Beginner concertina follow-up question

Beginner concertina follow-up question

Hello All,
I recently asked for, and received, good advice on the subject of getting a decent beginner concertina; thanks to all those who responded. The subject of having two C# buttons came up and I still have a question about it; the company that I’m about to order from (McNeela in Dublin) said they can do a C# on the push 1st row and on the pull 2nd row. I did reach out to a very top experienced and helpful player who recommended getting them in the opposite layout, i.e. on the pull 1st row, push 2nd. So before I take the plunge I’m asking if it makes a huge difference if I have to go with McNeela’s layout? I’m sure it’s not the end of the world either way, but being a complete novice on the instrument I feel it would be silly not to ask for any help you can give me.

Much appreciate any thoughts, thank you!

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

I assume you are referring to a 30 button concertina. The rows run from left to right (i.e., the Accidentals row, the C row and the G row. The columns go up and down. So I assume you refer to the first (center-most) column, top (accidental) row on the right hand. Most people I know, me being one of them, prefer to have C#/C# (push/pull) on the first button (center-most). My preference for the second button in would be D#/D#.
McNeela’s should be able to switch the reeds around fairly easily to accommodate whatever you want.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

Thanks, David, and yes you are correct, I am talking about those two buttons. I don’t think I have the option for a C#/C# but I will double check with them. If possible I will take those options - I must admit I’m surprised at the D# recommendation, which I would have thought was a seldom-used note. Goes to show exactly where I am in this learning curve :)

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

Actually the D# isn’t used a lot, and then only as ‘color’. I do use it when I’m playing solo. But in the second part of Bear Island Reel (Ríl Bheara), a great reel from Finbarr Dwyer, it’s part of the tune.
On my Dipper I have one of the D#’s replaced with a press F# - the same note as the (fourth finger) F# on the left hand. That way I have that F# going in either direction. Chris Ghent is another excellent maker who uses that option, which I find very handy.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

Thanks David, the F# sounds like a great idea, must remember that. But for now I have ordered a Swan and will set about the basics, looking forward to the ensuing confusion and hopefully enjoyment…
All the best.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

Very good luck with your concertina journey. Like learning any new skill (even though you’re a musician already) watch out for muscle tension. Although the actual forces involved in playing concertina are very small, a surprising amount of tension can build up in arms and shoulders. I wasn’t aware, overdid it, and ended up needing physiotherapy exercises to undo the knots!
Just a bit of awareness will avoid any probs.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

Thank you very much, TomB-R - advice noted. It will have been a long time since I started an instrument from scratch so will proceed with as much awareness as possible. Also, I just received confirmation from McNeela’s that they have accommodated my request completely, which is great. They have set up a D#push/C#pull on the first button and C#push/D#pull on the second - which I think covers all the good advice I got (aside from the F# part!). Thanks again, everyone - Exciting :)

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

I have the right hand top row index finger C# in both directions as per Noel Hill’s recommendation. It has been a great asset for playing Irish trad.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

I’m hoping I have the next best thing to that, Phantom Button, though I don’t know enough to know :)
I wonder if a significant amount of players use that layout you have? Or is it even possible to generalize…

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

I agree with Phantom Bell Bottom. It’s fairly common. I use the C# in either direction on that 1st button and play it with either my first or second finger, depending on what follows. The D# is used so infrequently that it suffices (for me) to have the D# on the second button only on draw, using the press on that button for the low F# - same note as left hand draw F# on the low G row. Best for the F#/E/D triplet.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

Haha! Phantom Bell Bottom… I will have to remember that one! :-D

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

I’m way too old for bell bottoms now I’m afraid.

Re: Beginner concertina follow-up question

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. :)