Are you looking for your first concertina. You’re in the right place if so.
A concertina purchase can seem daunting, especially if your first time playing Irish music.
There is a concertina for everyone and it can be found to fit every budget. I am here to help you.
I can help you find the right model for you, whether it’s a beginner model that will get you started in your musical journey, or an advanced one that will be with you every step of the way. This handy guide will help you pick the right concertina for your needs.
When we’re done you’ll be an expert on the concertina and have all the information you need to make an informed purchase you won’t regret.
Each of these quality concertinas for sale is perfect for beginners and will help you get to the next level of your concertina playing in no time.
McNeela Concertinas have notified us that they are bringing a new version of Phoenix concertina to market with lovely wooden ends, the Phoenix concertina has been the gold standard for intermediate players for some time now so we’re looking forward to seeing how they version plays.
Without further adieu, let’s get started on our Irish music adventure.
We can help you make the right decision whether you want to play English or Irish folk music, pop, or English dance music.
Concertina types explained and simplified
These notes explain the types of squeezeboxes and the music they can play. They will assist you in choosing the right squeezebox for you. You can find books, dvds, and cds that will help you become a better player.
Perhaps you have seen someone play a squeezebox at an event, session, or village summer festival and thought “I would love to do that.” The melodeon and button accordion, concertina, piano accordion, and concertina all sound very similar to beginners. Eagle Music can help you make the right decision and save money by giving you expert advice. Be aware that many UK retailers don’t specialize in accordions and may try to sell you an incorrect instrument.
We will explain the most popular types of squeezeboxes: Melodeon and Button Accordion as well as Piano Accordion and Piano Accordion. Duet Concertina. For technical information on each instrument, please refer to the links.
We will explain what music is best suited for each concertina and which concertina they are.
Highly skilled players will be able to use the buttons to substitute notes and add more keys. The Hohner Pokerwork Pack is recommended for those who are just starting to learn the melodeon. It includes detailed instructions by Dave Mallinson, an English and Irish music melodeon player. When you consider price and quality, the Hohner Pokerwork is the best. The Pack included a deluxe Extreme Protection ‘Mally bag’, which is the most common way to transport a melodeon.
It is amazing how quickly a beginner can pick up a tune on a melodeon. You will soon be playing tunes, and you can join your local Morris club or local session by learning from the ‘Mally” method book and CD. How good you become as a player will depend on how much practice you do.
English Concertinas and Piano Accordion are also used in English folk music. Please see separate sections for English Concertinas and Piano Accordion.
Which concertina is best for traditional Irish music?
A 30 button Anglo-style concertina is the best for playing Irish folk music. It’s in the key C/G.
What is an Anglo concertina, and how do you get one?
The Anglo concertina music instrument is a bisonoric musical tool. Each button plays a different note depending upon whether you pull or push the bellows. It is more popular in Irish music because it can quickly switch between notes using only a few clicks or buttons.
Why do we need 30 buttons?
Although it’s possible to begin playing on a 20-button concertina as an absolute beginner, it doesn’t have all of the notes required to play Irish music. As your playing improves, you will need to upgrade to a better instrument. In the long-term, concertinas with 20 buttons are not cost-effective.
An Anglo 30 button concertina will be more suitable for concertina players and save money. It is for this reason that I recommend that you start with a 30 button Anglo-style concertina.
What is the key to C/G?
Because it has a two-octave range, the diatonic tuning system for Anglo Concertina makes it ideal for playing Irish folk music.
The three row and 30 button concertinas can also be fully chromatic. This means that they have all the notes needed to play your favorite Irish tunes.
C/G tuning is the best way to play Irish music.
Anglo Concertinas vs English Concertinas
What is the difference between an Anglo-style concertina and one made in England?
Most commonly, the English concertina can be used to play English folk songs.
You can still play traditional Irish music with the English concertina, but you may struggle to match the speed of Irish concertina music.
The English style concertina, like the piano accordion is a unisonoric tool. This means that each button plays the exact same note when it is pushed or pulled.
This means that your fingers will need to move more than on an Anglo-style instrument. This can decrease playing speed.
You may have found another type of concertina, the Duet concertina, during your search.
The duet concertina, a fully chromatic, unisonoric concertina, plays the same note on push and pull. It is similar to the English concertina.
The accompaniment is played with your left hand, which houses the bass notes. Duet is thus the name.
Because of its unique configuration, some people mistakenly think this instrument is a concertina-accordion hybrid. It is more often used to play classical music.
You can find out more about the Anglo concertinas, Duet concertinas, and English Concertina differences in my blog post Concertina FAQ: The Difference between the English concertinas, Duet concertinas, and Anglo Concertina.
Anglo Concertina Layout – Wheatstone vs Jeffries
You may come across Anglo-style concertinas with different button layouts when searching for one. This is quite normal. This is a common arrangement for Anglo concertinas.
Each layout features 15 buttons, one on each side, for the 30 key concertinas. There is also an air release button. Each layout has a slightly different placement of the notes on its right side.
The difference is not significant and will not cause any problems for your concertina playing. Both layouts are equally suitable for beginner concertina players.
Check out our handy diagram:
The quality of your reeds will have a significant impact on the sound of your concertina.
There are four quality levels of Concertina reeds:
- Tipo a Mano
- Hand finished
It is best to look for Czech or Italian reeds made from steel as they will usually offer the highest quality.
Some concertinas have accordion reeds that can produce a slightly different sound. Although they can be more difficult to use, these reeds should still provide a good sound and playability.
Brass reeds are more pleasant than steel reeds and can produce a warmer, more mellow sound. However, they tend to produce lower volume and are less durable. Brass reeds can still produce great sound quality, but they are less durable than their steel counterparts.
The steel reeds are typically brighter and more loud than the brass reeds. They are also more durable and offer greater harmonic and dynamic range. They are the McNeela concertina-reed of preference.
What Does a Concertina cost?
Like all musical instruments, concertinas can be very expensive.
Starter concertinas are priced at approximately $300. However, a good starter concertina can cost up to $1000.
Don’t let cheap concertinas fool you. The instrument’s poor quality is often reflected in the price. You will save money in the long-term by paying more for a high quality concertina.
Continue reading to find out my recommendations for the best beginner concertinas currently on the market.
The Best Concertinas for Beginners
The Wren Concertina
The Wren Concertina is a great starting instrument for all concertina players. This Anglo concertina was specifically designed for beginning concertina players. This instrument will help you get to the next level of your playing as fast as possible.
Why is The Wren the perfect beginner concertina?
- The large, black buttons make it easy to use the concertina and allow you to master your fingering skills in no time.
- High quality steel reeds produce strong and clear tones. A concertina should produce the best sound, even at the beginning stage. You will enjoy playing your concertina and practicing more if it sounds good.
- The 8 fold bellows make it easy to move your concertina.
- It is designed to be comfortable. It has adjustable, soft, and durable hand straps that will keep your instrument safe, even when you are playing for a long time.
- This concertina is finished to a high standard and looks great.
- The case comes with a foam-lined hard cover to protect your instrument from any bumps or drops.
The Wren is a great value for money and I believe it to be one of the most affordable beginner concertinas available today.
There are so many instruments to choose from, it is important that you make an investment in a reliable instrument. This concertina is strong and well-built, which will last a lifetime.
McNeela Instruments also offers a generous trade-in program. We’ll gladly take your existing instrument back and give you credit towards your next purchase.
Click Here to Learn More About This Top-Rated Student Concertina.
Premium Beginner Concertinas
You might consider investing in a higher-quality instrument from the beginning if you are certain the concertina is right for you.
Although it might sound daunting, investing early in a higher quality concertina will save you money over the long-term. You can save money on future upgrades.
If you are looking for a concertina to serve you well through the advanced stages, look no further.
The Swan Concertina
The Swan Concertina is a popular beginner concertina from McNeela Instruments.
This concertina is incredibly user-friendly and has 30 buttons in Anglo style. It is located in the key C G.
This premium beginner concertina is made from high quality materials and offers great value for money. This premium beginner concertina is made from steel Czech reeds that produce a clear, bright tone and a rivet action system that provides incredibly quick responses. Caitlin Nic Gabrieln shows it in action:
It offers exceptional ease of use with reinforced adjustable hand straps and 6fold black leather bellows.
The AP James
This Anglo concertina is a beautiful instrument and would make a great beginner’s concertina. It’s so good, in fact, that I have made my Top 5 Intermediate Concertinas.
Anthony James, a brilliant concertina maker, created this 30 button concertina.
It features Italian steel TipoA Mano reeds with riveted action and a bright, clear sound. This instrument’s 6 fold leather bellows are flexible and allow for greater playability.
The AP James concertina can be ordered with either steel or wood Sapele end plates. Both versions have solid Sapele hand bars and adjustable hand straps.
Long Term Investments
The Phoenix Concertina
The McNeela Phoenix Concertina is the best for affordability and playability.
The Phoenix is an exceptional all-rounder and is great for intermediate to advanced concertina players. It’s also ideal for beginner concertina players who want to make long term investments in their playing.
It is made to the highest standards and is perfect for students who want to master their instrument.
The Phoenix Concertina, a responsive and fast 30 button Anglo-style concertina with C/G tuning in which you can choose from Wheatstone or Jeffries layouts, is extremely responsive.
The buttons’ durable, domed shape is made from black Delrin (a strong polymer). The buttons are durable due to their ability to withstand daily wear and tear.
The Phoenix was made using high quality materials including Czech steel reeds. These hand-finished reeds are made from premium Swedish sound steel and produce a bright, pleasant, melodious tone with plenty of volume. They open up and become more powerful with each play, just like all good reeds.
You can choose from either wooden or matt black end plates to give your concertina a stylish, elegant finish.
You can see it for yourself.
Another concertina you can enjoy is the Ceili Anglo Concertina, by Morse & Co.
This is an anglo-anglo concertina with 30 keys, similar to the Phoenix. It can be ordered with either a Jeffries layout or a Wheatstone/Lachenal fingering arrangement.
The Ceili, like all Morse concertinas, is light and agile. It has a bright, full tone and is easy to use. It’s also easy to see with the choice of either cherry laminated wooden endplates in a rosewood stain, or a satin-black finish.
This concertina, like the Phoenix’s, features solid Delrin buttons that provide quiet and smooth action. This instrument is highly responsive and features traditional riveted action with stainless steel springs.
It features Italian-made accordion reeds that are high quality and have a bright, full sound.