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Author Topic: Advice please if you would  (Read 2866 times)

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Andy Duckering

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Advice please if you would
« 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.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #1 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..
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baz parkes

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #2 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
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GPS

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #3 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
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

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GPS

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2018, 07:28:53 PM »

Just beat me to it, Baz - i knew we'd be on the same wavelength!

Graham
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

Squeezing in the Cyprus sunshine

Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #5 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.
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Greg Smith
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Dick Rees

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #6 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.
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tirpous

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #7 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
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george garside

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #8 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
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Theo

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #9 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.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Andy Duckering

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #10 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.
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Tamba

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #11 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?
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george garside

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #12 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
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #13 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.
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Greg Smith
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Andy Duckering

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #14 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.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #15 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!)   
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #16 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.
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Andy Duckering

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #17 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.
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richard.fleming

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #18 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.
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Theo

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Re: Advice please if you would
« Reply #19 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. 
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