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Author Topic: Instrument suitable for a beginner.  (Read 4519 times)

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Dick Sadler

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Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« on: February 19, 2019, 03:11:41 PM »

Probably asked many times but....elderly beginner currently with the use of a Du Mourier Coaraze (?)    D/G 2 row 3 voice, bass stop and weighs 4.5kg.Must now consider getting my own instrument, but what? Or do I just send off as much as I can afford to a reputable dealer on the grounds that  anything will be better than I am. Many dealers specialise in the one make so considerable mileage would be clocked up to view in person and if I did would I know what to look for anyway. Any thoughts please.
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Lester

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 03:18:33 PM »

Second hand Pokerwork/Erica. Available for ~£500 and worth that when you want to move onwards (mind you after 40+ years I'm still playing one.


If you want to borrow one talk to a nice bloke at the Slow and Steady  8) [size=78%] [/size]

Fred

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2019, 04:02:33 PM »

Second hand Pokerwork/Erica. Available for ~£500 and worth that when you want to move onwards (mind you after 40+ years I'm still playing one.

Can second this. Get a second hand Hohner, preferably a two row (i.e. not a Club or anything like that). They're regularly sold for small money on this forum here (just skim through the Buy and Sell subforum and search for one that you think you might like).
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2019, 04:17:09 PM »

Many dealers specialise in the one make

I think maybe this comment only really applies to new instruments? Most dealers I know who keep a bigger stock tend to have arrangements with manufacturers to get a range of new instruments, otherwise, they have what they have, as it were.

Are you thinking of buying new? The only consistent and 100% sound advice I saw, and would relate, is to buy something 2nd hand, from someone who even remotely cares about their reputation (read: ideally avoid ebay) or has brick and mortar you can go to.

Lester's advice is good - I decided fairly quickly that I didn't like the feel hohner melodeons and went a different direction. But, as a fresh beginner, I couldn't really tell at the time the quality difference between instruments I tried, and I made the choice to go with a more modern budget make, and got a 2nd hand Scarlatti Nero (£300 at the time, a couple of years ago). I can tell the difference now, and I'm not sure what choice I'd make if I had the time over again, but I wanted to move on from the Scarlatti fairly quickly - within a year - compare that to Lester's 40 years.

You say you have use of a box - are you borrowing it from someone you know/lives modestly locally? Maybe you could ask them for advice/assistance? If you can, try to talk to any of your local music people and make friends/acquaintances in sessions and dance sides, even if you're thinking to put off going to such things until you can play in a useful capacity (which is what I did) - if you want to find people with a wealth of instruments, knowledge, and intense interest in sharing it with you, that's usually where you'll find them - for example if you knew me in real life you could borrow my Nero, and I could tell you all the pros/cons with it! Advice and demonstrable things in meat space have been so very much more informative to me, I've found.
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george garside

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2019, 05:00:03 PM »

I too would strongly recommend a hohner pokerwork ( or Erica) DG.  I am another of those who have played one for a great many years   and for many they are a 'lifetime' box.  Don't go for a ''costalloti''  as contrary to some notions one will not improve your playing. 


george   
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2019, 05:11:51 PM »

Agree that Hohner Pokerwork or Erica is usually a good choice for a beginner and will take you well beyond beginner stage too. They are great instruments.

However, I note that in Dick's original post he mentions that the instrument he's been learning on is a three voice box, with a bass end stop (presumably to remove the thirds from the chords). A Pokerwork or Erica has neither of those features.

For a mid-range 3 voice instrument perhaps consider a Castagnari Sander with a bass end stop fitted? Also, at 3.9 kg it is lighter than your current loan instrument. A Tommy is another possibility, very light (3.3 kg) and execptionally playable, although a bass end stop is not currently possible on this instrument.

Pete Ward of this forum (Acorn Instruments) may be able to help further:
https://www.acorninstruments.co.uk/listing.cfm?melodeons

Depends on your budget of course, but they do come up for sale second-hand every so often.

 

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playandteach

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2019, 05:15:40 PM »

Only addition is to be sure to buy a good version of that instrument, in good tune (and to your taste!). For example I would never want (even as a beginner to pick up a box tuned with lots of tremolo - often called 'wet', whereas others love that sound.
So buy one for a bit more money that the bargain stranger, or be prepared to spend a bit to get it right for you.
There is nothing so demoralising as a clumsy box that sounds rough, and it could put you off for life.
There are pokerworks and pokerwork-basket-cases.
I've nothing but trust and respect for people selling instruments here, and remember a good box can be tuned to your taste. Last thing is that more modern pokerworks are Chinese made, and generally not as well-thought of as the earlier German-made boxes. There should be an indication that it is German on the box itself, I believe.
Good luck, and remember to get used to recording yourself early on.
Edit:
I've just seen Steve's mention of 3 voice Sander. I've got one of those and it's great for a mid range box - not hand made reeds. I very rarely use 3 voices or the bass stop though.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 05:19:18 PM by playandteach »
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Helena Handcart

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2019, 05:16:24 PM »

I've played a couple of Scarlatti Neros - and really not been keen at all. I am another who would not consider them to be a patch on the classic Pokerwork or Erica, however a box like that could be good value if bought judiciously second hand - they really won't hold their value if bought new.

When I first started I made the mistake of settling for a Delicia Popular Deluxe (aka the Decidedly Unpopular) for no other reason than there was one available. It looked nice but was horrible to play. I made pretty much zero progress in four months, gave in, bought a Pokerwork and the difference was just amazing.  Luckily I managed to sell the Delicia for pretty much what I sold it.

Happy Squeezing (and I hope you enjoyed Playgroup BTW).

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Dick Sadler

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2019, 05:22:11 PM »

Don’t worry about the stops/voices on my existing loan box. These options must contribute to the weight. (weight of a small wardrobe I think Lester described one as.) Presumably these options also contribute to more cost and at my stage can well be done without as I haven’t found myself using any of these options yet...
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Helena Handcart

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2019, 05:24:29 PM »

Don’t worry about the stops/voices on my existing loan box. These options must contribute to the weight. (weight of a small wardrobe I think Lester described one as.) Presumably these options also contribute to more cost and at my stage can well be done without as I haven’t found myself using any of these options yet...

It is a heavy beast indeed - heavier than my three-voice Saltarelle which is physically significantly bigger. 
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2019, 05:24:58 PM »

Don't go for a ''costalloti''  as contrary to some notions one will not improve your playing.   

Some people like Hohners (for example) because of the quality of the sound they make. Some people prefer Italian boxes (for example) because of the quality of the sound they make. Some people have both so they can choose the sound they want to suit the music they happen to be playing at the time.

The things which improve your playing are practice and determination to succeed. It has nothing to do with the make of the instrument.

Edit:
The only proviso I would add is that a poor quality instrument (either with poor quality components, or one which is in a bad state of repair, even a good one) will hinder your progress and lead to despondency.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 05:29:27 PM by Steve_freereeder »
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Steve
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Helena Handcart

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2019, 05:31:10 PM »

The things which improve your playing are practice and determination to succeed. It has nothing to do with the make of the instrument.


Unless the instrument is so bad - either in make or condition - that it actively hinders your progress.  A good instrument won't make you play better but bad one will certainly slow you down. 

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Cam Button

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2019, 05:32:24 PM »

The Button Box offers their Linnet at 600 USD. Two voice Italian machine reeds. Mine is in the shop as it had a bit too much tremolo for me. Its a small box with a thumb groove, and the buttons feel good to the touch.
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richard.fleming

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2019, 05:37:40 PM »

A good second hand at the right price should keep its value better than a new one. All my Paolo Sopranis are still worth at least as much as I paid for them.
Modified to add 'I hope!'
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 05:58:36 PM by richard.fleming »
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2019, 06:45:40 PM »

I strongly endorse Helena's suggestion of a second hand Pokerwork (or Erica).

I would also recommend buying from a reputable source, i.e., fettler of good reputation (plenty to be found on this site), to give yourself the best chance of spending your early days learning to play it, not learning to fight it...
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2019, 07:06:56 PM »

I've played a couple of Scarlatti Neros - and really not been keen at all.

Yeah, I should add that I've only played a couple that I would call 'OK' - I own one of them. The rest have had some... issues. So to be clear, my advice is: 'do not buy a Scarlatti Nero, unless I guess someone you trust vouches for that specific one. And even then, it's still only a maybe.'.

The only proviso I would add is that a poor quality instrument (either with poor quality components, or one which is in a bad state of repair, even a good one) will hinder your progress and lead to despondency.
Unless the instrument is so bad - either in make or condition - that it actively hinders your progress.  A good instrument won't make you play better but bad one will certainly slow you down. 

Pretty much this. A friend of mine down here who took up box playing the last couple of years had what seemed to be a couple of really quite bad examples - a Stephenelli and a standard Scarlatti (the non nero kind), and I, personally, found them genuinely unplayable. I was so much more impressed with her playing after I'd had a go on them, she was able to get tunes out of them and it seemed to me like, while they'd sounded 'ok', they felt like they were actually screaming the whole time, begging you to stop playing them and let them go back to sleep. She's since purchased a Sherwood Shire II, her example, which she kindly let me test drive, I would describe as 'y'know, this is actually quite good' - I guess one of those might also be a viable option for someone seeking a more Italian sound? But, make sure to play the thing first, though, if you or anyone else ever decided to buy one.

It's tough really because the advice always boils down to 'oh, whatever you do, don't buy a bad one!!' - I don't think anyone really knowingly buys a 'bad' one. Really I'd say it's important to have the chance to play the instrument in question, have the option to return it, or, at least go into the deal willing to turn around and try to sell it on. You aren't going to want to play something you don't like the feel of - the idea of hohner button holes caressing my finger tips still keeps me awake at night in cold sweats, but, I also know those instruments can be eminently playable. Buying 2nd hand should always give you the get out clause of selling it on for about the same price, and having the option to change your mind once you've learnt more about your playing is about the biggest benefit going, but, I also think it's way scarier. The idea of calling up someone I don't know at all and being like 'hi I would like to buy a melodeon that I've never played from you for hundreds of pounds'? Almost as scary as the hohner button holes, to me, anyway.
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Anahata

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2019, 09:17:00 PM »

In addition to the Pokerwork and Erica suggestions (which I agree are excellent value and may well be keepers), I'd also suggest considering an older Hohner that's been fettled to good condition, i.e. 2 row, perhaps Presswood, or Club C/F that's been converted to D/G.
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pete /acorn

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2019, 09:36:39 PM »

Hi
My web site,with luck will be up to date by the weekend
I have several pre owned instruments in stock,all serviced and tuned with 12 months warranty.
If you order on line you have 14 days money back return, conditions apply.
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george garside

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2019, 10:37:01 PM »

Only addition is to be sure to buy a good version of that instrument, in good tune (and to your taste!). For example I would never want (even as a beginner to pick up a box tuned with lots of tremolo - often called 'wet', whereas others love that sound.
 

''the sound'' a box makes is probably/arguably the single most important  factor in choosing a box assuming that the general condition of the box is up to scratch.  If you like the sound be it wet, dry or middling you will enjoy playing it and will play it often and  make progress along the learning curve.  If the sound is not to your liking the thing is likely to become a 'wardrobe' melodeon  sitting there and getting little or no use.

george
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 10:39:39 PM by george garside »
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Peadar

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Re: Instrument suitable for a beginner.
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2019, 12:04:41 AM »

Hohner 1040 - 1 row - in G. The one row version of the pokerwork.

Lightweight (< 2kg) , Same range as a fiddle. No dusty end.

Air button has all the sophistication of a railway wagon handbrake.

Having had this one - and I specifically wanted to learn on a 1 row, if the day dawns when I want a 2 row, I will be after a D/G pokerwork.
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