Echo Concertina began in 1960, founded by Stanley Uhlir of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Uhlir started out like many of his competitors, trying to copy the sound and quality of the Patek and Pearl Queen concertinas that Otto Schlicht designed and manufactured in the early 1900s.
Uhlir’s background in music goes back to 1929. With over twenty years of design, tool and die work, Stan was able to incorporate many design changes to the instrument and improvements to the concertina manufacturing process over the years. Some of these technical innovations included a faster-responding button action, hardened reed blocks for increased sound volume and redesigned shift levers for easier switching. However, Uhlir made certain that Echo Concertinas always maintained the use of traditional, long-plate reeds for the best sound possible.
In 1984, Uhlir began teaching Bob Novak the concertina building trade. Bob has also made a career in design, tool and die work which has allowed him to incorporate his own instrument design and manufacturing process improvements. In 1989, Novak took over the company and continued to build the Echo Concertina at his shop in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Uhlir passed away in 1996.
Novak introduced machinist Mike Smieja to the concertina. Not satisfied with leaving good enough alone, Smieja developed his own improvements to the button action and other mechanical aspects of the instrument. His technical innovations have been recognized as some of the greatest advances in chemnitzer concertina design since Otto Schlicht and Ernest Glass. He has since joined Novak to produce the latest generation of Echo Concertinas. These instruments have retained all of the best qualities of the original Uhlir design while incorporating the modern manufacturing methods and technical advances introduced by Novak and Smieja.
Serial Numbers and Manufacture Dates
The following table provides the approximate year of manufacture for instruments with a serial number that falls within the range shown. Data is from Echo Concertina records and visitor-supplied information. Date ranges will be adjusted to be more precise if and when additional data is obtained.
Serial Number : Manufacture Year
0000 – 0000 : XXXX
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