Concertina question

Concertina question

Hi,
So I’m looking into learning Anglo concertina and wondered what the difference is between a Lachenal and a Jeffries concertina? Also, which one is more typical in Irish Traditional Music?
Thank you!

Re: Concertina question

They are both fine… if they are 3-row C/G. The difference is expense.

Re: Concertina question

Both built the same instrument, Anglo Concertinas, with some slight button to note mapping differences. They are just different makers from the same general period. Different tone quality because of the design, materials, and reeds, with some instrument to instrument differences. These days the biggest difference is price, a good restored Jeffries can often be 3 to 5x as expensive as a good restored Lachenal.

Re: Concertina question

The big difference between the two has always been reed quality. While they are variable, the Jeffries will be louder and faster.

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Re: Concertina question

A Lachenal will probably have the "Wheatstone" keyboard layout, whereas Jeffries’ layout is slightly different. The difference is in the third "accidental" row. Many ITM players favour the Jeffries layout as it has C# in both directions.

https://learnfreereed.com/anglo/anglo-fc-cg/

Lachenal was a mass maker and produced large numbers of instruments for all levels of the market and of different quality. Some of their top-line instruments are very good. Jeffries output was smaller, the instruments were mostly of higher quality, and had his own supply of steel for reeds which gave his instruments a distinctive sound, which is sought-after.

There seems to be a view among some ITM enthusiasts that only a Jeffries will do. That has helped drive prices to a ridiculous level. Yes, in good condition they are usually superb instruments, but it is questionable whether they are worth the price premium over other makes, especially when you can pick up a Crabb (who made instruments and supplied parts to Jeffries) for considerably less than an identical instrument with the Jeffries stamp. There were lots of concertina makers and some made very good instruments. There are some modern makers who produce high-quality instruments but you may have to join a waiting list.

Re: Concertina question

Thanks everyone! What note layout is an Edgely Concertina? Someone in my area is selling an Edgley Anglo Hybrid Model.

Re: Concertina question

My older Edgley C/G is a modified Jeffries layout, with three C# notes on the right chromatic row. I have another Edgley A/E that is a Wheatstone layout. I’m pretty sure he makes both styles available.

Re: Concertina question

The best thing is to ask, if you’re interested in a particular instrument. You can never assume that an instrument will have a particular standard layout. Many concertinas have had their layouts customised to suit previous players’ preferences, either by the original maker or subsequently. I have done it myself to one of my instruments.

Re: Concertina question

I agree with Howard, you’ll want to play the instrument to determine the actual note map.

That being said, I play both Jeffries and Wheatstone layout instruments, it’s really not a big deal switching between them. I wouldn’t reject buying an instrument that I like the sound of just because of the layout.

Re: Concertina question

I play a Hayden Duet, because I started late and don’t have time to learn Anglo or English, though I have looked into both. I have dealt with the Button Box in Massachusetts and found them to be extremely helpful. They have models of all three types to rent, which helps to decide as no really good instruments are all that cheap. In addition to the new models they make they usually have a large stock of used instruments. All are guaranteed and they can be trusted to tell you about the quality or just to consult. No I don’t work for them. I am just a satisfied customer. check them out if you like. https://www.buttonbox.com/
Respectfully,
Thomas Carlisle

Re: Concertina question

@Thomas Carlisle: Although not directly relevant to the original question, it is interesting hear from someone that i. plays Irish trad on something other than an Anglo and ii. that plays a duet concertina at all - duet players seem to be something of a rarity. I did meet a duet concertina player once, but she didn’t turn up to the session I invited her to, so I never got to hear her play. I have a friend who plays a G/D Anglo that has been converted from a duet, but that’s about as close as I’ve got.

I am not a concertina player myself, although I can play, after a fashion, a few simple tunes up and down the G row (melodeon style). Now and again, my friend (see above) lends me his C/G, whilst he plays the G/D and we play a tune or two together. Since his repertoire is predominantly English, we are playing Anglo concertinas and there are two of us, he likes to refer to it as an English Anglo duet…

Re: Concertina question

Another point RE, difference between Lachenal and Jeffries instruments concerns the button action mechanism.


Not all, but most, Lachenal concertinas have an older form action mechanism sometimes dubbed "post-and-lever." It can be perfectly adequate, but it can also be slower and less fluid and responsive than the "riveted action" mechanisms developed later.

Jeffries concertinas largely have riveted action, as do the finer Wheatstones and modern premium concertinas such as Suttner, Dipper, Carroll. Hybrid concertinas including Morse and Norman also have riveted action. I personally would prefer to learn on a hybrid with a very quick response, than on a Lachenal IF the Lachenal action is slow to respond.

I once heard an Irish master concertina player/teacher telling the parent of an advanced young student that the student was now at the point where their Lachenal was going to hamper their development. The teacher was advising the parent to try to get on the list for a Suttner or other modern concertina with a better mechanism and response.

One can have the action on a Lachenal re-built to riveted by craftsmen such as those at ButtonBox. It is sometimes well worth it if the Lachenal is a good one—-IMHO Lachenals sometimes have a wonderful, deep voice that sounds like neither Jeffries or Wheatstone, but is nifty in its own right.

Post-and-lever action is not ALWAYS cumbersome. Edgeley concertinas have an augmented version of this action, and they are as fast as good riveted-action concertinas.