HELP me make the plunge! : LUSENET : concertina : One Thread

I've long been enchanted by the CONCERTINA and long to find a way to find just the right one for me. Could you please help me?

I love all kinds of Celtic and English folk music. Without instruction I have learned to play pennywhistle, the wooden flute and a little bit on the accordion and harp. I've been thumping away at the guitar for nearly 30 years and can impress the hell out anyone who has never had their second guitar lesson(and horrify the others who have...). I have a good to very-good singing voice and a very good ear for melody. I'm not bad at harmony (but not great either) and my ear for rhythm varies from near-competence to some type of pathological arhythmic dysfunctionality.

I'm one of those people who insist that they can't learn to read music. I repeat: I can't read music. Period. I have tried and tried but my brain freezes over and just _will_not_ go in that direction. Conversely, all I have to do is to listen to an air or melody a couple times and I can reproduce it faithfully, with very little need for correction.

I have figured out over half a dozen Morris tunes on my flea-market variety Anglo concertinas (yet I haven't a clue what to do with my left hand/base accompianment). I love that particular feeling you get while playing them --at one point you find that the melody is just rolling-off your fingertips and it's "Hey! This tune seems to; yes; it it MUST have been COMPOSED on this instrument!" The tunes "The Cucckoo's Nest", "The Gallant Hussar", The Rigs of Marlowe" and "Gettin' Upstairs" are especially like that to me.

Which brings me to the reason for this letter: I am SO FRUSTRATED with chronic sticking-down or non functional buttons, on slow action, too-quiet or too loud, out of tune concertinas !!! PLEASE HELP MEEEEE!!!

I would love to find a freshly repaired Wheatstone for $175 on one of my fleamarket excursions but, yes, I understand I'd probably have to throw in another two thousand to get even a beat-up one. I'm tired of waiting!

QUESTION#1: -Is $750 enough? Is it too much to spend as long as I'm one of those pigheaded cretins who insists on not learning to read music?

QUESTION#2: -Is it possible to decide well enough without driving 13 hours to a shop with variety of concertinas to try?

QUESTION#3: -Am I making a serious mistake venturing that much money having only learned to play some tunes on an Anglo box? NOTE: I'm assuming here that my limping/sticking Bastari, dead Hohner, and sadly rain-damaged "made in Germany"(dead) no-name are "Anglo's"because they play(ed) "Do-Re-Mi" by "in-out-in".

QUESTION#4: -Meanwhile, the fanciest box I have is the Bastari. My BASTARI is relatively small 30 button, six sided, 8 fold red fabric/ brown leather edged bellows, nice stained wood sides simple steel cut-out ends, adjustable leather palm straps, hard brown plastic cube carrycase with luggage handle. I suppose it was a steal for when I nabbed it used for $45...

A couple of the buttons STICK-(and play, stuck)down... both because they go-crooked enough in their holes to jam-down and equally because all the buttons are significantly lacking in the spring-return department. The original spring-return function of each button was a short lenghth of surgical gum-rubber tubing under each button which originally, I suppose, gave adequate return action. Of course, by the time I got it, the rubber tubes were hard and rotten. I replaced them with lenghths of modern (vinyl?) clear surgical tubing which works for most of the keys most of the time but its action is tough and sluggish and basically unacceptable. I'm tempted to say it's better than nothing but, well, it aint. Is "surgical gum-rubber tubing" extinct? I fantasize about finding perfect little springs to replace the tubing and some perfectly magical grometted ferrules to hold the buttons straight through their throw-- but the years go by and I don't do it and now at nearly 45 years old and the first twinges of arthritis in my fingerjoints, I feel it's time to move.

I'm sorry I've gone on so long but I feel I've made my case. What do you think? Any guidance will be greatly appeciated.

Eric G. Canali aka Earrach of Pittsburgh (PA)

-- Eric G. Canali (, June 25, 1998


Make that Plunge!

Yes, buy a good concertina. For one thing, look at it as an investment: a cheap one is like a car in that it's worth less every year you play it-- while a good one is more like a house in a (currently, anyway) gentrifying neighborhood-- as long as you keep it up, it appreciates. The better a model you can afford, the more likely it will continue to hold its value, or appreciate.

But, mainly, it is SO MUCH MORE FUN to play one that makes you sound *good*

I suppose an period of time in the saltmines, learning to sound good enough even on a crappy instrument, doesn't hurt.

-- Tim Jennings (, July 17, 1998.

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