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Author Topic: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper  (Read 1199 times)

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Bob Ellis

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Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« on: May 22, 2018, 01:36:41 PM »

A friend is weighing up whether to buy a Sherwood Shire or a Sandpiper and has asked me for advice. As I have never played a Sherwood Shire and have limited experience with a Sandpiper, I am not best placed to help her. Can anyone who has played both offer an opinion on their relative merits? My friend says that the prices are comparable so that isn't really an issue. She plays mainly for morris and in sessions and has been playing for about 18 months, although she shows promise of developing into a good player.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 02:23:01 PM »

I know nothing about Shire, the Sandpipers are nice (I used to own a Curlew) - if you get a good one. I'd be more tempted by the Hohner Merlin currently for sale in a forum near here...
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Theo

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 02:48:45 PM »

After 18 months of playing and showing promise I would try top steer your friend towards a better quality box. What has she been playing up to now? Based on the examples I've tried I don't think there is much to choose between the Sandpiper and Sherwood.   Their best feature seems to be their nicely presented woodwork, but there are better players for similar or not much more money.  A well set up Hohner, an older Saltarelle Bouebe, or a Castagnari Nik would be worth considering.  For example:

The Hohner Merlin referred to by NickF
The Hohner Erika that Mike Robotham has for sale



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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 05:03:15 PM »

Like Theo, I wouldn't go for either. If pushed I would go for the Sandpiper but only just.  Shop around for a good deal on a second hand instrument.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 10:11:39 PM »

I tried the Sherwood out in a shop. It took longer for the assistant to get some steps to get it off the shelf than I spent playing it. It was horrible. Of course it could just be a one-off rogue - but I'd rather have a wheezy old Hohner in need of work than that particular box.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 11:23:23 PM »

I've never played a Sherwood. I have a Sandpiper 2 voice that I bought second-hand off a melnetter 3 years ago. I have had a selection of Castagnari's, Saltarelles, Beltunas as well as a variety of vintage boxes. I really like the Sandpiper - it has a distinctive very dry tuned tone that I like a lot - as much as the Castagnari's I've had. I also like the fact that it has a stop for the thirds included.

The Sandpiper does not play as smoothly as a high quality box, like a Castagnari, but it does have the same kind of "mushroom" buttons on the bass & treble sides, so the playing action is similar, unlike, for instance, a vintage Hohner. I use it for tunes for which a dry tuned sound fits well. I haven't experienced any problems at all with the reeds or general build quality to date. I think Luc Dix's playing exemplifies the sound of the Sandpiper very well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYPmyRXX8C8&t=90s

.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 11:29:22 PM »

What Theo said! I would go for the Erika, I had one and it is the only box I regret selling. I had a Sandpiper from new and exchanged it for a Hohner after having two springs break within a few weeks.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2018, 06:57:42 PM »

I've come to the conclusion, after spending a decade and a half working my way through the hierarchy of boxes, that old 2v 21x8 Hohners - and, subject to condition, the older and more hot-rodded the better - are, as a rule, far and away the best thing since sliced bread. 

Forget about walnut veneer - it's a box, not a sideboard. 

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 08:32:59 PM »

AFAIK they are the same box, the Sherwood generally being available slightly cheaper.  The Sandpiper has the claim to antecedence as it was actually designed by Martyn at Oakwood, this much I know to be true, I played the prototype and was involved in feeding back improvements -  They were intended to be easy to produce in a Chinese factory - If my memory serves (and this was probably over ten years ago now) Cagnoni had moved at least part of their manufacturing to China, or at the very least were importing reeds, so a British designed box with Italian reeds built in China was a sensible idea. They arrived in the UK without grilles, Martyn providing this last piece courtesy of a CNC laser machine that also provided the grilles for the Dino Baffetti "Binci" and "Super" boxes.

At first, the Sandpipers were unbeatable.  they debuted on the market at iirc, £400, at the which price they were a splendid bargain and better than anything else for miles around. And they sold well - but over time the price crept up and the factory began to cut corners, batches arrived with problems that  needed fixing, typically springs, rods and buttons - and inevitably, the same instruments were sold by the factory to other brands - naughty but inevitable given the nature of Chinese commerce. At £600 they were probably still the best thing on the market, at £750 they had to compete with the Hohner Merlin  - On the plus side, the Merlin had a better keyboard and a rudimentary hard case, on the downside it was a plywood box with cheaper reeds, entirely Chinese and, I am told,  a grille design "borrowed" (without permission) from an instrument made by Colin Dipper.

The very best sandpipers were the CF models with the stepped keys. The case resonated best in this set up and the tone was sweetest when playing in F.

Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 09:34:37 PM »


... On the plus side, the Merlin had a better keyboard and a rudimentary hard case, on the downside it was a plywood box with cheaper reeds, entirely Chinese and, I am told,  a grille design "borrowed" (without permission) from an instrument made by Colin Dipper.


I'm struggling a bit Jon. These all seem like downsides. Maybe I am misunderstanding which box is referred to at different points.
Also, so far as plywood construction goes, a still current thread is concluding plywood is good.

Your Black Diamond box is better value anyway.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 09:37:16 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2018, 09:30:41 PM »

OK, the merlin instrument had the better keyboard and came with a hard case.  = Positive

The merlin instrument was made entirely in China with lower grade reeds = Negative


Ply is cheaper, stronger lb for lb than solid timber, stiffer and less likely to warp, not that this happens much.
Tone? this is a bit trickier.

Solid woods ( in the case of the sandpiper/sherwood instruments, this is cherry) will impart more of their own tone to the instrument. There are people who simply cannot discern this and would dismiss such a notion as "Emperer's new clothes" and I half expect to be roundly rebuffed by some on this forum - However, a few years back I recorded three Castagnaris, identical except the case material;  Walnut, Cherry and Maple respectively - the results were conclusive, not just from Fourier analysis but also very clearly in how they sounded.  Walnut was darker sounding, mid frequencies were scooped and the trebles were well defined, Maple was loud with very bright highs but weaker in the mids and basses, Cherry was warm in the mids and not too harsh or too bassy, a good all rounder.

Now ply has it's own tone - it creates fewer harmonics - personally I quite like it, but you won't get ply to ring the same way as a solid piece.  All this being said, tone is subjective, we all like different things.  So, jury is out on sound. But, a solid instrument always has more cache than something made of plywood.

I think it's fair to say ply is a perfectly good material for making a melodeon case - especially if you are going to cover it with celluloid anyway - But there are, to my ear, tonal advantages to using real wood.

Hope that helps?
Cheers,
J

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2018, 11:49:10 PM »

a few years back I recorded three Castagnaris, identical except the case material;  Walnut, Cherry and Maple respectively - the results were conclusive, not just from Fourier analysis but also very clearly in how they sounded.  Walnut was darker sounding, mid frequencies were scooped and the trebles were well defined, Maple was loud with very bright highs but weaker in the mids and basses, Cherry was warm in the mids and not too harsh or too bassy, a good all rounder.

Control experiment: someone else on Melnet has reported testing two identical instruments made of the same wood and they sounded completely different too.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2018, 06:13:44 PM »

I had an experience in Whitby last year of comparing sherwood and sandpiper three voice models, and I much preferred playing the sandpiper, although of course there may be other factors. I can't comment on tone, because of the reverby sports hall making everything sound a little bit magical.
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