried the day against the thin, flimsy Rochelle straps.

 

I'll not deny that the Stagi had teething troubles. A bit of ingenuity and Superglue were necessary to get some of the two-part buttons to stay together (may be fixed in the new version?). And the bushing felt around one button had to be fiddled with to keep the button from catching on the edge of the hole when pressed too enthusiastically. The air-button was awkward to reach, but when I replaced it with a longer button, it was fine. (At least the air valve is large enough, which is more than can be said for the Rochelle!)

But when these issues were overcome, I had a playable, nice-sounding Anglo. A good 80% instrument for 20% of the price, which goes well with an acoustic folk group, in either melody or accompaniment roles. Even my concertina solos receive favourable comments. (Nobody except the few other concertinists here in Germany knows what a Wheatstone sounds like, anyway :lol: )

 

Somebody want to say the Rochelles suck"? It'll be broadswords at noon. ;)

If you can't have the concertina you love, love the concertina you have.

 

"Suck" is not a word I use in the context of musical instruments (except harmonicas :lol: ). My experience of one well played-in Stagi and one new Rochelle may run counter to the experience of people who've played a dozen of each.

(But I'll stick to my broadsword as far as the appearance of the Rochelle is concerned :P )

 

Cheers,

John

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Really, I was just kidding - I can't say all Stagis suck as I've only played with the two that were in the shop the day I bought the Rochelle. I'm actually glad to finally read a positive comment on them from someone. It seems everyone else is eager to pan them; it's an easy target.

 

 

"Suck" is not a word I use in the context of musical instruments (except harmonicas :lol: ). My experience of one well played-in Stagi and one new Rochelle may run counter to the experience of people who've played a dozen of each.

(But I'll stick to my broadsword as far as the appearance of the Rochelle is concerned :P )

 

Cheers,

John

 

Have owned both a Stagi and a Rochelle. Neither is a "perfect" instrument. But, for overall playability I much preferred the Stagi (maybe I had a better than average one) over the Rochelle (maybe I had a poorer than average one). Rochelle had a better sound, perhaps. But, I'll not draw my broadsword to defend the Rochelle's appearance.

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Really, I was just kidding - I can't say all Stagis suck as I've only played with the two that were in the shop the day I bought the Rochelle. I'm actually glad to finally read a positive comment on them from someone. It seems everyone else is eager to pan them; it's an easy target.

 

 

"Suck" is not a word I use in the context of musical instruments (except harmonicas :lol: ). My experience of one well played-in Stagi and one new Rochelle may run counter to the experience of people who've played a dozen of each.

(But I'll stick to my broadsword as far as the appearance of the Rochelle is concerned :P )

 

Cheers,

John

 

Have owned both a Stagi and a Rochelle. Neither is a "perfect" instrument. But, for overall playability I much preferred the Stagi (maybe I had a better than average one) over the Rochelle (maybe I had a poorer than average one). Rochelle had a better sound, perhaps. But, I'll not draw my broadsword to defend the Rochelle's appearance.

 

i agree. i prefer a refurbished stagi, but i dont think it is really worth the money. because once you buy a stagi, you are kind of stuck with it. you just cant beat the upgrade plans that are out there with the rochelle.

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