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Author Topic: Buying advice for a beginner  (Read 5343 times)

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The Oul' Boy

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Buying advice for a beginner
« on: January 02, 2019, 06:05:10 PM »

I've been thinking I'd like to learn to play the melodeon for a few years now, but had no idea whether I'd be able to. Visiting my parents' in Tyrone at New Year, I dug my dad's 65 year old Waeldmaster (?) 21 button diatonic melodeon out of the attic (I think D/G, but no indication on the box itself) and was surprised not only that it still worked, but that I could figure out some straight-forward tunes on it in the 36 hours I was there (though the base reeds and buttons were shot to bits, and rather beyond my control in any case), mostly by ear, but also using the first couple of lessons in George Garside's crash course, which I've recently bought. Anyway, I've got the bug and now want to get myself a 2-row D/G melodeon (though happy to be advised on that too). What's the best way to go about finding a 2nd hand one in decent condition, assuming budgets (/wife's patience) don't stretch to a new one? I live in Edinburgh, but am down on Tyneside regularly.
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AnnC

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2019, 06:23:52 PM »

 ;D if you get to Tyneside regularly then getting in touch with Theo of this parish who has The Box Place would be a good start, he has a wealth of knowledge and good advice as well as lovely instruments for sale  ;D :|||:
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2019, 06:40:23 PM »

Aye, good advice from Anne there. I am in Scotland too, and you don't find many D/G melodeons up here anyway. Mostly into B/C , and I never could get to grips with semi tone boxes. Yup, theo's yer man.

Sir John
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2019, 07:54:44 PM »

Thanks both! I like the sound of the D/G and fancy an Erika or Pokerwork if I could get one at a decent price. What are the pros and cons of going for D/G (e.g. I assume it's typical for English folk music) or B/C (I think you get a wider range of notes, maybe even the full chromatic scale)? Is one or other more suited to accompany singing for example?
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2019, 08:30:36 PM »

Depends where you play, if you play in a session in Scotland, then B/C is more the thing, although Pete Shepherd plays D/G no problems. If you want one to sing along with, then it depends on your vocal range, I can get by on C/G singing in C mostly, or Bb/Eb, singing in Bb, but I am also fairly happy with a D/G, singing in D. It all depends on your voice.
There is no doubt that B/C is probably the most useful for playing in Scotland, but most of the tutors available seem to be for D/G. As I said before one's a semitone box, and the other's a quint (?) (I think) box, and the method of playing either is very different. What you learn on a D/G is transferable to all other boxes with the same interval, G/C, B/E, A/D etc etc.

Sir John
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: Hohner Club Modell 1. Bb/Eb, de-clubbed : Early Hohner Pressed Wood A/D : Hagstrom G/C:Preciosa Bb/Eb: Hohner 3515 C/F: 1930's Varnished wood G/C: Hohner 2915 B/E: Hohner Erika C/F: Hohner Pre Corso C/F : G/C Liliput: Bandoneon tuned D/G Pressed wood:

Nigel

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2019, 09:57:12 PM »

PM sent
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2019, 10:16:48 PM »

Depends where you play, if you play in a session in Scotland, then B/C is more the thing, although Pete Shepherd plays D/G no problems. If you want one to sing along with, then it depends on your vocal range, I can get by on C/G singing in C mostly, or Bb/Eb, singing in Bb, but I am also fairly happy with a D/G, singing in D. It all depends on your voice.
There is no doubt that B/C is probably the most useful for playing in Scotland, but most of the tutors available seem to be for D/G. As I said before one's a semitone box, and the other's a quint (?) (I think) box, and the method of playing either is very different. What you learn on a D/G is transferable to all other boxes with the same interval, G/C, B/E, A/D etc etc.

Sir John

Very helpful, much appreciated thank you!
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2019, 10:18:46 PM »

PM sent


Thanks Nigel, I'll likely be in touch for further details.
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richard.fleming

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 08:47:02 AM »

Your Dad's box, in Tyrone, is much more likely to be a B/C. Why not go for B/C yourself, it's a much more useful and versatile system.
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2019, 09:49:48 AM »

Your Dad's box, in Tyrone, is much more likely to be a B/C. Why not go for B/C yourself, it's a much more useful and versatile system.

On reflection you're probably right Richard (I mostly stuck to the inner row in my fiddlings on it). I haven't entirely ruled it out, but I suppose you have to make a choice. I've always been more interested in English folk music than Scottish or Irish (also probably because I've lived in NE England longer than anywhere else); is there much B/C used in that? My impression from reading stuff on here and elsewhere is that B/C is more flexible but also harder, and also not so easy to find tutorials for.
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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2019, 09:56:16 AM »

...I've always been more interested in English folk music than Scottish or Irish (also probably because I've lived in NE England longer than anywhere else); is there much B/C used in that? My impression from reading stuff on here and elsewhere is that B/C is more flexible but also harder, and also not so easy to find tutorials for.

If your main interest is in English music, I would strongly recommend that you get a D/G melodeon, rather than a B/C.
You will be able to play the vast majority of English tunes (and many Welsh, Scottish and Irish tunes) on a D/G box and the chords and basses will be already be in a friendly and useful set up. 
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Theo

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 10:18:12 AM »

In NE England most of the box players I know play DG or other 4th apart systems.  But, and it’s quite a big but, the local style has a lot less in common with “English” playing found further south.  There is a lot if Scottish and Irish influence in the style of playing.  I can remember an occasion a few years ago at a festival further south when I was told by another DG player that I played “Irish style”. I took it as a compliment, but I don’t think it was intended as a compliment!
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 11:40:15 AM »

If your main interest is in English music, I would strongly recommend that you get a D/G melodeon, rather than a B/C.
You will be able to play the vast majority of English tunes (and many Welsh, Scottish and Irish tunes) on a D/G box and the chords and basses will be already be in a friendly and useful set up.

Thanks Steve, yes, that's my preference I think.
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2019, 11:43:07 AM »

In NE England most of the box players I know play DG or other 4th apart systems.  But, and it’s quite a big but, the local style has a lot less in common with “English” playing found further south.  There is a lot if Scottish and Irish influence in the style of playing.  I can remember an occasion a few years ago at a festival further south when I was told by another DG player that I played “Irish style”. I took it as a compliment, but I don’t think it was intended as a compliment!

Thanks Theo. Of course, having not really learned to play yet, questions of style are rather academic at this point!

If you have any suggestions as to where I can get hold of a decent 2nd hand German-made D/G Hohner Erica or Pokerwork at a reasonable price (I appreciate that won't be very cheap though), I'd be interested to hear. What's your feelings on the Chinese made ones, if one could be picked up at a reasonable price?
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Theo

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 12:12:51 PM »

I have a DG Pokerwork waiting for renovation, and I also have a three voice version in green pearloid which you can see on my website.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Fred

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2019, 12:31:47 PM »

I have a DG Pokerwork waiting for renovation, and I also have a three voice version in green pearloid which you can see on my website.

+1 on the Pokerwork - these are just great boxes, especially for beginners. Nothing wrong about them, just about everything right with them.

However, a word of warning considering three voice boxes: I personally had the feeling that three voices more often get in the way of a beginner's progression so I would be a bit careful about that. Still, there's nothing wrong with a three voice box, it's just that I would recommend to start out with a plain and simple two voice melodeon.
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2019, 12:39:45 PM »

+1 on the Pokerwork - these are just great boxes, especially for beginners. Nothing wrong about them, just about everything right with them.

However, a word of warning considering three voice boxes: I personally had the feeling that three voices more often get in the way of a beginner's progression so I would be a bit careful about that. Still, there's nothing wrong with a three voice box, it's just that I would recommend to start out with a plain and simple two voice melodeon.

Thanks Fred, yes, the more straight-forward the better! Not sure green pearloid is my look either!
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The Oul' Boy

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2019, 12:41:35 PM »

I have a DG Pokerwork waiting for renovation, and I also have a three voice version in green pearloid which you can see on my website.

Thanks Theo, I'll PM you.
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richard.fleming

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2019, 10:36:37 AM »

If DG is such a good system - and to be fair most people on this forum play that system - it needs to be asked why they so often end up with boxes having extra rows of accidentals  or accidentals at the end of the keyboard to make up for missing notes so they can play more keys. On a B/C or other semitone box these notes are where you need them, in a progression of notes running up and down the keyboard, rather than as extra notes  somewhere else on the keyboard that your finger has to fly off to and back from in the middle of the tune. I've never seen the sense of it. Why would you start to learn on a piano with half the notes missing? Correct me if you think I'm wrong, which I'm sure you will - having invested hours in learning a system, one wants to see the best in it.
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Lester

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Re: Buying advice for a beginner
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2019, 10:58:14 AM »

If DG is such a good system - and to be fair most people on this forum play that system - it needs to be asked why they so often end up with boxes having extra rows of accidentals  or accidentals at the end of the keyboard to make up for missing notes so they can play more keys. On a B/C or other semitone box these notes are where you need them, in a progression of notes running up and down the keyboard, rather than as extra notes  somewhere else on the keyboard that your finger has to fly off to and back from in the middle of the tune. I've never seen the sense of it. Why would you start to learn on a piano with half the notes missing? Correct me if you think I'm wrong, which I'm sure you will - having invested hours in learning a system, one wants to see the best in it.


The 4th apart system and the semitone system boxes are entirely different and both have their pros and cons. They are aimed at different playing styles and lend them selves to different musical traditions.


Both types have pros and cons dependant on what you want to achieve; for instance I am a morris musician, English ceilidh band musician and English session musician and am in no way restrained by only playing a 21 button D/G with 8 basses and the normal accidentals. Could I achieve my desired sound with a B/C, no!
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