Review of Herrington G/D Anglo Concertina

August 1998

I have just been given (for my birthday) a brand-new Herrington G/D anglo concertina, and jolly nice it is too. It has 30 buttons and uses accordion reeds, but most strikingly it is square.

Harold Herrington is a maker of anglo concertinas based in Mesquite, Texas. He has been making anglos for some years now, of two basic designs: square and hexagonal. In order to reduce costs he uses accordion reeds made for him in Italy, but they are fitted into a true reed-pan (based on the Jeffries reed-pan), which helps give the instrument a much better tone than is usual with concertinas based on accordion reeds. His main seller is the C/G anglo, intended for Irish music and thus designed to be both fast and light. The hexagonal models look more like conventional concertinas, but the square ones are very much their own instruments.

I first encountered a square C/G a few years ago while visiting Joel Cowan in the US, and was impressed then by its speed and playability, and quite nice sound given that it used accordion reeds. But I fell in love with the distinctive square look, and the fact that it is $300 cheaper than the hexagonal model helped too. So when earlier this year I found that I wanted a G/D box for English folk session music we approached Harold to see what he could do. What I got was made from dark brown wood, beautifully finished, with black and red bellows and German silver end-plates and celtic designs in pokerwork, 5 3/4 inches on a side.

The concertina arrived a few days before Sidmouth, so I took it with me to the Radway for the music sessions there. Not surprisingly I got quite a bit of interest and comment - my two favourites were "What's that? Some sort of minimalist melodeon?" and "There's the man with the square concertina - you weren't making it up!". I found that it played very well. It is a very positive instrument with a fine action and plenty of volume. The tone of course is different from a true concertina, but is pleasant nonetheless, and fits very well into the sound of an English music session with its numerous melodeons. The look of the instrument was also fine too, very much fitting into its surroundings.

Herrington's concertinas are priced $1200 for the square models and $1500 for the hexagonal. Personally I think the square ones are so nice there is little point in forking out the extra $300. There is a big void in the anglo market between the cheap and cheerful Stagis etc and the much more expensive Jeffries/Wheatstone/Dipper instruments that used to be filled by mid-range Lachenals. Now the supply of these seems to be to drying up it can be difficult for a beginner to find an instrument that they can afford which will not hold their development as players back. I have always felt that a good beginners instrument is one that will continue to suit the player until long after the appellation "beginner" is no longer appropriate. This Harold Herrington's concertinas will do very well, and I believe they deserve to succeed.

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