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Richard Morse

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    Traditional dance music, ragtime, concertinas of all flavors (especially Hayden duets), design, graphics, architecture, Scrabble and go....
  • Location
    Western Massachusetts, USA

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About Me

I started down the concertina road a few years after getting into button accordion (which I was playing for Muddy River Morris) back in the late 1970's. BA's are great but can be note and chord limiting. So I traded in a banjo for an English concertina.... I didn't know much about them at the time so took what the guy had - a Lachenal baritone English, and got some traction on it with help from Alistair Anderson who seemed to be in the area a lot back then.


But it was hard to play melody and accompaniment at the same time... so I switched to anglo... and finally to duet in 1985 and have been playing that Hayden duet ever since - as well as hoping for a higher quality one with more buttons... but I'll get to that later on in this story.


Most of my life I've been an architect with playing music being very much a hobby - though once I got into squeezeboxes I found them incredibly attractive/addictive. Not only because of the sound, but also because of their mechanical complexity. Like miniature buildings! Wood and wire, and leather and card, and so much fussiness all crammed into such a tiny space... and all working so well together. Elegant! Or should be.... All the boxes I scared up at tag sales and flea markets needed so much work to get going again. A nice challenge for a musical, designer, and handy type like me.


So started my hobby of fixing up squeezeboxes. After a couple years I needed to hire on a friend as the amount of time I was spending on this was getting in the way of my architectural work. And then I got a business license in order to buy parts and new Hohners to augment sales of my restored finds. And then hired on another friend as things took over the 2nd floor of our house....


It wasn't much after that that we needed more space so moved the hobby-now-business into a commercial space in the next town and brought on Doug Creighton as manager (as I still needed to make ends meet by being an architect!), and then Bob Snope as "technician"... and then a dedicated office type, another repairer, etc. as we grew.


Back to the Hayden. In 1985 I got a Wheatstone 46-key which was GREAT! But it wasn't long that I longed for the better model with riveted action and more range. Unfortunately Steve Dickinson just isn't producing them anymore, so if I wanted a better one I'd have to make it myself. So we started down that road in the early 90's but quickly found out that designing/producing such an intricate box was incredibly difficult. So we decided to start with easier boxes with less reeds/buttons/levers... and which had a higher sales potential - the anglo!


And then the English (by persuasion from Alistair Anderson) and now, finally, the Hayden! Well.... "now" is relative. Now I'm still in the design stage. The problem is that I want our Hayden to have real concertina reeds which are infernally difficult and expensive to design and fabricate, and the action is incredibly difficult to work out due to the offset button locations and the sheer amount of them! We'll get there, but it's a long and windy road.


Quite the journey. I would have never thought that one day my hobby and job, avocation and vocation, would some day switch places. What was once a hobby - supported by my architectural income - now pays ME, and I do architectural consulting "on the side".


I find designing concertinas to be incredibly rewarding - trying to fit all that stuff into such little boxes and have each part work exquisitely well, and to have it look great, and to have it's making support the wonderful staff we have.... Also pretty amazing to create something that gives so much pleasure to so many people all around the world!


-- Rich --

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