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bru
May 7, 2006

pampering lifes complexity


Anyone know where you can pick up a Cardboard Dulcimer in the UK? I've google'd it to high heaven but not found anything. The site linked to in the OP is charging ~$100 for delivery :/

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Gumby Orgy
Mar 21, 2007

by T. Finn


bru posted:

Anyone know where you can pick up a Cardboard Dulcimer in the UK? I've google'd it to high heaven but not found anything. The site linked to in the OP is charging ~$100 for delivery :/

I have a wooden lap harp I'm willing to part with. It sounds very much like a dulcimer, but it is a little more basic. You can pluck it and even change the tuning to suit your needs.

Caveat: I don't remember if I packed it and brought it with me when I moved out of my mom's house. I'll pm you if I still have it.

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Econosaurus posted:

So what's the best of the under $10 tin whistles? Also, the forum linked doesn't have a tin whistle section...where should I be looking for help with that?

Edit: also how is the $13 orcarina?

??? It's the very first subforum in the main section: http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewforum.php?f=1&sid=c5883afa6213f75ce5b32b761e52e953 100% whistle-talk, all the time.

Mradyfist might have his/her own opinion as to the best $10 cheapie, but I'd say either Soodlum or Feadog for the cylindrical style, or Clark for the (breathier, softer) conical style. In all cases, get one in D unless you have a clearcut reason to get a C.

For the ocarina, I did do a decent bit of Googling to find those two brand recommendations, so just do a search for that name, read the mentions in musician forums, and I think you'll find the word on the street is quite positive. That's why I'd mentioned the whole "get a brand with good rep" since there's no point getting a $9 no-name when a $13 Brand Y is recommended across numerous forums.

quote:

Anyone know where you can pick up a Cardboard Dulcimer in the UK? I've google'd it to high heaven but not found anything. The site linked to in the OP is charging ~$100 for delivery :/

I don't, though you might check Everything Dulcimer and post a question thread with a nice explicit title on this issue.

Alternately, you could either get or make a one-piece dulcimer fretboard, glue it onto a sturdy box of appropriate size (curtain-rod box?), and that'd work about as well. All the weight-bearing etc. is on the fingerboard in that sort of model. You might be able to get some local English luthier to make you just a fingerboard awfully cheaply, or if you're handy you can buy literally just a piece of wood, glue on a template (which you can print off online or buy) that'll show you where to make some hacksaw cuts for the frets, pound them in, and add tuners. In any case, something like this as a result:



Note this guy just made a basic fingerboard, and glued it to some cigar boxes. Note the fingerboard is literally just a piece of wood with a couple basic cutouts, guitar tuners, nut/bridge, and frets. If you have any woodworking skill it should be no problem, or if you can find a hobbyist luthier in your town, he can probably knock one out in a few hours, and you can affix it to any resonant box to amplify the sound. Dulcimers are pretty crude (but effective) so don't be afraid to improvise.

Again, a good question thread at Everything Dulcimer can probably set you up to acquire a fingerboard and start improvising.

quote:

I have a wooden lap harp I'm willing to part with. It sounds very much like a dulcimer, but it is a little more basic. You can pluck it and even change the tuning to suit your needs.

Not to cock-block your sale, but "lap harp" is used for two totally different things. Of the two pics below, I assume yours is like the upper:





If the upper, just note that there a ton of cheap Russian lap harps/psalteries/zithers of this type (though the pic is a nicer expensive model of the same thing), so if yours is a cheapie they don't sell for much. Also, though they're not necessarily bad instruments, I have trouble getting excited about them, but if anyone's interested in getting one, definitely cruise around YouTube looking up "lap harp" or "zither" and see if you like what you hear.

Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZbdxhTggu4&feature=related Finnish tune on an inexpensive lap harp. I just like the actual Finnish kantele (first post) more.


For folk interested in the upright/Celtic lap harp, here's what little I know. I've dicked around with them, but nothing serious (I play Anglo-Saxon lyre instead, more on that if anyone is interested).

There are, like most instruments mentioned above, lovely Pakistani ones floating around eBay, but the main inexpensive but reputable maker of Celtic harps in the US appears to be Harpsicle. List price $399, whereas a Dusty Strings small harp of similar type is a $695 (though admittedly a very nice harp).



I've read up various harp forums, and the general agreement is that of the various <$500 harps, Harpsicle is one of the only ones worth recommending. I've noticed that the few people advising against Harpsicle aren't so much against the make, as objecting to buying something other than "a floor-length harp with a bunch of strings and sharping levers", or in some cases, basically implying "what you really want is a massive Classical pedal-harp"

Speaking not as a harpist, but as a general musician, I kind of object to that perspective. While a 26-string with no sharping levers (or some levers) is less versatile and impressive than the huge harps, an affordable but sturdy harp with good sound that fits in the lap isn't necessarily an inferior choice. Hell, a lot of the history of the harp has been made on lap-sized harps with no sharping levers, and folks got by for centuries with that. If you want to play folk music, or improvised/artsy modern stuff, a Harpsicle is probably a good first instrument. Not great for jazz or classical, but plenty good for getting started on Celtic, etc, and at a price point most noobs can save up to.



Definitely do your research to make sure that a small harp is good for your purposes, but do know that there are some affordable, simple options.


Clips:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUYTPDeJ3Pk Dude doing some awesome stuff in alternate tunings on a harpsicle
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGfsoX0fT4g Girl playing Renaissance music on a harpsicle
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFV8gHFvQ4M An Irish tune on a Dusty Strings entry-level harp

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 01:44 on Jun 13, 2011

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



TapTheForwardAssist posted:

Mradyfist might have his/her own opinion as to the best $10 cheapie, but I'd say either Soodlum or Feadog for the cylindrical style, or Clark for the (breathier, softer) conical style. In all cases, get one in D unless you have a clearcut reason to get a C.

What's the recommended option between cylindrical and conical? Do you have any good videos I could compare the two in?

Edit: Also does material (oak, wood, brass) make a big difference?

Econosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:01 on Jun 13, 2011

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Econosaurus posted:

What's the recommended option between cylindrical and conical? Do you have any good videos I could compare the two in?

Edit: Also does material (oak, wood, brass) make a big difference?

I find the wooden ones have a softer, more recorder-like sound. The metal ones are definitely more traditional, and metal ones don't vary much by sound, mostly by body shape, bore size, but primarily from the constructions of the mouthpiece.

So far as comparison, the Clarke certainly feels a bit different from the cylindrical when you play, but the sound difference is pretty subtle:

Clarke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiXl6i588Ts

Feadog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RAjsVsbk5s

Note the cylindrical are a just a little bit of a sharper/edgier tone, and the conical (Clarke) a bit wispier and more mellow.



If you don't hear a difference, or it doesn't matter much to you, get a cyindrical because they can take more abuse. It's possible to dent them if you try hard enough (or on the very light aluminum whistles), or crack the mouthpiece, but I often chuck a cheap cylindrical into my backpack, car glovebox, etc. and don't sweat it, while a conical can be crushed if you slam it in a door or something. Don't let that stop you from getting a conical, just don't do crazy negligent/abusive stuff with a conical, like hitting someone over the head with it.

EDIT: Here's a side-by side clip, though the guy's technique is a bit rough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agOB9K2KSP0&NR=1

And here's a whole clip of just 'whistle comparisons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z4P8ZWK-60&feature=related

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Jun 13, 2011

RICKON WALNUTSBANE
Jun 13, 2001




Black Griffon posted:

I have a friend who plays the Marimba, he says it's quite hard, and he's practiced for several years. He's a bit of a musical genius though, and the best drummer I've ever met personally.

Please ask him if this is a page out of his life

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj8ZYUudY5c#t=401s

pretty sure it's the only marimba seduction scene in existence

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Gumby Orgy posted:

I was thinking about getting a melodica, kalimba, and an array mbira and starting a hipster band.

realpost: Is an array mbira hard to play?

quote:

I have a friend who plays the Marimba, he says it's quite hard, and he's practiced for several years. He's a bit of a musical genius though, and the best drummer I've ever met personally.

Marimba =/ mbira


Marimba:



Mbira:



A "marimba" is a wooden xylophone from Central America. An "mbira" or "thumb piano" is an African instrument with tuned metal tines which are plucked with the fingers.

The "array mbira" is one particular modern-design custom mbira that's simply huge (3-5 octaves). There's one maker, and he makes lovely but expensive instruments, like $1200. I don't know if there are any good alternatives that are of similar size/type.

However, there are many good makes of kalimba/mbira/thumb-piano. I think you can find pretty good ones around $40 or so if you shop around. I bought my da a nice but pricey one from Kalimba Magic, and the folks there seem pretty serious about carrying good stuff. I'd just shop around designs you like, and then google to see if they have a good rep, good demos on YouTube, etc.

A few mbira clips:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb9qoEHLgVo African musician playing something modern
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo2g4ibGaNI Bach and some Gminor improv on a larger kalimba
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fAAGheYTFA Jazz improv on a real, expensive, array mbira

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Ah, thanks for the clarification.

He did manage to pick up a chick playing the marimba, shame the chick was batshit crazy and believed spirits were out to get her.

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


TapTheForwardAssist posted:

If you don't hear a difference, or it doesn't matter much to you, get a cyindrical because they can take more abuse. It's possible to dent them if you try hard enough (or on the very light aluminum whistles), or crack the mouthpiece, but I often chuck a cheap cylindrical into my backpack, car glovebox, etc. and don't sweat it, while a conical can be crushed if you slam it in a door or something. Don't let that stop you from getting a conical, just don't do crazy negligent/abusive stuff with a conical, like hitting someone over the head with it.

I like cylindricals better for beginners, especially because they can take a lot more wind. If you're really shy about learning the whistle (say, because you have roommates or neighbors who might not want to listen to you play) a Clarke is quieter, but it takes a lot more breath control to keep from jumping octaves. No one likes a shrieky whistle player, and most people overblow when first start playing; that's pretty easy to do with a Clarke. The Feadog is a nice starter whistle, as well as the Guinness branded one, the Walton "Little Black Whistle", the Acorn, the Oak; they're all basically the same whistle, although some are aluminum bodies and some are brass. That doesn't matter much really, brass ones are tougher but aluminum will warm up faster from your breath (and therefore become "in tune" faster, although since they're not tunable that's not really that big of a deal).

The best thing about whistles is that unless you have that "collect them all" mentality, it's very difficult to blow a lot of money on them. They just don't get that expensive, the super-fancy handcrafted ones max out at a few hundred dollars. Get a $10 whistle to start off with, and then if you're getting serious about it get something tunable like a Susato Kildare, that's a great entry-level pro whistle.

Here's my baby, a Tully solid silver high D:

I picked it up from a guy on Craigslist for $100, he'd bought it a couple of years ago but never really got into it. The guy who made them hasn't made any since 2007, but there are some more in that price range that are fantastic instruments. I bought a Excalibur Silver narrow-bore for my dad as a present, it's basically a classier looking, smoother sounding Susato. Not a good practice whistle though, that thing is a screamer.

Also, if you're worried about annoying other people when you practice your whistle, I used to take a little scotch tape and partially cover the fipple hole so that it still made a tiny amount of breathy sound, but was almost totally quiet. The pitch is completely wrong and it won't help you practice your embouchure or breath control, but you can work on fingerings.

ZakAce
May 15, 2007

GF

TapTheForwardAssist posted:

Looking at some clips, it can sound relatively similar to the fiddle. Got any comments on what aspects of playing it differ from fiddling, what new perspectives/angles it gives you? What kind of music do you play on yours?

In terms of differences compared to playing the violin:
- Instead of playing it horizontally, you play the erhu vertically.
- There isn't any fingerboard on the erhu.

Apart from that, I'm not terribly sure.

I usually play stuff from the book my teacher ordered from Beijing.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





How about comparing it to a de gamba, then, if you can?

I always liked traditional Chinese instruments. hosed around with a pipa once when I was in Taiwan ; gently caress that poo poo's hard.

Also, again bringing up my woman because she's much, much more musically competent than I am (Sorry, it's relevant, I swear!), she's played fiddle for something crazy like 17 years and can't even make notes on an erhu and has declared it, as an instrument, to be "witchcraft". So, there's at least something of a comparison.

One of these days, I want to get her to do something about traditional Irish and Scottish music on either Ask/Tell or NMD, although I doubt there's much interest.

Speaking of which, we might want to do some kind of effort-posty thing about musical sub-genres, or subcategorize and mention instruments by what they're popular in. Like, I loved your hurdy-gurdy post, and will probably reference when I finally get around to buying one, but it might be nice to have something saying, "Great for Quebecois, Medieval, some Modern and, maybe, very liberal Zydeco" or something.

Gumby Orgy
Mar 21, 2007

by T. Finn


I am very aware that a lap harp is different from a dulcimer. I'm just saying that if the person wants it, I'm offering it. Or, at least I was offering it. Apparently I left it at my mom's house when I moved out and she gave it away.

I'm not talking about just a mbira, I'm talking about an array mbira.



Look at that smug loving instrument. This is the instrument that hosed your girlfriend while you watched.

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



If I want to play Kwela as well as Irish stuff, is D still the best key to get it in?

Edit: The oak looks really nice, considering that one. Thanks!

Econosaurus fucked around with this message at 13:34 on Jun 13, 2011

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


Econosaurus posted:

If I want to play Kwela as well as Irish stuff, is D still the best key to get it in?

Edit: The oak looks really nice, considering that one. Thanks!

I haven't played any Kwela myself, but after a quick glance at some sites it looks like the standard for that style is actually Bb; a lot of the songs are written in the key of D but intended to be played on a Bb whistle without transposing. You can probably practice them on a D by yourself, but if you want to play with a recording or a band you'll need a Bb. Normally I'd say get a Susato head and the two bodies you want, but Bb bodies are low enough that they use a different head in the Susato line, so you're stuck buying two whistles.

Kwela looks like it gets pretty advanced, as far as whistle tunes go. To play something like this, you'll need to be comfortable with half-holing as well as overblowing to get into the third octave, both of which are more advanced techniques. My recommendation is to learn on the Irish stuff, and pick up a new whistle when you're ready for Kwela.

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Gumby Orgy posted:

I'm not talking about just a mbira, I'm talking about an array mbira.



Look at that smug loving instrument. This is the instrument that hosed your girlfriend while you watched.

Hey, if you got $1500 burning a hole in your pocket, don't let me slow you down. I'm just saying that if you're into the array mbira and don't have much experience in that kind of thing, buying a decent mbira (which you could always retune to be a smaller version of the array system) is probably a good way to get a feel for the instrument.

quote:

If I want to play Kwela as well as Irish stuff, is D still the best key to get it in?

Since Mradyfist is the house expert, I'll defer here, though personally I just am not warm-fuzzy about Susato. No real problem with them, I just find the tone too "clean". Agree though that a D is all-around just the easiest way to start, and that's what 95% of online instruction is recorded in. Though if you have a spare $10, it wouldn't hurt to buy a Bb at the same time. Down the road, if you want a nicer, tunable Kwela Bb, take a look at South African whistlesmith Ian Turnbull of iMpepe Whistles. I'm thinking to order a Bb and a soprano F from him, both because his whistles are described as being great for the price ($60ish) and because it's be cool to have a Souf Effriken 'whistle.

Oh, and Mradyfist, I'm blaming you for the used Kerry Low D and Elfsong A I picked up off forums sales yesterday. That Tully looks awesome though, lucky cat. Also, I updated the OP to reflect your comment that Oak/Feadog/Soodlum are better buys in a D, though mentioned that Generation is the only real choice for Bb, F, etc.

quote:

How about comparing it to a de gamba, then, if you can?

I always liked traditional Chinese instruments. hosed around with a pipa once when I was in Taiwan ; gently caress that poo poo's hard.

Also, again bringing up my woman because she's much, much more musically competent than I am (Sorry, it's relevant, I swear!), she's played fiddle for something crazy like 17 years and can't even make notes on an erhu and has declared it, as an instrument, to be "witchcraft". So, there's at least something of a comparison.

Minor detour, but if you're interested in odd bowed strings, I can kick off an instrument family I've been meaning to cover. Not sure how many goons will be into this, but they're pretty inexpensive, extremely easy to build (I built a 2-string of scrap wood and tuners in an hour or two), and pretty awesome.

Bowed lyres

These have been seen throughout the Middle Ages, but died out in most of Europe. These days, mainly experiencing small revivals in Wales, and Scandinavia and the Baltic.

Welsh crwth


Finnish jouhikko




Most of these (except for the crwth) have no fingerboard or anything, the strings are fingered by pressing the back of the fingers against the string in mid-air, changing the pitch. This is actually not too uncommon of a method for bowed strings, being used also on the Balkan gadulka and other such fiddles.

These are pretty slick, not too expensive, and really easy to make. Except the crwth is a bit harder/pricier because of that fingerboard. They have a really distinct and haunting sound, so maybe an axe that Xiahou Dun may consider selling his girl on, or learning to show her up.

Cool articles on jouhikko in the Lord of the Rings stage show.

Clips:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZPK74xw-MA&feature=related Pekko Kappi doing some awesome singing backed up by jouhikko
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm5jiK0ZI5s&feature=related Swedish haling on talharpa
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTQGXIu5QHA David Sedayne (on crwth) is a drat lunatic. Though he seems the musical equivalent of some guy handing out pamphlets full of aphasia about lizard people, contrails, and LSD in the water, his music is quite compelling.

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 02:05 on Mar 11, 2012

Gumby Orgy
Mar 21, 2007

by T. Finn


I don't have 1500 dollars burning a hole, but my anniversary is coming up!

What about a kalimba? Would that be an acceptable substitute? What is the difference between a kalimba and a mbira?

Edit: I play french horn. Is there some weird instrument available like it?

Gumby Orgy fucked around with this message at 01:20 on Jun 14, 2011

TurdBurgles
Sep 17, 2007

I AM WHITE AND PLAY NA FLUTE ON TRIBAL LANDS WITH NO GUILT.

I want a Native American flute for chilling out after work. I don't know anything about flutes and it seems there are specifics you need to know when ordering a flute like keys and such.

Could you recommend a good starter flute in the $50 range? I think I would prefer the drone flute if that helps.

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Gumby Orgy posted:

I don't have 1500 dollars burning a hole, but my anniversary is coming up!

What about a kalimba? Would that be an acceptable substitute? What is the difference between a kalimba and a mbira?

Kalimba, mbira, sansula, and dozens of other names pretty much refer to what we call a "thumb piano". There may be some minor variations between certain types, but they're all basically the same. If you want a kalimba with the most similarity to an array mbira, you could buy a good quality, very large kalimba. Also, if you get a model where the tines are easily removable, you could read up on the array mbira arrangement and set up your times in an imitative manner. There are probably some World Percussion forums where you can ask about that, and/or you can email the owner of Kalimba Magic (who seems very into such things) and ask his advice.

I was dimly aware that there was some instrument out there kind of similar to an array mbira in size (if not complexity), and finally the word "rumba box" jumped to my memory. More formally called a marímbula.



There are various of these, of various complexities/ranges in the $300ish range online. Schlagwerk seems to make some pretty cool ones (24"x8"x16") that are €245, and they have a US importer (no idea of markup).



JBH Guitars also builds a wide variety of sizes and arrangements.


Clips:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqnBgfGC0sg JBH Guitars demo
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIEqx1_M0lc Sin dar el corazon (marimbula and voice arrangement)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ_tCocO-Vc&feature=related Schlegwerk model (not a great clip)

quote:

Edit: I play french horn. Is there some weird instrument available like it?

So glad you asked:

Serpent





The serpent was originally made around 1600AD to back up church vocal music, since it had could hold up the bass end, but blended well enough with voice not to be ostentatious.

These were until recently ungodly expensive, since makers had to carve a bunch of interlocking wooden parts, channel them, wrap them in leather, etc. Then some geniuses started making them from fibreglass, and now Kaiser Serpents makes them for an eminently reasonable $635.

These are somewhat tricky to get used to, apparently, but not (as I understand it) crazy difficult. More that you have to get into a certain groove, get a real feel for the dynamics of your air column, instead of a "I blow and push X button and get an F#". So a touchy-feelier brass. However, from the results I've heard the thing sounds loving gorgeous:

Clips:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-_YVS9CcQ Jazz tubist Michel Godard is a drat genius and welcome to nail any of my better-looking female relatives.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xuxzJkuJWI Michel jamming with some Arabs
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VbXMQRs_MM drat, but Michel is awesome
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc4pWAIRY58 And here's a less technically awesome but nevertheless brave teenager who saved up his paper-route money, bought a serpent, and plays it in church. It's not great playing, but it's a neat illustration that even a relative noob can get into the serpent vibe.


Given the awesomeness of both these instruments, and your upcoming anniversary, now might be a great time to engage your wife in a productive dialogue along the lines of "hey honey, I was just thinking what an amazingly awesome marriage we have. And I was also thinking about how much and deeply you must love me. And on a semi-related note, I've been thinking of how my love for you is so overwhelming that it can only be expressed through music..."

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 05:06 on Jun 14, 2011

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


TapTheForwardAssist posted:

Since Mradyfist is the house expert, I'll defer here, though personally I just am not warm-fuzzy about Susato. No real problem with them, I just find the tone too "clean". Agree though that a D is all-around just the easiest way to start, and that's what 95% of online instruction is recorded in. Though if you have a spare $10, it wouldn't hurt to buy a Bb at the same time. Down the road, if you want a nicer, tunable Kwela Bb, take a look at South African whistlesmith Ian Turnbull of iMpepe Whistles. I'm thinking to order a Bb and a soprano F from him, both because his whistles are described as being great for the price ($60ish) and because it's be cool to have a Souf Effriken 'whistle.

Oh, and Mradyfist, I'm blaming you for the used Kerry D and Elfsong A I picked up off forums sales yesterday. That Tully looks awesome though, lucky cat.

I hear you on Susatos being too clean, the sound can get a little bland after a while. I like recommending them to people who are new to whistles because a chiffy whistle requires you to have a better idea of when and how to tongue, and sometimes sounds really weird if you're not tonguing/tonguing in the wrong spots. Of course, once you get tonguing down you have much more flexibility with a chiffy whistle than with something like a Susato.

Those iMpepes look sweet, a lot like the Excalibur stuff except I like the all-aluminum look of the iMpepes better. The price is a steal too, even after adding shipping they're still cheap.

Gumby Orgy
Mar 21, 2007

by T. Finn


TapTheForwardAssist posted:

Kalimba, mbira, sansula, and dozens of other names pretty much refer to what we call a "thumb piano". There may be some minor variations between certain types, but they're all basically the same. If you want a kalimba with the most similarity to an array mbira, you could buy a good quality, very large kalimba. Also, if you get a model where the tines are easily removable, you could read up on the array mbira arrangement and set up your times in an imitative manner. There are probably some World Percussion forums where you can ask about that, and/or you can email the owner of Kalimba Magic (who seems very into such things) and ask his advice.

I was dimly aware that there was some instrument out there kind of similar to an array mbira in size (if not complexity), and finally the word "rumba box" jumped to my memory. More formally called a marímbula.



There are various of these, of various complexities/ranges in the $300ish range online. Schlagwerk seems to make some pretty cool ones (24"x8"x16") that are €245, and they have a US importer (no idea of markup).



JBH Guitars also builds a wide variety of sizes and arrangements.


Clips:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqnBgfGC0sg JBH Guitars demo
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIEqx1_M0lc Sin dar el corazon (marimbula and voice arrangement)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ_tCocO-Vc&feature=related Schlegwerk model (not a great clip)


So glad you asked:

Serpent





The serpent was originally made around 1600AD to back up church vocal music, since it had could hold up the bass end, but blended well enough with voice not to be ostentatious.

These were until recently ungodly expensive, since makers had to carve a bunch of interlocking wooden parts, channel them, wrap them in leather, etc. Then some geniuses started making them from fibreglass, and now Kaiser Serpents makes them for an eminently reasonable $635.

These are somewhat tricky to get used to, apparently, but not (as I understand it) crazy difficult. More that you have to get into a certain groove, get a real feel for the dynamics of your air column, instead of a "I blow and push X button and get an F#". So a touchy-feelier brass. However, from the results I've heard the thing sounds loving gorgeous:

Clips:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-_YVS9CcQ Jazz tubist Michel Godard is a drat genius and welcome to nail any of my better-looking female relatives.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xuxzJkuJWI Michel jamming with some Arabs
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VbXMQRs_MM drat, but Michel is awesome
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc4pWAIRY58 And here's a less technically awesome but nevertheless brave teenager who saved up his paper-route money, bought a serpent, and plays it in church. It's not great playing, but it's a neat illustration that even a relative noob can get into the serpent vibe.


Given the awesomeness of both these instruments, and your upcoming anniversary, now might be a great time to engage your wife in a productive dialogue along the lines of "hey honey, I was just thinking what an amazingly awesome marriage we have. And I was also thinking about how much and deeply you must love me. And on a semi-related note, I've been thinking of how my love for you is so overwhelming that it can only be expressed through music..."


Holy poo poo. The serpent!? That is right up my alley. I have an amazing talent for being able to play scales on my french horn without pressing any keys. I'm cool with touchy-feely brass. I honestly have never heard of this instrument until reading your post. I kind of love it.

The price is better than an array mbira, and I could probably rock the poo poo out of it sooner than with just about any other weird brass instrument.

Also: my husband will love to know a random internet person called him my wife.


Edit: Now I'm reading up on cornett which has led me to shawm, which now lead me to crumhorn. Such a delightful, annoying noise! Are crumhorns hard to play?

Gumby Orgy fucked around with this message at 13:20 on Jun 14, 2011

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Gumby Orgy posted:

Also: my husband will love to know a random internet person called him my wife.

Just tell him that you're just that hardcore on the internet that people assume you're some 6'4" dude with a handlebar mustache.

So it's your husband you're mooching anniversary instruments off of? That's even easier, just work that thing and you should be serpenting in no time.

quote:

Holy poo poo. The serpent!? That is right up my alley. I have an amazing talent for being able to play scales on my french horn without pressing any keys. I'm cool with touchy-feely brass. I honestly have never heard of this instrument until reading your post. I kind of love it.

The price is better than an array mbira, and I could probably rock the poo poo out of it sooner than with just about any other weird brass instrument.

Gear. Serpent is definitely awfully cool. The guy at Kaiser Serpents is clearly a fanatic for serpents, and presumably is not exactly innundated with email, so if you're feeling the serpent urge () you can probably just write the guy with questions to figure out if serpent is right for you. If you're a girl with exceptionally small hands, you may want to ask about finger span, but I think it's actually pretty moderate on serpent due to its bizarre design; fingerholes on a serpent just aren't at normal ratios like other wind instruments, they have some more complicated relationship with the air column that I don't totally grasp.

quote:

Edit: Now I'm reading up on cornett which has led me to shawm, which now lead me to crumhorn. Such a delightful, annoying noise! Are crumhorns hard to play?



I really don't know much about crumhorns, but I'll go out on a limb and guess that they can't be that bad. They're a "capped reed instrument", so your mouth doesn't have to deal directly with the reed at all. Fingering should be pretty easy; my impression is that it's akin to the recorder, since there seems to be a high overlap between the recorder community and the crumhorn community (however many dozen people that is). I'd imagine the main issue is just breath pressure with the reed.

One thing to consider: the stretch on a crumhorn can be a long finger-reach on the larger sizes, so to accommodate that the kelhorn was invented. It's basically a crumhorn made to zig-zag inside a fat body to keep the length down:



I'd check the Crumhorn Homepage for more info. The only non-botique maker I know of off the top of my head is Susato, who makes both crumhorns and kelhorns starting a little over $300, and going up by size.

I still say the serpent is far cooler, but if you're good at batting your eyes maybe you can get him to get you both.

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Next up, an item that's come up once or twice in the ukulele thread.

Oud

The oud is an Arabic instrument dating back some long drat time, apparently some 5,000 years per Wikipedia. Wiki also notes that, per legend, it was invented by Lamech, sixth grandson of Adam (as in "and Eve"), when he hung his dead son's body from a tree, and was then inspired by his bleached skeleton. But despite having a rather shady backstory, it's a terrific-sounding instrument which is spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and spilling into neighboring regions. It also achieved pretty solid penetration in Europe when it came up through Spain. In Europe its bastard child is the "lute", which you may have heard of.



The oud has a very deep round-backed body which gives some impressive resonance, a rather short neck, and a bunch of (generally) doubled nylon or gut strings. Unlike the lute, and most plucked European instruments, it has no frets (the little metal bars which divide the neck into set increments). The cool thing about this is you can hit every micro-note between notes, so key for playing the various complex Arabic scales, as well as any other tradition that uses notes other than the modern Western scale. Some avant-gardey folks like it since you can get all the microtonal notes, and French musician Titi Robin uses it for the scales of traditional Breton Celtic music.



I've only messed with the oud off and on, but I will say that it's pretty different in feel from guitar. The strings are very, very low tension, and the picking style is pretty different from guitar. If you're a noob, you might want to start out on a Western instrument with frets first (unless you're really into oud specifically), since, being fretless, you have to develop an ear and feel for exactly where on the fretboard you put your fat finger to get the exact right note. But definitely a fun instrument for guitarists to transition to and get a new understanding of music through.

There is a great English forum for oud, Mike's Oud Forum. I'm no expert in the oud market, but perusing some of their noob threads, the key takeaway is that starter oud's aren't terribly expensive, but you don't want to go too cheap and get below the $400 mark. This does indicate that you shouldn't just go buy on on eBay or from your local hooka shop. Ouds are built very lightweight, and have a lot of strings on friction tuners, so if it's not built right it'll tear itself apart, and in the meantime you're going to be re-tuning every five minutes with lovely tuners.

The general advice for noobs appears to be to get a Sukar brand oud, which starts around $650. There are a few folks who say that the Gawharet is an acceptable starter oud for around $400. Do your own research on Mike's forum too, but just giving you a basic summary of the noob threads. There are also some Mike-recommended DVDs and the like teaching basic oud and Arabic scales, so there are apparently some good materials to start home study. This is pretty key, as you are drat unlikely to just figure out Arabic music on your own unless you've grown up with it.

Personally, even if you don't intend to play Arabic music on it, but just dick around doing medieval stuff, jazz, modal improv, it probably wouldn't hurt to blow $25 on a good instructional DVD and try to learn at least a few new concepts from the old tradition.



Clips:

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9tGPTYqfCs Nubian oudist Hamza el Din. This was the first guy's recordings of oud I ever heard, and it blew me away.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69hjuVv5dzs&playnext=1&list=PLE5437D2B3370D510 Iraqi monster of oud, Munir Bashir
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcaZBNBCODk Frenchman Titi Robin uses oud to back up old-school Bretagne Celtic song. You should listen to every track from this album you can find on YouTube. Or better yet, buy the album, since the liner notes have all the lyrics and the full written music (which also indicates all the microtonal notes)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVEGxS2PGcA BONUS: short documentary on American Marine sniper Iraq veteran who got into oud

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 03:52 on Jun 16, 2011

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



Mradyfist posted:

I haven't played any Kwela myself, but after a quick glance at some sites it looks like the standard for that style is actually Bb; a lot of the songs are written in the key of D but intended to be played on a Bb whistle without transposing. You can probably practice them on a D by yourself, but if you want to play with a recording or a band you'll need a Bb. Normally I'd say get a Susato head and the two bodies you want, but Bb bodies are low enough that they use a different head in the Susato line, so you're stuck buying two whistles.

Kwela looks like it gets pretty advanced, as far as whistle tunes go. To play something like this, you'll need to be comfortable with half-holing as well as overblowing to get into the third octave, both of which are more advanced techniques. My recommendation is to learn on the Irish stuff, and pick up a new whistle when you're ready for Kwela.

Any recommendations on websites I can use to start learning the basics?

Also I wish I had enough money to buy some of these cool instruments

Abbeh
May 23, 2006

When I grow up I mean to be
A Lion large and fierce to see.
(Thank you, Das Boo!)

I recently saw a spiral didgeeridoo in a small shop in Rockport, MA. Are they significantly harder than a traditional one? Also, drat that thing was heavy! I can't imagine trying to hold it while playing it, but perhaps folks balance them in their laps or something.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





I'm sorry to bring down the level of the discourse, but all I'm seeing is dog-poo poo, sorry.

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


Econosaurus posted:

Any recommendations on websites I can use to start learning the basics?

Also I wish I had enough money to buy some of these cool instruments

Chiff and Fipple is your first stop, read through the tutorials on fingering and posture (but don't worry too much, bad habits are pretty easy to correct later).

Whistle This is a great place to get started on Irish trad stuff, they have a good set of guides on common techniques. Don't get too wrapped up with things like cuts and taps just yet though, I'd take a glance through the tunes that they've learned as a group, listen to some of the examples people have posted and then see what you can do. Sadly they've stopped putting up new tunes, but there's enough already posted to give you plenty to do.

Finally, if you really want to go crazy you can start checking out some tunes on The Session, but be warned that it's filled with very rough transcriptions that, if site-read, will sound like poo poo. You're kind of expected to know how to add your own ornamentation.

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



Mradyfist posted:

Chiff and Fipple is your first stop, read through the tutorials on fingering and posture (but don't worry too much, bad habits are pretty easy to correct later).

Whistle This is a great place to get started on Irish trad stuff, they have a good set of guides on common techniques. Don't get too wrapped up with things like cuts and taps just yet though, I'd take a glance through the tunes that they've learned as a group, listen to some of the examples people have posted and then see what you can do. Sadly they've stopped putting up new tunes, but there's enough already posted to give you plenty to do.

Finally, if you really want to go crazy you can start checking out some tunes on The Session, but be warned that it's filled with very rough transcriptions that, if site-read, will sound like poo poo. You're kind of expected to know how to add your own ornamentation.

Hm, it looks like the whistle university part of Whistle This had all its videos taken down . Any particular first songs you can link to? All the previous songs on that site seem to be a little tricky for someone new, and Chiff and Fipple doesn't have any notation as far as I can tell.

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


Econosaurus posted:

Hm, it looks like the whistle university part of Whistle This had all its videos taken down . Any particular first songs you can link to? All the previous songs on that site seem to be a little tricky for someone new, and Chiff and Fipple doesn't have any notation as far as I can tell.

Have you done any site-reading on other instruments before? If you've played any type of sax before, the whistle is fingered almost identically (minus the accidentals). If not, the stuff on Whistle This might be kind of difficult for learning fingerings. I might have some sheet music floating around on my computer that's a better option, I'll post it if I find it. Here's some links to some of the easier stuff on Whistle This:

Si Bheag, Si Mhor - This one is nice and slow, plus it's a pretty song. No tricky parts if you're playing it on a D.

The Road To Lisdoonvarna - A decent, easy example of the standard Em-D jig that you will hear all the time. I don't know why they notated it in 12/8, just pretend there's another bar line in each measure.

Cooley's Reel - This one's a little trickier, but they didn't have much in the way of easy reels. Cooley's sounds great when you get sloppy with it though, so it's a fun one to learn.

The Butterfly - Ever seen The Secret of Roan Innish? This is the song from it, the one everybody wants to hear on the whistle. It's a slip jig, so it can be a little tricky; I usually count a slip jig as if there are three beats in a measure, and eighth notes are even triplets.

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



Mradyfist posted:

Have you done any site-reading on other instruments before? If you've played any type of sax before, the whistle is fingered almost identically (minus the accidentals). If not, the stuff on Whistle This might be kind of difficult for learning fingerings. I might have some sheet music floating around on my computer that's a better option, I'll post it if I find it. Here's some links to some of the easier stuff on Whistle This:

Si Bheag, Si Mhor - This one is nice and slow, plus it's a pretty song. No tricky parts if you're playing it on a D.

The Road To Lisdoonvarna - A decent, easy example of the standard Em-D jig that you will hear all the time. I don't know why they notated it in 12/8, just pretend there's another bar line in each measure.

Cooley's Reel - This one's a little trickier, but they didn't have much in the way of easy reels. Cooley's sounds great when you get sloppy with it though, so it's a fun one to learn.

The Butterfly - Ever seen The Secret of Roan Innish? This is the song from it, the one everybody wants to hear on the whistle. It's a slip jig, so it can be a little tricky; I usually count a slip jig as if there are three beats in a measure, and eighth notes are even triplets.

Haven't played sax in years, I can read guitar music though. I'll give these a look when I get home, the tricky part will be learning the fingerings...

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


Econosaurus posted:

Haven't played sax in years, I can read guitar music though. I'll give these a look when I get home, the tricky part will be learning the fingerings...

If you remember anything from the sax, you'll have it in no time. It's identical except simpler: there's no thumb, palm, or pinky keys. The fingering for an F on sax is an F# on a D whistle, but since almost everything you'll be playing is written in D, G, or the dorian of either, you can just ignore that altogether.

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Mradyfist: would you care to guess how many tinwhistles you forced me to buy this week?

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


TapTheForwardAssist posted:

Mradyfist: would you care to guess how many tinwhistles you forced me to buy this week?

Just think of how many different whistle keys you don't have yet!

Placeholder
Sep 24, 2008


All this talk about whistles is seriously tempting me to buy a low F even though I pretty much stopped playing it after I bought a Nyckelharpa last year

Always thought Low F was the prettiest key, should've gotten one ages ago.. hmm!

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

quote:

Just think of how many different whistle keys you don't have yet!

Let's see... I have a couple cheap Ds, a Low F, just picked up both a Low A and a Low D this week. And I just agreed to buy a 3-set of bodies for High F, High G, and High A (!). I've never even heard of a whistle as high as High A, so this will be interesting...


Placeholder posted:

All this talk about whistles is seriously tempting me to buy a low F

Always thought Low F was the prettiest key, should've gotten one ages ago.. hmm!

The only Low F I have is a Susato, which I got mainly because it's one of the more affordable Low Fs, especially for having a key (for the lowest hole). I like it fine, but as mentioned above I just find Susatos to be too "clean" sounding. I think that on a low F with relatively tight finger spacing I could make it work without a key.

I just got a Kerry Low D used in the mail today, and I can sort of reach the lowest hole, but it's going to require modifying my technique, so I don't know how I feel about that.

quote:

even though I pretty much stopped playing it after I bought a Nyckelharpa last year

You have a nyckelharpa? That's loving awesome. Would you be up to writing a post vaguely after our format for this thread? Not that many folks are going to learn nyckelharpa this summer, but it's always good to have a writeup/pics/clips about anything cool.

Grape Juice Vampire
Aug 1, 2009


If I were to pick up one of the toy accordions mentioned on the previous page, how difficult do you suppose it would be to pick up a few simple tunes? I'm not looking to become some sort of musical genius overnight, just be able to squeeze out a few sounds that don't sound like death and be mildly entertaining at parties. Could I realistically do that over the course of two months or so?

Placeholder
Sep 24, 2008


TapTheForwardAssist posted:

I just got a Kerry Low D used in the mail today, and I can sort of reach the lowest hole, but it's going to require modifying my technique, so I don't know how I feel about that.

I hope you're using the pipers grip on the Low D instead of the death grip :p
http://www.chiffandfipple.com/pipers.html just in case!

I have a Susato Low D and I remember it taking a few days before you got used to the new grip, however once you do you can easily learn tunes on either your high or low D and play it just as well on the other.

quote:

You have a nyckelharpa? That's loving awesome. Would you be up to writing a post vaguely after our format for this thread? Not that many folks are going to learn nyckelharpa this summer, but it's always good to have a writeup/pics/clips about anything cool.


Well ok then!

Nyckelharpa

My favourite description of the Nyckelharpa is that it's a fiddle crossed with a battleship. No one really knows the origin of the instrument, but whatever origin and spread it once had it pretty much only survived in a few parts of Sweden until the 1960s when it started spreading again. Today the instrument is predominantly used in Swedish folk music (which is what I play) but apparently it's seeing more and more use in studio recordings due to its very unique sound. The sound itself is sometimes described as having a deep, eerie, melancholic timbre which reflects the soul of the swedish people . It's also described as a thousand cats all screaming at once.


This is the modern chromatic nyckelharpa developed in the 1920's. It is the common form of the instrument today and what I'll be focusing on.

The unique sound of the instrument comes from the 12 resonance strings (generally tuned in semitone steps from G# to G) as they vibrate along with the playing strings. The harp has four playable strings and is traditionally tuned in CGCA. You play by pressing the keys which all have small vertical tangents attached to them who then press against the strings acting frets. As you may have noticed most modern harpas only have three rows of keys leaving the low C string nothing more than a drone string. There are harpas with fourth row of keys to make the low C string playable like the others, but the three row variant most widespread one.

There are two dominant styles in which people play; the first and most popular is the traditional Swedish way of using a neck strap and stabilizing the instrument with your right elbow against your belly.
The second style consists of strapping the flat bottom of the instrument much higher on your chest. This is mostly seen with players in continental Europe.

Buying a decent Nyckelharpa can be quite tricky (and expensive) and even more so if you live outside Sweden. Expect a solid instrument so set you back at least 2000 USD.

The American Nyckelharpa Association has two excellent articles on purchasing both used and new harps and there really isn't a lot more than I think I can add.
http://www.nyckelharpa.org/buy/buying-a-new-nyckelharpa/
http://www.nyckelharpa.org/buy/used-nyckelharpas/

You should always try to seek out other players and pick their brain for advice if you can, even in Sweden it's not a very common instrument and I can guarantee that players will be very happy to discuss their instrument with you and offer you advice.

I've played the instrument for 15ish months now and my experience has varied between cursing the idiot who thought that not having an E-string was a good idea (makes fiddle tunes really loving tricky to play at times, pretty ironic given that playing fiddle tunes is why the modern chromatic version was developed) and being generally awestruck by the amazing sound. I think it's a beautiful and charming instrument, the idiosyncrasies like the clattering keys and even the non-existent E-string all add to its character.

Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D93OD5IYDx4 Magnus Holmström playing a polska from the swedish province of Småland, this one actually originates from a place maybe 30 km away from where I live.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku8ekhj-kD4 The non-traditional way to play the instrument by strapping it to your chest instead. Performed by belgian played Didier François.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcxg0cix-Lo Couple of old guys playing whats called the Kontrabasharpa which is basically a much older version of the nyckelharpa from the 18th-19th century. It's played a bit differently with a different string layout (most notably a drone string). It's timbre is very different from the modern chromatic harp. Personally I think it's awesome.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWNCP8buNQ8 Olov Johansson and Catriona McKay on Nyckelharpa and Scottish Harp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u1cjAjJK6k Same duo but here Olov is playing a Kontrabasharpa.

Useful links:
http://nyckelharpansforum.net/ Huge repository with pictures and links to other useful sites, mainly in Swedish.
http://www.nyckelharpa.org/ the American Nyckelharpa Association, the best English language source if information that I've found.

Writing is not my strong suit so I've undoubtedly left out something hugely important, if there's anything you think I left out that you would like to know please don't hesitate to ask!

Placeholder fucked around with this message at 08:42 on Jun 17, 2011

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

Thanks for the awesome thread. I'm popping down to my local music store after work to pick up a tin whistle and harmonica. For whoever asked about harmonicas before, there are a buttload of lessons on the net and recommended beginner harmonicas are relatively cheap (like, $30-$40.) The site I looked at suggested the Hohner Special 20 in C or the Lee Oskar Major Diatonic in C. Both of those would be for blues harmonica, didn't look into other styles.

TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Grape Juice Vampire posted:

If I were to pick up one of the toy accordions mentioned on the previous page, how difficult do you suppose it would be to pick up a few simple tunes? I'm not looking to become some sort of musical genius overnight, just be able to squeeze out a few sounds that don't sound like death and be mildly entertaining at parties. Could I realistically do that over the course of two months or so?

Oh, definitely. For "sounding fun at parties", I would mainly suggest you focus not on melodies, but on being able to just play a three-chord progression. If you don't know about music, don't sweat it, you probably have a guitar friend of someone who can walk you through it.

Have you ever messed with harmonica? That's pretty much what a diatonic accordion is. In other words, buttons next to each other tend to harmonise together. So in order to play a basic three-chord progression (the basis of a good 80% of American music), you mash down three adjoining buttons and push, mash the same three and pull, then shift your fingers a couple buttons down and push again. Clearly, there are many much more complicated ways to build from there, but there's no reason you can't, in a few days, have a decent grasp of playing four or five chords, figure out a few songs that only use that few chords, and be able to back yourself up singing basic rock/country/blues songs. Melody work would be slightly more involved, but just from dicking around with it around the house you should be able to puzzle out nursery rhymes in a day or two.

So far as what to get, you want something that looks basically like this:



The colour and markings don't matter, but this exact design is made by various manufacturers: Schylling, Barcelona, Hero. Hohner makes one in this design but with translucent plastic; I don't know that they're any better, so I stick with the other brands I've tried. Don't get the kind with the piano keyboard, or the kind where the key is a bent piece of metal (though they're cooler-looking), get one that looks just about like this picture.

The slightly tricky part is the QC. Out of the box, some of these are horribly tuned, and others are totally decent for $20. There are a couple ways to make sure you get a decent one.

- If you live in a decent-sized town (not even "large") and you have a phone that's not costing you per-call, try calling a number of music stores, toy stores, childrens' educational stores. Ask them all if they have "toy accordions". If so, try and verify over the phone that it's something like in the above pic. If so, ask how many they have in stock. If they have like 6-12 of them, you should be able to show up, try them all, pick the most in-tune one, and you're golden for $20.
- Alternately, you can buy from an eBay seller, but contact the seller in advance and say "hey, I'm a musician, can you guarantee that you'll make sure the one I buy sounds like it works before you mail it?" This might be kind of iffy unless the seller has any sense of music.
- Given that each note in the scale has two reeds playing in unison, you can always play the odds and just buy one blind, and then for each double-set of reeds cover the least in-tune one with a smidgen of tape inside the instrumet, silencing it. That way you'd have a single reed per note (which sounds a little cleaner) and have eliminated the worse-sounding of each pair. Do note that these 'boxes are really drat simple, like "half-wit chimp" simple, so you can do basic repairs on these with the tools in your kitchen drawer.
- Lastly, you can just get one, and either play it a couple weeks and decide you don't like it, or if you like it and can imagine getting semi-quasi-recreationally serious about it, mail it to Irish Dancemaster, send him $100, and he'll fit it out with totally in-tune Italian reeds in the tuning/key of your choice. It'll still be cheap pine coated in plastic, and they keys aren't amazing, but they're actually relatively sturdy little boxes, and with decent reeds in them sound actually really good for $120ish out of pocket.

CLIP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3e7iYw7jj4 Irish Dancemaster re-reeded box, playing the melodies of Irish tunes.

If you look around YouTube, there are quite a few clips of toy accordions, only a couple of which are re-reeds. For the others, folks either got lucky, played several and picked the most in-tune, or else taped off the worst reeds.


I'm really, really overexplaining above (it's late), so don't let the level of detail throw you. The "toy accordion" is actually pretty decent, probably no worse that a lot of the cheaper accordions sold back in the day. The quality control isn't great, so you just need to be a little clever picking out a good one. But they're extremely easy to play; I wouldn't bother trying to learn to read sheet music for them, I'd just either ask someone here how to play a few basic chords, or let a decently skilled piano or guitar-playing friend dick with it for a few minutes, realise themselves how easy it is, and explain it to you.

Just to randomly pick a song most people know: Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. Provided you get someone to explain what a chord is to you, you should be able to learn the three chords to it pretty much your first couple hours messing with it. And if you practice that for 15-20m a day for a week or two, you could probably do a pretty credible "hey guys, I'm-a do a Johnny Cash cover on my toy accordion" about two weeks into it. This ain't chess, it's checkers.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions if I've failed to painfully over-explain any of the above.

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 06:51 on Jun 18, 2011

Grape Juice Vampire
Aug 1, 2009


Wow, thanks! Pretty excellent of you to go into such detail!

I'm going to a very VERY liberal arts school in the fall, and I have a few guitar-playing friends, so I'm certain I can find somebody to dick around with it and teach me how to use it. The only musical experience I have is with a trombone. Could I possibly compare a slide to the bellows?

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TapTheForwardAssist
Apr 9, 2007

Pretty Little Lyres

Grape Juice Vampire posted:

Wow, thanks! Pretty excellent of you to go into such detail!

I'm going to a very VERY liberal arts school in the fall, and I have a few guitar-playing friends, so I'm certain I can find somebody to dick around with it and teach me how to use it. The only musical experience I have is with a trombone. Could I possibly compare a slide to the bellows?

Not in the slightest. On your trombone comparison, the bellows are your lungs. The easiest comparison is to a harmonica. Each button opens up a little passageway that allows air (from the bellows) to flow up the channel and vibrate a given reed. Each individual note has its own (in this case doubled) reed, so when you hit the "C" button, the button pulls a wire, pulling back a small wooden cover from a doubled-channel, the air rushes up that and pushes past two little metal reeds blocking their escape to the sweet outside. As the air rushes past the reeds, it makes them vibrate. And this being a diatonic instrument, when you stop pushing on C and start pulling, little flapper valves on the outside of the C reeds get sucked inwards as well, silencing them, while the flapper valves of the D reeds sitting right next to them (which are on the inside of the body) are sucked out of the way, allowing the D reeds to vibrate. Practical upshot: press button #3 while pushing on the bellows, you get a C. Press #3 and pull, you get a D.

If the above sounds complicated, once you get your 'box just take some pliers or whatever and pull out the little pins holding it together, look inside, and it'll be really obvious how the thing works. Again, these things are really cheap and decently durable, so don't be afraid to take them apart and dick with things. Just avoid manhandling the reeds themselves, except to tape off out-of-tune ones you don't want vibrating.


Reed-block, notice the little leather flappers that only allow air to hit the reed going one way, and the reed block is the same but reversed on the inside of the block for the other reeds.


Hell, go ahead and paint or bedazzle the thing when you get it, just avoid getting paint on any moving parts/mechanisms. These are really underrated little instruments, though it does annoy me that the factory won't offer a "toy plus" model where they take 10 drat seconds to actually do the reeds right. I would happily pay $10 extra to get one where the reeds were guaranteed to be set right. Though again, if you get one and actually play it more than "haul it out once a month at a party", that's the point where $100 to re-reed it actually starts sounding really reasonable.

TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at 15:47 on Jun 18, 2011

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