Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

So, I love the sound of a concertina. But as a poor college student, I see the prices on nice ones and my heart drops. I already own a melodian, and I’m wondering. Is it worth getting a cheap concertian to have fun with, or is it similar enough to a melodian that there’s no point and I’d be wasting my money? Help. Please.

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

The melodica and the concertina are extremely different, although both being free reed instruments there’s at least a little similarity int he sound. Outside of the "Rochelle" model Anglo concertina from Concertina Connection, which currently sells for a bit over $400US, I have not heard great things about any concertina under about $2,000US. That’s not to say you can’t get them under that, I’ve just heard mostly poor reviews (stiff, leaky bellows, bad reeds, poor construction) of the cheaper concertinas on the market.

I’ll let someone who actually plays the concertina inform you more about that side of things, but I will say that I have heard trad played excellently on the melodica, so you wouldn’t be the only one out there. I saw a young man playing one in Clifden a while ago, I believe a member of the Hernon family there (or at least was playing with Marcus), and he was great! He was missing a hand, which I’d imagine makes most other trad instruments somewhat awkward to play, but made the melodica sound wonderful.

I haven’t been able to find a video of him around, but I might not be searching for the right terms. Just don’t try this to your local session:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDkifmkSJmc

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

do you really mean melodica [the little mouth blown keyboard in the vid] or melodeon [1 0r 2 row diatonic push/pull accordion? just so we know what we’re talking about.

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

Melodeons, of course, are not Melodicas. Melodeons are one row push-pull bellows instruments. Around the turn of the 19th to the 20th Century they were cheap and readily available out of Germany, and were quite common in Irish households, nearly as common as penny-whistles. Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k50pa8e0FY we have a video, not for the faint of heart, of a man swapping out accordion reeds for the terrible ones found in the currently available cheap instruments on Amazon. He calls his a ´cheap one row accordion´, but whatever. At one time a technician in New Orleans offered this type of service (may still).

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

Melodica, my apologies for the confusion. The particular brand I have (I believe) calls itself a melodion, which always is confusing.

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

One advantage of being a college student, is that you have a full lifetime ahead of you to amortize your investment. That is a good thing because learning a musical instrument takes a lifetime.

So, divide the cost by the number of years you have ahead of you. I’ll bet it’s less than a beer a week?

Yeah, I know you have to deal with the initial upfront hit…

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

As someone who has been trying to learn the concertina for about a year and a half I was pretty confused about what to start off on, and cost was of course a big factor. After lots of digging around I came to the conclusion that an absolute beginner concertina was just going to limit my progress and become redundant too quickly, So I went for a Swan concertina from McNeela instruments - I live in States and had no access to any models to try out so this was a complete shot in the dark. I’ll stress that my Swan is literally the only concertina I have ever held in my hands, so bear my ignorance in mind; however, I must say that I’ve been very pleased with it so far. I feel that it is capable of allowing me to progress through a few years of learning at least, before I can upgrade it. It cost about $900, and I feel - as the above poster says - that this was a reasonable investment for a few years of playing (if not more). I have no affiliation with this company, by the way, I just really enjoy the instrument and they are very helpful in general. I’m so glad I didn’t get a complete beginner model; I would almost guarantee that it would have stifled my enthusiasm for learning - and you need as much enthusiasm as you can get with this process!
PS One thing I did find helpful while making my decision was to study keyboard layout charts to get a slight headstart on the instrument; a bit weird but I thought it was very helpful once I got the actual instrument.
Best of luck with whatever path you choose.

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

The melodica is much more akin to a piano accordion than a concertina. Of course, it doesn’t have the bass and chord buttons (which some might consider a positive thing, as it is easy to wreck a tune with overzealous vamping); but since you are supplying the air directly from your lungs, you have a level of control of airflow (and hence expression) that can take years to master using bellows.

The Anglo concertina is a completely different animal (…and English and duet concertinas are different again), with a completely different arrangement of notes, a different mode of execution and a different sound. It has a well established niche in Irish Traditional Music, with countless exponents of a very high standard. By contrast, there are very few serious players of Irish Traditional Music on the melodica to use as role models. By all means, get a melodica and learn to play it (where finger technique is concerned, there is much overlap with piano accordion and piano). Perhaps you can learn to mimic the Anglo concertina to some extent, if that is the sound you want, but bear in mind that the concertina sounds the way it does partly because of its ‘limitations’, so you will need to learn specific techniques to simulate those limitations - not an easy thing to do and you will have to figure it out for yourself.

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

I have a Lachenal concertina that I’d be willing to sell.
It’s in G/C and has rosewood ends, bone buttons, steel reeds and 5 fold bellows.
It plays pretty well and is in good original condition, with a few wear marks but no obvious damage - it is 140 years old! I had it completely rebuilt and tuned by Marcus Music when I acquired it many years ago. It’s in it’s original octagonal wooden box. I played it for a few years before I bought a Jeffries.
Looking for around UK£1,500. I’m situated in Wales but could post wherever. If anyone’s interested, you can mail me off forum (barryriley9@gmail.com). Photo’s available and I could record a couple of tunes as well.

Re: Concertina vs Melodian (melodica)

I recently purchased a new Wren2 C/G anglo concertina from McNeela Instruments (it arrived 2 weeks ago). Current price is 410 euros, including a very durable case and 3 beginner online video lessons. The sound is very nice, I am already playing some tunes (although I play other instruments, so it is a matter of learning the technique and button layout). The video lessons are very helpful and I am considering purchasing access for some more. I also purchased the Absolute Beginner book and CD they sell, which has been helpful. The bellows are a bit stiff, but it is a new instrument. I am very happy with the quality for the price and can upgrade at a later time to a better instrument when my playing potential matches the price! It took a week from ordering for the concertina to arrive to Canada. For about $720CAN I am enjoying my new musical adventure!