Concertinas Explained – The Anglo, The English and The Duet

We describe here the differences of the three main types of Concertina. The Anglo Concertina. The English Concertina and the Duet Concertina and the music that each type is best suited for playing on Wheatstone, Lachenal and Jeffries type Concertinas.

All the way back in the year 1829 a gentleman by the name of Charles Wheatstone invented the concertina! The other great makers were Crab, Lachenal, Jeffries and McCann. In almost two hundred years the instrument and the way it is played has little changed. if you are lucky you may still find yourself a Wheatstone or other make vintage concertina …the restored old ones are still considered the best, but there are many modern instruments on the market that more than do the job.

The concertina is the smallest and most compact instrument of the squeezebox family, it was the type of squeezebox that was favoured by the sea going men in the early 19th century because it was easy to stow away in their small sea chest. You will often see modern folk musicians singing sea shanties and being accompanied by a concertina.

It is a lightweight and relatively easy-to-handle instrument and is both versatile for playing tunes, song or dance music accompaniment. The two most popular types are the Anglo and the English and thirdly the Duet which is the least common and least available to find or buy in modern times.

On concertinas you play the higher notes with the right hand and the lower notes with the left hand.

The Anglo Concertina produces a DIFFERENT NOTE on the ‘push’ and on the ‘pull’.
The English Concertina produces the SAME NOTE  on the ‘push’ and on the ‘pull’.

Anglo Concertina

The Anglo Concertina is the one most favoured by Irish Music players. There are 20 key and 30 key models available. The G/C tuned instrument is the choice for playing Irish Music. The 20 key model is limited for the number of octaves that can be played on it, but it is fine for beginners. A 20 key Anglo Concertina along with the book ‘Absolute Beginners Concertina’ by Mick Bramich will soon have you on your way to playing Irish Music.

The 30 key G/C Anglo Concertina is the ‘must have’ concertina for playing Irish Music.
A 30 Key G/C Anglo Concertina box along with the Book ‘The Irish Concertina’ by Mick Bramich you have the best squeezeBox and tuition method for becoming a proficient concertina player.

English Concertina

The English Concertina, as it is called,  is the one most favoured by English Folk Music players. However, there are some great players of the English concertina that play ‘Irish Music’ So, it is not set in stone that it is purely an English Concertina! There are 30 key and 48 Key models available. The instrument is chromatic and gives the player the note on the push and on the pull no matter which way the bellows are moving, the same as a piano accordion. for beginners, the Book ‘Handbook for English Concertina’ by Roger Watson is a good start, but check out all the other material available from Eagle Music.

Duet Concertina

The Duet Concertina is the least common and least available to find or buy in modern times. There are three duet ‘systems’ that were  invented in the 19th century by Jeffries, McCann and Crane. Crane’s Duet Concertina ‘system’ was also known as The Triumph Concertina. The Duet is actually a versatile concertina which plays the same note on the push and on the pull in the same way as the English Concertina The high notes are played on the right side and the bass notes are played on the left side, the same as most concertinas. The problem with playing Duet Concertinas, if it is a problem! is that all the three main makers laid the keys out in a different order.

From time to time we have some vintage concertinas in stock. Its always a good idea to check, you may find yourself a fully restored Wheatstone, Crab, Lachenal, Jeffries or a McCann Duet!