Author Topic: why concertinas  (Read 38618 times)

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squeeezebox hero

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why concertinas
« on: Thursday, October 29 2009 09:32PM GMT-1 »
i know theres a post on why he plays melodeons but why did squeezy take up concertinas and also what concertina(s?) does he have :aemo_squeeze: ?
« Last Edit: Thursday, October 29 2009 09:49PM GMT-1 by squeeezebox hero »

Offline tallship

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #1 on: Saturday, October 31 2009 06:26PM GMT-1 »
A good question that I don't really know the answer to! Squeezy plays the Anglo concertina which is chromatic (in theory!) but has two home keys like the melodeon, the most popular tuning for an Anglo is C/G. I've only ever seen Squeezy playing a Jeffries concertina which is probably a hundred years or more old and very valuable indeed.

As to why he plays the concertina who knows why anyone chooses the instruments they play, other than that they like them? I think he used to work in a music shop surrounded by a variety of instruments that he was able to try out when the shop was quiet and it's possible that he plays other instruments too.

Did you know that Jon Boden plays concertina as well? In his case it's a MacCann system Duet concertina that doesn't come out to play too often but he's a good player nonetheless.

Pete.  ;D

Offline Squeezy

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #2 on: Saturday, October 31 2009 10:31PM GMT-1 »
Hi Squeezebox Hero (good name by the way),

Sorry not to have welcomed you to the forums properly before when answering the question about Jon's concertinas (which seem to have cropped up here too) - so welcome, put your feet up and make yourself at home - the tea's in the kitchen!

As for concertina, well the main thing was that I liked the sound of the anglo - I liked it mainly from hearing the playing of John Kirkpatrick and Andy Turner - anglo played in an English style is such a rare thing to hear done compared to melodeon so there were fewer influences.  I would love to have learnt in tandem with the melodeon - but the crucial difference between melodeons and concertinas is that you can have a whale of a time bashing out tunes with a Hohner melodeon which is relatively cheap, but a cheap concertina is the most frustrating instrument in the world.  Not only does a cheap concertina play like rubbish they also sound nothing like a real vintage or hand-made one.  I dabbled and gave up the cheap options early in my playing career and concentrated on the box.

It was only when I had a couple of albums under my belt that I felt confident and rich enough to buy a decent modern hand made instrument (a Connor) which sadly I realise was too late for me to become the musician I would like to be on the concertina.  The 55 key Jeffries I now play was a godsend albeit an expensive one - it has loads of extra buttons to make fingerings easier and a tone to die for.  Steve Dickinson at Wheatstone concertinas recently did one hell of an impressive overhaul and it is now such a sweet instrument to play that I have been practicing it much more and it is far more rewarding.

I think that the gulf between the massively impressive sound and engineering quality of these old instruments and the cheap starter models are completely prohibitive for young players wanting to get into anglo playing and there probably is not much future for an instrument like that.  It is simply too expensive for the younger players to get hold of a model of concertina which will inspire dedication and make practice enjoyable.

In answer to the other question (and far less of a rant) - I only own the 55 key anglo Jeffries in C/G although I tend to play it in C/F and the relative minors only - it lends itself to those keys fingering-wise.  I would love to own a similarly stunning instrument in D/A which would transpose all those keys up a tone and therefore be far more friendly for folk keys.  However such tunings are very rare and I am unlikely to ever come across one.

Cheers

Squeezy

Offline ScallyAnglo

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #3 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 12:19PM GMT-1 »
I took up the anglo-concertina a few years ago, inspired by a number of people, but particularly John's beautiful accompaniment to Horn Fair.

Every thing John says about cheap concertinas is true but there are some options. I started with a 20 button wood 'Gremlin' sold by Hobgoblin for £390 - and although it was quite good enough to prove to myself I could play one, it presented serious limitations to progress. It's mostly to do with the action of the bellows - the cheap models are soooo stiff and lumbering! So, 6 months later I was able to justify £999 for a new 30 button C/G Sherwood, again from Hobgoblin. (There may now however be a waiting list for these boxes?) http://www.hobgoblin.com/local/sherwoodintro.php

I would definitely recommend this instrument if you are serious beginner. The bellows were a little tight at first but improved really quickly (the more practice the better it got!) and whilst it doesn't sound *exactly* like a true anglo (it uses accordion steel reeds) has a lovely bright tone in major keys and a sufficiently moody timbre for D minor!

Finally, as those of you who suffer from instrument acquisition disorders will understand, I now also own an old Lachenal G/D anglo and a Hohner pokerwork  ;D
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Offline Ancient Muse

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #4 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 03:04PM GMT-1 »
My goodness! That's an awful lot for a beginner to spend, isn't it?  :o
 :aemo_squeeze:

Offline Fi

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #5 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 03:27PM GMT-1 »
It is when you know you can get a fairly decent melodeon (whatever you think of e.g. Chinese Pokerworks they are not that bad) for about £250!

I had a go on my friend Vikki's* new English Concertina the other day -  same note whether you push or pull *I think*. I was hopeless due to having the push-pull melodeon stuff apparantly ingrained in my brain now! this I think is prob a good thing as she's bought a very lovely Wheatstone made in the late 19C, and I couldn't really justify buying something else had I been totally besotted with it :D (mind you I did keep picking it up, having a twiddle, and putting it down again...maybe I need a pushpull one ::))

*after years of denying she would want to play anything squeezable, she has finally given in (Betty's fault, I believe  ;))
« Last Edit: Sunday, November 1 2009 03:33PM GMT-1 by Fi »
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Offline firebird

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #6 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 03:40PM GMT-1 »
Quote from: Fi
I had a go on my friend Vikki's* new English Concertina the other day -  same note whether you push or pull *I think*. I was hopeless due to having the push-pull melodeon stuff apparantly ingrained in my brain now!

It doesn't take long for push-pull to become ingrained does it! Englishes make no sense to me at all - I can hardly even get a scale out of an English, but can manage a tune or two on an anglo (very slowly!). Mind you, it was trying Kay's posh anglo that got me thinking about it - a beautiful instrument indeed  :)
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Offline owenr.cwmaber

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #7 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 03:52PM GMT-1 »
I'm the other way round, I couldn't get my head round the push-pull thing when I tried my friend's anglo concertina, but then the only squeezebox I have ever played is my old piano accordion (with the backwards/upside down keyboard - but that's another story!). I'm currently really tempted by a relatively cheap english concertina, but a duet concertina would be great

squeeezebox hero

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #8 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 05:31PM GMT-1 »
wow a 55 key jeffries must have cost you a tonne. unfortunately i have to struggle with a stagi i got for £470 from hobgoblin when i brought it, i fell in love with a Conner concertina with jeffries style bellow papers, ends and layout but with a £4000 asking price i don't think ill be getting that any time soon (do you know any 13 year olds with that kind of money, i thought not). At sidmouth this summer somebody in a session let me play on there 100 year old jeffries insured for 3,500 but it cost him 15,000 or something like that (including getting it restored) so it was a bit different from my stagi! 

Offline Squeezy

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #9 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 09:32PM GMT-1 »
Well, the Jeffries wasn't as expensive as the Connor you were looking at!  That was the model I played before this one (although mine didn't have the fancy papers).  I think that the thing to remember about concertinas is that they seem to rise in price at well above the rate of inflation - so provided you buy wisely and look after them you can imagine that it's better than putting money in the bank.

As I said before though - that assumes you have that very large sum of money in the first place and most young players don't.  I'm very sorry you are having to struggle on with the Stagi - which was the sort I eventually sold on because I couldn't get on with it at all early in my playing career.  I think that if you are serious - it is definitely something worth saving up for as a long term goal because it will massively improve your enjoyment and technical prowess if you get one early enough in your playing life (sort of before 25 when you tend to have a bit more time on your hands to practice I mean).

Anyway - good luck Squeezebox Hero ... whoever you are.

squeeezebox hero

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #10 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 10:30PM GMT-1 »
wow the John Spiers replying to my posts! anyway I'm actually called Cohen i'm coming to see you at the marrs bar in Worcester in a few weeks i think, ill probably be at the front staring at your concertina and melodeons i saw you in lemington last week with bellowhead i was at the front stood almost in front of you and i (i was the 13 year old who knew all the words  ;D)
Squeezy or anyway can anybody give me some advice on my melodeon and concertina playing. im on youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/veganchimp  (my dads nickname lol)    and myspace     www.myspace.com/deadmoneyduo (the video of us at trowbridge was taken when i had ween playing melodeon for 2 days :) )

thanks
cohen (squezebox hero)

ps the name is what my dad says i look like on stage when im playing my boxes :)  
« Last Edit: Monday, November 2 2009 08:32PM GMT-1 by squeeezebox hero »

Offline ScallyAnglo

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #11 on: Sunday, November 1 2009 10:37PM GMT-1 »
My goodness! That's an awful lot for a beginner to spend, isn't it?  :o
 :aemo_squeeze:

Agreed, it was. I guess I felt that after 6 months practising really hard on the cheaper box, and making significant progress, the new concertinas would prove value for money and keep me working at it. And so it has proved  :) I suggest that more craftmanship/better materials are needed to build a really good 'tina over a really good melodeon, and that musically (in terms of possibilities for harmony, music modes, flexibility of keys, different types of music etc) the concertina offers more.

Finally, what about the Arts Council interest free loans for instruments at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/takeitaway/?
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Offline Betty slippers

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #12 on: Monday, November 2 2009 05:56PM GMT-1 »

*after years of denying she would want to play anything squeezable, she has finally given in (Betty's fault, I believe  ;))

Woohoo, I am so proud. Although also quite jealous, as she now has a nicer box than me. Actually, everyone has a nicer box than me. It is entirely wrong to be envious of a Stagi!
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squeeezebox hero

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #13 on: Monday, November 2 2009 06:15PM GMT-1 »
what model is yours Betty slippers,
never heard of somebody being envious of a stagi!

Offline Betty slippers

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Re: why concertinas
« Reply #14 on: Monday, November 2 2009 06:39PM GMT-1 »
It's a Bastari, which is what Stagi used to be. It is a total beast with accordion reeds that take forever to respond and make the bellows so stiff one player commented he was surprised I hadn't broken my thumbs!  :laugh: :aemo_squeeze: I do love it though, in a strange way. And it has a different tone to most concertinas, but doesn't sound like any other squeezebox either :) And £75 off ebay - the cheapest working concertina ever!
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