The following quote is from the January 2014 "Tune of the Month" topic, but further discussion doesn't really belong there, so I've started a new topic here.
I wrote that the 46 Hayden is my new toy but it is not new, more like fourth or fifth hand. Which might show that the Hayden does not suit everyone?
Geoff, I thought you were also working with a Maccann duet. Have you given that up in favor of the Hayden? Or more generally, how do you find they compare?
And if any of your toy's former owners are members here, it would be interesting to hear why they parted with it.
when I started looking for a Duet, about three years ago now, I read everything I could find on C.net and decided that I would like to give the Hayden a try but getting hold of one was close to impossible, save for ordering a new one from Mr.Wakker.
This was just after my last visit to England, when I had caught up with my old friend Ralph Jordan. Ralph's playing of the Maccann impressed me greatly on that day, as his ability to accompany on the guitar had done 40 years ago when we played in a band together. Up untill that day I had concentrated mainly in playing fiddle music on the EC, mostly Irish but other genres too.Now I wanted to get more out of my EC playing... following down the Gordon Cutty etc. route.... the influences found on the English International CD were a catalist.Before this, for many years, living in Co.Clare my concertina was just my session instrument, the music and the social context being more important than " what more could I do with this box?".....
So, now living in the centre of France, I have different influences coming at me. I spent several years getting going on the Hurdy Gurdy only to realise that this area is falling down with superb players of that instrument and my time would be better spent improving the skills I already had. Throwing more and more at the English concertina has proved fun and I am a much more confident player because of all this, but I still wanted to give a duet a try. I found my first one here on C.net a 57 Maccann Aeola... a very lovely instrument which I passed on to another member here when I got my current 67key Aeola in a trade with Dirge.
Fast forward a couple of years, which included the terrible event for me of a Stroke and some problems in learning new things after that. Whether this is due to the stroke or just old age I don't know.However I have been going quite well on the Maccann finding I could play anything I wished in the key of C (baring fast moving mélodies as in ITM etc) but for each key change there was a longer and longer Learning Curve as I moved away from the key of C.
One piece I learned was the Intermezzo by Mascagni from the H. Stanley arrangement! I got that to the stage where I could play it without the sheet music, remembering all the moves. Dirge says that it is really not one of the difficult pièces and now I agree with him, the arrangement is briliant. So, the Maccann, given a carefully made sheet music arrangement can provide a satisfying and complex musical outcome. BUT,I have tried the Mascagni arrangement on the Hayden... hmmm not so easy... proving to me that whatever I say to myself all keyboards (all instruments) only give you back what you put in ... hours and hours of work.
I am principally an ear player and the Maccann just does not work like that for the begginer, well, not for me at least. With a lot of time, and no other keyboard distractions it might prove to be better than the alternatives.. So, when these new Hybrid Haydens started to appear on the market early last year... I thought now is the time to try this. So,in late June I ordered a Beaumont from the Button Box, expecting a waiting period of at least the maximum six months they quoted on their website.
In late august there was an advert here for a 46key Wakker Hayden, and I jumped at the chance to have instant gratification.. only to find that the Button Box had had a cancelation and could also offer me their new instrument toute suite... I thought I could try the two instruments and see which one I liked best and sell the other... but financial constraints caused by a slower rate of working during Stroke recovery have put the Beaumont on the back burner for now...
So that is the slighly embarasing history to date.
Now onto comparisons;
Not an easy thing to do and anything I say is just my perspective at this moment. I have had the 46 Wakker since early September last and I have about one hour per day to practice.
The first point is that I find playing the Hayden by ear much easier. Let me be specific... if I take a piece that I have been playing on the English, something I know in my head, no matter how difficult I can reproduce it verbatim on the Hayden, from memory and change the key if needs be ( within the confines of being a real begginer on this keyboard)... so for instance; I have been playing the Bourrée from Bach's French suite in E flat Major (BWV 819) on the EC , not the easiest little tune, but I can reproduce it on the 46 Hayden, from memory, but oh I could do with the alternate Eb buttons that the 46 does not have so to make it easier I shifted it up to E maj, or down to D maj. I can see that with the same amount of time (or perhaps less) that I spent Learning the piece on the English I could have it going nicely on the Hayden with enough of Bach's Bass clef notes to make it sound more like the original keyboard work.Although, in the end it might work out better on the Maccann, for a big arrangement, I feel it would take me far longer.
The above sort of experience goes for almost everything I have tried so far; example, another tune, this one in G... a simple 'Scottish' (Schottishe) which I have been trying to transfer to the Maccann for six months with out any great fluidity arriving... is now ready for performance at this weekend's Bal on the Hayden after a very little practice.
I am used to, and require, an instrument that I can pick up a new tune on by ear, during a session or band practice, off the radio or a CD. So having an instrument where the keyboard paterns are constant through a number of key signatures is very helpfull .
It is possible to get lost on the Hayden keyboard ( but then I am only a beginner and that is an impression which could change), as has been suggested by others, and I have only tried to play it with other people in a Noisy situation once. With a lot of ambient noise it is often necessary to be able to play your concertina 'blind' ( deaf would be a better word) automatically hitting the correct buttons... the jury is out as to how much difficulty I will experience with a Castagnari accordion blasting into my good ear!
Possible, of course, to get lost on any keyboard but perhaps less so on the Maccann...
Other problems; the two keyboards are too similar, for my old head, to be keeping up to scratch on both.
My ultimate uses for a Duet; experiments into playing Full Blown ITM on the Hayden show that it is possible, some tunes work out better than others, but that is the same for each tune and each keyboard type... ITM on Maccann ?... Possible I guess. Most of my music making is in a social context and that includes playing for the "Bals Trad" , square dance(olde timey)... and Irish sessions.... The amount of time I have to devote to Classical music is very limited.
Conclusions of comparison; for simple music the Hayden is much eaiser than the Maccann. For more complex pièces and arrangements either keyboard requires lots of ( perhaps equal) effort.
Quality instruments; well it must be hard for any maker today to achieve the standards set by the Vintage producers.. the Maccann Aeola that I swapped to Dirge was an incredible instrument by anybodies reconning. I've been around Concertinas since 1970 and I've never heard that quality of tone before.
Value for money is the catch phrase of vintage Duets and I'd agree with this. The current prices for new Haydens is not ridiculous either when compared to the numbers being produced and the prices of Accordions.
One of the previous owners of my 46 Wakker was 'Danersen'... I am sure he would explain why it was not for him.
PS; I hope to make a trip to England soon and one thing I want to do is meet up with some other Hayden players, if possible. One member here who owns a 65k Wakker and a Beaumont has very kindly agreed to meet.
Hope some of this is usefull to others,
Edited by Geoff Wooff, 20 January 2014 - 05:12 AM.