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30 or 38?


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Hello all!

I have decided to order an ebony-sided C/G from Juergen Suttner, and have met the following obstacle:

30 or 38 buttons?

I am playing Irish music, and have thought it handy to have a few extra buttons/alternates, but what are the pros and cons?

Is there any difference in the spacing of the buttons?

Slight weight difference.

Price..

Most players of Mr. Suttner's instruments I have seen, have 38s with a few exceptions.

 

regards Snorre

 

(this is also posted at http://angloconcertinaplayers.ning.com)

 

***edited for punctuation***

Edited by Snorre
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I think that's an interesting question.I can't talk about players of music other than Irish but in that category, there seems to be a mix of how the extra buttons are used.There is an extra F# on the left side which gives you options( not least a possible escape from the dreaded pinkie issue and the triangle of notes).There are a few other benefits on the right side but I remember a 38 button player telling me that he actually only really used a couple of the extra buttons but wouldn't like to be playing now without those two or three.

On the other hand I know one of two people who when ordering their Suttners decided that they might as well order the 38 whilst they were at it but I never saw them using the exra buttons when they did get them? I imagine and it is only my opinion that if one was to learn a large percentage of one's repetoire on a 30/31 then it might be a challenge to start changing tunes around if the extra buttons were then available and if you were doing ok with 31 would youi bothered changing things around??.However I am sure that these extra buttons offer chords/ sounds etc that might not be available on a 31????

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I've been mulling over the same problem for a while.

 

I'm playing (or rather: trying to play) in the style of Micheal O Raghallaigh, who's playing a 38b Suttner. I've "copied" some of his versions pretty closely and I've noticed here and there that he makes use of additional buttons. Eg. the push f# on the right hand side allows him to hold a base note in one tune, or the extra RH d allows some other variations - little things like that. However, the great thing about the concertina is that there are so many alternative ways of doing things. So, although I'm using a 30b Wheatstone layout vs. his 38b Jeffries layout, I've (so far) always found alternatives which don't take away too much from the overall effect of Micheal's version (it's anyways better to develop your own approach, so that's good ;) ).

 

I've heard from some other players of 38b concertinas that they hardly ever make use of the extra buttons.

 

BUT I haven't been playing that long, so I can't really be sure that 4 years down the road, when my (at this point not even ordered) concertina will be ready, I won't be missing exactly those keys. It's difficult for relative beginners whose style is still emerging to imagine their playing skills and needs so far ahead in the future.

 

Don't you have the option to finalize your dream concertina right before Juergen actually begins building it? Maybe you can leave this decision open until that point?

 

At this point, I'm leaning towards a 30b, maybe with some customization in the RH accidental row (I'd maybe like to add an extra d there somewhere), or the 32b model (no layout available for that one on the website, but that might be an option).

Apart from the added weight, one concern for me is also that the additional buttons are added inside in the index finger row, so that your hand has to shift further towards the outside to play the regular buttons. Particularly in the left hand, this would require an even wider stretch for the pinky notes or chords.

 

I definitely wouldn't decide on the 38b for the reason of making my life easier, ie. being able to avoid the D/E/F# triangle or to be able to play more notes in the same bellows direction. My main reason would be to have more options for ornamentation and chords.

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The 38-button model will offer more note choices but, more importantly, may quell the possibility of an obsessive and obstructive plunge into a dense tangle of regrets connected with missing extra notes :lol: ; however, Snorre, if you're like many of us you'll be fortunate indeed if you ever can play a 30-button model up to its potential. Good luck with it all!

 

Your button-spacing query should go directly to Mr. Suttner.

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The 38-button model will offer more note choices but, more importantly, may quell the possibility of an obsessive and obstructive plunge into a dense tangle of regrets connected with missing extra notes :lol: ;

You're right, this needs to be taken into account!!

however, Snorre, if you're like many of us you'll be fortunate indeed if you ever can play a 30-button model up to its potential.

I am like many of us.

Your button-spacing query should go directly to Mr. Suttner.

Good point. The internet-forum syndrome strikes again...

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I am learning to play Irish music on a 38 button Jeffries, I started on an extremely cheap and rubbish 20 key East German toy. I bought the Jeffries cheap, 29 years ago, as far as I know they weren't particulary in demand then. I use all the buttons except 3 keys with the highest pitch, two of which I think are on the 30 key. My one has some non standard notes on the extra keys, I use them all. Useful for not having to change bellows direction, and for playing "stutters" on two different keys of the same note. There are lots of options you won't get on a 30 key for playing fast, I'd guess, but that's just my opinion, and I've never played a 30 key. I've recently bought a 38 key Suttner, the button layout pattern is identical to the Jeffries, but scrunched together so it's easier to reach all the buttons. I haven't got very big hands and the Suttner is very easy to reach all the buttons. I'd be lost if I had only a 30 key.

Grrrr.

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I resolved this issue by getting a Suttner A2-32. It was only slightly more costly than the 31-button model, which has a drone button. I didn't think I would use the drone, but I am occasionally making use of the Bb/Ab (press/draw) on the left-hand C row and the F#/E on the right-hand C row. I went with Juergen's choices for these buttons.

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I resolved this issue by getting a Suttner A2-32. It was only slightly more costly than the 31-button model, which has a drone button. I didn't think I would use the drone, but I am occasionally making use of the Bb/Ab (press/draw) on the left-hand C row and the F#/E on the right-hand C row. I went with Juergen's choices for these buttons.

 

Unless the price difference is seriously significant I would go for the 38 button. I would not wish to have less than the 36 buttons on my Anglo. One or two buttons I only rarely use but it is a comfort to know that they are there. ( I am assuming that there are no potential practical problems arising from accomodating the extra levers within the body of the instrument.)

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I've ordered an A2s, 30 button. If Niall Vallely or Noel Hill can do that on a 30b 'tina, so I should - only if I had the talent!-.

 

I completely agree with that....but I think the deciding point will be the spacing between the buttons. If they are the same, I might as well get the 38.

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It's all a matter of personal choice, and what you get used to. I ordered a 36 button Dipper about 20 years ago. I found I only used one or two of the extra buttons, and only on a few tunes. I have been playing almost 30 years now. If you come to rely on the extra buttons, you will have a hard time playing any other instrument. I am now using a concertina of my own manufacture which has 30 buttons.

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Hmmm.....anybody know what the extra buttons are? Can't find a layout sheet on Suttner's site.

 

I have a chart from Juergen - on left side B/Bb (mid row) and D/D drone button - on right side E/F# (mid row) C/D (inside row) and F/F# drone place. C#/C# on top row. Otherwise fairly standard.

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It's all a matter of personal choice, and what you get used to. I ordered a 36 button Dipper about 20 years ago. I found I only used one or two of the extra buttons, and only on a few tunes. I have been playing almost 30 years now. If you come to rely on the extra buttons, you will have a hard time playing any other instrument. I am now using a concertina of my own manufacture which has 30 buttons.

 

That's a really good point. And I think that the inherent phrasing on the instrument has a lot to do with the fact that the 30 key is the most common. I mean, I'm not sure I would like a too slurred - legato - sound.

 

But this is only for irish music. I supose that for people who plays more chords - I.e, Morris - the more keys possibly should be the best.

 

Cheers,

 

Fer

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I've ordered an A2s, 30 button. If Niall Vallely or Noel Hill can do that on a 30b 'tina, so I should - only if I had the talent!-.

 

I completely agree with that....but I think the deciding point will be the spacing between the buttons. If they are the same, I might as well get the 38.

 

I reckon that you can safely assume that the button spacing will be constant irrespective of the number of buttons. Suttner will confirm that one. Ask him to send you a tracing of the end-plates on which he can mark all the notes on push and pull and you will then know exactly what to expect, providing the two tracings are true to size.... ( which they will be if he traces them ) It is a good idea to fully exercise any of the reeds which do not initially get their fair share of use. The response and tone of new reeds improves immeasureably with use, over time, in my experience, and there is eventually a tendency for any reed that is not exercised sufficiently frequently to show the effects of neglect when the time comes to use it in conjunction with more frequently used reeds. All part of a sensible running-in procedure. (After thirty years of exercise I believe my reeds are still probably improving, rather than showing any evidence of metal fatigue.) Others might disagree.

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But this is only for irish music. I supose that for people who plays more chords - I.e, Morris - the more keys possibly should be the best.

 

Cheers,

 

Fer

 

Yes.....but. Tom Kruskal plays a 38-button instrument, and you can see which buttons he does and doesn't use in his arrangements. While he does make use of some of the extra buttons, he definitely doesn't use all 38 - so if you can figure out which notes you need, I'd suggest a 34-36 button (depending on how you count and what's offered).

 

-David

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