Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

Hi: I am looking to upgrade to a better concertina and I need some advice concerning the various options available. I am hoping that I can get some of that advice from the collective expertise of sessioners.

For the last couple of years I have been teaching myself to play a concertina made in what was East Germany. It has no maker’s name on it. It is a 20 key g/c, it is leaky and slow and hard to play, and it is bigger and tuned to a lower octive that other concertinas I have come across. I think it is a baritone.

I have been saving up my pennies and now I am looking to upgrade, but I have questions.

I rather like the baritone sound. Are there any disadvantages to the baritone that I might regret later?

I notice that there are G/D concertinas available. That would make life easier for me in some ways. What are the advantages/disadvantages of G/D vs G/C?

I know that there are different layouts for the third row of keys. What are the advantages of the Jeffries and other layouts?

How many folds should the bellows have?

That should do it for now.


What kind of music?

What kind of music do you want to play? English morris dancing tunes, Irish traditional, contra-dance tunes, classical?
I used to play an English concertina because I liked to accompany myself while singing. Now that I play traditional Irish I only play a Jeffries C/G and I love it. Your best bet is to go to and look around that site and pose questions there.
The difference between a Jeffries layout and a Wheatstone layout is minor. You can easily adapt to one or the other. Bellows folds depends on how good the bellows are and how you play. I’m perfectly happy with six fold bellows.

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

Thanks cocus. I play Irish traditional pretty much exclusively and am working on getting a few tunes up to session speed. I really miss the c-sharp.


Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

i play a Lachenal G/D. i started out as a guitarist, and switched to fiddle when my interest centered on celtic trad. happened to pick this concertina up and loved the feel of it, and bought it on impulse. not the best reason, perhaps, but compelling at the time. its owner strongly advised me that it would not be a good session instrument, and Noel Hill persuaded me, at one of his concertina camps years back, to put it aside and borrow one with the appropriate keys (C/G, i think), saying i wouldn’t attain the necessary speed for the tunes. he was probably right, but i can’t see learning a new fingering now, and i feel i can contribute to sessions and the odd gig with what i have, and i love playing it. it also allows me to play down an octvae now and then, and sometimes even double up, which can add something. but if you already know C/G fingerings, i would advise staying with that.

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

i dont know anything about concertinas but just out of personal interest what are you considering doing with you old concertina? i’d love to learn to play. but getting one to learn on is a challenge. where did you get yours?

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

I am a cold beginner, after reading many reviews and listening to what folks said about it, I chose the Rochelle.

Now I had already tried the other cheap models in our local music store and found those to have a bad key layout and a very clumsy feel to them.

I really like the Rochelle and am slowly creaking along towards playing in D, my main goal at this time.

ITM tunes almost fall off the keys if you take your time,, for example the song "The Foggy Dew" ( I think it is in the key of D) , the jig "Out In The Ocean" the reel "The Banshee" ( both in G )

D minor tunes also as well as A minor, nearly play themselves ….


Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

C/G is the standard for instruction. If you go to any workshops or camps the instruction will be based on a C/G instrument. It would be difficult, I think, to participate with a different tuning.

I play a Jeffries layout and like the two C sharps it gives you, one in either direction on the right-hand accidentals row.

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

C/Gs and G/Ds are different instruments. If you are going to learn to cross-finger (or go to workshops), you don’t need/want a G/D.

try as many different boxes as you can get your hands on

get one with a push and pull c# if you can

get to as many workshops as you can, find out about the various approaches to fingering, then take up a mix of them that suits you and stick to it

listen to as much ITM as you can (e.g. clarefm)

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

As has been said, C/G is the common tuning for Irish concertina playing.

That being said, I think the biggest hinderance would be in access to classes/teachers/training materials. Those are all aimed at the C/G.

The G/D is a relatively recent shift (many of the vintage G/Ds are actually retuned Ab/Eb concertinas).

Mind you, I not only play a G/D, I play an oddball custom G/D, so I clearly don’t find it to be a compelling argument to stick with the most common key choice.

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement.

I have been playing guitar at sessions for years, and figured it was time to tackle a melody instrument so about 2 and a bit years ago I dug out a concertina I had been given some time ago and started to teach myself. I had played a harmonica a bit and that transferred to the concertina, although, as a result, I tend to play everything in the G row and only cross rows if I need a draw note to give me more air.
I know I should learn to play across the rows.
The idea of a G/D intrigued me because that way I would not have to learn new fingering to play in D and Bminor. But I guess I should bute the bullet and learn to play the right way.
In Newfoundland I do not get the chance to go to camps and take lessons, but I do get helpful advice from all the concertina players around here - both of them.

Saxwhistle: My wife gave the concertina to me about 20 years ago and it sat in the back of a closet for many years. She bought it in a downtown music store in St. John’s Newfoundland. I would not wish it on anyone. This one is not a good one to learn on.

Re: Relative merits of varieties of Anglo Concertinas

No one here has mentioned FC tuning. My FC box has a superb tone and is less shrill than the CG concertina. It is also surprising how many keys the FC will comfortably play - and allow some good chord work… something that is not so easy with the CG. While I unreservedly admire the Noel Hill technique it’s not the only way to get good tunes from a concertina playing ITM…