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Jeffries Metal Hand Rests


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#19 Alan Day

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 05:22 PM

Jim,
In reply to your posting,when using my Jeffries with plain wooden hand rests, when I play my hands are forced back on the straps (see, how tight are your straps) and the gap between my hand and the rest is approx 6mm.On my Jeffries with the metal hand rest the gap is only about 3mm max.I would say that my fingers however are the same height from the buttons having taken up that gap.
You are right I can slide my hands easier over the metal rounded edge and it would appear that we all agree that as the anglo playing position appears to be towards the back of the hand rest that rounded edges are much more comfortable.The height of the hand rest to me is ok, high or low for the reasons mentioned.
Thanks to Roger for the information, it has knocked the sound theory on the head.

I still think as does Paul that the gap under the handrest is a good idea for sound improvement on a multi key instrument.It would appear that Jeffries only introduced the metal hand rest for weight purposes only.What a shame,what a good selling point it could have been.
I would like to thank you all for contributing to this topic it has been very interesting for me and I hope you all enjoyed it also.
Al

#20 Paul Groff

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 07:17 AM

Roger,

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that on your 31 key F/C all the reed chambers are around the periphery of the reedpan, therefore all the pads open up around the periphery of the soundboard (pad board), with no effort made by the maker to avoid the positions shaded by the heel of the player's hand.

If this is the point you are making, your concertina is typical in this regard (although in those keys, I'm sure it is anything but typical in other ways, and your recordings show that you make full use of its remarkable potential!). Almost all the anglos I have seen are like this; even 20 -28 key anglos typically have pads opening up under the hand, and these notes are often different (as heard by the player) in harmonic content (timbre) from the notes whose pads open up further from the hand. The positions that are the "last to be occupied" as the number of buttons increases beyond 31 to 36 or so (depending on the maker) -- to 38, 40, 45, 50 and more -- are those in the center or interior of the reedpan. These notes, whose pads open up in the interior positions of the soundboard (pad board) often have a different tone yet again, as Chris Ghent has observed elsewhere in this Forum. It still may be true that the metal handrails reduce these differences in timbre (due to both sorts of positional effects) among all the notes .

So I think it is still possible that the metal handrails may have been introduced for reasons of sound (although by the time your F/C was made, metal rails may have been one option that could have been chosen for any -- or several -- of a number of reasons). Unless some documentary evidence is found, we are unlikely ever to know for certain why makers did particular things. But it is very interesting to try to make some inferences.

To all,

I would summarize the discussion differently than Alan. 1) Some very experienced and knowledgeable contributors here find the metal rails more comfortable in playing, possibly due to the curvature of their upper surface and/or their height. 2) It is at least a possibility that these rails may influence the tone quality of notes shaded by the hand, and/or in a central position in the reedpan, whether or not this is why they were introduced. 3) In the earliest instruments that have metal rails (that might give us insight into the reason for their introduction), they seem more frequently found in those with many buttons, although Roger has provided two good examples of their (later?) use in those with 31 and 38 buttons. 4) Both (original) anglos and duets by Jefffries are known to have been fitted with the metal rails, but wood rails seem more typical among anglos (with quite a few exceptions, mostly large) and metal more typical among duets (with at least one exception, small for a duet). 5) I believe Alan has noted that the metal rails are lighter than wood (? not sure about this). 6) I have noted that in the earliest concertinas with metal rails they seem frequently correlated with breaks in the fretworked ends, so structurally they may have been a disadvantage, as initially applied, to heavy instruments.

Jim Lucas' excellent point about comfort while shifting positions raises a question I don't think was addressed -- maybe the metal rails have not only a more comfortable profile for this, but also less sliding friction than wood. Again, with the multi-button instruments and the fingerings their players would want to use, comfortable shifting of hand position (even slight amounts) is very important.

Not the last word, I'm sure, but a different view of the discussion thus far. I agree with Alan that the combination of our observations and experience yields some interesting insights.

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff, 16 February 2004 - 07:37 AM.


#21 JimLucas

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 07:47 AM

...even 20 -28 key anglos typically have pads opening up under the hand,...

The most likely reason for this, I suspect, is that it greatly simplifies the design and positioning of the levers, given the layout of the buttons.

...soundboard (pad board)...

Terminology is quite an independent issue, but I think the term "action board" is a good one, and I've begun using it instead of other terms I used to use.

Both (original) anglos and duets by Jefffries are known to have been fitted with the metal rails,  but wood rails seem more typical among anglos (with quite a few exceptions, mostly large) and metal more typical among duets (with at least one exception, small for a duet).

I believe the "exception" Paul is referring to is my 46-button Jeffries duet, but there is at least one other, which is not "small":
...My 59-button Jeffries-made Crane duet also has wooden rails, though they are undercut and have fretwork underneath.

#22 Paul Groff

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 08:56 AM

Jim

Thanks for correcting me re: your Crane. You had told me this! I guess I think of the J. duets and anglos sharing a very similar construction plan and was focussing on these.

I agree that it doesn't much matter what we call the parts of a concertina if we are clear. When I specified a disagreement with you, it was not to assert that my term is better, only to insure that our discussion was on track.

I tend to use terms I have seen in the 19th century catalogs and literature, more for fun than for any other reason. Some I have picked up in frequent discussions with the makers, with whom I find I can always communicate very well. But I try to define them also with reference to Dave Elliott's book, which is currently in print and has very clear diagrams.

What I call the soundboard, Dave calls the pad board. This is a piece of wood in a traditionally-constructed concertina that has the openings for the pads.

What I call the action board (and Dave calls the action plate) is a separate, smaller piece of wood, glued to the above, that has the action on it. What do you call this?

Many thanks for your continued insights,

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff, 16 February 2004 - 08:59 AM.


#23 JimLucas

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 09:07 AM

What I call the action board (and Dave calls the action plate) is a separate, smaller piece of wood, glued to the above,  that has the action on it.  What do you call this?

I see your point, but I don't recall ever having to refer to that particular piece separately. I've been thinking of "action board" as referring to the "pad board" and everything attached to it (which the pads aren't, except indirectly ;))

I avoid "sound board" because it seems to imply a function similar to "sound boards" in pianos, guitars, etc., which some folks dispute, and I'd rather avoid the argument when I'm discussing other things.

But I agree with you completely that "it doesn't much matter what we call the parts of a concertina if we are clear. " Terminology should describe, not prescribe.

#24 Paul Groff

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 09:17 AM

Jim,

Another great point for you. For your purposes, the two pieces of wood can be considered a single functional unit -- when the instrument is operating properly. (It is worth thinking about why they were almost always made as separate pieces in the traditional concertinas, but that's another topic for sure).

It's diffferent for me, because I have to be concerned with the times when one piece or the other is cracked or warped, or with the specification of materials for replacement, or for new instruments (of traditional construction). In those situations, these two plates each have their own identity that needs naming for clarity.

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff, 16 February 2004 - 09:18 AM.


#25 Richard Morse

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 09:31 AM

What I call the action board (and Dave calls the action plate) is a separate, smaller piece of wood, glued to the above,  that has the action on it.  What do you call this?

I see your point, but I don't recall ever having to refer to that particular piece separately. I've been thinking of "action board" as referring to the "pad board" and everything attached to it (which the pads aren't, except indirectly ;))

FWIW, we call those parts "action board" and "pad pan". They are very much in need of differing names as they have such different properties with the action board being the most exacting (with all its very precisely located button guide holes, fulcrum slots. and spring points).

#26 Brian Humphrey

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 10:26 PM

....On the other hand, my 59-button Jeffries-made Crane duet has wooden hand bars, but I seem to recall that another 59-button Jeffries-made Crane duet I saw had the metal bars. A 50-button Jeffries-system duet I saw recently had the metal bars, but my 45-button Jeffries-system duet has wooden bars..... And so far, those Jeffries with raised ends that I've seen have all had the metal bars, but not all with metal bars have had raised ends.

I have recently seen, and plan to acquire, a 55 key flat-meta- ended Jeffries Crane system duet, with the Praed St. label. It has metal hand bars. I'd appreciate some direction in learning about these instruments, and would be interested in photos of other Jeffries Cranes. Can someone estimate how many Jeffries Cranes have been made, or how many are known to exist?

#27 Chris Timson

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 05:26 AM

Well, yesterday I took my Jeffries with the metal hand-rest to Colin Dipper and I remembered to ask his opinion. He reckons that Jeffries used them from as early as the 1890's, and that he has seen them on just about every type of Jeffries he's seen (except, obviously, the wooden-ended ones). Clearly it was just a customer option. I asked him why he thought Jeffries supplied them, and he came up with a theory that no-one on the list has come up with yet, which is that people wanted them because they looked glitzy. IOW they would look good on stage with all that nickel silver glinting away.

I can rather believe this, and I'll tell you why. Some years back Rod Stradling was the distributor for Saltarelle - the melodeons with the flat and very shiny chrome end plates. Brian Peters told me about the time Rod did a sales pitch for the instrument to him. Did he talk about the sound, the playability, the quality? No, it's chief virtue was that the end plate really caught the lights and looked extremely cool on stage.

Chris

Edited to add PS

PS Brian bought it!

Edited by Chris Timson, 17 February 2004 - 05:29 AM.


#28 JimLucas

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 07:27 AM

...he has seen them on just about every type of Jeffries he's seen (except, obviously, the wooden-ended ones).

Why "obviously"? If you can have wooden bars on a metal-ended instrument, why not metal bars on a wooden-ended one.

...he came up with a theory that no-one on the list has come up with yet, which is that people wanted them because they looked glitzy. IOW they would look good on stage with all that nickel silver glinting away.

An interesting idea, but more symbolic than real, I would think. Between the strap and the hand, very litttle of the metal on -- or under -- the hand rest would be visible when the instrument was being played.

I still think that the primary reason(s) for the development of the metal hand rails was more than just flashy visual highlights.

Some years back Rod Stradling was the distributor for Saltarelle - the melodeons with the flat and very shiny chrome end plates. Brian Peters told me about the time Rod did a sales pitch for the instrument to him. Did he talk about the sound, the playability, the quality? No, it's chief virtue was that the end plate really caught the lights and looked extremely cool on stage.

What the salesperson emphasizes is not always the reason why the customer buys the product.

I remember in the early days of water beds a friend tried desperately for half an hour to get the salesmen to tell him what it was like to sleep on a water bed. Eventually he gave up, found someone who had bought one, got the answer he needed, and bought one for himself. But I don't think the salesman ever did learn.

#29 Chris Timson

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 07:37 AM

Why "obviously"?  If you can have wooden bars on a metal-ended instrument, why not metal bars on a wooden-ended one.

Because it would look pretty odd, not to say grotty.

Actually I think it has more to do with the fact that the metal bar, as it is shaped, would be difficult to fix to wood. They would have had to come with a variant just for that purpose - of course they could have done, but it appears they didn't. Unless someone has an example the proves the contrary?

Chris

Edited by Chris Timson, 17 February 2004 - 07:40 AM.


#30 Chris Ghent

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 09:07 AM

Here's another metal rest on a Jeffries I have come across. Does anyone know, is this unusual? Does it have any particular significance, ie. early, late etc?

Other detail on the concertina. A 38key C/G, unremarkable in any other way to my junior eye, other than that the air button has an unusual mechanism, which might not be original. It is inscribed C. Jeffries Maker. There are novelty noises, warbling, whistles etc on both sides, (behind the extra buttons situated half way along the G row and slightly closer to the handrest on each side.) The endplate is not fretworked underneath the handrest. The rest appears to be a plated casting. The plate held by two screws that trap the strap is not original.

Two aspects which suggest the rest is original are that there are no screw holes under the rest that might have secured the more common wooden rest, and there is no hole in the wooden part of the end for a strap screw to be put into.

Any thoughts anyone..?

regs

Chris

Edited to turn the photo up the other way...

Edited by Chris Ghent, 19 February 2004 - 12:00 PM.


#31 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 10:37 AM

What I call the action board (and Dave calls the action plate) is a separate, smaller piece of wood, glued to the above,  that has the action on it.  What do you call this?


Paul,

It does have a traditional name, from the 19th century makers, which is "disc" (though I have also heard it corrupted to "desk"). It may not seem to make much sense when applied to an anglo, but if you look at it in its original (circular) form, in an English, it makes perfect sense.

#32 Alan Day

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 05:58 PM

Chris,I have just had another look at the hand rest picture,I have never seen anything like it,how interesting.
It does not look comfortable to use however and the plating is worn exactly where I would suspect it would be.It is however a lovely looking design and well made.How nice it is where it tapers down to the fixing on the concertina and the hand rest fretting.It is absolutely lovely to look at,do you find it uncomfortable to play or is the design so clever it moulds to your fingers?
Al

#33 Chris Ghent

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Posted 19 February 2004 - 09:46 PM

Alan,

The concertina is not quite playable at the moment, mainly due to frozen valves. However the attempts I have made suggest the rest is probably less comfortable than the standard one. There is no rounding of the corners other than that necessary to remove the sharp edge.

Chris

#34 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 05:48 PM

Here's another metal rest on a Jeffries I have come across. Does anyone know, is this unusual?


Chris,

It is certainly most unusual, but it is not the only one. I have seen another example (which I thought was unique !) in Ireland recently.

Being a one-piece casting, it is much stronger than the usual style of metal "rail" (the traditional name for the "hand rest"), which is in three pieces, soldered together. Having repaired a lot of Jeffries' with metal rails, over the years, I came to dread them ! The rail assemblies are often coming apart or, even worse, badly repaired on a previous occasion, the screw threads are almost always gone, and there is always a major build-up of verdigris (something Fred Kilroy considered deadly, and was very careful to clean off his concertinas - it is poisonous) with all that contact between leather & metal. I have sometimes been forced to replace them with wooden rails, but it certainly had the advantage of making it much easier to change the size of the straps.

As Alan comments, these fancy, cast, metal rails don't seem very comfortable (in fact they remind me more of fancy metal drawer handles).

Cheers !

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 20 February 2004 - 10:27 PM.


#35 Chris Timson

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 05:40 AM

and there is always a major build-up of verdigris (something Fred Kilroy considered deadly, and was very careful to clean off his concertinas - it is poisonous)

Well there is certainly none on my ex-Kilroy concertina. I shall bear this in mind.

Cheers,

Chris

#36 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 11:14 PM

and there is always a major build-up of verdigris (something Fred Kilroy considered deadly, and was very careful to clean off his concertinas - it is poisonous)

Well there is certainly none on my ex-Kilroy concertina. I shall bear this in mind.

Chris,

You haven't had it long enough yet, but just you wait !

Mind you, I think you would have to swallow quite a lot of it, for it to have any effect.

Cheers,




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