GUIDE FOR PARENTS BUYING BEGINNER /STARTER CONCERTINAS OR NEXT STAGE CONCERTINA
We have been besieged by parents with overpriced Starter Concertinas and others who have invested in what they thought were quality Next Stage Concertinas and didn’t realize what they were buying until they were trying to sell on.
Someone has to say stop on all these mad prices for concertinas. Some teachers will go on sound but don’t get involved in the pricing etc.
After 10 years in the business of manufacturing concertinas, we want to put ourselves out there and offer our services in the way of advise, for parents new to this instrument.
Fistly,as we import our own Beginner concertinas we obviously have ideas from experience on what is needed by the pupil to get started and we basically work with 2 models. First model is a basic starter and 2nd model is a better starter and the way we read it is, its down to your pocket, If you can afford the better model the pupil will get longer on this but its still a starter.
Whichever level of starter instrument you buy, the teacher over the next 2 or 3 years will want the pupil to move up to the next level. This is where it gets complicated.
Mid Range / Next Level
The next real level is a handmade instrument like our Clare or a Jose Claro, Marcus etc. and this needs to be handmade, because the pupil needs to be able to do Rolls and Ornamentation which requires the springs set at a certain pressure and the reeds need to be of a quality to respond fast.
There are a few dealers selling what they claim are handmade instruments with quality reeds but basically they are mass produced in the same factory as the beginner instruments.
The method of construction and the quality of materials in these instruments
means they tend to degenerate with time in a way that true concertinas do not.
Example of the mass-produced instruments are our own Swift, The Swallow, The Curlew, The Pheonix and mostly any Concertina with a birds name on it is made in China and as the demand for these concertinas is mostly only for Ireland, Its my guess they are mostly all made in the same factory.
There are only 2 makers of Concertinas in Ireland – “Irish Concertina company” in Crumlin and “Jose Claro”in Tralee.
Why the pupil needs a handmade instrument at this level.
1. Cheap reeds do not respond under pressure and sometimes close.
- The button is attached to the lever and the lever needs to be riveted because later on when the pupil is playing fast tunes the action needs to be fast and immediate.
- The pressure of the buttons has to be set the same on all buttons in order to do the ornamentation.
Top of the range c/w Concertina Reeds
Some teachers ask parents to move up to the Top range with Concertina Reeds and here is where another problem may arise.
If the parent chooses to buy new, there is often [ but not always] a waiting list which could be anything from months to 3 to 4 years. A few makers like the idea of having a waiting list, but secretly supply shops and agents in the meantime which is disrespectful to parents or players who pay a deposit and have to wait. Waiting lists sometimes happen because makers won’t take on sufficient staff.
Buying new means, you have a trouble-free concertina for years, but please remember that just because the instrument has a famous persons name on it, this does not justify the maker charging an extra 2 or 3000 for it.
Grades of Concertina reeded instruments.
a. Basic singular Brass plate shoes with no work done on the plate. Price between €3000 to €3500
b. Singular Brass plate shoes with Clamp’s. Price between €3500 and €4000.
c. Singular Brass reeds with Clamp’s and Angling Price between €4000 and 5000.
There are importers of Old Concertinas who over value their instruments and they can do this because parents new to the instrument are fooled into thinking they are buying quality.
There is very little quality available in old instruments with a few exceptions like Jeffries
for example. If you know that makers made instruments ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the excellent, then when you see one you can kind of judge for yourself
A lot of these old established named instruments were made over 100 and more years and an example of quantity made, Lachenal made over 150,000 in their time before 1933.
Lachenal stopped production in 1933. [1890 to 1933]
Wheatstone made some good quality (Be aware, that instruments made after they were taken over by Boosey & Hawkes in the 1950s are generally regarded as being of
poorer quality than before and 70 years later a lot of these are pure rubbish).
Crabb made some quality over the years but I have seen some rubbish in my time.
Jeffries made a lot of quality instruments and these are still fetching big money, but they are not all good quality unless they have been reconditioned well.
If you are seriously considering a particular concertina don’t be afraid
to ask the dealer to take the ends off and let you look inside. After all,
you may find anything up to and including woodworm. It might be too late down the road when you bring to a repair person like us and this is what got us going in the first place with this rant.
Good luck with your purchase and if you need any advise on your purchase please don’t hesitate to Call Me 086 172 1792 Sean Garvey