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  1. Congratulations to Button Box for finally bringing out a Hayden Duet. It must be over 20 years since Rich Morse, Doug & Dana visited me to discuss the project. I know that Rich was especially keen to include the key of Bb into the set of "easy-peasy" keys, especially for the American market.

    The instrument nicely fills the gap between the 42/46 button and 65/68 button instruments.


  2. Steve Dickenson still has and uses the original machine.

    Wouldn't a Computer controlled Routing machine be the best option ? I believe that is what Wim Wakker uses.

    I have seen Chinese made small computer controlled routing machines for sale on eBay for as little as £500; I have no idea if they are any good.


  3. I am currently working on converting a melodeon with 31 Buttons on the right hand side to an A/D/G/C/F instrument.

    and have put the button diagram on melodeon.net. A similar thing could be done an Anglo-type concertina.

    For a C/G/D instrument you would need to start with a 38 button instrument, and have it professionally done by a concertina maker or a very experienced concertina repairer. This would have a right hand side with a sensible compass; and a left hand side with a plefora of 3 in the row major and minor chords.

    If the Melodeon project goes well I am considering having a 43 button concertina converted into a C/G/D/A anglife instrument, but only if I can find a professional willing to do this within a sensible time scale, a maximum of 7 weeks rather than the usual 7 plus years.


  4. I have come across this before, mostly in the Lancashire area, in connection with playing along with Brass Bands, who commonly played in flat keys especially Bb and Eb. The offsetting of the 4th collumn is to facilitate runs that include D & Eb consecutively, which is slightly awkward on a standard Maccan.


  5. So far as I know Kaspar Wicki was the first person to discover this layout for free-reed musical instruments.

    Unfortunately he never seems to have attempted to get them made in the Square (Bandoneon-like) form or approach any of the English makers (Wheatstone, Lachenal, Crabb, and others) in the concertina form. This (1896) is the same year that Butterworth patented what is now known as the "Crane System", which was taken up by the 3 above mentioned concertina makers.


    It wasn't until nearly a hundred years later that whilst searching for an easier to play layout for the buttons on the the Duet concertina, that I independently rediscovered this excellent system.


    I am willing to state unequivocally that Charles Wheatstone never had any sketch of this on his working table. CW was a scientist with a musical instrument background, but not so far as is known, was he a practicing musician.

    He did however patent several (IMHO impractical) Duet-concertina systems one of which was isomorphic. How much he really invented himself is open to question; though he did manage to get his name attached to the "Wheatstone Bridge" and the Electric Telegraph.


    You have come up with a much earlier first proposal for the Janko keyboard layout. The earlyest I had found was a Patent by Trotter in 1811, who again didn't promote it just at the time that the piano was beginning to become a very popular instrument.



  6. In reply to the question is it possible, the simple answer is yes.

    Is it easy, that depends on the type of reeds used in the concertina.

    If the concertina has accordion reeds then anyone with a few basic woodwork skills might sucessfully do it.

    If the instrument is fitted with concertina reeds this is much more difficult. this is best left to Concertina makers, or very experienced concertina repairers.


    Many smaller Jeffries Duets have been turned into Anglo-concertinas, where the increase in demand of such an instrument may increase the value by a good 3 times. In this case the button layout stays the same.


    This is not true of changing from one type of Duet to another where the button layout is different, and requires a lot more work. I have seen several Maccan Duets changed to Crane system, which I think this was done by Crabbs. I know of two Maccan Duets that have been sucessfully changed to Hayden Duets one by the late Neville Crabb, and the other by Dana Williams.


    Changing a Hayden Duet to a Maccan Duet while possible would be extremely cost ineffective.



  7. A basic form of the Hayden Duet, "Elise" is available from many specialist Music Shops around the globe, see Wim Wakker's web site for a full list. These cost around £300 new. They are made in China, but Wim oversees the quality control, and they are considerably better than the avarage concertinas from this source. I have seen second hand ones occasionally on ebay.

    The Elise can be played in only 4 different keys F, C, G & D, however that is twice as many as a C/G Anglo, and may also be played in two different Harmonic Minors which is not possible on the C/G Anglo.


  8. Regarding 2 row Anglos set a semitone apart: "did anyone try them ?".

    Many years ago Stinson Belen (that may not be the correct spelling) from Texas wrote extensively in the now defunct CONCERTINA MAGAZINE under the title "Balin Wire". I gather he rather liked them and produced and sold several. I had a bit of correspondance with him at the time but this must be over 30 years ago now.

    Unfortunately Stinson died a few years ago, however I believe "Tall Ship" of this parish had a connection with CONCERTINA MAGAZINE and might be able to tell you more.


  9. I am always pleased to hear about people who enjoy playing Hayden duets; that is what they were intended for. I think the "Elise" is a wonderful instrument for an amazingly reasonable price. I look forward to hearing about the new accordion reeded instruments from Button Box.

    As far as upgrades to concertina reeded instruments are concerned there is always the option of buying a Maccan Duet and having it rebuilt to Hayden System. I know of two medium sized Maccanns which have been sucessfully converted to Hayden system, and have seen a number of Maccanns that have been nicely converted to Cranes.

    Most importantly, enjoy playing your concertina whichever type you like. Never worry about anyone who likes to think they can play better, faster, or read music quicker than you, they are probably not enjoying themselves half as much.


  10. Secondly:

    I have always tryed to design concertinas so as to give the maximum compass in the minimum space. I had a hand in the design of the Wheatstone 46 button instrument (6.25"); and entirely designed the 65 button "Hayvenska* (7").

    On the right hand side of a Hayden Duet, for any chromatic compass, you will always have a number of full length rows of buttons and a short row to the left at the top, and a short row to the right at the bottom. Sloping the rows of buttons has a usefull spin off when you are trying to put buttons at the highest possible place on the instrument.

    Because of the way that the action board of a concertina is constructed there is always a highest point that the top left hand button may be placed on the instrument. However the top short row of buttons may proceed up into the top apex of the instrument. The bottom short row if there, tucks nicely into the space on the right.

    If the rows run parellel to the hand rail this will rotate the bottom run of the buttons uncomfortably closer to the hand rest. The left hand side of the instrument always has less rows of buttons so is no problem there.

    This can of course be overcome by making the whole instrument larger, which is what most concertina makers prefer to do. On a Square Bandoneon type of instrument, which Wicki had in mind; placing the buttons at the highest possible point along the whole length of the row is not a problem, as there are no pallets at the top end of the instrument.


  11. Harry Dunn's Solution to the English Concertina Problem:

    The late Harry Dunn one of the finest Classical English-concertina players that I ever met, played a 56 button raised amboyna ended Wheatstone Aeola. He rested it on his lap not on the side parallel to the line of the buttons but on the next flat side round. This brought the buttons to a 45 degree angle to his hand. The thumb strap was also rotated to a 45 degree angle from it's usual position. He could then easily play consecutive fifths on adjacent fingers. This also brought his little fingers to a convenient position to play the lower notes of the instrument thus enhancing harmonic possibilities.

    I have mentioned this to several more recent leading English-concertina players but they have strongly oposed the idea of anything that departs from the "accepted" way of holding and playing the English Concertina !

    Because of the fixed handles this method is not available to Crane or Maccann concertina players.


  12. Firstly continued:

    I played the instrument for several years including two years for a Morris & Clog dancing team, and had noticed several mistakes that I had made in the design. One that I noticed almost immediately was that I didn't have enough overlap between the two sides. The lowest note on the right hand side was a middle C (c') which was satisfactory, but the left hand side had under half an octave overlap. I had to correct this soon, and although I lost some usefull low notes the instrument then worked well between the two sides.

    The next fault that I noticed was the business of the curving down towards the little fingers which surprisingly was not nescessary. On a my Duet concertina (and also on the Crane and Maccann) you are a working on several levels of buttons not along the rows as on an Anglo (and to a great extent on the Jeffries Duet).

    I also found that whilst fingering two diagonally adjacent buttons (fourths or fifths) consecutively was no problem; however having the octaves immediately above each other on the next but one row was not ideal; when you wished to play the two together; as I wished to do frequently on the left hand side, or consecutively as occurs sometimes on the right hand side.

    I had not planned to go into production with my new idea for a Duet concertina as I didn't think there would be any demand for it (Classical concertina players were perfectly happy with the Maccann, and the Salvation Army were hooked onto the Crane, or Triumph as they called it); however Dave Arthur who was at the time Editor of "English Dance & Song" asked me to write an article about it for this Magazine.

    This sparked an interest among Folk Music players who thought that a Duet concertina was a good idea, and had looked at the Maccann but had given up and reverted to their English, Anglo or Melodeon. Coincidentally at just this time I met Steve Dickenson, who was looking for extra work at Wheatstone's as he had just taken on an apprentice; and offered to make me Ten small instruments to the Hayden System. This presented me with a wonderfull oportunity to revise my design, using all that I had learned over the previous six or seven years.

    To be continued,


  13. There are Two main reasons for the "Hayden Slant". I shall put them into at least two posts as my computer sometimes locks up in mid post and I may run out of time in one session.

    Briefly: The First is to avoid awkwardness when playing two notes buttons consecutively on alternate rows. and the Second is to enable the buttons to be placed in the highest possible position, which enables the hand rest to be as near the centre of the instrument as is practible.


    When I started to play the concertina many years ago I played an Anglo, and I used to go along to various Concertina sessions, usually taken by English-concertina players. In the any questions section the English-concertina players would always ask about the best fingering to use when two notes played consecutively were "above" each other. There was always the debate on either to jump fingers (often musically bad) or twist two adjacent fingers above each other (awkward). The tutor would usually ask the Anglo-concertina players if they had any problems along these lines, and they would say "we don't have that problem".

    (Many years later I met Harry Dunn a virtuoso Classical English-concertina player, and he had the perfect solution on the English-concertina, but I will not diverge to discuss it here.)

    I therefore concluded that placing buttons in collums at right angles to the hand rest or line of the palms was not a good idea. Recently there has been discussion on Concertina.net regarding consecutive 4ths on the Crane-duet, coming to exactly the same inconclusions.

    When a Jeffries Duet came into my hands with nicely staggered rows I bought it, however there were other problems which I have discussed elsewhere on concertina.net, but this led to me having a Duet concertina made with my own devising of the arrangement of the notes on the buttons. It had the same curves and spacing as on the Jeffries Duet, and significantly it had Aluminium-alloy buttons.

    I found that when moving the fingers towards the thumbs they went nicely down but when swinging over away from the thumbs they tended to spread. After a good playing session the tips of my fingers had grey deposits on them from the Aluminium buttons; and surprisingly the deposit on the little fingers was not on the tips but down close to the first joint. When I wrote my Patent I illustrated it with the buttons curving towards the thumbs but not down towards the other way.

    To be continued.


  14. I see that new english has added more during the 4 minutes that I was checking my post. I don't know if "Professor" Maccann was drunk when he devised his duet, though I think you may be right; close study of his provisional and final patent suggests that he may have revised his ideas at the last minute.

    Mr Butterworth (Crane) cannot possibly have been drunk as his system was widely taken up by the Salvation Army.

    It is said that the Jeffries Duet was thought up overnight, perhaps at the end of a drinking session.

    Whilst I had been studying the best way to arrange the buttons on a Duet for over a year, the final best solution came to me in a flash whilst walking along the Front at a Sidmouth Festival. As I wasn't drunk at the time,I didn't go running round the streets naked shouting "I have found it" (or eureka in Greek), but rushed back to the Hut where I was sleeping in, on the floor to write it down.


  15. My advice is that you should avoid 46 button Maccann concertinas. They start much too high on the right hand side and are missing an essential low D above the tenor C on the left. It doesn't matter what quality or how cheap, compared with other concertinas with a similar number of buttons they may be. If you wish to learn a Maccann don't consider anything with less than 57 buttons starting on middle C on the right hand side.

    I have taken many beginners classes over the years for "All Systems" Duets at Kilve for the WCCP. I have been forced to tailor my classes to take this into account; so that the Beginners who turn up with the smaller Maccanns are not at a disadvantage compared to the Crane and Hayden Duet beginners. (45 button Cranes, and 46 button Haydens do not have the two problems mentioned above). My advice to these people is always the same; "if you like the Maccann system part exchange it for a 57(+) button instrument as soon as you can afford to do so". A 57 button Maccann is very unlikely to be a poor quality instrument no matter what the ends are made of, or how many sides it has.


  16. Hi Highplainsman


    First of all - Welcome to concertina.net. It's nice to hear from New members who enjoy playing a Hayden Duet.


    Regards (2) fingering: There is no set in stone "correct" fingering on this type of concertina, play it which ever way you feel comfortable with. Any suggestions that I and other people have made are merely reccomendations, not "Rules".

    Regards developing the left hand a couple of suggestions for the moment: When you have worked out a sequence of chords for the left hand, consider changing a major chord to its relative minor, or vice-versa. this only involves moving one finger to the next adjacent button along the same row, or turning the triangle of the chord upside down, (eg G major [gdb] to E minor [geb]). Or play a small run of notes instead of a chord, (eg for G major play the notes g, a, b in sequence); again it only involves moving the middle finger to an adjacent button. With both of these you have the fingers hovering over the standard G major buttons.

    In April there is the North East (USA) concertina meet (details from Button Box) where you can meet other players of Hayden Duets, Anglos and other types of concertina, which you should go to if you possibly can.


    Very best wishes,


  17. P.S. With regard to ceemonsters coments about the vertical rows of buttons (at right-angles to the line of the hand rests) causing problems with the ergonomics of Maccan duets, (which also occur on Crane Duets and English Concertinas): this does not happen on Hayden Duets, (or on Anglos and Jeffries Duets).

    Indeed one of the reasons that the rows of buttons on a Hayden Duet are tipped over at a slight angle (10.5 degrees to the line of the hand rests), is so that buttons on alternate rows of notes are not immediately above each other.

    This allows those buttons (which are an octave apart) to be played by 2 adjacent fingers, either together or alternately more easily.


  18. 1) Regards the Jeffries Duet system mentioned much earlier as a common system. In fact it is a very uncommon system indeed; Crane & Hayden Duets are much more common.

    2) [is the layout on the basses on a piano accordion any easier to learn than (insert favourite concertina system here)?] If as Dirge has done you inserted "Maccann" then it is true "hugely no comparison"! However the chording on a Crane Duet is not at all difficult. Chording on an English Concertina is quite easy, however playing melody and piano-accordion type bass together is quite difficult. On Anglo Concertinas the home keys are quite easily accompanyed, however you may have to play the melody quite high on the right hand side or cope with the melody invading the left hand side at the same time as you are accompaning on the left. Outside the home keys things become increasingly more difficult and some chords are only partially available. Jeffries duets are probably nearly as difficult the Maccann, however they are as mentioned above very uncommon.

    3) This leaves me with the Hayden Duet with which I can give a very direct comparison with the "Stradella" (piano-accordion) Bass.

    The chords on the Hayden Duet (HD) are in the same order from left to right as those on the Stradella Bass (SB), both follow the Harmonic Cycle; however the HB this is "concertinaed" into half the width of the SB. To play a chord on the HD you have to play 3 or 4 buttons together on SB just 1 button (80 bass 2 buttons for a 4 note Dominant 7th); but you only need to use 2 fingers for major and minor chords and 3 for 4 note dominant 7ths on the HD. However on the HD you may play these sequentially (arpeggios and broken chords) which is not possible on the SB.

    Relative minors on the HD are at the same position (just move one finger) as it's major chord, on the SB they are the next three diagonals to the right. This involves a lot less hand jumping on the HD than the SB if you like to intersperce relative minors into an accompaniment. Equally on a pure Relative minor tune you can jump to the relative major chord more easily on the HD than the SB. On a Harmonic Minor however this may be easier to accompany on the SB, but because of the "concertinaing" of the width of the harmonic cycle this presents no real problem,(or you can cheat on the HD and play the Dominant 7th chord as Root Fith and Seventh [2 adjacent fingers] which doesn't need any movement of the hand !).

    So far as deep bass notes are concerned; I would say that Major Counterbasses are easier though not much on the SB and Minor Counterbasses are much easier on the HD, indeed some piano-accordionists are unaware that minor counterbasses are even possible on any less than a 140 bass model.

    The smaller 46 button Hayden Concertinas may be seen as roughly the equivalent of a 48 bass piano-accordion and the larger 65 button the equivalent of a 72 bass piano-accordion.

    So all in all I think that the Hayden Duet left hand may easily compared directly with the Accordion Stradella Bass, there are plusses and minuses. Note I have played an 80 bass Stradella (in conjunction with a developed melodeon type right hand) years ago, and then changed to a Hayden Duet: the transition was easy!

    5) As you already play the Piano have you looked at some of the modern compact 60 Bass (12 X 5 row) that are available nowadays?


  19. I often hear of things in the planning stages that never come to fruition soon. Then suddenly appear years later.

    I hope Wim will be making a mid-priced hybrid soon; it would be especially nice if it could be a 44 button 6.25" build it yourself model.

    I didn't hear about the Button Box 54 Button instrument directly, a "little bird" told me! It should be on display at the BB concertina weekend in April.


  20. I am pleased to say that Button Box has recently completed their first production model, hybrid (accordion reeded) Hayden concertina. 54 buttons 7" across the flats. Don't ask me about the price, ask them.

    They make very good light weight Anglo and English hybrids at reasonable prices. This model should sit nicely between the "Elise" and the 65 Button Wakker Hayden Duet (real concertina reeds).


  21. Looking through the comprehensive collections of traditional tunes these are the following conclusions.

    1) Scottish tunes "Kerr's Merry Melodies" 4 books nearly 450 in each. Very few go above the high d"', though a few go up to the high e"' (one or two d#"' & e"'} None go any higher than that.

    2) American Contra dance "Cole's 1000 American Fiddle Tunes" is exactly the same total compass with the exception of one tune which goes up to the very high a"'.

    3) Irish Trad tunes "O'Neil's 1850 Irish Tunes": I don't remember any that go above the high d"'; which is the highest note that can be played on the Irish Uillean Pipes.

    4) English Cotswold Morris Tunes mostly have quite a small compass as they were originally played on the 3 hole pipe, (& tabor). Jinkey Wells (fiddle) of Bampton in the Bush played a few with a wider compass but none that could not be played on an Albion. William Kimber who played (C/G anglo) didn't play any Morris Tune above the high d"', and he was playing his tunes a fourth higher than most Morris musicians play nowadays.


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