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Jeffries Metal Hand Rests


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#37 Shay Fogarty

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 07:39 AM

I have a Jeffries Bros 40 key Bflat F ( two extra buttons added after main construction, presumably by the Bros as the levers, reeds, are similar) with metal strap rails and my guess is that they are there to improve the sound of the inner notes ie. under the palms. This is probably why they are standard on the 44 + button boxes though hardly necessary with the volume obtainable from these.

There is a definite difference in sound on a 44 key Jeffries, as if its coming from deeper in the reedpan. Perhaps its all that metal stuck into the wood. Anyone else notice that?

#38 Paul Groff

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 10:08 AM

Shay,

Great point about the sound of these. Those were my impressions also. I have to admit I havenít had the chance to study many of these 44 + key Jeffries anglos very closely. I have played and heard a lot of them, though, and besides the weight (!) and button spacing (and the sensation of reaching over a row to get to the "inside row"), there is definitely a different sonic experience with these than you get from those with fewer buttons. This is complicated by the fact that the "early looking" 45 (etc.) keys with small metal buttons can sound different from the "later looking" ones with the Praed St. address in the oval. And of course each individual instrument no doubt sounded unique when first made Ė with this individuality magnified over time as each experienced a unique history of playing, care, retuning, and repair. Several professional (and expert-level) Irish musicians I know have owned these, maybe in part because they have often been less expensive to buy than smaller Jeffries (due to the weight that may hurt their market value); some of these owners have inquired about trading theirs for a lighter one. But I have not heard many complaints about the tone quality! When I first met Tony Crehan (R. I. P.), one of my first teachers, he was playing on a 4-row C/G Jeffries. He admired its sweet tone and claimed this was due to the miniaturized reeds (though I believe he was happy to move to a lighter one). It is true that the scale length and chamber sizes are different on these. I am very interested in Shay's idea, which I will be able to test a little by (temporarily) pulling out half the reeds to see if I can notice a change in sound.

Of the 44 + keys I have played and studied, most had been retuned before I heard them (including some very sad cases of Bb/Fs tuned up, reed for reed, to C/G, leaving the reeds paper thin and damaged on the right side), but I am currently studying one with very original reedwork and tuning (early 45 key, Bb/F, unequal temperament, high pitch). When it is finally restored (leaving 90% of the notes alone and gently bringing the rest in line to my best estimate of the original pitch & temperament) I hope to have a partial estimate of what they may have sounded like originally. We can never know exactly, but as with most Jeffries anglos the nature of the original temperament must have been a crucial part of the sound, especially in chorded and harmonized passages. And harmony, rather than fast melodic music, is surely why these were developed.

Of course, it takes us away from Alanís original question to consider the pros and cons of different models of Jeffries anglos, but it is a natural development of this discussion. Jim L. has pointed out how many of the features and dimensions of concertinas interact in complicated ways to influence playability. What about these big Jeffries anglos, taken as whole instruments, and how they play and sound? Chris has a lot of experience playing harmonized music, and also is on record as preferring a very light instrument in some situations (his Morse), so his raves about the Kilroy Jeffries tell us something about the quality of some of these big instruments, for certain applications. Jim L. also has played a lot of concertinas and is also "weighing in" with a preference here, at least for the metal rail. And the initiator of this topic, Alan, seems also to like Jeffries anglos with lots of buttons. Shay, given that you hear a difference in sound with the big ones, is it a difference you like? It is worth the weight (etc.) to you?

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff, 25 February 2004 - 11:52 AM.


#39 Chris Timson

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 10:49 AM

Chris has a lot of experience playing harmonized music, and also is on record as preferring a very light instrument in some situations (his Morse), so his raves about the Kilroy Jeffries tell us something  about the quality of some of these big instruments, for certain applications.

Currently I'm not playing much harmony, due to the weakness of my left hand, but some work needs to be done to the Kilroy Jeffries to sort out the reeds to really exploit the large number of buttons (the current reed arrangement of the "extra" (i.e. > 30) buttons is apparently some way from the original, but Colin will be sorting this out for me in due course, he has already changed a couple of buttons to let me try out a couple of ideas of my own).

The point to owning the Jeffries for me is that it has two things I prize highly: a wonderful action and a beautiful tone. When sitting down, which is how I mostly play, it is a joy and a privilege. The fact that it comes with a history is a bonus - though a big one. BUT it is too heavy to play standing up. This wasn't an issue until I started playing for North West morris, which is where the Morse comes into its own very well indeed. I can play it standing up for hours. Of course the Jeffries plays better than the Morse, I'm sure that even Rich would be amazed if I claimed otherwise, but it's horses for courses, like everything.

One day, when my ticket gets drawn in the Great Lottery and my Dipper G/D comes (what do you mean, I've got one Dipper already...) the intention is for Colin to build me something that combines the virtues of the two. We're after a 33 or 34 button instrument that has a nice sweet tone, combined with some volume for session, all in a package that doesn't weigh very much. At that point I will be having a big sale of concertinas, because I won't need so many to cover all my needs. Perhaps I'll just have the two Dippers and a Lachenal C/G - but it's going to be a wrench selling Kilroy, I wonder if I'll be able to?

Chris

#40 Guest_Mike_*

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 04:19 AM

Apart from the general praise of Jeffries and back to the hand rests....Is not the
main issue the purposefulness of the rests.....in order to offer a good contact between the hand and the instrument ...that is to optimize working the bellows, hitting the keys and not suffering from pain in the process??

#41 Chris Timson

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 07:38 AM

Yes, I'd agree with that, and the consensus of those of us who own such instruments is that the metal rails (as I have now learnt to call them) are very good at those things.

Chris

Edited for typo

Edited by Chris Timson, 26 February 2004 - 07:38 AM.


#42 Robin Harrison

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 09:30 AM

.......with the addendum,Chris........."unless you play standing up, in which case they are wholly inadequate"
Robin

#43 JimLucas

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 10:18 AM

.......with the addendum,Chris........."unless you play standing up, in which case they are wholly inadequate"

Speak for yourself. Not so for me.
I think they're great for playing while standing. At least as good as the wooden bars.

My 45-button Jeffries is a bit heavy, but that's not the fault of the metal rails. And I just played it standing, and compared it with a 38-button Jeffries and a 30-button Ceili, both with wooden rails. Yep, at least as good and I think better, though with the other differences it's difficult to separate out a single factor.

Or did you mean that all rails are inadequate for playing while standing? (I think various folks have expressed that opinion from time to time.)

#44 Robin Harrison

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 03:38 PM

..........all rails are inadequate (I find)......the metal rails are worse only because they are attached to a heavier instrument.
Mike said "they should offer a good contact between the hand and the instrument".............I agree with him and they don't do this.
On my 38 key Jeffries with wooden rails, the situation is the same.The concertina is lighter so the problem is not so acute, but at least being wooden you are afforded the opportunity to customise them more easily.........it would be harder to do with metal ones.
As I hold the anglo standing up, as the weight is born on a small area of the palm of my hand , just down from my little finger, and only this area contacts the rails.If I had a third hand, I could slide it in between my palm and the rail.I believe a Goran Rahm-type customisation would fill this gap to "offer a good contact between the hand and the instrument"
I'm going to try to customise something to eliminate this gap and see where I get..........when I have time !!
Regards Robin

#45 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 10:46 PM

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.

Since writing the above, I have received an email from Geoff Crabb, in which he mentions that he too has seen these fancy metal handles on an instrument.

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

Geoff goes on to say that "... they appeared in an old ironmongers catalogue as drawer pulls (handles). We had a copy in the shop ...", so I was correct in describing them as having that appearance.
This has jogged my memory, because I now think that I also saw them on a 38-key by Henry Crabb (Geoff's grandfather), that Paul Davies had years ago.




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