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Guide to Concertinas

Concertina : What is it?

Concertinas

The concertina, along with other accordions, belongs to the free-reed family of musical instruments. Invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1844, it is designed with several buttons in a distinctive pattern on each end. It differs from an accordion in the direction its buttons go when pushed. The buttons in a concertina go in the same direction as the push, while those in an accordion go in direction perpendicular to the push. 

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Types of Concertinas

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Kinds of Concertinas include the following:

Anglo concertina

  • The Anglo concertina is made with buttons positioned in several curved rows matching the finger movements.
  • It usually has two rows, where each row is made up of ten buttons.
  • It is bisonoric, which means each button can produces two different tones—one tone when the bellows is compressed and another when it is expanded.
  • It is made with a leather strap where the two hands are placed to hold it properly and securely.
  • The palms rest on the bar, while the thumbs are placed outside the strap.


English concertina

  • The English concertina is made with the buttons arranged in four rows with a rectangular pattern.
  • It is unisonoric, which means each button produces the same note when pressed or drawn.
  • It is made with thumb straps where the thumbs are placed and metal finger rests where the little fingers are positioned, leaving the three fingers of each hand free.


Duet concertina

  • The duet concertina is made with a button layout where the the treble or high notes on the right overlap with the bass or low notes on the left.
  • It is also unisonoric like the English concertina.
  • It is fully chromatic.

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Choosing Concertinas (Buying tips)

Reed: To produce a richer sound, choose a concertina with two or three reeds over one with only one reed per note.

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