Frequently Asked Questions


The simple answer to this question is that we are the largest stockist of genuine concertinas in the world by a long way, meaning that you are choosing from a big selection of instruments rather than one or two choices you may have in a non-specialist shop. All of our instruments are restored to a very high standard, and we have gained a stellar reputation over the last 40+ years of our business for high-quality instruments and extremely attentive customer service.

Whilst it’s understandable to assume that, as a specialist, our instruments would be more expensive than elsewhere, it isn’t the case for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we don’t have to factor staff/shop rental costs into our prices as we’re a family-run business with our showroom being in our house. It’s also important to note that the instruments you may see on eBay or other online auctions will very rarely be in playing condition- they’ve often been left untouched for decades.

Whilst a £250 Lachenal Tutor Model concertina on eBay may seem better value than a £550 one we have for sale, that price doesn’t factor in the repair costs you would almost certainly be looking at- most likely £300-£400 on top of the purchase price (if it’s even restorable) Every concertina we sell is fully restored and ready to play.

Yes we do, and have done for 46 years. We make sure that the instrument is as well packaged as possible, and we use a trusted courier service. Additional costs may need to be taken into consideration- the price of shipping varies based on your location, and there may be various customs duties to factor into price depending on which country you are in. Brexit has meant that each country in the EU has new customs charges for items we send which can vary widely country to country. Some locations offer a discounted rate for antiques, whereas others do not. Please do find out the customs rates for your country before purchasing from us so that you avoid a nasty surprise on delivery of the concertina.

Whilst we have a one-year guarantee for major defects in the UK, this guarantee is now 3 months for purchases from Mainland Europe, and there is no default guarantee after the one-week approval period anywhere outside of the UK and Mainland Europe, although we can offer varying levels of guarantee depending on the climate of the country we are selling to. For more information, read our blog post on the News page of the website entitled ‘Changes to Purchasing from Barleycorn from Outside the UK’.


Not as such. As our business is based from our home located between Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent, we operate on an appointment-only basis. We’re extremely flexible with our appointments and operate 7-days a week, so we’ll usually be able to fit you in at a time that suits you. Just contact us via telephone or our contact form and we’ll get you booked in.

As a lot of our custom is international, we do not operate on set business hours. You’ll usually be able to reach us via email or telephone between the hours of 9am and 9pm GMT, so get in touch whenever suits you!

We get this question a lot, and the simple answer is that there is no right answer. There are three ‘main’ types of concertina- English, Anglo and Duet, all of which have numerous variants. We always stock a wide range of budget instruments, and the best thing to do is to give us a call, tell us what sort of music you’re wanting to play, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Whilst our entry level instruments are a bit more expensive than the accordion-reeded imitation concertinas, you’d be buying a real concertina that would keep its value, and if you decided to pursue the instrument further then we offer you the same price you paid for yours in part exchange should you wish to upgrade.

This ultimately comes down to your personal opinion. There are a lot of great concertina makers out there at the moment who are producing really quality instruments. However, there are a couple of downsides to this that can’t be helped. Firstly, you’ll probably be on a waiting list for a long time. Secondly, it’s quite rare to find a concertina builder who makes a lower-range model- they’re usually all the premium instruments they can make, which is completely understandable when they can make only so many a year.

The benefit of an antique instrument is that, firstly, it will maintain its value. New things always depreciate in value (apart from some exceptional circumstances), and the truth of the matter is that you will not get back what you paid for it. There is also the point of the tonal changes a new instrument can go through when the reeds have been played in. There is the risk that your new concertina may change in tone as it’s played more and more- it could potentially become even better. The point is, if you buy an antique instrument, you can predict with a certain confidence what it will be worth in 5 years, and what it will sound like (unless the instrument is damaged or neglected, of course).


It’s very easy to assume, as we’re a dealer in these instruments, that you wouldn’t be getting the best price if you sold to us. That simply isn’t the case. Two of the alternatives would be to sell via eBay or an auction house, but it’s easy to forget what commission will be taken from the sale price. On eBay it’s currently around 10% (and an extra 4% for PayPal payments), and selling in an auction will get you roughly 55% of the price we’d offer you ourselves, as the buyer has to pay 25% to 35% commission on top of the sale price, and then another percentage is taken from you by the auction house. Selling to us direct means you get 100% of the asking price, and the truth of it is that if you put it in an auction, we’ll ultimately end up buying it for less than we would offer you direct.

Another option would be to try and sell the instrument privately. If it’s in playing condition then this is a perfectly reasonable choice. The only issue is that you’re then waiting on a person to get in touch who is looking for the exact thing you’re selling. The benefit of selling to us is that we will buy the instrument instantly, knowing that one day we’ll sell it. Some concertinas can sit around on our shelves for a number of years until the right person comes along- this is the risk you’d run trying to sell privately.

So why sell to us over other stockists? Barleycorn has a long and proud history of making fair offers, and in many occasions, higher offers than the initial asking price from the seller. If you receive an offer from us, you know that we’ll have worked backwards in figuring the price out. What will we sell it for once restored? How much will we have to spend to restore it? We’re never looking to make as much profit as possible because the concertina scene is full of friendly, genuine people- in return, we give genuine offers. If you’ve got an instrument to sell, give us a call and we’ll make sure you get the best possible price.


After Purchase

We would always recommend keeping your instrument flat and inside its case. Storing it on one end will make the valves bend, reducing the efficiency of the instrument. It’s best to keep concertinas at room temperature, in a room that is neither too dry nor too humid.

Drastic changes in temperature or humidity can cause cracks to the instrument or deteriorate the reeds. We would recommend using a cheap humidifier during the winter months, and you want to keep the room above a humidity of 40%.

Humidity- No extremes in temperature or humidity- not too dry or damp- 20 degrees- humidity 40%- Room temperature


No problem, just return it to us within 7 days of receiving it and we’ll give you a full refund and help you find something that is more suitable. You’ll only be out of pocket for the cost of the return postage.

When you buy a concertina from Barleycorn from the UK, you get a one-year warranty for major issues/defects, so if there is a major issue then just send the instrument back to us and we’ll get it sorted. If the problem is a common issue like a reed not sounding due to fluff in it, then we’d encourage you to fix the issue using the tutorial videos we’ll be posting on this website. Until then, give us a call and we’ll talk you through the fix. If you are in Mainland Europe then this guarantee is three months instead of one year, and if you are outside of the UK and Mainland Europe then there is no default guarantee offered on purchase, but we will still do our best to help sort your issue out, so just get in touch. If the issue that has developed is a climate-induced issue then we cannot offer a guarantee for this- we make sure every customer in an extreme climate of any kind understands the risks of buying an antique, wooden instrument before purchase.

If you’re looking to upgrade to a better concertina then we’ll take your old one back in part-exchange at the price you paid for it, as long as it’s in good condition (UK only).

This is perfectly normal when a concertina has been shipped- it’s often kept in a cold warehouse overnight and just needs to warm up. Take it out of its case and leave it to warm up for a while, and then gently work those notes back and forth for about 20 seconds and in most cases they should spring into life.

People are often terrified to open up their concertinas. This is understandable, but it is restricting you from making a simple repair or correction yourself (such as a bit of fluff in a reed) as opposed to having to take the instrument to a repairer. Unscrew the main bolts on the end fully without removing them, and you can then remove the end and have access to the reedpan. We’ll be posting videos soon demonstrating smaller repairs and fixes that you can do yourself.

We have never specialised in concertina restoration in the past because, to put it simply, we’ve never had the time. However, Chris’ son Ciaran has recently joined the business and is building up lots of experience in repairing and restoring concertinas. Whilst we are unable to offer a restoration service that handles woodwork/fretwork repair, we can guarantee that a general concertina restoration (Change of pads/straps/valves/tuning to concert pitch) will be cheaper with us than with any other repairer. Get in touch with us through the contact form for a quote.