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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:02 am 
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Hey y'all, new member here, I'm a multi instrumentalist and play lots of bluegrass but also lots of Irish and Scottish trad music, and I'm interested in learning concertina. I'm wondering what concertina would y'all recommend that is playable, sounds decent, but also won't break the bank? (My budget might be $500 preferably less, but I realize good instruments are expensive) I was looking at the Wren by McNeela music, but also wondering if anyone has a used one that might be more affordable?

And is there any accessories that are required or is it pretty self contained?

Thanks for any help
Gunnar


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:47 pm 
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Most $500 instruments are good for beginning, just to figure out if your brain "works that way" but are grown out of in a year or so. They usually have difficulty playing at any speed and the in-tuneness can be iffy. There is a forum: concertina.net which will have many threads that deal with this question. They also have a Buy and Sell page where you could post a Wanted To Buy add. If you get a Wren or a Rochelle try to find one with a trade in policy. You won't be satisfied with it for long.

Another instrument to consider if you are interested in reedy things you can push and pull is the button accordion. I got interested in the concertina years ago and went down that particular rabbit hole, but I wish I had given the button accordion a good look. There is a lot of info on them on the net and they have at least one facebook page where you can ask questions. The button accordion as done some evolving over the past few decades to a more compact instrument. It is also easier to source as a "reasonable" price when the time comes to upgrade. If I believe what people tell me they are a little bit easier to play than the concertina. But I have no idea if that is true.

If want to look at vintage instruments and can can double your investment you could look at some of the 700 pound sterling instruments on Barleycorn Concertina in Stock page (700 pounds is around $1000). There are three vintage instruments right now, one a 26 button, one a 28 button, and another a 30 that would likely be good for a beginner and will be in tune and restored. They will likely hold their value if they are not abused so you are not left with a hugely depreciated entry level instrument... Just a thought or two. Chris Algar is well respected and will answer your emails and questions.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:17 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:37 am
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Location: Texas USA
Dragonslayer wrote:
Hey y'all, new member here, I'm a multi instrumentalist and play lots of bluegrass but also lots of Irish and Scottish trad music, and I'm interested in learning concertina. I'm wondering what concertina would y'all recommend that is playable, sounds decent, but also won't break the bank? (My budget might be $500 preferably less, but I realize good instruments are expensive) I was looking at the Wren by McNeela music, but also wondering if anyone has a used one that might be more affordable?

And is there any accessories that are required or is it pretty self contained?

Thanks for any help
Gunnar


Well lucky for you there is a less expensive path.

I am assuming you want to go the Anglo route? If not then everything below
works for the other contenders, English Concertina, Duet etc, which are slightly
more complex to manage.

Concertina Connection;
They offer an good beginner box, the Rochelle,
http://www.concertinaconnection.com/rochelle%20anglo.htm
which you may later trade in for a better model, like their deluxe accordion
reed, or even better still, concertina reed, models.

I think this is a great way to start.

Have to add other vendors are now offering the same deal, Morse etc.

Of all those, my favorite is the Ceilidh, you can see those at the Button Box.

Too, you might be aware that getting the best box you can afford is a good idea,
because it will retain its value. I, foolishly, thought I could save a buck a few years
ago, and bought a basic accordion reed model. Boy was I wrong! In the end I had to
fix it up myself, not having the contacts nor stomach to send good after bad money.

Lately I accidentally acquired a vintage Anglo with real concertina reeds. Have to share
that I did not expect to actually win the sale for it! I was quite shocked TBH, and then
had to make arrangements to accommodate another instrument. As well, it has to be sent
off to an expert to fix a few things needing attention. But I must say, it was very well '
worth the expense and trouble. Superb sounding box! I am extremely lucky, because
the only other owner rarely played it.

So you might like to investigate that path. As already mentioned Concertina.net is a great
resource, there I have seen numerous vintage concertina reed boxes well under 2 k US. When you
consider the price of new at way over 3 k US, and some as high as 8 k US, such offerings
are very good value. Makes such as Jeffries, Wheatstone, Lachinal, Crabb, for example, sound and play as good as, and better than, the new makers.

Yes you will part with a hunk of money for such a box, and usually a bit more to get it
to your liking, but no! you wont lose a lot if you have to sell. In fact often, in my case this
really applies, a box may turn out to be worth a great deal more than it cost!

I commend you to Concertina.net where you may get a better idea of the market than elsewhere.

Hope that helps.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:49 am 
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Ok thanks for the advice, I'll check out concertina.net.
Unfortunately doubling my budget is quite impossible for several reasons, but I don't have the option of saving up for longer either. I do understand the value of getting the best you can afford, which is why I asked what the best in price was.

Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:55 am 
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Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm interested in the style of concertina used in most Irish trad, I think it's called Anglo, it's the one that sounds different going in than out


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:22 am 
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Yes, you'll want an Anglo for ITM. Most folks choose a C/G tuning, and thus most tutorials assume that's what you've got. Other tunings are available, and often cheaper on the used market since there's less demand for them. They can and are used for ITM, but you'll be off on your own figuring out fingerings, and some tunings probably won't facilitate crisp playing in the standard ITM keys.

One way to save money is to get a concertina with less than 30 buttons. You can get a decent vintage 20 button model at or near your price limit, and you'll be able to play a lot of the standard repertoire on it. But you will also sorely miss not being able to play, for example, a C# (assuming it's a C/G tuning on the instrument). 26 and 28 button models are sometimes available, and those would be great for your purposes, but they'll be much more expensive.

Where are you located? If in the U.S., I'd recommend calling the Button Box as they are great dealers of new and used instruments, including the Rochelle mentioned above. https://www.buttonbox.com/. I haven't played the Rochelle, but have read lots of commentary on it, and it's mixed. On the one hand, it's designed by a very reputable maker, and should be playable when new. On the other hand, it's significantly larger than a standard Anglo, and some find it cumbersome. More significantly, it probably won't perform anywhere near as well as one wants it to. But given that's it's one third the price of the next cheapest model from the same vendor, and about 1/6th the price of a Morse Ceili, which many think sets the standard for an affordable concertina, the performance compromises are to be expected.

On the plus side, as mentioned above, buying a Rochelle from ether the Concertina Connection or the Button Box allows you to trade it in for a nicer model, should you later have the desire and the means to upgrade.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:40 am 
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Location: Texas USA
Dragonslayer wrote:
Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm interested in the style of concertina used in most Irish trad, I think it's called Anglo, it's the one that sounds different going in than out


Yes! Deffo the Anglo type. As mentioned the C/G is more common.You might want to think about the slightly different layout available on them. I think McNeela ( Dublin ) offer a Czech made box with options on that, so either of Wheatstone or Jefferies layout can be chosen.
https://mcneelamusic.com/the-new-swan-concertina/
Most of the big names in ITM use the Jefferies layout.

I would like to offer my own little peeve here about dumming down to the
G/D. I know it is almost a crime to bring it up, yet it is true that to begin with
it is much easier to play ITM on it than on the C/G. But as one progresses the
C/G races off onto a higher level entirely. That is, one finds it much more difficult
to master at the beginning, but the G/D while easier to begin cannot progress
past a very basic level. Today in ITM the native exponent of that style is Chris Droney.
You can take your pick of the C/G field, all are amazing players.

Too because you are getting at this with a limited budget, you should start off with a
good teacher to help you make the best choice of instrument, layout and system. IOW
don't hesitate to ask a teacher what is best for you. I do not know if Noel Hill responds to
student emails, but he is one of the best teachers out there.

Best regards, and welcome to Tina world.

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be safe, eat more ice-cream"

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:12 am 
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Ok thanks, I think I want a C/G then, is 20 buttons good to start on? And is it easy to transition to 30 buttons?
I will be in the states for a couple months now, but I live in Mozambique, so I'll only have a couple months to make a decision (why I'm asking now)
I've heard that the wren is the same size, shape and feel as a higher end box, is that true? If it is, then I'd think it a better option than the Rochelle?

My budget for the box is not expandable for lessons, (if I pay for lessons I have to pay less for an instrument) so unless you can recommend a teacher who would help me for free I'll be relying heavily on YouTube and this forum, which is the same way I started guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin.

I just checked out the page for the swan, it looks great but too expensive :cry:


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:01 pm 
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You will grow out of a 20 button quite quickly as you have no C#. And you will be left with something that you may have a harder time selling. I started on a twenty button. I was happy for about a month. Is anyone renting concertinas in the US? I honestly don't know. The concertina connection offers full trade in value for their instruments. This could be a better option than buying a concertina and trying to resell it yourself when you want to upgrade. You might ask them if they have any used instruments. If they have a buy back program that may be likely.

Concertina.net will have some ideas on good books and videos. If you will have internet access: I am a huge fan of the Online Academy of Irish Music which has a subscription service at around $20+- a month. (it depends on the Euro to USD exchange rate). They have a very systematic series of lessons by some great players. These lessons will make your learning experience far more efficient as they build up skill by skill adding ornaments in the early lessons so they are second nature. They also give you a great foundation in a number of tunes that you can play in sessions and performance.

Also, you have full access to all the lessons on the site, so if you want to check out their fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo tutors they are at your fingertips. Who knows you may become interested in the whistle... It's there too.

Lessons are free for a week so you can give it a look when you get an instrument in your hands. And they have some posted on YouTube as well.

There is also a concertina buy and sell facebook page. The listings for anglo C/Gs are few and far between but you could get lucky, or put of a WTB.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:02 am 
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Ok thanks Busterbill, I'm not interested in renting, but I'll check out some places with trade ins.
I'm familiar with OAIM, and have been considering their lessons already, I'll probably go that route for lessons once I get an instrument


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:05 am 
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One caveat: if you think wooden flutes are persnickety regarding varying humidity levels, you haven't experienced the levels of grief you can get with a concertina with tons of interrelated moving parts that all need close fits if you have just worried about maintaining a wooden flute. I have a lovely antique, professionally restored, 23 button Nickols C/G Anglo (another good option for playing ITM as it has the C# and they are typically less expensive than 30 button). Unfortunately I live in the snow belt, and winter humidity drops precipitously. Hardly ever take my box out of it's special storage container till that changes (and folks with Dx cooling systems in summer can have similar problems). In fact since I left it in the storage container this winter I forgot to wet the humidifier sponge, so may have cracks that are progressing...

Bottom line is that an older box needs careful maintenance in some climates. Not sure about the newer ones. You also have the whole issue with different sound between newer accordion reeded hybrid boxes and older ones with true steel concertina reeds. Button action and bellows stiffness are other factors to consider as well.

Concertinas are complicated and expensive for a reason... Good luck.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:00 am 
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So would I be right in saying that if one wanted to learn Anglo, a 30 key C / G would be the best option to go for, longer term? I don't get why a D / G is so limited, because surely it has that C natural and C#, the only note extra you'd get with a C / G would surely be the F natural, and I can't think of many tunes I play that would need that? Can anyone explain in idiot terms for me?

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Music: mainly Irish, but also some Scottish / English / French
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:48 pm 
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Mudchutney wrote:
So would I be right in saying that if one wanted to learn Anglo, a 30 key C / G would be the best option to go for, longer term? I don't get why a D / G is so limited, because surely it has that C natural and C#, the only note extra you'd get with a C / G would surely be the F natural, and I can't think of many tunes I play that would need that? Can anyone explain in idiot terms for me?



The notes are all there they are just in a lower range. You end up playing across the rows a lot. Some people like this. Many old timers did it, but it changes how you ornament and how you sound. The "modern" style is to focus on a geometric pattern using mostly the first three notes of the bottom two rows for melody lines ( though not always) and using the duplicate notes in various rows to ease transitions and add emphasis. And, of course the C# us up there on the upper row. Many new players don't use anything but the C# up there for months.

There are still a number of G/D players out there that swear by the system. But most session players lean towards the C/G My first 30 button concertina was a Stagi G/D which I bought without advice thinking most tunes were in g or d or variants thereof. I abandoned that for a C/G shortly thereafter.

And you will be surprised how many times you'll use that fnat.


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