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Little John

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Everything posted by Little John

  1. Have you ever thought of making a small, entry-level Crane duet? There's a gap in the market there.
  2. Thanks Geoff, very interesting. Might I suggest you post the note as a pdf? On my Apple laptop some of the formatting is screwed up so buttons and note names don't coincide. LJ
  3. Smoking was banned in pubs in England 14 years ago (very much to my relief as a non-smoker). I haven't noticed any of them retaining the stink of tobacco smoke, despite many of them being essentially unchanged in all that time. Keep the instrument somewhere ventilated and open the bellows frequently. I'm sure the odour will significantly diminish over time. But then, I'm an optimist ...
  4. I would expect time to sort it out. After all, if you can smell it every time you play it, then the cause of the odour must be coming out and eventually there will be a negligible amount left. So keep playing it! I suspect little and often would be most effective in removing the stink.
  5. I don't play anglo, and I don't know what the "official" layout is - if indeed there is one. So two points: 1. This seems like a change that can be made easily without any harmful effect on the instrument and also easily reversed by a subsequent owner who didn't like it. 2. The instrument is your servant not your master so, subject to not making any irreversible change, you should have it set up how it suits you.
  6. Yes, that's exactly what it is. Here's a standard 48 button layout with the 8 button miniature as illustrated in the PICA article embedded within it. Forgive my freehand drawing skills!
  7. Thanks. The diagrams on page 20 are exactly what I expected - the standard English layout with many fewer buttons.
  8. That's strange. I once played an 8 key miniature, which was just like a 48 key but with 40 fewer keys. It would be interesting to see the note layout on these 12 key instruments.
  9. Not necessarily. I had a very similar hand-made case (including the weather lip) which was made from about 6mm ply.
  10. Absolutely. They wouldn't make sense on a Hayden. As observed before, the Hayden (at least up to 46 buttons) lacks the low C# and Eb on each hand, and as far as I can tell that doesn't cause any real problems. (And of course C#4 and Eb4 exist on the LHS anyway, so it's only C#3 and Eb3 missing altogether.) The Crane does have those notes, but they are probably the least useful. That's why I've re-purposed those buttons (and only those) to get more useful notes. Even on a Crane I can see most players balking at the idea of Anglo buttons, but I'd still advocate replacing C#3 with B2 (which I use really frequently) at the least, and Eb3 with A2. I've attached my own layout in case anyone is interested. (Beautiful diagram courtesy of Paul Hurst.) And presumably vice versa for someone who expects to use Eb more than D#. Incidentally, Abbots Bromley is more usually played in Em. Any particular reason for Gm?
  11. I'm happy to pitch in! I play Crane duet. My main interests are folk tunes, Christmas carols and folk song accompaniment; so I understand completely where you are coming from. I'd go further and say 45 - 48 is the sweet spot. I've played Cranes in all sizes from 35 to 55 buttons. I now have just one - a 44-button made by @alex_holden (though in fairness it has three "anglo" buttons so it's 47 notes). I very much value that it can be fitted into a 6 1/4" box, whilst having all the notes I need. The range is A2 to G4 on the left and B3 to C6 on the right. Smaller sized Cranes and Haydens start from C3 on the LH and C4 on the RH. I can understand you wishing to to go lower. Quite a few melodies go down to B3 which is why I've included that on mine. A few go to A3 so that would be useful if there's room without increasing the size of the instrument. A very few to G3; too few to justify its inclusion for me. On the LH you would need to go down to E2 if you intend to play hymns from written arrangements, but if you're happy to make your own arrangements then A2 should be adequate. I certainly find it so for carols. I also find it useful for harmonising C4 or C#4 in many folk tunes. (It can sound weak if you have only A3 available.) I agree with this apart from one small exception: E minor tunes often demand a D#. On the Hayden that really demands a separate button. On the Crane it's the same button. However I have mine tuned to fifth comma mean tone in which Eb and D# are different notes. So I have it that the Eb4 button on the RH actually plays D# on the push for when I need it. The mean tone tuning give me exactly the six major keys you mention and it's entirely adequate for my needs. This is often the case, but it doesn't have to be that way. I noticed some time ago that Crabb Cranes have a good balance. I put this down to the fact that the Crabb family were great players of the Crane system, so they would have developed an understanding of how to get the balance right. Much of it is to do with setting the reeds so that they all start speak at the same low pressure. When @alex_holden was designing my 44-button Crane we opted for long-scale reeds on the RH and standard-scale reeds on the left. The result is a really good balance; though from other recordings it sounds like Alex's instruments have a good balance anyway; probably from how he sets the reeds. Hope this helps! LJ
  12. Fair question - I suppose I set myself up for it! The main debate nowadays seems to be whether to choose the Hayden (Hayden/Wicki) or the Crane (Crane/Triumph), so I'll concentrate on those. For many of us (including me) the main interest is in playing traditional dance music. From my British perspective, at least, the vast majority is in the keys of G and D major plus related modes. (I believe this is for historical reasons - tunes being written on or adapted for the fiddle and the D-whistle for which these are the easy keys - and reinforced nowadays by the preponderance of D/G melodeons.) Furthermore the vast majority of tunes fall in the range D4 to B5 (i.e. a note short at each end of the two octaves upwards from middle C) for the same historical reasons. If you want to branch out into playing songs or Christmas Carols (again, as I do) then you will probably stray into C and F major and related modes. Many of us will have no reason to stray beyond these keys with one flat or two sharps. That requirement is covered by the smallest 34-button Elise Hayden and the 35-button Crane. (Each falls short by a note or two at the top end, but you can live with that, especially at first.) So Hayden or Crane will come down to personal preference or availability. However @Sunny22 and @Kathryn Wheeler have expressed interest in playing jazz, or at least a variety of music, in different settings and keys. This is where the difference comes in. Even the smallest 35-button Crane is fully chromatic through its (limited) range. The Elise has no E flats or G sharps, and even the larger 46-button Haydens lack the lower E flats (and C sharps) on each hand. Also the Hayden is designed to make playing a diatonic scale simple, but it follows that a chromatic scale rather jumps about the keyboard. The Crane is more akin to the piano, where the "black" notes are close to the related "white" notes. So for someone wanting to play in a wide variety of keys and possibly some chromatic passages the Crane is probably the better choice. For the rest of us either would work. But what of other duet systems? Apart from being pretty rare, the Jeffries duet is strongly diatonic - the central eight buttons defining the "home key" and the scales becoming more and more random the further you move away from the home key. That's why you get instruments with different home keys. The Maccann is the commonest duet system. The note layout seems a bit random to most people and it's also inconsistent from one octave to the next without apparent reason. (Chidley rationalised the layout but his version didn't catch on.) However the biggest drawback is that the smaller (and most readily available) instruments start at G4 on the right hand - very limiting for dance music. Only when you get to about 57 buttons (bigger, heavier and more expensive) does the right hand range include the lower notes. LJ
  13. Generally I would play single note melody on the right and whatever sort of accompaniment on the left, but sometimes I'll play a pair of notes on the right hand. That would usually be if it makes the fingering simpler. Very often for a four note chord that spans two octaves I'd play two notes on each hand, e.g. D and A on the left and F# and D on the right.
  14. It's starting to sound very much like a Crane to me!
  15. The other pragmatic option is to have more than one Anglo. If you stick to 20 button then you'd probably need four to cover your interests: D/A, C/G, Bb/F and Ab/Eb. If you go to 30 buttons then a C/G and an Ab/Eb would probably cover it for the sharp keys and the flat keys respectively. A few days ago Francis Cunningham posted a tune on Instagram. It was clear from the keyboard accompanying him that it was in F minor. Four flats - I was impressed! When I asked he said he was playing an Ab/Eb and wished he could play that well in that key on a C/G. I was still impressed, just not quite as much as before!
  16. I once asked John Kirkpatrick (an absolute master of both the Anglo and the B/C/C# diatonic accordion) how he chose which instrument to use to accompany songs. His answer? "It depends on what key I want to use - some keys are easier on one and some easier on the other." The anglo is essentially a diatonic instrument so even the best players will play in only a limited number of keys. If playing melody in multiple keys is your main aim, then Dan's advice to consider the English concertina is good. If you want to play in multiple keys and in the harmonic style (as Jim mentions) them maybe you should consider a duet - probably the Crane system if you expect to do chromatic work. But if you're wedded to the anglo system and want as much flexibly as you can get then skip 30 and go straight for 38 buttons or more.
  17. I've found a photo of my Crabb duet which, as I said in my previous post, has similar (in fact very similar) fretwork. It has "H. Crabb" which would date it before 1926 but from the serial number (9155) Geoff Crabb dated it to 1934.
  18. I had a Crabb Crane with similar-looking fretwork, dated 1934. It had a number stamped on the left hand end in the oval at the top. In the photographs of this instrument it looks like that has broken off and a replacement crudely soldered in its place. So the number might be missing altogether.
  19. As I think all the other replies suggest - don't worry about it. If you're learning a tune from a book of arrangements then it's obviously fine to copy it exactly. That's what the book was written for. Otherwise you'd have to be a very competent musician to manage an exact copy of what someone else is playing; but then, if you're that good you'll probably be able to construct your own arrangements anyway. In addition, as Don points out above, unless you're playing the same instrument as the one you're listening to it will come out differently anyway. As he says, the "tricks" available are different. So think of it differently. When you hear a tune and you like the way it's played, copy the feel of the arrangement but use the "tricks" available to you. And listen to other versions to pick up on particular chords or phrases that you like. In the end what comes out will be your arrangement. I unashamedly "copy" tunes from the greats such as John Kirkpatrick (Anglo or Shand chromatic accordion) or Phil Cunningham (piano accordion and just about any other instrument). I would always acknowledge the source of the tune, but by the time it's been translated onto my Crane duet, and given my musical limitations in comparison to them, it becomes my arrangement. LJ
  20. I'm no expert, but I was under the impression South African instruments often have ten or so folds. Could that be its origin?
  21. And I believe a member of this forum has one of them, in rather battered condition and awaiting conversion to the Crane system ...
  22. Very nice sound. I expected to listen on my laptop but it actually came out through the hi-fi!
  23. There's no accepted definition of "long scale" but generally longer reeds are considered to be better. They have more dynamic range and more sensitivity to low pressure (the two are linked). It's subjective, but they might also have a better tone than shorter-scale reeds. LJ
  24. I agree with pretty much everything John @Anglo-Irishman says, in particular pointing to the way the nature of the limitations of the Elise and the 35 button Crane differ. However one point needs to be corrected: not all chords are available on the LH of a 35 button Crane. Specifically A major, Bb major, B minor and B major are not. (Neither is Bb minor, should you ever find a need for it!) But it requires the addition of only two or three buttons to overcome most or all of this deficiency. On the RHS of a 35 button Crane the significant notes missing are the top A and B. The 48 button Crane overcomes all these shortcomings but, as both @charleschar and I have indicated, 40 or 41 buttons is probably enough for most people. So if some current maker of budget instruments wanted to add a Crane to their portfolio (at minimum cost and size) that's probably the size to be looking at. Unless they wanted to offer a 35 as a real starter instrument and a 45 as an upgrade. LJ
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