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About RAc

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  1. Everyone interested will find a comparative video between my 55 button Wheatstone and Alex's #3 here: Youtube link Since Youtube compresses videos during upload, the audio quality may not be too useful. I have a raw .wav file of the recording. Please contact me via PM if you are interested in the file. It is already evident that Alex's bellows are amazingly efficient. I attach a picture of my 8 fold 55 button Wheatstone and Alex's #3 (7 folds) fully extended and left to relax. As you can see in the video, I rarely need to work Alex's concertina nearly as much as the Wheatstone's.
  2. I't a standard 6,25" casing which makes it very small for a Crane. If you scroll down Alex's instagram presence, you'll see the inside (it's very tightly packed). The layout is standard Crane with the low B added on the right and the lowermost c# removed on the left for space constraint reasons.
  3. Hi, I returned from a trip to the UK today which was filled with music, the main item being... picking up my brand new 46 button Crane made to order by Alex: (scroll down his instagram presence for a comprehensive history of the project). the hiccups in the recording are to some degree owed to the slightly different keyboard layout compared to my other Cranes. But that doesn't matter, since this is not about my playing (An instrument like that in my hands may be considered pearls before swine anyways) but the instrument. Alex's appearance and subsequent work imho is something very very significant in the concertina world, and we can't appreciate it highly enough that young people like him help bridge the gap between traditional concertina making and modern technology. I hope all of this doesn't sound too corny, but obviously I'm very appreciative and wish him all the best to continue building high quality concertinas. I'll refresh this thread informally because so much happened within the last three months from when he began the full time work to the finishing touch, so it'll take a while for me to sort all of that out. In particular, I hope to soon publish a few videos which directly compare the sound and look and feel of my three Cranes so it becomes evident how his concertinas compare to vintage instruments. Part 1: The Prelude I had inquired with pretty much every living concertina builder whether they'd be interested in making a new Crane for me (don't ask why I wanted this in the first place. I don't know.). Some didn't even respond, most declied briefly, and the only one who took the time to (kindly) explain why was Frank Edgley who argued (understandably) that the time needed for design work wouldn't pay off for possibly not more than one prospected Crane sale. I can perfectly relate to that. So when I inquired with Alex, it was mostly to get a full book of rejection letters, but he showed interest (which is also owing to the fact that he had another pending commission for a Crane - in my understanding, that'll be his #4). A number of things fell into place afterwards, and suddenly I was on the top of his order book! His approach is somewhat different from the other ones in that Alex is enthusiastic about everything related to concertinas, and he considers himself still in the learning phase, so making a design for a possibly dead-end layout to him was more than anything else a step in his learning curve. Also, he simply loves tools and materials, and one of his characteristics is that he masters digital tools as well as traditional ones (even though he likes the latter ones much better) which means the CAD designs for the action and reed pans were just another step in the chain of things to do for him. His concertinas are made of exactly the same all natural ingredients of the vintage instruments we have come to appreciate (wood, metal,leather, paper), but he makes every single part (including the reed frames as well as the reeds) himself. I feel extremly fortunate to have had a chance to work with Alex. Our interaction was very intense and contructive; at times we exchanged as many a four emails a day, discussing details of the instrument. He was always open to any suggestion and was polite enough when letting me know that one of my ideas was suboptimal. In my layman opinion, he is a marvelously talented craftsman who (metaphorically speaking) explodes with ideas how things can be done. I was also very fortunate to win Nina Dietrich (http://www.illustration.at/) to help with the project. Nina is a very gifted, accomplished and respected Vienna based visual artist and also a Crane player. She designed the end plates to my specs and she, Alex and I worked together closely to make the visual side of Holden#3 to what it is now. I designed the bellows papers with the help of a relative who is a professional photo finisher. Whatever, a musical instrument is not made for the looks but the sound it produces. Even though a number of Alex's innovations will need to face the test of time (for example, he mills his reed frames out of aluminum for weight reasons which is something no one else has gained experience with), it's already safe to say that the instrument is very idiosyncratic in the best sense of the word. The buttons are very responsive and have a light touch (but if anybody wanted a harder action, Alex could change that at the wink of an eye via spring adjustment I'm sure), the sound of the reeds is very balanced over the two sides and not as bright as my Wheatstone, neither as sweet as my Lachenal - at this point I'm more inclined to dub it creamy or velvety. The reeds are set for favoring a broader dynamic range over volume, but the tone is still amazingly voluminous. The bellows are very efficient and flexible; the 7 folds we agreed on can easily extend the instrument more than the 8 folds of my 55 button Wheatstone can. Even though he hasn't been in the concertina making world for long, Alex has a very prfound knowledge of free reed physics and knows exactly what it takes to make an instrument sound the way the player wants to make it sound. Combined with his talents as a craftsman, this is bound to produce outstanding concertinas in the best tradition of the concertina makers we now consider vintage. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Alex, and I wish him all the best for his future as a concertina maker (as well as personally of course). to be continued
  4. this is more or less a variation of the Müllerized EC: https://www.holdenconcertinas.com/?p=1480 I'm sure Alex would tackle it. Apparently it's a fully reversible conversion.
  5. My beloved gave me a Windows 10 tablet for Christmas, which I took as reason to refresh my UI programming skills (I'm a systems level developer, and I HATE developing UIs). What I have so far is an App similar to Eskin's concertina app, but it runs on WIndows 10 (theoretically scalabe from mobiles to everything else that supports touch screens), displays both hands of a 45 button Crane and plays the sound(s) when the corresponding button(s) is/are touched. The "final" version will offer the opportunity to design your own keyboard layout as XML files (unfortunately this will be limited to unisonoric instruments). The idea is to have a simulator that lets you try out unfamiliar layouts or do some practice on your familiar layout. And no, there won't be fancy graphics, just grey-on-black button shapes (if anyone is willing to make something bigger out of it, I might be willing to share the source at some point). Before rolling out the thing, I'd like to have a few of you look over what I have so far in terms of compatibility, usability, general feedback and so on. Aside from owning a Windows 10 device, you should have some at least some rudimentary knowledge of computing (you'll probably need to install a certificate in order to install the package and stuff like that). This is intended to be a non profit crowd development thing (I'd request users to share their custom keyboard layouts). I also don't want to spend an infinite amount of time on it (I'd rather practice on a real concertina than a virtual one), so once the feature set I envision is implemented, that would be the end of at least my work on it. Please drop me a PM if you're interested. Thanks!
  6. RAc

    Wanted! Wheatstone metal badge

    Alex Holden makes these (among many, many other things) to your specifications.
  7. RAc

    Summer Scottish

    This is a very lively, care free and cheerful Scottish written for a summer wedding. I guess winters are dreary and drab enough, so why not record a fun piece in January. Enjoy! The second piece thrown in for good measure.
  8. RAc

    Video: Making a Set of Bellows

    Thanks for sharing, Mike! It's great to be able to see and compare different maker's approaches to the same task! The question that comes to mind is why you use butterflied double bellows papers instead of individual ones. Doesn't it compromise the flexibility of the bellows when you double the hinge, and isn't a paper hinge rather subject to wear than a sole leather hinge? Finally, isn't there a greater chance of the lower leather valleys being contaminated with glue which deteriorates its hinging properties? Thanks!
  9. RAc

    Parsons Farwell ( to timing! )

    well, congratulations to your instrument. It does have an unusally rich, full and warm sound. Proves the point that with musical instruments, it's not the looks that count! How many folds does the bellows have? Just keep on practicing, well worth it!
  10. The fair Portsmouth Stowaway
  11. uhm, no idea. I never played EC. Wolf will probably pitch in and tell you something about the transition from EC to Crane, but I don't know anybody who plays EC as well as more than one duet system. My guess would be that Crane and Hayden are closer to the EC than the McCann because of the keyboard logic, but the philosophies of duet (all layouts) and EC are very different to begin with.
  12. In what respect?
  13. As far as I can tell, there is no "market value" for a niche market such as duet concertinas. It always depends on how many (few) people are looking at any given time. Your best bet is to ask Chris Algar how much he would sell the instrument for. In any case you'll need to be prepared to wait for a long time until somebody comes along who is looking for just that instrument. May well be several years.
  14. yes. I find that I rarely ever exploit the additional range that my 55 button Wheatstone (my work horse) offers. I use my 48 button Lachenal as a travel instrument, and practically everything in my active repertoire fits the small one. My next one will be 46 buttons, and that was deliberate. As discussed before, the major drawback of the larger instruments is that they do not extend the range to the bottom (can't really for space reasons) but instead widen the overlapping area which doesn't make a whole lot of sense nor adds technical opportunities. On the down side of things, they are clumsier to play and leave more opportunities for the fingers to get lost on the keyboard and end on an offset row. The ideal instrument would have practically zero overlap and thus cover a wide chromatic range, but of course that won't work due to the space demands of larger low reeds. Sorry for taking the thread a little bit OT, I can't offer any "exotic" layouts. The only thing worth mentioning is that on my 55 button, the lowest note is a Bb instead of a C#. Kind of useful.