Looking For The Best Concertinas for Beginners?

Here’s a look at our favorites, including our top pick the – Hohner Concertina.

Hohner Concertina 20 Key
List Price:$299.00
Price:$299.00
Price Disclaimer

#1 Best Concertina for Beginners

 

The concertina is a reed-free instrument, and a close-cousin to the accordion. While both the accordion and the concertina have bellows with buttons on both sides, the concertina’s buttons (when pressed) travel in the same direction as the bellows, and the accordion’s buttons travel perpendicular to the bellows.

The concertina is primarily used for polka, tango, and classical music, as well as the traditional cultural music of Ireland, England, and South Africa. Concertinas tend to be more portable than accordions thanks to their small size and weight, and are often used by traveling musicians.

 

Popular Types of Concertinas

The concertina was invented in 19th century Europe. The first version came from England in 1829, and the second (independently produced) came from Germany in 1834. Intuitively, these different styles have been appropriately named the English concertina and the German concertina. Since then, two other styles have emerged: the Anglo concertina, and the Duet concertina. Following is a brief overview of each of the four popular styles:

  • English – the English concertina plays a chromatic scale (a musical scale with 12 pitches, each a semitone above or below the next) and is unisonoric, which means each note is the same whether the bellows are being pushed or pulled. The English style alternates the notes on the scale between both hands, making it easier to play fast-flowing melodies. This style is generally smaller than the German concertina, and has hexagonal ends. It’s popular in groups or ensembles, and is great for reading and composing music.
  • Duet – the Duet concertina is very similar to the English style, with a chromatic scale and unisonoric tones. However, where the English style alternates the notes on the scale between both hands, the Duet style puts the low notes on the left hand and the high notes on the right hand. This style is ideal for interlaced harmonies and melodies, and is popular for song accompaniment or solo performances. Like the English style, the Duet also tends to have hexagonal ends.
  • German – the German concertina is the largest style of concertinas, and has a distinctly different look with square ends. German concertinas are bisonoric (meaning they produce different tones when the bellows are pushed versus pulled), they use long-plate reeds, and they often have multiple reeds per note to create a vibrato effect.
  • Anglo – the Anglo concertina (sometimes called Anglo-German) is a hybrid between the English and German styles. They usually have the same 20-button layout as German concertinas with a bisonoric system. However, unlike the German style, the Anglo has polygonal ends, independent pivots for each button, and they use concertina reeds instead of German long-plate reeds. The Anglo style is most commonly used in traditional English and Irish folk dance.

Musicians who are new to the concertina tend to prefer starting with an Anglo style instrument, as this style tends to be easier to play by ear and is therefore easier to learn to play. On the other hand, people who can read music and play other instruments like the piano sometimes find the Anglo style a little irrational, and prefer an English or Duet concertina. Because this article is geared towards concertinas for beginners, all of the products mentioned here are Anglo concertinas.

Based on my experience and online reviews, here are the 5 best concertinas for beginners.

 

Hohner Concertina

 

Best Hohner Concertina for beginners

Read customer reviews

 

The Hohner Concertina is an Anglo style with 20 buttons and 40 reeds. Given the product’s quality, it’s a fantastic value. It comes with a gig-bag for better portability, and it has a 90-day limited warranty.

Specifications:

  • Style – Anglo
  • Buttons – 20
  • Reeds – 40
  • Weight – 4 lbs.
  • Dimensions – 14 x 14 x 14 inches

 

Johnson FI-120 Concertina

 

Best Johnson Concertina for Beginners

Read customer reviews

 

The Johnson FI-120 Concertina is an Anglo style with 20 buttons and 40 reeds, and is larger than average. It has a 2 ½ octave range, a 10.5-inch hand spun continental cone, red Pearloid end plates, and reinforced bellows.

Specifications:

  • Style – Anglo
  • Buttons – 20
  • Reeds – 40
  • Weight – 3.48 lbs.
  • Dimensions – 23 x 19 x 17 inches

 

Mirage C7001

Best Mirage concertina for beginners

 

Read customer reviews

 

The Mirage C7001 is an Anglo style with 20 buttons and 40 reeds, and is a bit smaller than average. It has adjustable hand straps, and comes with a lockable hard case.

Specifications:

  • Style – Anglo
  • Buttons – 20
  • Reeds – 40
  • Weight – 3 lbs.
  • Dimensions – 9.2 x 8.2 x 7.6 inches

 

Ammoon Concertina

Best Ammoon concertina for beginner

Read customer reviews

 

The Ammoon Concertina is an Anglo style with 20 buttons, 40 reeds, and a 2 ½ octave range. It has red Pearloid end plates (made of red pine), end-reinforcement, and adjustable hand straps. Like its peers, the Ammoon Concertina is tuned to the G/C key. The product also comes with a convenient travel case.

Specifications:

  • Style – Anglo
  • Buttons – 20
  • Reeds – 40
  • Weight – 4.7 lbs.
  • Dimensions – 10 x 9.5 x 7.6 inches

 

Trinity College AP-20

Best Trinity concertina for beginners

Read customer reviews

 

The Trinity College AP-20 combines the craftsmanship and features of the classic 19th century Anglo style, without the higher price tag of similar models. It’s the smallest concertina on this list, making it highly portable. It’s fun to learn and even more fun to play, and you can harmonize by pushing more than one button at a time.

Specifications:

  • Style – Anglo
  • Buttons – 20
  • Reeds – 40
  • Weight – 2.6 lbs.
  • Dimensions – 8 x 8 x 8 inches

 

Takeaways

If you’re interested in learning to play the concertina, Anglo concertinas are best for beginners. Each of the concertinas mentioned in this article are nearly identical in style, so the key differentiation will be (1) your budget, (2) your portability needs, and (3) your aesthetic preferences. The pricier options will have slightly better quality than the budget options, but at these price points the difference is minor.

Once you’ve purchased one of these Anglo concertinas and have had sufficient time to learn and practice, I’d recommend purchasing an English or Duet concertina to broaden your abilities. It’s the same instrument, but they play entirely differently, and it’s fun to have both styles in your arsenal.