A variety of instruments are used in Traditional Boer Music. The instruments mentioned here represent a brief summary only. For more information on the various combinations of instruments and their usage, have a look at the page of some typical bands.

The concertina is mostly the lead instrument in a Boer Music Band. The folk names for concertinas in South Africa divides them in two broad categories. They are commonly referred to as "English concertinas" and "Boer concertinas"

English Concertinas:
The types of concertinas that fall in the "English concertina" category covers concertinas made according to the English construction practices. Their folk names, with optional phrases in parenthesis, are stated, and the international identification thereafter.

Folk Name

International Name

Photo (click to enlarge)

2 row (English concertina) 20 key Anglo chromatic  
3 row (English concertina) 30 key Anglo chromatic  
3 row (English concertina) 36 key Anglo chromatic
3 row (English concertina) This is the most popular model for Boer Music. 40 key Anglo chromatic
4 row (concertina) English concertina  
5 row (duet concertina) Crane Duet concertina
6 row (duet concertina) McCann Duet concertina


This identification method therefore refers to the layout of the keys rather than identification by type of concertina. It induces the least confusion, and reference is quite easy. The 5 and 6 row instruments are also collectively referred to as "Duet concertinas". The amount of keys in the 4, 5 and 6 row concertinas is seldom stated. The usage in conversation might be something like this: "The most popular instrument is the "3 ", although Hans plays the 4 row and Nico a duet."

Wheatstone is the most popular manufacturer, although other makes like Crabb, Lachenal, and Jefferies do occur.

There are also concertina manufacturers in South Africa.

Boer Concertinas:
The concertina referred to as "Boer Concertina" differs by appearance and sound. The ends are mostly wood, brilliantly painted in red, orange or yellow, with no fretwork but rather slots or holes. The ends as well as the bellows are decorated with paper and chrome or brass pressings. Two or three reeds per note produce the sound. "Sholer" and "Galotta" are two brand names and were manufactured in the former East German Democratic Republic. An Italian make, "Bastari" also falls in this category. Some of these are purchased with some of the rows of notes reversed. (i.e. compressing the bellows produces a sound that is normally produced by pulling the bellows). I am aware of at least one of these used by a Traditional Boer Music Band. Other makes are "Gallotone" and "Wizzard".

Folk Name

Photo (click to enlarge)

A Boer concertina manufactured in the with 3 bellows supports and 4-4-4-4 folds in between the supports It has a C/G tuning
A Boer concertina without any bellows supports
The action of a Boer concertina is very simple and normally made from wood.
The reedpan of a Boer Concertina. Note the multiple sets of reeds per note, sounding simultaneously.

A Bastari Boer Concertina. The reed layout is similar to the above, but the action is normally made of metal.

A Sholer Boer concertina (3 bellows supports with 3-2-2-3 folds in between) next to a 3 row Wheatstone.


If anybody has any info regarding this type of concertina, please e-mail me. I would like to hear from anybody that has any information and if these concertinas are used anywhere else in the world.

Piano Accordions as well as Button Accordions and Button Harmonicas are mostly used for accompaniment. There are also bands that feature them as the lead instrument.

As with Accordions, pianos and harmoniums are mostly used for accompaniment. There are also bands and individuals that utilize them as the lead instrument.

The instrument that is most commonly used for rhythm accompaniment is the guitar. Other instruments used are the mandolin, banjo and ukulele. There are also bands and individuals that utilize all these as the lead instrument.

The instrument that is most commonly used for bass accompaniment is the double bass. Other instruments used are the cello and the acoustic bass guitar.

Harmonicas are also used for accompaniment or as the lead instrument. The bandoneon is not a well-known instrument in South Africa. I know of only two people that own and privately play the bandoneon.

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