Crane Tips

Articles, Advice, and Playing Tips for the Crane concertina

For beginners, my personal opinion the best place to start is the Lachenal tutor which shows the key layouts and the notes on the staff. This is what I used to learn how to read music for the Crane system: 1 single printed page, you can't get much easier than that! Unless you want the other excercises/tunes skip the rest and just print the notes page.

A larger version for printing

I suppose you could learn any instrument that way, but on concertina we really are just pushing buttons..

So I can summarize playing the Crane concertina very easily, which would be unfair a simplification, but the concertina is not nearly as elaborate as some of the other instruments I've tried to learn how to play (give the Uillean pipe a shot than come back greatfully to your concertina).

1) Don't pump the bellows unless a button is pushed. So, if you have an air-button you can push that in and move the bellows, or play one or more notes, just don't sit there pushing it back and forth with no buttons pressed, you will damage the valves.

2) You can "stop" a note 2 ways, by releasing the button while the bellows moves or by stopping pushing/pulling the bellows.

3) I have a lot of printed music and a lot of recordings to listen to, but I seldom have both the tune and a similiar transcription. Some of the books come with CDs or links to download music. If you don't have a big music collection you might start with one of those sets. Check the links page for more recordings and information.

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Crane Tip # 1 - Where to get a Crane duet...

Ok, so now you have decided the Crane or Crabb duet is the box for you. You have saved up for months and read dozens of articles. You printed out the tutor pages and ring binded them. You now know all about steel vs brass, rosewood, bellows folds, vintage and new. You have ended your search: you have arrived at the thinking man's concertina.

Fortunately aspiring Crane player Crane duets are popping up everywhere! Some dedicated fans of the Crane system have started building Crane duets. See the Links page for a link to Holden Concertinas where you can get a brand new Crane duet.

Almost all vintage concertinas are owned, catalogued, or stashed away in private collections. You might get lucky and find a concertina in an estate sale, but don't get frustrated, I have numerous tales now of people finding multiple concertinas at estate sales, some of which were Cranes.

Be prepared for sticker shock, many players hold thier boxes dearly. It helps to ask politely when trying to find an unusual or rare instrument: some players would rather it go to a good home than just toss it up on auction. Rememeber, all you need is one. If you are a guitar player imagine you are going to sink the money into a new Rickenbacker.

Sometimes on players will be selling a Crane duet they no longer want ot never learned how to play. Many people less enthiusiastic than you have tried this system and given up on it. Thier loss is your gain!

Online auctions can also be a source but I have only seen a few Crane duets go up online, but its worth searching. Try the European/UK sites as they tend to have more than the US auctions.

Where is Crane tip #2? Submit your Crane tip!

Articles on players Expierences and Opinions

Have a great story or outstanding opinion? Submit it and I will add it to the articles.

With Only 35 Keys - Thoughts on the 35Key Crane, by Chris Ball

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