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Boyd Wheatstone Concertinas

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#1 centurian2

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 07:49 PM

Trying in some way to find out or establish how many Wheatstone Concertinas were made for

Harry Boyd?  In particular, how many were 48 key.  Does not to be very much information written,

researched, or reported about this subject.  

I would like to find out how many readers on CN own or know of 48 button English's.  I personally

know of only 4, two in the USA, and two in England.

Over the past 20 years, in talking with dealers in 2nd hand instruments, they had said they they

were on the rare side, and most were 56 button.  Thank you in advance 



#2 JayMiller

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 06:33 PM

No one else seems to be jumping in here, so I'll toss out my opinion. It might inspire others to disagree with me if nothing else.

I have two Boyds, a 48 button Wheatstone from 1912, and a 56 button Lachenal from about 1900. That certainly doesn’t make me any sort of expert, but I do pay close attention when I see one come up for sale.

My completely unscientific opinion, based only on watching the various auction sites and dealers’ pages, is that it’s about half and half between 48 and 56 key instruments, slightly more Lachenals have turned up over the last few years, and Lachenals tend to be 56 key while Wheatstones are more likely to be 48. The Lachenals also seem to date a bit earlier, so my guess is that Boyd started out favoring Lachenals and then switched to Wheatstones later.

That said, the numbers are so small that drawing any real conclusions is next to impossible.

As far as the instruments themselves, my Lachenal is a very nice New Model, but I don’t think there’s anything special or unique about it. If you played it blindfolded you certainly wouldn’t say, “This is a Boyd.” The Wheatstone, on the other hand, is super responsive snd quick to speak, VERY loud, and has a really distinctive sound—harsh isn’t right word, but it’s much happier playing hornpipes than it is playing hyms. Good luck trying to play it softly. 



#3 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 02:39 PM

An interesting  topic  but perhaps  it would get more  interest  if it was not  tucked away  down  in the  "public news  & announcements".  Could have been better  in the history  section ?



#4 Ken_Coles

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 10:06 PM

Good point Geoff!  I'll get it moved over there.

 

Ken



#5 conzertino

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 02:46 PM

My 56 key Boyd was my first concertina. I was lucky to find it near Newcastle, where it was first sold.

I had 7 fold bellows fitted - now I can play 16 bars of a tune on one bellows-stroke...

As far as I know, Alistair Anderson plays a 56 key and Wim Wacker a 48 key...

I must have seen quite a lot of Lachenal-Boyds over the years,but only one Wheatstone!?

There was one for sale here for a long time - and David Robertson has one right now!?

 

By the way: Alistair plays a new interesting small 8-sided instrument on his latest youtube. I would guess that it is a Dipper?? 



#6 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 02:13 AM

Robert,  are you saying that David  Robertson  is selling a Wheatstone Boyd ?

 

Could you provide a link  to  Alistair's youtube video please?



#7 Chris Ghent

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 05:35 AM

Perhaps this one...

https://www.youtube....h?v=YhyvFsZHRmg

 

Or maybe the one at the top of the page here http://www.alistairanderson.com/


Edited by Chris Ghent, 15 January 2017 - 05:36 AM.


#8 JimLucas

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 06:21 AM

By the way: Alistair plays a new interesting small 8-sided instrument on his latest youtube. I would guess that it is a Dipper?? 

 

 

That's not exactly "small".  Looks to me like a standard 56-button Aeola.  And  from both the size and where his fingers are as he's playing, I'd say it's an extended-treble, not a tenor-treble.

 

Or maybe the one at the top of the page here http://www.alistairanderson.com/

 

And that's an amboyna Wheatstone Aeola that Alistair has had for decades.



#9 conzertino

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 03:00 AM

Sorry, David is selling a Lachenal Boyd:http://www.concertin...in-the-pipeline

 

If you look closer at Alistairs new box ( 1.17 in the video ), you can see that it has an unusual label and probably non - standard fretwork!?



#10 BW77

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 10:20 AM

As far as the instruments themselves, my Lachenal is a very nice New Model, but I don’t think there’s anything special or unique about it. If you played it blindfolded you certainly wouldn’t say, “This is a Boyd.” The Wheatstone, on the other hand, is super responsive and quick to speak, VERY loud, and has a really distinctive sound—harsh isn’t right word, but it’s much happier playing hornpipes than it is playing hyms. Good luck trying to play it softly. 

Being illiterate on the subject just a curious question...is it just this ( being particularly loud) that is expected to make the Boyd instruments special? If so - is it documented that they were made on special order to be particularly loud and then , can someone tell what technically characterizes them? Harry Boyd was a retail dealer as far as I understand. Did he have customers generally asking for extra porwerful instruments? Other parameters being the same.. extra "strong" reeds  do not respond as easily at low pressure ( that is what Jay says above is it not?) and if so - delicate, sensitive,  playing is expected to be harder to achieve. What is the point with them then  - except only reaching a larger audience outdoors? Is this what Boyd fans want to do today also or is it firstly a matter of prestige....since AA got one...so?



#11 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 12:53 PM

The main  technical  characteristic   of all  the Boyd models I have  seen  is  the  smallness  of the reed chambers.  Especially the 56k  models, where more reeds are crammed into the  48k  size  instrument.  So, the reed chambers are  almost as shallow as possible . This allows  air pressure to build up more quickly in the chamber  when the  key  is depressed  and thus the  attack  at the begining of each  note is  enhanced.  That  more  pressure  is available  in the chamber  helps  to  increase the output  volume. Combine this with   fairly open   (metal) fretwork  and   plenty of Pad lift  and the  resulting power is   remarkable  in comparison  to  the  normal  'Victorian'  models  that pre date  the Boyd. I  imagine  that  Harry  stipulated  he wanted the best of materials  and craftsmen.

 

Personally I am not keen on the tone of  the metal  ended  Lachenal  New Models    but  I  do have  an  early metal ended Wheatstone  , that would be contemporary  with the Boyd period,  and  it has   similar   'shallow' reed chambers , great volume  but retains  a certain sweetness of tone.  Perhaps  the  difference  between the tone of the Lachenals and that of the Wheatstones  can be attributed to  the wood  used.

 

Your mileage may differ  and every instrument should be judged on its individual  merits.



#12 BW77

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 07:26 PM

Geoff, some questions come up:

-Smallness of the reed chambers. The width must be the same if you compare 48 key models with each other or compare 56 key models respectively. The length likely being the same also when having chamber partitions, or do you mean that the Boyd partitions are generally closer to the reed tip than with other similar instruments? Remains variation of chamber heights. I checked a few metal ended sixsided Wheatstones from 1920s and either having same height chambers or tapered heights they seem to be about "as shallow as possible" i e without making larger reeds hitting the action board at full amplitude. Are you sure the Boyd instruments generally have more shallow chambers? I also wonder about the effect from shallow chambers on loudness in general. Intuitively it seems likely that initial tone response might be faster,  but loudness?? As soon as steady state pressure is achieved it is hard to see any cause for different loudness. Has this been explored? Aeolas I believe always have tapered chamber height and those for the larger reeds are generally deeper than those of the said sixsided ones but neither response nor loudness seems to be less.

I have two contemporary, exactly alike, 56 key TT Aeolas except for one being remarkably loud and the other on the contrary fairly mellow. The reed pans are interchangeable and the difference in loudness - which is really great - obviously is a reed issue.

So....IF those Boyd instruments are particularly loud is that possibly a reed matter with them also? Open fretwork...if strikingly so...of course may contribute. Pad lift I guess originally with all instruments is expected to be high enough so that it does not reduce air flow through the pad *hole*. Is the button travel significantly greater with Boyd instruments?

What period are we talking about? What Wheatstone serial numbers? Are the "Boyd instruments" possible to identify in the Wheatstone ledgers?

Sweetness of tone...is it possible to make an extraordinary powerful reed which also has a delicate response at low pressure and simultaneously a mellow tone i e less "harshness" (which likely is a result from more or stronger overtones). Something for reed makers among the readers to comment upon! How ? is that achieved in such case? I have a feeling that some of these qualities are counteracting each other.



#13 Chris Ghent

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 11:09 PM

I have two contemporary, exactly alike, 56 key TT Aeolas except for one being remarkably loud and the other on the contrary fairly mellow. The reed pans are interchangeable and the difference in loudness - which is really great - obviously is a reed issue.


Goran,

I'm not going to get into a point by point with you, but here's a couple of things.
In your example above you state a clear conclusion but there are six tone, response and volume modifiers in a reedpan; the chamber sizes, the valves, the reed profiles, the reed clearances, the nature of the connection between reed and pan and the nature of the wood. Yes the reeds are a strong potential contributor but if you want to state it as proven, swap a number of the reeds only.

Sweetness of tone...is it possible to make an extraordinary powerful reed which also has a delicate response at low pressure and simultaneously a mellow tone i e less "harshness" (which likely is a result from more or stronger overtones). Something for reed makers among the readers to comment upon! How ? is that achieved in such case? I have a feeling that some of these qualities are counteracting each other.

The model I work to (which is not the same thing as a fact) says volume and sweet tone are incompatible. For the concertinas I want to build I must strive for the best possible volume and response in reeds and then find ways to filter out the less attractive higher partials I have generated through wood choice and construction methods. Also, generating the loudest possible fundamental helps as it can aid in drowning out the higher partials.

#14 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 04:17 AM

Well BW77,

 

obviously the  56key versions  having the same  size of Hex  do have narrower chambers  than the 48k's  but  having  shallow chambers is  a big factor.  Those that I have seen, dating from the  1890's  have  flat reedpans  with chamber walls of  about  5 or 6mm  in height.  A few years ago   I had two  ostensibly similar  Wheatstones,  an 1898  flat reedpan 48  and a  1920 model 22  which had the canted ( tapered)  chambers.  Both superb instruments  of their type  but the  attack and strength of  the lower  octave and a half  of the flat reedpan model  was evident.  I will say that the later Model 22 was a much nicer instrument, fully developed , easier to play and having a far better tonal balance throughout .

I believe it  is partly the attack, commencement of the note, that stays  with the listener  and directs the  senses  to some extent  in the way the note  is perceived, and the attack, at least over the lower  octave of the flat reedpan model  has this kind of effect.  At the time, Chris Ghent was visiting  with us  and  I played the two instruments for him  to judge  this.  The early  metal ended  48  ( 22,000 series)  is the instrument I use in a  very noisy dance band... but I  almost never play it at home  as my dog  hates it  with a passion.... says something about the bite  of the notes and about the upper partials    I would say.

 

My memory of the  Boyds  is from 35  years ago  and I cannot  recall  how deep the action of the buttons was.   I have maximised  pad lift  on my 1898  flat reedpan  Wheatstone, such that the buttons almost  arrive level with the  ends  at max  extent and the  guide pins  are  almost  out of their  ports  when the buttons are  at rest.  The ends of some of the levers  almost  tap on the metal  fretwork  when the buttons are fully depressed  such is the  extent of their travel  even though it is not really quite  enough  to   alleviate  all Pad dampening of  certain notes...  there  just is not enough  space  in this early  design.  Having said that the power of the little beast  is  about the  strongest  I have  observed  whilst retaining  a  pleasant tone  on an EC.

 

Many  Lachenals,   have  Pad boards of Mahogany   and this gives a quite distinct  tone  that I rather like...

 

But as I  said before;  each instrument has to be tried  for its own merits......  different people making reeds, different woods, some pieces  of the same wood will have  better musical qualities... hence  the  Luthier  holding  a  piece of Tone wood  between finger and thumb  and tapping  it to listen for it's resonant qualities.   I doubt  the casework  cabinet makers employed by the  concertina  factories  selected their timber like this.  I have had  Aeolas  that I  did not care  for  and other that were sublime, this does give rise ( perhaps unfairly) to  preferences  for certain periods  of  production.  One  MacCann  Aeola  that had the most beautifull tone I have ever heard  from a concertina, which I put down to  the 'Brittania Metal'  ends, was also, made during  my prefered  golden  year.  Could it have been  the reed quality, or something else?


Edited by Geoff Wooff, 18 January 2017 - 04:21 AM.


#15 BW77

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 09:42 AM

Many thanks Geoff ! Let's keep on trying to sort it out....I got two metal ended 48 key sixsided 1920s Wheatstones to examine.They both have flat reed pans and ca 6mm depth. Sound...? well, rather loud and rather rough to my ears. Response fairly good. A six sided 48 key raised wooden ends 1906 Wheatstone with tapered reed pan however is even more shallow, ca 4 mm at the top and 6mm at the low end I actually don't believe you can go less than that..) It has good response, is not particularly loud and got a fairly "round/mellow" tone generally speaking, much different from the said metalended ones. Seems as no concluions regarding effect of chambers for loudness to get here but not speaking against effect for response either. Maybe that's it? Reducing chamber volume facilitates response? This seems to be supported by the effect from adding or removing the chamber partitions. They may be more or less needed for making highest reeds speak  and did not most Victorian instrument have top chamber partitions while the rest of the chambers did not...and the routine adding cork partitions to older instruments may have been based on the interest to influence response AND amplitude. When amplitude is increased from adding partitions it may be a result from reduced absorption of high overtones. This ought to be possible to confirm/reject and document rather easily by comparing tone spectrums.

 

Now pad lift. What you say sounds a bit extreme. Although I agree that the available space for best lever motion sometimes seems at the limit or even too small something is wrong with the construction if the pad lift doesn't secure non influence on air passage. Maybe from misunderstandings some players actively reduce button travel ( believing "action gets faster") and thus get a choking effect from pads opening too little. It is fairly easy to calculate the necessary pad lift assuming that the mantle shaped area between the circumferences of the pad and the hole should be larger than the hole area.

 

Reading old posts there has been a lot of debate regarding possible effects from different kinds of wood and possible resonance. 

Theoretically there is little reason ( if any...) assuming that resonance phenomena related to the materials has any importance at all concerning  squeezeboxes contrary to instruments with true resonance chambers or boards like string and bow instruments.

Old accordions makers used to speak for instance about "resonance board" but that is hardly justified.

 

Although not able to match cats and dogs human ear has got great capacity for judging these matters but for understanding what we speak about more lab tests ought to be carried out with means to substantiate findings... but maybe your dog will tell anyway if some Boyd enters the house..

 

Yes, some tone quality differences are really sublime. Some people evidently do like the overtone spectrum and others don't. In general free reed sound is rough/harsh due to the lot of (irregular) overtones and mostly a softer/nicer/mellower tone is achieved by absorption/filtering of these overtones that is for sure. What makes the rest of a "nice tone" is more obsure...but it would be of interest sorting out what the reeds are responsible for. What about the question regarding Boyd orders and Wheatstone ledgers?



#16 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 02:25 PM

I  recall  some  entries in the ledgers  which  include  the name   H. Boyd...  one just has to  trawl through  , but unfortunately  the  very critical  1890's to 1910  period  ledger  is lost . I am sure that  ledger  would show more references  about Boyd.  We can know  the right periods  for Boyd  by checking the serial numbers of   the extant instruments.

 

Tapered reedpans  and flat ones  appear during different periods, I think, because  the  tapered  variety  were  initially reserved for the  high quality models.. so it could be that  a Model 21  might have a  flat reed pan  at the same period that a Model 22 or 24  will have the tapered  type...  So, I think  my  flat  reed pan    48  from 1898  was a top of the range  instrument at that  time  meant as direct competition  for the Lachenal  New Model.  Not fully  developed  and that could be why there is not enough  space  above the  pallet board  ( even though the ends are  'Raised')  and not enough  possible button travel.  Luckily mine has  the original pads, I think,  which are quite  slim... If I had to  replace them  with new  ready made  pads  there would  hardly be enough  space.... and certain fingerings  can be  difficult  when the  button heights are so low. 

 

A currently  enjoyed  Lachenal New Model  with Rosewood ends  and  Mahogany pad boards  has a beautifull  tone and  fine volume   is a delight to play  , no  Boyd name  either...  but  the  previous owner ( rightly) wants  to buy it back... oh well !



#17 BW77

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Posted 19 January 2017 - 07:41 AM

A pity with the ledgers...what then is known anyway about the relevant *Boyd* serial numbers? If all Boyd instruments have a "Boyd" label on them it should be fairly easy to find out what serial number sequence we speak about. Anyone knows?

Concerning tapered reed pans you expect these to be contemporary with "longer scale reeds" ( i e those used for Aeolas for example when these were introduced) -  since longer reeds are expected to need more height in the reed chambers not to hit the "ceiling". Or? 

IF so - it ought to be easy to find out for example if sixsided Wheatstone 48 key treble models with tapered reed pans have  longer scale reeds than those with flat reed pans.  If not there may be some other factor involved. My sixsided ones mentioned before do not have the same reed scale however as some contemporary Aeolas. The question arises then if these later sixsided instruments also originally belong to the same quality range as the Boyd instruments and that your 1898 one does also. Nickelplated metal ended Wheatstones generally belong to the "top" or "next to the top" models don't they? When raised ends were introduced one more "top range" category appeared so rather than assuming that your flatended sixsided was  meant as direct competition  for the Lachenal  New Model  maybe it would be a better guess that the similar but with raised ends might have been that competitor - or maybe the reverse depending orn which came first. 

This rasies a question in itself...in what chronological order did the Wheatstone sixsided raised ends, the Lachenal New Model, the Wheatstone raised ends Aeola and the Lachenal raised ends Edeophone appear on the market? 

 

Summing up so far it seems ( due to missing ledgers or other documents) as if we have no documented support that the Boyd instruments were any different from contemporary same model products. I get a feeling that reputation itself plays some part here.

Maybe Boyd did order selected instruments or maybe rather that he managed to market them as special made. Just putting an individual label on them may be such a method ( seems like other dealers did the same). Maybe the ordering time and batches of instruments happened to coincide with extra good reedmakers or maybe extra hardened reed steel was used on special demand in order to offer extra loudness for open air playing or whatever. If any of this makes the assumption justified that they would be better generally than other same model instruments like the rumour seems to say is another question. They obviously belong to the period of production before WW1 which often is regarded as the "golden era" and that may be the essence of it all, and in that case maybe not being different from contemporary instruments.



#18 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 20 January 2017 - 04:53 AM

I'm not sure where you got the impression that my 1898 model  has flat ends  but it does not, they are dommed  , not raised   in the later  style where there is a pressed  circular  area  in the centre  of the ends,  but bulged out gradually in a curve which begins  just after the edges are folded down to  enter the frames  where they are screwed in place on the insides  in the fashion of later Wheatstones.  The lack of space  is more due to the lack of height of those wooden frames .  The buttons had four felt washers  on their guide pins  , I have removed  three  on each button to increase  pad lift untill I get an  instrument that is loud enough to cope  with  the  on-stage  noise of a  dance band  ... just so's I can hear myself.

 

So, coming back to the topic;  it  appears  there are far more Lachenal Boyds  about  and  it also appears ( please correct me if wrong)  that Lachenal's  were making metal ended ( LOUD) instruments    for a while before  Wheatstone's took up the   challenge of  providing its customers with more volume..  It  may well be that Boyd  was stocking  these  metal ended  EC's  for  preference  due to a  late  victorian  fashion amongst the working classes  in the North East of England  for playing  dance music... perhaps Miners  who  did not have the delicacy  of touch  to play the Violin  but had the wages  to afford   a  concertina  that  might compete  with the fiddle for volume.  Market trends encourage  Wheatstone's to  produce concertinas  with Nickel  Plated  ends  but as I  see from the  one I have  it is not yet fully developed  in 1898.  By the time  Harry Boyd  begins  to  stock  the  Wheatstone   models with his name in the fretwork... we are perhaps well into the 20th century ?






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