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Discussions => Other Free Reed Instruments => Topic started by: Andy Duckering on May 24, 2018, 06:49:05 PM

Title: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 24, 2018, 06:49:05 PM
First of all, thank you for allowing me to join the forum! I wonder if I could seek some advice/opinion on where to go from the point I am at.  I want to get a box but at this point I don't have a definite idea whether I want a melodeon, Anglo or English concertina. The music I like to listen to and would like to play, is English tunes and also European tunes. I'm a fan of Blowzabella, Topette! and Leveret.  I sing in a shanty group that already has anglo/melodeon players and it was suggested I could try an English, partly because of their chromatic nature.

I've recently spent an hour in a branch of Hobgoblin trying to get my head round an English and didn't make much progress (not the best of conditions obviously) but then managed to get a rough but passable Shepherd's Hey out of an anglo in about 15 minutes. Having gone with the intention of looking at an English that was a bit of a surprise and made me a bit unsure of what the correct path was.  Given the music I like I was beginning to wonder about anglos but then I listened to Rob Harbron from Leveret playing an english in a quite anglo style and I went back to square one!

And then there's the melodeon..... The melodeon does seem to be the constant factor in all the music I love. I could really only manage a smaller bodied melodeon so that narrows my options and what I know of the sound I don't much like the "wetter" (?) hohner sound.

Hope I've made sense in what I'm asking. If anyone has any suggestions or comments they'll be welcome and gratefully received. Thank you for reading this.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 24, 2018, 06:58:48 PM
Advice from a non-expert, would be to have a look at a Hohner Liliput. There are loads of members on here who have them (some in different colours!) and love them. You've just missed a couple which Jimmy had for sale, which you could have tuned to your liking, tremolo-wise, by one of the expert fettlers who roam around this forum..
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: baz parkes on May 24, 2018, 07:14:36 PM
Anglo and melodeon are close cousins...if you can get a tune out of one you can usually get a tune out of the other...to a limited degree obvs.

I think you need a certain sort of brain to play English...I don't have it. There are certain souls who manage to play English and Anglo...but I believe they may have gone to the crossroads at midnight,,,, >:E

As Edward says, if you want a small box you can't go wrong with a Lilliput or Preciosa tuned to your liking...

I won't mention the Duet...which would require more than one visit to the crossroads... >:E >:E
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: GPS on May 24, 2018, 07:27:10 PM
Welcome, Andy.

The way I see it (and, as many here will attest, I have been known to be wrong!) the English concertina, while being a very versatile instrument, seems to lean more towards a "formal/theoretical" approach to playing, while the Anglo and the melodeon are much more "intuitive" - you pick 'em up and play 'em, despite their technical limitations. 

The voicing issue with melodeons is very much a matter of personal taste, and it's a straightforward job to get any box tuned "drier" or "wetter" to suit your own preference. Personally I'm not a great fan of very dry tunings, but go for whatever floats your boat. 

Best of luck

Graham
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: GPS on May 24, 2018, 07:28:53 PM
Just beat me to it, Baz - i knew we'd be on the same wavelength!

Graham
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on May 24, 2018, 07:50:45 PM
Don't know what your budget is like, but a half decent melodeon will generally cost a lot less than a half decent concertina.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Dick Rees on May 24, 2018, 07:52:57 PM
If you're a singer, an English never "runs out of air" for backing/harmonizing songs.  If you're a dance player, go diatonic.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: tirpous on May 24, 2018, 08:00:27 PM
Quote
The voicing issue with melodeons is very much a matter of personal taste, and it's a straightforward job to get any box tuned "drier" or "wetter" to suit your own preference. Personally I'm not a great fan of very dry tunings, but go for whatever floats your boat.

Wouldn't a boat like it best when it's wet ??   >:E
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 24, 2018, 08:01:24 PM
as othes have said  a decent concertina iis likely to be expensive and the cheap ones not worth having.  On the other hand  a second hand hohner pokerwork  is much more affordable and  unlike the cheaper Chinese melodeons will keep its value  suffering very little depreciation which is important if you make the 'wrong' decision.

The only snag with a melodeon  is that its range of keys is limited  eg DG is only good for D, G and some tunes in A can be managed  (and of course related monor keys)  Similarly with eg a CF.

So before you buy a ;melodeon you need , particularly if intending playing with others.  to decide on the most appropriate keys.  In the English folk world DG is by far the most popular but other keys have their fans and many have several boxes tuned in different keys!

george
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Theo on May 24, 2018, 08:22:40 PM
I think you are taking the right approach by asking people and trying out instruments, and giving yourself plenty of time.  When you find nd the right sort of instrument you will know.  You might also see if any of the musos you know might be able to lend you an instrument for a while.  Melodeon players almost always have more than one, and at this stage it doesn’t matter at all if it’s not a DG.  When I was at your stage a friend lent me a sore box that was CC#, and that was enough, I was hooked from then.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 24, 2018, 08:48:22 PM
Wow! I never ever expected so many answers so quickly! Thank you so very much, you are all so kind. As of late next week I get to look after a very very nice anglo whilst it's owner goes on holiday. I'm really looking forward to it though I suspect it will spoil me for anything which is actually within my budget which this particular beauty certainly isnt!

I've also been given first dibs on a refurbished Wheatstone english to buy within my budget so I need at some point in the not too distant future to decide on whether an English is even remotely viable. I'm almost beginning to wish I was stubbornly committed to one path!!!!

These two options arose in the last few weeks and I've only gone and confused myself by listening to the previously mentioned bands (apparently I'm a bit of an Andy Cutting fan....) and thrown the melodeon into the mix. The situation there is complicated because I'm disabled and quite a small human and the bulk (not so much the weight) of the more mainstream melodeons would be an issue.

My budget would really only be about £900 max but I'm looking for an instrument that would pretty much be my forever instrument. I don't envisage ever being able to trade up from that point.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Tamba on May 24, 2018, 08:58:32 PM
Andy, if you give us a general idea of your whereabouts there may well be a Melnet member that is local to you whom you could meet up with for a chat and a play on a box which might help inform your decision?
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 24, 2018, 09:27:55 PM
If everybody on the forum gave some indication of their whereabouts  I am sure a lot of mutual help would be had, friendships made, new sessions started, maybe even new ceilidh bands etc etc.

No need for precise details or post code  et, just country, county, city  or something  similarly vague  would enable contacts to be made via this website   for those so disposed the use of a pseudonym would  prevent anybody from  rooting somebody out against their will from phone directories of whatever.

My whereabouts are  on here  in plain language for all to see  i.e. I am George Garside and I live in Anglesey, North Wales.

george
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on May 24, 2018, 09:40:34 PM
Forever is a long time. If you can get a fair price on any decent pre-owned instrument you are not likely to lose much if you sell on. You may even make a profit.

I borrowed a decent English for about six months and never got to grips with it. I found an Anglo much easier to get a decent sound out of and the melodeon gave results almost straight out of the box (possibly due to the Anglo experience). From what you've said, I suspect you may like the English best.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 24, 2018, 09:48:38 PM
Andy, if you give us a general idea of your whereabouts there may well be a Melnet member that is local to you whom you could meet up with for a chat and a play on a box which might help inform your decision?

I'm in Nottingham.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 24, 2018, 10:22:20 PM
George's posting about whereabouts makes a lot of sense. I often wonder if I should change my location on here to WN T&W, which makes just about as much sense as some of the two letter state names from the USA.
But back to business; I originally started with an English concertina, imagining that I couldn't go wrong, seeing as the notes were the same no matter which direction the bellows were going. After a lot of years, I picked up an Anglo and was astonished at how difficult it was to play. When I came upon the 1 row melodeon, I couldn't believe how easy it was, and the next time I picked up an anglo, I was surprised that it too now seemed to be relatively easy. Whereas the good old English now seems as foreign as getting a tune out of a spacehopper!
The melodeon, as GPS says, is the most intuitive instrument I've yet come across, plus it makes a lot more of harmonious noise than the single reeds of a concertina. (Not that there's anything wrong with the concertina, mind you!)   
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Jesse Smith on May 24, 2018, 10:32:25 PM
I agree with Greg about the value of a good second hand instrument. It can probably be sold on for about the same as what you paid. So maybe your budget is £900 pounds now, but in five years you've saved another £1000 and you get £700 for the old instrument, now you can trade up to a £1700 instrument.

Although you can get a second hand Hohner Pokerwork or Erica for well under £900 and I believe that could be a "forever" instrument for many people. Not sure you can get an anglo concertina of that quality for even double the price, unfortunately.

I don't have too much to contribute about the Anglo vs English concertina dilemma. I ended up here because I discovered I loved the Morris dance tunes in my tin whistle book and then I heard John Kirkpatrick's playing on Morris On and Plain Capers. It was only ever going to be melodeon or Anglo for me, and the melodeon seemed to be less expensive and have better support in terms of tutorials, etc. To me the English concertina is almost a classical instrument and doesn't come to my mind for dance music the way the Anglo does. There's something about the whole push-pull system that really fascinates me.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 24, 2018, 10:53:02 PM
Although you can get a second hand Hohner Pokerwork or Erica for well under £900 and I believe that could be a "forever" instrument for many people. Not sure you can get an anglo concertina of that quality for even double the price, unfortunately.

I have noticed that the relative quality to price ratio in the Anglo market seems to be less than the other options.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: richard.fleming on May 25, 2018, 08:00:07 AM
[quote author=george garside
The only snag with a melodeon  is that its range of keys is limited  eg DG is only good for D, G and some tunes in A can be managed  (and of course related minor keys)

Which is a pretty good reason not to get that sort of melodeon. But you could go for a semitone-apart box like a B/C or C#/D and then you'd be able to play in any key.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Theo on May 25, 2018, 08:04:41 AM
[quote author=george garside
The only snag with a melodeon  is that its range of keys is limited  eg DG is only good for D, G and some tunes in A can be managed  (and of course related minor keys)

Which is a pretty good reason not to get that sort of melodeon. But you could go for a semitone-apart box like a B/C or C#/D and then you'd be able to play in any key.

True, but in practice very few players of semitone boxes do play in any key. 
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on May 25, 2018, 08:32:20 AM
Hi Andy,
Welcome to the forum!

I seem to have taken an alternative route to melodeon. I played English Concertina for many years before taking on melodeon. There are several on this forum that play both, or have played both. I hope to transfer some of my learning about chords etc from melodeon back to concertina in the future when time allows and my melodeon playing has improved sufficiently.There might not be such a divide between English concertina and melodeon as many think.

If at all possible, try to beg or borrow any or all of the instruments for more than a quick squeeze in a shop and as Theo says, you'll know when something feels right. There might well be Melnet members close that could help.

The comments about price differences of each respective instrument is valid too, your budget might have an influence.

Baz: I went to the Crossroads several times and took a wrong turning  ;)
Shame as I consider the McCann Duet a traditional Devonian instrument!

Good luck Andy!
cheers
Q
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 25, 2018, 08:48:19 AM
Richard is of course theoretically correct about the semitone (BC etc) boxes being chromatic i.e. having the wherewithal  to play in any key but as Theo has said not many semitone players do that,  some keys being quite buggerous to play.

  Another fundamental diference  is the very limited bass on a standard 8 bass semitone box  .  So as a player of both 4th apart (DG etc) and semitone (BC etc) I think a 4th apart box would best suite Andy.

I will not mention the BCC# on this occasion!!

george ;)
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: MelonBox on May 25, 2018, 08:56:15 AM
Hi Andy! Welcome to melnet!

May I persuade you in the direction of a Melodeon? I have a brand new online course for absolute beginners that will walk you through the basics, developing your rhythm and coordination control on the instrument, towards learning your very first, simple tune with both hands.

It is suitable for DG melodeon which would be the best start for you with the music you're interested in playing. Andy Cutting is currently reviewing the course for me and I await his stamp of approval!

You can read more about my vast teaching experience and the course here and view the free lessons to get a feel for how the course looks.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch: mel@melbiggsmusic.co.uk

https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/course/pick-up-play-lets-get-started/
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: nigelr on May 25, 2018, 09:41:43 AM
Based on your budget and that you prefer the concertina sound to a wet tremolo, why not consider a single voice small melodeon like a Castagnari Lilly, Saltarelle Epsilon or Sandpiper Stint?  They are compact and lightweight.

When I first started, I decided the best bet was to get something "standard" in D/G to see if I enjoyed it and then worry about other systems or upgrades if I decided to stick with it.  I got hooked and have embraced MAD as many others here have  (:)
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 09:43:55 AM
[quote author=george garside

Which is a pretty good reason not to get that sort of melodeon. But you could go for a semitone-apart box like a B/C or C#/D and then you'd be able to play in any key.

Someone in another place mentioned a B/C box for that reason. Don't seem to be many around though.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 09:51:37 AM
I will not mention the BCC# on this occasion!!

george ;)

Fortunately a three row is definitely out George!
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 09:56:56 AM
Hi Andy! Welcome to melnet!

https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/course/pick-up-play-lets-get-started/

Hi Mel, we've talked on Facebook! All options currently still on the table. Will see where my heart lies after 2 weeks with the expensive anglo. What ever happens I'll end up with the musical equivalent of hiring a rolls Royce and then buying a Ford Escort......  (:)
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 10:00:45 AM
Based on your budget and that you prefer the concertina sound to a wet tremolo, why not consider a single voice small melodeon like a Castagnari Lilly, Saltarelle Epsilon or Sandpiper Stint?  They are compact and lightweight.



To be honest if I could find a Lilly in budget I'd probably bite the owners arm off up to the shoulder.... Don't know the Epsilon or Stint. Am now off to investigate.... Thank you!
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: MelonBox on May 25, 2018, 10:22:00 AM
Hi Andy! Welcome to melnet!

https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/course/pick-up-play-lets-get-started/

Hi Mel, we've talked on Facebook! All options currently still on the table. Will see where my heart lies after 2 weeks with the expensive anglo. What ever happens I'll end up with the musical equivalent of hiring a rolls Royce and then buying a Ford Escort......  (:)

Hey, there's nought wrong with a Ford Escort! ;-) My first box was a £300 Hohner Erica and it taught me very well.

Sorry, I hadn't clocked we had already spoken! Good to meet you again haha
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Theo on May 25, 2018, 10:51:25 AM
If you find yourself drawn to anglo concertina then it is worth considering a 20 button instrument.  You can get a very good quality 20 key anglo for well within your budget, whereas a 30 key of the same quality would be double your budget.  It is limited to a few keys, but you would get much more pleasure from a top quality 20 key than from a mediocre 30 key.

You mentioned that you want to find your "forever instrument".   I think that is impossible.  Many have started with that idea but I don't know anyone for whom it worked.  You want know what you really want until you have been playing for a year or two.   So try to find the instrument that suits you best now, and that will hold it's value so you can change later.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Roger Hare on May 25, 2018, 11:24:52 AM
...Although you can get a second hand Hohner Pokerwork or Erica for well under £900 and I believe that could be
a "forever" instrument for many people. Not sure you can get an anglo concertina of that quality for even double
the price, unfortunately...

That's substantially true, of course, but an alternative strategy might be to look for: 1) a good quality second-hand
30-button hybrid Anglo or 2) a 26-button vintage Anglo. Either option is worth considering, but the 26-button is a
good compromise, and is the real message in this post.

Either of these might kick-in at less than 'even double the price' (but possibly slightly more than your £900 budget?).

I'm biassed - I have a second hand Marcus 30-button G/D hybrid, and a Lachenal 26-button G/D vintage sitting right
next to me as I type this! Both of these cost a little more than £900, but like the man said, 'tinas are not cheap.

If you find yourself drawn to anglo concertina then it is worth considering a 20 button instrument.  You can get a very
good quality 20 key anglo for well within your budget, whereas a 30 key of the same quality would be double your budget.
It is limited to a few keys, but you would get much more pleasure from a top quality 20 key than from a mediocre 30 key.

Also true - my first instrument was a lovely 20-button vintage C/G Lachenal (you can probably see the way this is going...).
I eventually decided that I wanted a 30-button, but couldn't bear to part with the 20-button, so I kept it and got the
30-button, and then the 30-button Bb/F semi-miniature, and then the 26-button, ...

Beware of creeping concertina-itis. Once it's got you in its grip, you're finished... (:)
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 11:57:25 AM
I think the point about "forever instrument" was as much about how I see my financial capabilities moving forward. I'm never (unless I have a rich relative I previously knew nothing about) going to be able to afford a £4k Wheatstone for instance. Perhaps I used the wrong phrase to describe what I meant.

On the evidence of a couple of YouTube videos am very much liking the Saltarelle Epsilon! Don't know about the Sandpiper - there doesn't seem to be any audio out there or that much info to make a comparison. I can find a just about affordable Epsilon.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Theo on May 25, 2018, 12:05:24 PM
Audio samples are useful, but in a limited way. 

The feel of an instrument in your hands is at least as important.  How easy it is to play, how it responds  when playing soft or loud and so on.   Most of that is down to the quality of the reeds.  The reed quality is basic in Sandpiper, Sherwood and a range of other partly Chinese built instruments.  Saltarelles much better. You could be very happy for a long tome with Saltarelle, Dino Baffetti, Mengascini, Verde, Castagnari, Serenellini, all of which are genuine Italian built instruments.  Sandpiper and the like are designed as entry level instruments which implies that you are likely to want to trade up later.   Don't be taken in by a bit of fancy veneer!   It's what is inside that counts.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: MatlockBather on May 25, 2018, 12:58:27 PM
Andy, If you are based in Nottingham, the Derbyshire playgroup event might be of interest to you.

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,18193.60.html (http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,18193.60.html)


Si
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 01:49:42 PM
Thank you!
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 01:54:55 PM
Audio samples are useful, but in a limited way. 

The feel of an instrument in your hands is at least as important.  How easy it is to play, how it responds  when playing soft or loud and so on.   Most of that is down to the quality of the reeds.  The reed quality is basic in Sandpiper, Sherwood and a range of other partly Chinese built instruments.  Saltarelles much better. You could be very happy for a long tome with Saltarelle, Dino Baffetti, Mengascini, Verde, Castagnari, Serenellini, all of which are genuine Italian built instruments.  Sandpiper and the like are designed as entry level instruments which implies that you are likely to want to trade up later.   Don't be taken in by a bit of fancy veneer!   It's what is inside that counts.

Hi Theo

I understand the limitations of audio samples. They are simply reference points to make a start from. Judging the feel of an instrument is the next stage. Will have to plan some shop visits, although the cheapest price I've found on the Saltarelle doesn't seem to have a shop presence.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on May 25, 2018, 02:09:43 PM
Following on from Theo.....
As I mentioned before, I played English concertina, it is a good one and very responsive.
When I chose my first melodeon, a Castagnari Tommy, it was chosen simply because it felt right and was responsive. By that I mean I didn't have to put all my strength into pushing the bellows to get a note from it. I went round 10-12 stalls at the Sidmouth festival, picking up everything in sight and carrying out this simple squeezing test.
I couldn't string any notes together on it, certainly not the start of a tune, but  'it felt right' in terms of balance, weight etc and a sound came quickly when I pressed a button. Having a large festival on my doorstep whilst coinciding with my first attempt at buying was brillaint as I could see and try lots.
Afterwards, presenting this box to my long term melodeon playing friend and explaining my choice he smiled and said ' now you realise that not every melodeon is the same'.

If any festivals are coming up near you over the Bank Holiday, or perhaps a Melodeon.net session, morris event or anywhere where there might be a collection of meldeons, try and go along and chat to the players. You'll hear them being played, and I'm sure people will talk to you, give advice and probably a little squeeze.
We all like to help anyone first starting up, as others helped me, so don't be shy!
Q
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 02:52:38 PM

If any festivals are coming up near you over the Bank Holiday, or perhaps a Melodeon.net session, morris event or anywhere where there might be a collection of meldeons, try and go along and chat to the players. You'll hear them being played, and I'm sure people will talk to you, give advice and probably a little squeeze.
We all like to help anyone first starting up, as others helped me, so don't be shy!
Q

Less than 2 weeks to the Gate to Southwell Festival which is very near. Hopefully there will be someone selling melodeons there.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 25, 2018, 11:10:05 PM
Hi Andy,
Welcome to the forum!

I seem to have taken an alternative route to melodeon. I played English Concertina for many years before taking on melodeon. There are several on this forum that play both, or have played both. I hope to transfer some of my learning about chords etc from melodeon back to concertina in the future when time allows and my melodeon playing has improved sufficiently.There might not be such a divide between English concertina and melodeon as many think.

If at all possible, try to beg or borrow any or all of the instruments for more than a quick squeeze in a shop and as Theo says, you'll know when something feels right. There might well be Melnet members close that could help.

The comments about price differences of each respective instrument is valid too, your budget might have an influence.

Baz: I went to the Crossroads several times and took a wrong turning  ;)
Shame as I consider the McCann Duet a traditional Devonian instrument!

Good luck Andy!
cheers
Q

Thank you for the kind words. Diverting a little, going on from what you said, how did you find the English Concertina was for playing dance tunes on?
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: malcolmbebb on May 26, 2018, 08:09:15 AM
There is a widely held view that Anglos and melodeons are better for dance tunes as it's easier to get a more staccato punch to the music.
English concertinas and PAs are of course widely used, and many players do get a bouncy rhythm out of them. But a lot of players do tend towards legato mushiness. Certainly some that I play with, I always know when they're playing.
So it can be done, but maybe you need to pay more attention to your playing technique.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 26, 2018, 08:56:51 AM
try youtube Alistair Anderson northumbrian clog dancers  for a  demonstration of playing English concertina with bounce

george
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Rob2Hook on May 26, 2018, 09:00:02 AM
Exactly that!  The bisonoric instruments naturally affect the playing as the bellows reversals introduce a slightly stilted rhythm which, if unchecked, yields an audible syncopation.  That and the fresh attack each time you reverse does as others describe, akin to a dancer hopping from foot to foot.  The challenge with these instruments (melodeon and anglo) is to smooth everything out and most development of technique is to this end.

Unisonoric instruments such as the English and Piano Accordion have great potential or playing very smoothly and initially this is the technique one develops.  They then need the player to add any syncopation and emphasis, otherwise the nusic is as soulless as a midi player on your computer.

With equal levels of skill applied to each instrument, the melodeon/anglo will suit "lumpy" dances while the English/PA will better suit French Cafe music.

Rob.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 26, 2018, 09:11:07 AM
its all down to developing a high level of bellows control skill on either bisonoric or unisonoric  (eg English and Anglo or melodeon and piano box)   Once those skills have been honed  either system can be played smoothly (including one row or 'on the row' 'melodeons) and either system can be played with 'bounce'

All too often the bellows are treated as a bloody great air pump when in reality they are to the box player what the bow is to a fiddler

george >:E ;)
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: playandteach on May 26, 2018, 10:04:39 AM
And I've managed to make my melodeon playing far too smooth - partly through reversals of reeds partly through choice of style and partly through lack of technique. Still time to improve though.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 26, 2018, 10:22:47 AM
Has your condition eased then, Pete?  I do hope you are back to regular playing.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 26, 2018, 11:02:18 AM
a good way of getting the hang of playing a melodeon smoothly  is to put aside row crossing  temporarily and concentrate on playing smoothly 'on the row'  treble only but as many right hand chords as  sound right.    Tunes played as slow aires lend themselves well to this   eg  waters of tyne, sweet hesleyside,  endearing yyoung charms, amazing grace, silent night, lilly marlene or whatever takes your fancy.



once the melody can be played smoothly and with lots of feeling - dynamic variations-  try adding bass chords only as a background 'drone' here and there but not constantly all the way through.

A little background rhythm can be added by GENTLE pulsing ( not shaking) of the bellows when they are going in the same direction for several treble notes worth of tune.


george



Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: playandteach on May 26, 2018, 02:39:55 PM
Has your condition eased then, Pete?  I do hope you are back to regular playing.
Thanks Edward,
I'm playing again, but not every day. Certainly I'm finding a way to ignore the irritating noise (not the playing). Thanks for the support.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 26, 2018, 07:48:38 PM
Ignoring it would be the job. Thankfully, I don't have tinnitus but my wife has trouble sleeping at times because of barking guard dogs when we're in Egypt. She's amazed that I manage to go to sleep in spite of them, but I just ignore the noise. Sadly it's a skill which she hasn't managed to grasp!
I'm sure you'll get there.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 26, 2018, 08:29:56 PM
With equal levels of skill applied to each instrument, the melodeon/anglo will suit "lumpy" dances while the English/PA will better suit French Cafe music.

Rob.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I like both....  :D
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 27, 2018, 01:04:33 PM
I read on another thread that the single reed instruments sound quite shrill. Is that a general viewpoint? My feeling so far is that they sound less shrill but now I'm doubting myself.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 27, 2018, 01:43:19 PM
Single reed D/G melodeons, in my experience, sound a lot less shrill than those with only the two "normal" voices. I bought a very nice Pokerwork in D/G the other week, specifically for the NE Playgroup, but I found the shrillness to be actually offensive! I sold it the following week.
A D/G, in my humble opinion, really needs to have a low sounding reed to make it bearable. So either a three voice LMM or a bandoneon tuned two voice, LM, is fine to my ear. But then I often play my G tuned HA114 with only the H reed sounding, it sounds quite concertina like, and I rather like it occasionally.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Theo on May 27, 2018, 02:39:33 PM
Don’t condem all 2 voice  MM DGs on the grounds of Edwards box sounding shrill,  it had not been tuned for a long time and is not a good example of the type.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Steve_freereeder on May 27, 2018, 02:40:59 PM
I read on another thread that the single reed instruments sound quite shrill. Is that a general viewpoint? My feeling so far is that they sound less shrill but now I'm doubting myself.

There aren't that many single voice (reed) instruments around. Notable exceptions are the Castagnari Lilly and Giordy (often encountered, especially the Lilly), Saltarelle Epsilon and the Sandpiper Stint (both less common).

Generally they seem to be 'marmite' instruments - you either like them or hate them. The D/G version of the Castagnari Lilly is a powerful box with flat-mounted tipo a mano reeds, and when driven hard becomes really shrill. But many morris musicians seem to like it because of its compact size and light weight, as well as its loud sound carrying well outdoors. Not really my cuppa, but that's just my opinion.

The shrillness or otherwise of two-voice instruments is related in part to the degree of tremolo which has been set up. A very wet-tuned box (either by design or sometimes sheer neglect!) can sound quite shrill when played hard, again most noticeable in D/G boxes in the higher pitched end of the keyboard especially. Harsh-sounding, two voice boxes can usually be improved by some basic tuning and readjustment of the tremolo, with no detriment to the carrying power.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Stiamh on May 28, 2018, 05:01:27 PM
I read on another thread that the single reed instruments sound quite shrill. Is that a general viewpoint? My feeling so far is that they sound less shrill but now I'm doubting myself.

One factor that can make single-voice instruments sound unpleasant is modern equal-temperament tuning, which creates a harsh buzz when you play a right-hand chord.

For some reason this effect is much harsher (to my ear) with free reeds than with, say, the strings of a piano. A major third on the piano is, when you really listen to it, quite discordant. The same chord on a single-voice free-reed instrument is even more unpleasant.

Historically people have got around the problem on concertinas with various not-quite-ET temperaments (tuning schemes). I don't think it's a practical proposition on a melodeon/button accordion, certainly not on the semitone boxes I play. ("Cajun" tuned one-row accordions tweak some intervals for the same reason.)

The problem is obviated though by having more than one voice. Even a small amount of tremolo, as in swing tuning, will take the hard edge off those equal-temperament chords. I'd never buy a single-voice instrument for this reason.

Demonstration: https://youtu.be/Gdkb4o7R3-Q?t=16m51s
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 29, 2018, 03:05:36 PM
So a trip to Hobgoblin this morning has taken the English off the list. I wasn't taken by the one I'd been waiting to come in but more disappointing was that I found it quite an uncomfortable and unnatural instrument to hold. I understand that might change with practice but it's not a particularly attractive situation to work through when other options exist. 

So... Either an anglo or a melodeon now..... I discovered I can actually comfortably manage bigger two-rows than just the Lilly sized ones so I'm pleased about that. My options haven't widened massively because of budgetary constraints but every little helps. I've heard that the Epsilon can be inconsistently built and I might get a good one, I might not. Not sure how true that is. I suspect this process will end up with money heading to Castagnari.....
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 29, 2018, 05:07:04 PM
a refurbished hohner pokerword or Erica  is well worth considering .  several professional players use them  regularly and although I have gone a bit upmarket over the years I still have  a DG pokerwork and a BC double ray/Erica that I would not part with and which I enjoy playing regularly.

Theo Gibb, Lester Bailey, Martin White  and others  may have something suitable available  or ready for refurbishment and tuning to your desired degree of wet or dry!

There is a list of dealers, repairers etc on this forum

george
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 29, 2018, 05:10:45 PM
Thank you George.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Scobarandbar on May 29, 2018, 09:49:14 PM
I would also, like George to vouch for a Pokerwork or Erica.  They are great instruments but I would say to make sure you get one that has been fettled properly as there is a lot of them needing work if you decide to pick one up privately (even the newer ones can need stuff doing depending on your requirements; bushing the buttons, limiting button travel, tuning, changing amount of tremolo you want etc.) What can seem a bargain can turn out to be expensive.  Fixing them up can be a long job and hence the cost.

I would say to make sure you get one that starts on the starting button of your choosing (third or fourth) as it is a bit of a job to change them over from one to the other and will cost you a good bit more money as you will have lots of reeds that need to be swapped and re-waxed in.   

After having said all that just buy one or borrow one and crack on learning.  Life's too short! 

Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 29, 2018, 10:27:49 PM
However much work needed to be done to an old Hohner, it could still be made to be a lovely and longlasting instrument for a lot less money than a Costalotti.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: george garside on May 30, 2018, 09:54:53 AM
the box I play least is the 'costaloti' that I paid a lot of money for.  The one I play most and use in ceilidh bands is a second hand to me  3 voice serenellini which has never put a foot wrong or required any work in 20+ years.  All my other boxes are hohners - one row 4 stop , pokerwork DG, double ray (Erica) BC, Trichord BCC#, gaelic BCC#.

george
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: baz parkes on May 30, 2018, 10:16:30 AM
Just going back to "bounce" in piano accordions I defy anyone's feet to keep still listening to Jason rice of the Dartmoor Pixie Band... :M...(ok, he doesn't play for morris...but we don't have a ceilidh emoji :|glug)
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 31, 2018, 02:44:13 PM
So now fostering the Anglo and the melodeon for a couple of weeks. Have worked out Botany Bay on the Anglo and Lyke Wake Dirge on the melodeon.

And now I'm like Gollum and I want to keep them both......  :||:
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Jesse Smith on May 31, 2018, 03:04:58 PM
And now I'm like Gollum and I want to keep them both......  :||:

Well, that would resolve the dilemma!

I want to learn the anglo eventually, but I am afraid to derail my progress on the melodeon, so I'll wait a while more...
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: malcolmbebb on May 31, 2018, 03:37:24 PM
And now I'm like Gollum and I want to keep them both......  :||:

It begins - welcome to the slippery slope.  >:E
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Winston Smith on May 31, 2018, 04:23:10 PM
Just give in, and embrace the MADness! All else is lost.
Title: Re: Advice please if you would
Post by: Andy Duckering on May 31, 2018, 06:55:35 PM
Haha! Unfortunately, can't afford them both so will have to make a choice at some point soon but first I need to work out a criteria for choosing..... Tossing a coin doesn't really cut it!