Concertina buttons.

Concertina buttons.

Question. I have a wheatstone, C/G concertina, bone buttons, seven fold. My left hand is not as strong or fast as the right hand. I have trouble balancing the two. I am wondering if pro players use that white powder to help fingers to stay on the buttons. I tried buffing buttons with light emery paper then stopped. Should I make the buttons concave.? On the topic of the folds, would I be better off with 6 folds. I am working on simple jigs and reels. On my own. Welcome any advise. Jan.

Re: Concertina buttons.

I would not modify your instrument without expert input.

I suspect probably the thing that will help more than anything else is a lesson, possibly online, with a good player who can look at what you’re doing. I suspect the answer may be simply slow down a little and work on co-ordinating your hands to work together.

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Re: Concertina buttons.

Are your fingers actually slipping off the buttons? It is an oddity that the anglo concertina (like many other instruments) arguably puts more demands on the left hand than on the right, but it’s nothing that practice and proper technique can’t overcome. I wouldn’t modify the buttons, but sometimes a higher/more ergonomic hand rest can be helpful, especially if you happen to have large hands. Finally, when I started out with the concertina, my teacher pointed out that I wasn’t arching my fingers enough, and was coming down on the flats of my fingers, rather than on the tips. Superficially, this made things easier, in that it was harder to miss a button entirely, but it also made it pretty much impossible to play ornaments at speed on the inner row. Overall, I agree with Calum; a few lessons will probably pay off a lot more than any adjustments made to the instrument.

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Re: Concertina buttons.

Calum and AAmac, thank you for replying. my hands are a bit big and fingers not long and slender. I have built up the hand rest with pieces of split garden hose. This seems more comfortable for me. It is mainly the little finger and the next one slipping off and slow to get moving. I am not young either. But I was wondering if the white powder stops the slipping off. I have had piano lessons when a child so I think my arching is ok and I play a bit of fiddle too. I keep my nails very short. I will slow down and concentrate on the tips of fingers more. Many thanks for pointing out these things. Jan

Re: Concertina buttons.

I was advised to simply loosen my wrist straps and learn how to balance the Concertina with my palms against the handrest on either side, rather than habitually gripping at the buttons for balance. This worked wonders for me.

It been a few years since I learned the practice technique, but if I’m not mistaken: You would loosen the wrist straps entirely, and practice a few minutes a day focusing entirely on balancing with your palms on the handrests as you move the bellows in and out. This trains you not to depend on your fingers for grip and balance so they can focus solely on executing notes. Then, as you improve your grip and balance, you can tighten the wrist straps to comfort.

I learned this technique from someone else, so if anyone would like to chime in and make corrections and specifications, please do so.

Re: Concertina buttons.

Glad to see you back Jerone.

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Re: Concertina buttons.

Hi Jan - online lessons at irishconcertinalessons.com with Caitlin NicGabhann - she also runs a chat group on facebook where you can ask her for advice or send her a video to explain better the problem etc .

Re: Concertina buttons.

Hello Jerone thanks for that technique advise. I will give it a go for sure. There are 2 wheatstones on the coffee table now. 2nd one has plastic buttons, Split garden hose on the hand supports. Played it once and then the next time a few mins later it felt like the notes were missing. Loosing wind or weak springs. I do not know. We are short of specialists over here in Australia. Or lacking confidence. Not wanting to upset anyone. Do the number of folds weaken the notes. The 7 fold one is leaking. I hold it up and it drops down reasonably quickly. Is there a book available on repairs?. Something simple and straight forward. Thanks Denise, for the contact for Caitlin, I think I have to sort these problems first, before lessons. This isolation thing is not helping either. I am in that group that has to be careful. Everyone be safe.

Re: Concertina buttons.

Hi Jan

If you want a highly regarded concertina repairer, tuner, reed maker etc here in Australia may I suggest David Hornett in Hobart, Tasmania.
A brilliant instrument maker and repairer. I’ve even seen his filigree work on the end plates, something to behold!
If interested please send a PM

All the best
Brian x

Re: Concertina buttons.

Hi Tom B-R. Thanks for reply. I shall do my best to buy a copy from Dave. Not that I want to do any repairs, it is always good to have a reference point to work with. Keep safe and well, Jan.

Re: Concertina buttons.

Dave Elliott’s "Concertina Manual" is a thorough solution for our everyday problems. But for me, tuning each reed is best left to the experienced, as is fixing leaks in the "drop-down" test when the hanging concertina still descends too fast and you’ve tried everything!