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Ever Seen Such A Modification?


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#1 Old_Squeezer

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 09:50 AM

While still trying to learn to play a monster known as a Wheatstone 72-button MacCann duet, I've wondered about a modification to the standard fingering. Wheatstone's fingering chart was accurate except for the low A and D# which were backward.

Recently, I had opportunity to open the box to clear out some dust in the reeds and found those two notes to have been modified. As you see in the picture, the levers are original and were re-routed, something which has been done probably decades ago since the patina on all the levers is the same. The re-routed A lever passes under the D# close enough to the fulcrum of the lever so as to rise a very small distance, so amazingly the modification works.

I have a few questions. First, has anyone seen this modification (or anything similar) before? My guess is no, since (I understand) Wheatstone and others made relatively few of these large MacCanns.

Second, why would anyone do this? Any answer I realize would be conjecture. It does make the G and A easier to finger in succession, though.

Third, anybody have history on this particular instrument? It is a Wheatstone 72-button MacCann, eight-sided, serial number 35251. The previous owner purchased it in England some years ago. I could email pictures if anyone is interested.


Thanks in advance,
Kevin

#2 Old_Squeezer

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 09:52 AM

OK, so the picture didn't come through. I'll try again.

Kevin

#3 Old_Squeezer

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 09:54 AM

OK, I'll try to get the picture up. For some odd reason, it didn't work last time.

K

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#4 Robert Gaskins

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 11:25 AM

The production data for this instrument is on the web at the Horniman Museum's website,
Wheatstone Concertina Ledger for #35251
Nothing unusual to see there--just a "model 40" duet, nickel-plated ends, 72 keys, made between 23-10-39 and 20-11-39.

There are some other interesting notations on that page, though. Just a bit higher is the notation "WARTIME, REX. CASE" at #35235, presumably marking the switch from real leather cases to rexine cases (an artificial leather substitute) for the duration.

And just below, at #35253, is a 58-key duet marked "L.H. Reversed". Could this mean that the left-hand of the duet had been mirror-reversed horizontally? I've always thought that such a reversal would make more sense than the standard design. Now that really WOULD be a modified Maccann!

#5 Old_Squeezer

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 03:26 PM

And just below, at #35253, is a 58-key duet marked "L.H. Reversed". Could this mean that the left-hand of the duet had been mirror-reversed horizontally? I've always thought that such a reversal would make more sense than the standard design. Now that really WOULD be a modified Maccann!

I certainly agree here. Such a modification would (at least to me) seem to make learning to play this beasty a lot easier.

My main problems in learning to play are 1) never having read bass cleff before and 2) having both hands doing different things at the same time. Jim L. did give me some pointers while he was visiting the Northwest (USA). I'm still at it.

Does anyone know how many duets Wheatstone made? And how many of each model? Seems to me I read something on this, but since I didn't own any duets at the time, I didn't pay much attention.

K

By the way, I'm still fumbling around the new posting format, but I'll get it yet. In fact, I'll try out some of these new smilies :huh: :( :blink:

#6 Robert Gaskins

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 06:39 PM

My main problems in learning to play are 1) never having read bass cleff before


Well, there's an interesting approach to that problem. Professor Maccann, the inventor of the Maccann duet, wrote his original tutor for his own instrument using dual treble clefs (no bass clef at all). You can find both the first edition and the fourth edition of his tutor online, ready to be viewed, downloaded, and printed:

J. H. Maccann, New Method of Instruction..., (1st ed.)

J. H. Maccann, New Method of Instruction..., (4th ed.)

The first edition is from the British Library, the fourth edition is from the Library of the Horniman Museum.

These two editions are much alike, except that the left-hand arrangement of instruments shown in the first edition is just a little different from that of the fourth edition (which is what is familiar to us as the standard). It's not known when the change in design came about. The music is the same in the two editions.

I've examined one very early instrument, Lachenal Maccann #191, and it undoubtedly was built with the later (fourth-edition) arrangement. Since Lachenal was the only manufacturer licensed to make Maccann Duets between 1884 and 1898, this seems to demonstrate that fewer than 191 instruments were made with the old arrangement.

We don't have the 2nd or 3rd editions of Maccann's tutor, so we don't know which pattern they used. Also, we don't have dates for any editions after the first--but you can read the date of accession stamped on the last page of the first edition by the British Museum (as it was then), 4th of July 1885.

#7 Chris Ghent

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 03:35 AM

Recently, I had opportunity to open the box to clear out some dust in the reeds and found those two notes to have been modified. As you see in the picture, the levers are original and were re-routed, something which has been done probably decades ago since the patina on all the levers is the same. The re-routed A lever passes under the D# close enough to the fulcrum of the lever so as to rise a very small distance, so amazingly the modification works.

If you wanted to reposition two notes you would think it would be easier to just swap the whole reed shoes over rather than re-route the levers. Perhaps there is a size difference in the reed shoes at that point and the person who did it did not want to do anything that could not be reversed, such as filing the outside of the shoes or opening the shoe slots.

If the shoes 'were' equally sized you could put it back to standard by swapping them...! If you did this I can just see the letter to concertina.net forum in about 2050 "a concertina has just come into my possession in which the levers were reversed on two notes, and the reeds reversed as well, putting the notes back under the correct button. Why would anyone do this..?

regs

Chris

#8 JimLucas

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 04:43 AM

Even if the reed shoes were the same size -- and I rather suspect they weren't for two notes a diminished fifth apart in that low range -- there's the factor of the chamber dimensions.

And that's why it's not a good idea to swap two notes by reworking the slot-vs.-reed frame dimensions. My understanding (from those with more experience than myself) is that the response and tone quality could be adversely affected on both sides of the swap.

If the notes were side by side (as in Kevin's case), you might be able to shift the intervening partition, but even that seems more work than the crossed-lever trick. If they're not adjacent, would you shift *all* the intervening partitions? Would there be enough leeway to let you?

My suspicion is that the instrument was already built in the standard configuration, when someone wanted to buy it, but with those notes switched. The configuration Kevin found was probably the easiest and cheapest solution to the problem, and quite clever in the bargain.

#9 Chris Ghent

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 10:28 AM

Even if the reed shoes were the same size -- and I rather suspect they weren't for two notes a diminished fifth apart in that low range -- there's the factor of the chamber dimensions.

And that's why it's not a good idea to swap two notes by reworking the slot-vs.-reed frame dimensions. My understanding (from those with more experience than myself) is that the response and tone quality could be adversely affected on both sides of the swap.

While what you say is the current wisdom, how do you explain that there seems to be no difference between a C/G and a G/D Jeffries until the reeds are fitted. So the chambers were deemed to be OK for reeds that are a fourth apart. And both instruments can sound good. What does this mean about the idea that chambers that are supposed to be tuned for particular notes..?

This is not a combative answer, I just want to hear what people have to say on it.

regs

Chris

#10 JimLucas

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 11:18 AM

A good question, I admit.




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