The true 'concertina' is hexagonal, later a 12 sided version was marketed by the Lachenal company who called it the 'Edeophone'. The Wheatstone company brought out an Octagonal istrument which they called the 'Aeola', although, strictly, the term Aeola was applied to their long series reeded instruments, the first of which were six sided and sported a strange pin hole fretting design. Very soon the 'Aeola' name became linked to the shape rather than the reed form.
The notes are mixed between left and right hands so that you alternate hands to play a scale. This makes the instrument good for quick playing of a melody line, but more difficult to play a melody with an accompaniment.
Most commmon are 31-, 48-, 56- and 64-key versions. There are also various ranges available: Treble, Piccolo, Tenor, Baritone, Bass and Contrabass. Some instruments (usually the Bass and Contrabass) are designed to play only on the press of the bellows-- on the draw, they take in air. Generally the fingering is standard based upon the 48 key treble, more keys means that the range is extended up or down. The pitch classifications, (with the exception of the Tenor) are all transpositions of the treble, the baritone being down 1 octave, the bass two octaves.
There are also "mini concertinas" They weigh about 1.5 pounds, and have a range of almost 2 octaves from C to B. Unlike the larger english concertinas the mini ones are more difficult to play in all keys, missing the G sharp and E flat buttons. They play well in the keys of C, D, G, F, and the relative minors of those keys and Irish modal scales. For other keys the enharmonic buttons for A flat and D sharp must be used instead of G sharp and E flat which, although making the instrument chromatic, also makes it more difficult to play.
They is no pinky rest rather a pinky (pinly is small pig in English England) strap as well as the thumb strap.
The true Miniature is 2.75 inches accross the flats, had 12 keys, and thumb loops. The right hand end is demarked by an ivory button set into the belows frame. it has 1.25 Octaves and only one F# and a Bb.
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