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Reed Rat

Mistake Or Invention?

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Hello Concertina.net concertina gurus.

 

I am the proud owner of a Crane duet, Wheatstone, with a Salvation Army tag. The box itself is rosewood I believe with brown leather bellows, somebody at SA decided it should be their favorite color: um "black"... and has done a rather poor job of refinishing the instrument.

 

Ah but here's the quirk - it only has 35 buttons, but the right side highest accidental key on the top left row, normally Eb, is instead a clearly in tune "A" note. This gives the player a final high A note to complete the A minor scale.

 

I wonder if this was by design/request, or just an accident of construction/restoration?

 

 

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An odd personal preference, I would say. If it were during manufacture, it would be unusual for an SA instrument to give up an E flat for an A, as the A would exist elsewhere. With their preference for Flat keys for the Brass connection it would have made more sense to sacrifice the top F sharp for an A. Don't think A minor, think F major. Thus F and B flat and E flat key would all be well provided for. D major would be sometimes used but not as often as their beloved flats! A minor rarely used.

 

With that logic I come out on the side of "odd personal preference" - but aren't they very useful instruments.

 

Les Branchett

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Do you have a photo of the reed chamber? Eb and A are fairly far apart meaning the reeds should have recognizable different lengths. Since the reed chambers are normally adjusted to the reed lengths, looking at the reed chamber would be an indication as to whether this odd layout was already a factory design or a later modification.

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I will get a photo and post here.

 

Yes, I agree: the SA used a lot of brass and they would prefer the Eb for the A I'm sure, though I do know a lot of secular music is played in C (not me though).

 

Thought it might be a selling point, but may be just a selling flaw, as I try to get more keys, I'm hoping to find a 55 key but will settle for less.. I'll get that photo soon as I can, but I wonder now if I should leave it as is, or try to get a hold of a same period/manufacturer replacement?

 

thanks for your comments

 

Chris

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Here is a photo of the reed. Its a bit faint in the photo but on the reed shoe is stamped "A". The shoe looks a bit small, as if the hole had been routed for a larger reed. So I'm leaning toward "mistake" or should say "creative restoration"?

 

The high "A" does come in handy if you like A minor, its been fun playing with it like that.

 

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Edited by ChrisBall

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yes, as suspected, this looks a lot like a post-factory customization... obviously someone who for whatever reason wanted the A instead of the Eb and had it replaced (or did it him/her self).

Do I read you correctly in that you plan on selling the instrument and wonder whether you should replace the reed to match a standard layout? Folks interested in Cranes generally fall into one of two broad categories: Total beginners who want a ready-to-play instrument (who wouldn't want to deal with even a trivial modification job) or seasoned players in search of a backup or new box (those will very likely not be interested in 35 button Cranes in the first place but wouldn't shy away from replacing a reed if they really want the instrument).

Thus I would advise you to have it converted to factory layout (or do it yourself; it's very straightforward to do as long as you get fitting and tuned reeds) and sell the instrument optionally with the A reeds for re-replacement if anyone really wants it. I believe it is currently rather hard to sell any 35 button Crane in the first place, thus an instrument with an exotic layout would rather turn off potential buyers. In any case, be prepared that it may take a rather long time to sell even if you have it sold on commission. The community of Crane players is small, and anyone who already owns one is not very likely to buy another one any time soon, so allow for time.

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"Thus I would advise you to have it converted to factory layout (or do it yourself; it's very straightforward to do as long as you get fitting and tuned reeds) and sell the instrument optionally with the A reeds for re-replacement if anyone really wants it. I believe it is currently rather hard to sell any 35 button Crane in the first place, thus an instrument with an exotic layout would rather turn off potential buyers. In any case, be prepared that it may take a rather long time to sell even if you have it sold on commission. The community of Crane players is small, and anyone who already owns one is not very likely to buy another one any time soon, so allow for time."

 

I think your suggestion falls in line with what I thought the best thing to do is, except that for now I plan to keep the quirky box as its really light and I don't mind the A note. In fact, I have been working on 2 songs I really like which I'm arranging to use that high A.

 

thanks

 

Chris

 

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If you'll notice the similar reeds nearby, the longer shoes have narrower ends, so it looks like the slot was widened ( not very well ) for the shorter shoe. Replacing it with an Eb similar to the other shoes will leave a large gap on the left side which will need patching in one manner or another. Certainly doable, but not trivial either.

Dana

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I seem to remember that, when I was looking to widen my horizons and learn a duet, and had settled on the Crane system, I went through my repertoire to see if everything would fit on a 35-button, or indeed a 48-button.

 

Interestingly enough, I rejected the 35-button because it lacked the high A that I needed for some tunes!

 

I bought a 48-key, and haven't run off the top end of it yet ...

 

Cheers,

John

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My first Crane was a 35 button Crabb. There's quite a lot you can do with even that few buttons; the main limitation being the lack of A and B at the top of the right-hand side. I swapped the Eb for an A just as you describe to get some extra flexibility. It's not that outlandish - it's quite close to where the A would normally be and uses the same finger, so it's easy to adjust to a larger instrument later (as indeed I did). If you're playing folk music, particularly English or Morris, the A is much more useful than Eb so I'd leave it as it is.

 

Incidentally, the other criticism of the small Cranes is that you can't form chords on all the root notes. To my mind the significant omissions are B and Bb. This can be overcome by re-tuning the low C# accidental on the left-hand side. I have mine as B on push and Bb on pull. I find this so useful I have it on my larger instruments too.

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Thanks for the replies: I didn't realize Crabb made any 35 button boxes.

 

I like my high A, though as mentioned 48 key solves that issue. So as per suggestion it stays as is and when I sell it I'll tell them the person from the Salvation army who ordered it had it modified to have a high A. (It could be true!).

 

I wonder if its possible to find the person who ordered it, it was made in the mid 30's so maybe they are still alive. Then of course they may tell me it was stolen from the SA band room...

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