Best Concertina Reviews

Guide to Concertinas, Concertina Reviews Concertina Reviews: Learn more about this musical instrument and the best brands available.

Concertinas are a part of the accordions world, and are usually preferred by musicians because of their small size and low weight. These instruments also produce an impressive range of sounds.

What is a Concertina?

A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. These belong to the same family as accordions and harmonicas (also known as free-reed aerophones).

It has a bellows, and buttons typically on both ends of it. When pressed, the buttons travel in the same direction as the bellows, unlike accordion buttons, which travel perpendicularly to the bellows. Also, each button produces one note, while accordions typically produce chords with a single button.

Musicians like the rich and the melodious tone of the concertina; its portability makes it even more popular.

History of Concertina

In the 19th century, two different designs of the Concertina emerged independently from England and Germany, with some notable differences. English concertinas are fully chromatic (each button represented half step interval). In an English concertina, the same note is played during compression and extension of the bellows (known as unisonoric).

German concertinas were more like the harmonica where you get two distinct tones from expansion and contraction of the bellows (known as bisonoric). They were also tuned to diatonic intervals.


Checkout this video of a cool concertina performance:


Types of Concertina?

Concertinas are sweet sounding music instruments used in different types of folk and traditional music. Here are the more popular types:

  • English concertina
  • Duet concertina
  • Anglo concertina
  • German concertina
  • Chemnitzer Concertinas
  • About its features

    • The octave range in almost all the types of concertinas is almost the same – you get around three and a half octaves
    • An English concertina allows you to harmonize with a few chords, but is not suited for bass accompaniment.
    • Anglo concertina can also do a bit of both (although they’re a limited due to their push/pull mechanic). Anglo concertina is also easier to learn
    • Duet concertina is designed to play melody with bass accompaniment. Duet concertinas are the hardest to learn because of their layout (allowing the two hands to operate independently. It allows you to play a complete song, covering the bass and treble at once.)
    • Some musicians feel that the push and pull mechanism in a Anglo concertina creates a rhythmic effect which lends itself well in the folk and Irish dance music, whereas some users feel that English and Duets concertinas can be too legato or smooth to play that type of music well.

    Rochelle Anglo Concertina
    30 key C-G with accordion type steel reeds, traditional Wheatstone keyboard layout, 6 fold bellows, Soft gig bag.

    Elise Hayden Duet Concertina
    34 keys, Hayden Duet lay out, accordion style reeds, traditional thumb straps and 6 fold bellows, Soft gig bag

    Jackie English Concertina
    30 keys, metal accordion style reeds, traditional thumb straps and 6 fold bellows, soft gig bag.

    Johnson FI-120 Concertina
    20 Button Anglo Model, 2 1/2 Octave Range.

    Hohner Concertina 20 Key
    Anglo-German style, 20 buttons and 40 reeds.

    Plan Toy Concertina
    For Kids, Squeeze and Pull The Toy to make musical sounds.

    Which One to Buy

    The concertina is definitely a great way to learn more about world music traditions, and to add a lovely richness to your next music project. Concertina is extensively used in Celtic music (in the UK), Boer music in South Africa, Polka music, Argentinian tango, and even as traditional musical accompaniment to Morris dancing.

    Here are some guidelines on which one you should buy:

  • For playing in groups or ensembles of concertinas, an English concertina is more suitable
  • For English folk dance, the push-pull pattern of the anglo scale gives a “lift” to the music.
  • Duets are ideal for song accompaniment or for solo instrumentals.
  • For fast flowing melody lines, the key layout of an English gives it an edge.
  • On the other hand if you play Irish music you shouldn’t even think about buying anything other than a C/G anglo.
  • If you intend to play from music sheet or to compose music for the instrument, choose an English or a duet.
  • Bellows Get Smoother Over Time

    Almost all the concertinas (irrespective of their price) require effort to work the bellows, at least initially.

    Over time, they do become smoother and easier to play.

    They sound better and play more easily with every passing week, so don’t assume that the model you have is bad just because it’s stiff to play.

    Buying a Concertina

    There’s a reason that inexpensive music instruments exists; it allows users to check if they really like the instrument before committing a bigger investment. Cheaper concertinas (toy concertinas) can also be given to children to have some fun with music.

    Should you buy a cheap concertina?
    To the experienced player, including those who may not have played the concertina before but can play any other music instrument or have adequate knowledge of music, its recommended that you buy something from a better brand and not the cheapest one. Otherwise, you may not feel inspired to play the instrument.

    Besides, the cheapest ones are not suited for heavy playing. Buttons getting stuck or having trouble pressing them down, or stiff bellows that require lot more force, are common with the cheap ones.

    On some of them, the buttons might pop back out and play fine, but any skilled concertina player would advise you to buy a good one to avoid all such problems.

    Did you know that the Concertina music instrument is used for wall decoration as well? Yes, there are many who use the Concertina as a decoration item.

    Recording Concertinas

    This can be a challenge, as sound comes from both ends of the instrument, and those ends move around.

    Usually, sound engineers put a mic somewhere at the middle of the bellows and hope for the best sound. For better results, you will need two mics, one for each end, but this can also make the player bit uncomfortable.

    Its better in the studio as you don’t have to cope with the ambient sound, a good condenser mic can be used. Always remember to use the best quality mics.

    Johnson FI-120 Concertina
    20 Button Anglo Model, 2 1/2 Octave Range.

    Hohner Concertina 20 Key
    Anglo-German style, 20 buttons and 40 reeds.

    Plan Toy Concertina
    For Kids, Squeeze and Pull The Toy to make musical sounds.

    Music Resources

    Most beginners opt for a 20-key instrument, however most concertina music available online is better suited for 30 and 40 key instruments.

    You need to spend time and look hard enough to find resources for 20-key instruments.

    It is best to look for songs that can be played in the key of G or C on a concertina, it’s just easier to play them as a beginner.

    Here you’ll find a wide range of world music instruments and accessories, including concertinas. Browse our selection to choose one that suits your needs and start enjoying folk music.

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