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Author Topic: Potential newbie seeks advice!  (Read 6684 times)

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catie

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Potential newbie seeks advice!
« on: October 06, 2008, 12:13:35 PM »

Hello all,

I'm a flute/recorder/whistle player by trade and for sometime now I've wanted to start an instrument from scratch and have been leaning towards the melodeon. I've been doing a fair amount of reading and I've had a go on a very nice handmade Castagnari, and I even bought one of those child's mini-melodeons (argh, don't judge me!) just to see if I could get the 'knack' as it were, and I definitely think it's the instrument for me  ;D

I'm more into English folk, so am I right in thinking a D/G is best suited? I've had a look on t' web, and was wondering if people thought this was a good deal: http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/details1.asp/ProductID/4998/sid/154/stephanelli-d-g-melodeon-starter-pack.htm

Also, I've heard rumours that there's a regular squeezebox session at the Kelham Island Tavern in Sheffield...am I correct?

Any tips and advice is much appreciated!

Cheers,

Catie
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Dazbo

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2008, 03:16:26 PM »

Hi Catie

There is a Kelham Island Tavern session, first Sunday of the month.  Val runs it but she's not posted here for a while I think (it's not a squeezebox session but there're usually at least three or four box players there).

The Dave Mallinson book is a great place to start.

I've not had a go on a Stephanelli - they might be crap or they might be okay.  I'd suggest (and I think most people here would agree) that you get the best melodeon you can afford.  It sounds like you've got on well with the little chinese one row so you're not jumping in blind so I'd hope that you take to a two row like a duck to water.  In which case you'll almost certainly want to up grade to a better box.  This is where the Stephanelli (and similar boxes fall down) - it has virtually no resale value whereas a good second had or new box you'll get most of your money back.

Also, always try and play a box before you buy it - there can be a lot of difference between instruments (I guess you already know that though).  So, assuming you live in or near Sheffield and have transport, I'd suggest you go up to The Music Room at Cleckheaton - they've usually got a good selection of new and used melodeons and you can spend an hour or two trying different boxes.

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joe

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2008, 03:36:23 PM »

And yes, D/G is most suited!
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OwenG

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2008, 04:00:15 PM »

Another option is to try and rent a box so that you can see how you get on without forking out all the cash. I've done this with a music shop local to me in Cambridge where they have a deal to knock off the rental that you've paid if you decide to buy within the first six months. It may be worth looking to see if anywhere offers a similar deal near you.
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george garside

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2008, 05:18:56 PM »

Another option is to try and rent a box so that you can see how you get on without forking out all the cash. I've done this with a music shop local to me in Cambridge where they have a deal to knock off the rental that you've paid if you decide to buy within the first six months. It may be worth looking to see if anywhere offers a similar deal near you.
The music room at cleckheaton have quite a good scheme where tha hire charge is deducted from the purchase if you decide to buy
= it applies to hohner pokerwork & perhaps other boxes as well.

george
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Falseknight

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2008, 06:41:07 PM »

I'd agree with much of the above but I'm coming at things from a slightly different viewpoint.

I've had an 18 year holiday from melodeons -  I sold my Erica G/C and my Corona II when my first child arrived and concentrated on frets.  I've just got into things again and went the cheap D/G route - on the grounds that if things didn't work out I could always sell on with not too much trouble.  I didn't buy the best I could afford, I bought a very lightly used Delica Popular III (so lightly used it is still breathing new wood  and glue smell over me) for less than the price of a Chinese box.  It is probably as good as the Erica I sold on 18 years ago - so don't ignore used.  People buy instruments, don't take to them and sell them on.

If you are going to play English traditional tunes socially, I suppose D/G is your best bet - though I still find it squeaky in the high register.  If you are intending to sing and use box as accompaniment, consider other keys.  If your tune repertoire (like most allegedly English musicians) includes more Irish than Morris, consider a B/C - though in my opinion they are less logical to play and you won't be doing much with the basses.

Also remember that Italian (or French) boxes costing four figures are not necessarily best for everything - the Italian boxes of choice when I was doing the rounds 25 years or so ago were the Paulo Sopranis - you don't see many of them at morris sessions even though they do nice D/Gs.

Hope this helps, and doesn't add too mcuh confusion - I'd probaly look for a used Pokerwork or Erica in your situation since they tend to be bomb-proof.
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Québécois

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2008, 07:09:45 PM »

I don't know that specific "brand" (although there are lots of chinese boxes using fancy italian names that mean nothing) or that shop, but remember the old adage: "you get what you pay for".

Many of those cheap chinese boxes sound OK at best, and can hardly be repaired if there is a problem, if at all. I know an importer who can get similar boxes for less that USD 75, so even at GBP 200 it's good business for the seller, while all you get as a buyer is $75 worth of wood, plastic, cardboard and bits of metal.

Instead I would look for a used Hohner like a Pokerwork or Erica/Corso/Corona which would most probably sound better and last you many, many years.

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george garside

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2008, 09:59:24 PM »



 , 
 , consider other keys.  If your tune repertoire (like most allegedly English musicians) includes more Irish than Morris, consider a B/C - though in my opinion they are less logical to play and you won't be doing much with the basses.

  ]

The Bc is perfectly logical to play and  a greater rang of keys can of course be played - the achiles heel is the bass  that does not lend itself to giving the rhythmic drive possible on a DG.  The Dg is only logical as lng as its being played on the row in which case  both keys (with the exeption of low E in key of G) are the same to finger. However there aare problems with dot reading as eg G is push on one row & pull on the other  same with B etc.  - also accidentals have to be borrowed  C# from the other row or are parked at the chin end where they don't fit logically into a tune.
The BC is logical in the sense that you use exactly the same  cdefgab whatever key you are playing in and pick up the 'black notes' from the other row in much the same way as a piano keybord.  Additionallly you have B & E available in either direction which is very useful to control bellows when playing in A. 

Having said that I would agree that the Dg is probably the best bet if you are intending playing for moooris, english(ish) sessions  or ceilidh band work as the keys of D & G are very widely used.  For  song accompaniment or accompaanying instruments playing in other than D&G the Bc offers some advantages. A small BCC# with stradella bass retains the push pull system whilst being both chromatic & able to drive a bass rhythm ,therefore only requiring one box to do all jobs. There are some hohner 2 row duble ray deluxe boxes areound with 12 straadella bass giving a very light box with bass for keys of cgda & there is one in Scotland that has haad 48 bass grafted on making it a very handy device.

george

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Theo

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2008, 11:12:44 PM »

Hi Catie

You will have gathered from the responses so far that the choice of system D/G, B/C, C#/D etc is a constant source of friendly disagreement between us.  The truth is that you can play English trad music on any instruments that allows you to  play in the keys of D and G.  All the systems mentioned so far will let you do that, but the most popular by far for English music is D/G, but there is not technical reason why you can't use the other systems.  The decider when starting off is usually to choose the same system as people who you may be learning from, it makes learning easier.

Have you found the beginners guide over on the main melodeon.net website?
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Falseknight

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2008, 11:40:39 PM »

For disagreement, look at a forum discussing altered guitar tunings - this is quite mild :)

An interesting side issue is that melodeons (and concertinas) became the instrument of choice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century because they were mass produced and therefore relatively cheap and very consistent - the guitar analogue to the basic concept is the Fender Telecaster.  The Japanese, South Koreans and Chinese have proven time and time again that it is a simple matter of production engineering to produce an affordable, acceptable guitar.  There should be no problem in the Chinese doing the same with a melodeon - provided that the required quality and consistency is specified.  Materials are better - and more consistent (steel for reeds etc.) mechanised production techniques are better - I'd love to play with a fine blanking press for reed production, and computer routers have revolutionised everything from guitars to furniture - we should be able to turn out very high volumes of melodeons and accordions cheaply at good quality.  It won't knock the high end market, and it won't knock the interesting old market, but it shouldmake good student and intermediate instruments affordable.
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catie

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2008, 10:09:41 AM »

Hi all,

Many thanks to everyone for all the info and advice, it certainly isn't straightforward is it?!

It seems that maybe the best thing for me to do would be to find a second hand Hohner. I certainly have nothing against having a used instrument, only that being a woodwind player I've traditionally been a little wary of someone else having blown down the instrument before me  ;D I might see if I can get to the Music Room at Cleckheaton seeing as it's not too far away from Sheffield. I like the idea of going to try one first, and a scheme where you can hire before you buy also sounds good.

Theo: yes, I've had a read of the beginner's guide, it looks very useful, particularly that diagram with the buttons and notes (perhaps that's why I'm leaning more towards a D/G system!)

Thanks again!

Catie
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petefoth

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2008, 11:38:59 AM »

Music Room used to have a scheme whereby you got 10% discount if you signed up to receive their newsletter. I rang and asked if the discount was only for online sales but they were happy to honour it in the shjop as well so I went along to the shop, trioed a few boxes and bought one. Worth having the discount if you're looking to buy a melodeon.

I couldn't find that offer on their web site, but they do seem to be offering a 20% discount on the web site at present. Also the page at http://www.themusicroom-online.co.uk/voucher.php
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catie

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2008, 02:39:10 PM »

Hi all,
Just letting you know that I'm now the proud owner of a Hohner Pokerwork! Thanks to everyone's advice I decided to invest in a (lightly!) used Pokerwork which Martyn White was selling. Martyn has been very helpful, even playing it down the phone to me, so I really can't wait to get started.
Thanks again for all your help, I'll keep you posted of my progress!
Best wishes,
Catie
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joe

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2008, 02:58:24 PM »

Hurrah for another Pokerwork player! I have never felt for any other instrument what I feel for my pokerwork.
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catie

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2008, 09:53:39 AM »

Well, I've only had it a few days but I'm having lots of fun already, and rushing home after work to play it  ;D I've just been playing around with it to get the 'feel' for it and I've started to learn a couple of tunes. It's hard work but I'm really going to try and make sure I practice at least a bit every single day!
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Ellie

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2008, 10:57:47 AM »

It was suggested to me when I started that the best thing to do was to leave it out somewhere so you can have a quick practise at moments like waiting for the kettle to boil - it works a treat! ;D 9 months on I've got to the stage of always having it in the car, so I can practise anywhere - at the moment it's in the car park at work at lunchtimes at the moment, until the weather closes in!

Glad you're having fun - long may it continue :)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2008, 11:20:15 AM by Ellie »
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catie

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2008, 01:17:34 PM »

Hi Ellie, thanks for the advice, with the amount of tea I drink I will surely be an expert in no time at all if I practice waiting for the kettle to boil, heheh! Seriously though, it's a great idea, although I'm a tad clumsy and I'm paranoid at the mo about knocking it over or tripping up whilst carrying it  ::)
I read on one of your previous posts that the flute is your first instrument (mine too!), how have you found the melodeon in comparison?
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xgx

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2008, 04:29:09 PM »

... I've got to the stage of always having it in the car ...

Hi Ellie
Just a word of caution... if the car is is full sun (even in the winter) the temperature may rise to a point where  it affects the reed wax... I've heard horror stories of reeds falling out of their mountings  :o
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Dazbo

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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2008, 08:47:27 AM »

Quote from: oldsoke link=topic=953.msg8330#msg8330

... even in the winter ...

And (is it Lester?) played a box that was too cold and the wax shattered.

In the UK you're probably alright keeping it in the car most of the year but not in very hot or cold conditions (I've kept my boxes in the car without any problem at Sidmouth in August without any problems - I do use those reflective screens to stop the windows acting like a greenhouse though).

« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 12:45:08 PM by Dazbo »
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Re: Potential newbie seeks advice!
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2008, 09:29:17 AM »

Quote from: oldsoke link=topic=953.msg8330#msg8330
... even in the winter ...
[/quote

And (is it Lester?) played a box that was too cold and the wax shattered.

In the UK you're probably alright keeping it in the car most of the year but not in very hot or cold conditions (I've kept my boxes in the car without any problem at Sidmouth in August without any problems - I do use those reflective screens to stop the windows acting like a greenhouse though).



I try to keep the box in the boot if its very hot and haave had no problems in foreign parts with temps above 90F. the boot is usually the coldest place in the car being where the sun doesn't shine.  In very cold conditions which seem to be getting rarer these days I keep it in the car itself so the odd ray of sunshine will keep it happy!

george
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