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Would it be daft to order a custom 34-key Hayden Duet?


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To start off, I am quite new to Hayden Duet, having just received my CC Elise here in Afghanistan this week. I am, however, pretty familiar with a wide variety of folks instruments over my life, so I'm new to Hayden Duets, semi-new to concertinas (used to play a Stagi mini-18 English), semi-familiar with free reeds in general (played 10-button melodeon on and off), and overall pretty experienced with Western (and some Persian) folk music.

 

I have the Elise, and have found it extremely intuitive. I've been able to pick up most tunes I know in minutes, and though moving chords are still a work in progress I can do basic bass or drone backup. I let a buddy (very skilled guitarist with no non-string background) try the Elise, and it took him barely a minute to be able to play basic tunes with 2-finger chords on the bass.

 

Now, I know from the previous thread that there really isn't much out there for Haydens, except the Elise, the $1K Stagi, and lovely US$4-5K customs. I had enquired as to whether the (relative) popularity of the Elise might create a market for a mid-range upgrade, but as I understand it now it's really hard to fit a sufficient number of hybrid reeds into a standard-size box, and not easy even with concertina reeds.

 

At the same time, I've been reading up a little about the South African box makers, and understand that even beyond the "Big Four" there might be a few makers interested in doing more with the US/UK/Canada/Oz/NZ market, with good quality at a competitive price. Idly pondering here, but what if I got into contact with a maker or two down there to explore having someone make a Hayden with 34 keys or so? US$5K is a bit rich for a beginner, but given a 6-12mo waitlist I'm willing to risk, say, US$2-2.5K ordering a "small" Hayden on the assumption I'll either be dying to upgrade by then, or else willing to sell to someone who doesn't want to wait.

 

Someone mentioned before that the late Mr Morse had been looking into making Haydens, but the difficulty was that "a Hayden under 46 keys won't sell", yet 46 keys would be extremely hard to fit in a standard box, and a new box size would greatly add to the cost due to lack of existing parts compatibility.

 

Thing is, if I'm fine playing mainly in C, G, D, and A, and their relative minors, and a couple octaves total coverage, with minimal overlap, is okay with me, would getting a 34-key Hayden Duet from some South African maker be ridiculously ill-advised, or possibly an interesting way to get an intuitive fingering system in a good-quality box, with slightly limited capabilities which, as a folk musician, I'm pretty much used to anyway?

 

I play Appalachian dulcimer, I've messed around with smallpipes; I have a general policy "give me one major diatonic octave plus the ninth, and a way to flat the seventh, and I got you covered." Lack of an Eb is rarely a dealbreaker for me...

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Your idea looks good. Better components in a folk friendly box would satisfy some players. If the better components included real concertina reeds you could actually make a slightly expanded scale range. Also, I see no reason why one couldn't have a Hayden built in the flat scales if that is where one wanted to play. One should be able to get Hayden concertinas to fit any grouping of octave tunes. The South African idea might generate some activity. Maybe even a part time builder could drop better components into an Elise a la the Irish Dancemaster in Florida. As a dulcimer player myself, I too, have often lived happily within narrow musical confines. I could see myself happy with the chording possibilities of a good 34 key Hayden, and later ordering one that would be Highland Pipe friendly or sax friendly. Good idea, Thank you, Eric B.

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Wrong question in that subject line, in my opinion. Or rather an incomplete question. The question should not be "Is it daft?", but "Is it daft for Matthew Vanitas at this point in his life?" Because I suspect that for many people it would be daft, but from your description of yourself and the way you approach music, it may not be daft at all.

 

Someone mentioned before that the late Mr Morse had been looking into making Haydens, but the difficulty was that "a Hayden under 46 keys won't sell", yet 46 keys would be extremely hard to fit in a standard box, and a new box size would greatly add to the cost due to lack of existing parts compatibility.

I suspect that I'm the one you think you're quoting, but I didn't say, "It won't sell." What I tried to suggest was that I thought Rich, as an experienced player of the Hayden, would have felt it a cheat to sell such a limited instrument for the amount of money he would have to charge for it.

 

Your idea looks good. Better components in a folk friendly box would satisfy some players. If the better components included real concertina reeds you could actually make a slightly expanded scale range.

But could such "better components" be incorporated without increasing the cost too much?

 

Here I intend that as a rhetorical question. The persons who should answer it are the builders themselves. And so it should definitely be worth while to ask them.

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Hello Matthew,

 

I liked reading your interesting comments, and it is certainly not "daft" to be asking some questions about the problem of finding a good Hayden for a reasonable price.

 

I have been sadled with this problem for a few years. The solution for me was to go with a 46 button Stagi, which has served me faithfully for 4 years, even though it has some shortcomings and quality issues. (For a few hundred more, and if they had consulted with the inventor himself, they could have come up with a winner, but they blew it.)

 

Now I hope to move up to a new Tedrow (www.homewood.net) which will have hopefully 8, 10 or even 12 more buttons than the Stagi. Of course the Tedrows are not inexpensive, but they are hand crafted in this country and are of first class quality, tone, and beauty. I couldn't see moving from a Stagi to another 46, and as far as an Elise goes, or a 34 that you mention, they are pretty much toys in my book (albeit good for beginners, perhaps.) (I'll probably take some flak on that one!) The whole point of the Hayden for me is that you can play with equal facility in 6 to 8 different principal keys, depending on the button layout. The key phrase is: "with equal facility". I don't know offhand of any other instrument which can boast of such capability.

 

So why not just stick to the Elise? and then as you progress get a better quality instrument with more capability like the Tedrow, or hope that someone comes out with a good midsize (c. 54-56 buttons/reeds) for a bargain price (but don't hold your breath on that one!) Maybe those South Africans could do it, but to interest me, they would have to have alot more than 34 buttons for reasons above.

 

Hope this has been of some help. Keep safe out there in A-stan.

 

Best, Frank

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It's an intriguing idea. I'd suggest going for more than 34 keys -- there are lots of numbers between 34 and 46, and I believe that the South African makers make 40-button Anglos so a number a bit higher than 34 shouldn't upset them if they're interested in this project. I like my Elise (it's far more than a toy, Frank) but I'd like it even more if it went up to high B (or even better to C or D) and had G#'s on it.

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Hmmm, this bears investigating. I have the phone numbers for Brits and van Wyk from the 2007 thread, so might give them a call today or this weekend to see what they think. I imagine they're pretty booked, but maybe they know some smaller or younger maker who's flexible and not too heavily obligated already.

 

If they can fit more than 34 keys into a standard-size box, that's great. I could use a little more range if it's available, though I'm getting by fine thus far. I don't desparately need more accidentals, but adding a bit wouldn't hurt, though I'd hate to tie up too many keys adding G# or Eb in all the octaves. Also don't need a ton of overlap, so would mostly want a couple extra high notes if more buttons are doable.

 

So I'll go follow this "rabbit hole" and see where it goes. Maybe they'll all be booked, or too expensive, or not willing to muck with Haydens. But maybe they or someone they know will be interested in giving it a shot.

 

Not to put the cart before the horse, but if I do manage to find a SA concertina-maker, I'd be interested to see what could be done aesthetically to bring out the "South African-ness" of the instrument. Whether they have any local woods they use, or can use some Boer, Zulu, or Xhosa artistic motifs on the cutouts or brackets or whatnot. I'm not tied down to doing pure ITM or anything, so I'm fine having a unique-looking box.

 

 

The whole point of the Hayden for me is that you can play with equal facility in 6 to 8 different principal keys, depending on the button layout.

 

I think I've seen it argued both ways here on CF: at least a few folks argue that transposability is only a happy coincidence, and the real benefit in the system is the consistent relationship between notes (jump up and right for a fifth, up two and rightish for an octave). That's certainly the appealing part for me, and being able to transpose (within the Elise's limited keys, which meet my folk needs fine) is icing on the cake.

 

 

EDIT: pondering the full 58-key Hayden diagram, I'm thinking that starting from the basic 34 key such as on the Elise, I could add three Bb keys and a high B and be up to only 42 keys total. If that would fit in a standard-size box (with concertina reeds), that might suit quite well. All I'm losing is a couple top-notes of range on the right (and some overlap on the left), and then a variety of notes I'm pretty unlikely to use (the Eb/D# and the G#/Ab). If I that's a wee bit too big, I could lose the highest B and Bb and be down to a 38-key box or so. I know 39-key MacCanns were pretty common and rather small across the flats (6.25"?), so maybe a Hayden could do the same.

 

On that note, I hadn't realized that even refurbished 39-key MacCanns were rather affordable, due to the "limiting" number of keys. I might need to track myself down one of those (for back in the US, not deployment) to play for comparison.

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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I don't know nuffin' about duet concertinas, but I do know about buying custom made specialist equipment:

 

If you can't get exactly what you want without it being custom made, it means there's probably little or no resale market.

 

If you need something unusual, first ask, "Why do I need something unusual?" Have I found fault with the "usual", or just not given it a proper try?

 

When you really want it, you won't be asking other people "whether", but "how" and "where"?

 

If it's what you really want, you will keep wanting it until you have it.

 

Money saved on a musical instrument is usually more money spent later.

Edited by Mikefule
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Hmmm, this bears investigating. I have the phone numbers for Brits and van Wyk from the 2007 thread, so might give them a call today or this weekend to see what they think. I imagine they're pretty booked, but maybe they know some smaller or younger maker who's flexible and not too heavily obligated already.

 

An interesting notion....

 

You'll have to let us know what, if anything results from your inquires.

 

I've started as an anglo player--but have recently purchased an Elise. My anglos are mid to top end instruments--which means the Elise has its limitations next to them. The advantages of the Hayden layout have, however, so enchanted that I've ordered a W-1 (the 46 key Wicki instrument) from Wim.

 

While I am looking forward to my new W-1 (towards the end of the year, hopefully!)... a smaller, 34 key instrument would be interesting to have around.

 

 

BTW, have you seen this thread? Wakker has just made the 'intermediate' Clover available. It might be interesting to see how he might respond to your thought?

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I think it's approximately equivalent to ordering a custom 20-key Anglo. You can certainly make good music on one. But they aren't highly sought after, and most people quickly want to move to an instrument with more keys. You may be an exception.

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Quote (from Frank)

The whole point of the Hayden for me is that you can play with equal facility in 6 to 8 different principal keys, depending on the button layout.

 

 

Matthew wrote: I think I've seen it argued both ways here on CF: at least a few folks argue that transposability is only a happy coincidence, and the real benefit in the system is the consistent relationship between notes (jump up and right for a fifth, up two and rightish for an octave). That's certainly the appealing part for me, and being able to transpose (within the Elise's limited keys, which meet my folk needs fine) is icing on the cake.

 

Comment: Hi Matthew, when I said ability to play in different keys "with equal facility" it is exactly this easy ability to TRANSPOSE that I was talking about that is a hallmark of the Hayden. As you put it, it is that "consistent relationship between notes" (emphasize CONSISTENT) which is the particular genius of the design, and enables the easy transposing. Within the 6-8 principal keys aforementioned (C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, Eb) depending on how many and which buttons your instrument has (I'm talking 46 buttons and up here) the instrument does the transposing for you! because of the "consistent button relationships". Can't beat it!

 

As for that Elise again, I am sure you can play some nice music on it within its limitations, but as Boney pointed out, it may not be terribly unlike the 20 vs. 30 button Anglo situation: no one is saying you can't make good music on a 20, BUT, more buttons/reeds, more versatility. However for starters, as I suggested before, why not get some experience with the Elise and then when ready, think bigger. My guess is that it won't take you long to outgrow the Elise.

 

As for the South Africans, if they aren't doing 46 or more, I'd say forget it.

 

Best, Frank

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I also just got my Elise this week. But this is toally new to me. I've only played piano (badly) previously.

 

I personally don't see the point in spending seven times as much for an instrument that does exactly the same thing as the Elise. I mean, what would you be getting? OK, maybe it'd be prettier, but what else?

 

Easy transposing is the main reason I chose Hayden. And It's already coming in handy playing tunes with my son. But I can see that the small number of keys is very much limiting this feature. The main reason I'd want to upgrade in the future is to get more keys.

 

I'd be much more willing to spend €2000 to upgrade to an ugly 54 key hayen than a pretty 34 key one.

 

Getting a beautiful hand-crafted instrument is just luxury though, but beyond the discussion of $2000 instruments.

 

BTW - I'm kinda glad my Elise is butt-ugly. Because I didn't mind writing the notes on it next to the keys with a paint marker (I am a complete newbie). Something I would never consider on a "nicer" instrument.

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It sounds like you like the Hayden system, I say pony up the bucks and get that custom box.

 

I play pretty much only my Crane 48 key duet now (though I like my MaCcaan 46 for that neat blues scale that rolls right off the buttons).

 

Now that I can read music better for the Crane, I'm playing more songs. I wonder sometimes if the need to transpose is alleviated by just knowing how to read music (I can always transpose digital sheet music on my computer, and use that.).

 

Still, working with singers they sometimes on a whim say "Oh, lets play it in E" though Ive memorized it in D... But this is rare, for the most part I learn it in one key and stick with it. Since I mostly play alone anyway, no real need to transpose.

 

The Crane rocks hard: its jazzy, bluesy, folky, uptight and out of bounds. I was very tempted to buy that brass reeded one on Ebay then a voice in the back of my head said "you could buy a Rickenbacker for that much..."

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Frankly I don't see the point making such a small duet at all.Even a 46 key is a compact compromise and any duet ought to demand about 60 keys or more to become meaningful - particularly with the Wicki/Hayden system which likely works best with a large stationary keyboard and a flying hand, something you never get with concertinas.As soon as you minimize a squeezebox the advantages with the bisonoric systems become evident.Compare the

12 key anglo and the 12 key english miniatures

Edited by Ardie
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Frankly I don't see the point making such a small duet at all.Even a 46 key is a compact compromise and any duet ought to demand about 60 keys or more to become meaningful - particularly with the Wicki/Hayden system which likely works best with a large stationary keyboard and a flying hand, something you never get with concertinas.As soon as you minimize a squeezebox the advantages with the bisonoric systems become evident.Compare the

12 key anglo and the 12 key english miniatures

 

 

do you really need the ability to play every tune you know on one box? You say you need 60 notes to be "meaningful", I disagree. 60 notes is roughly 5 chromatic octaves, there aren't that many instruments that can play 5 chromatic octaves. There are instruments which play less then this and are quite functional for many styles of music.

 

I'm going to guess that a tymphani drum which plays about 1 octave is useless to you, as is a tin whistle, in fact a standard tuned guitar only hits about 4 chromatic octaves, I guess that ol guitar needs to be tossed out as it just isn't "meaningful" enough...

 

Many tunes are arranged to fit within 2 octaves, two fully chromatic octaves for each key would be about 36 notes (to make sure each of the 12 keys is fully represented by a full 2 octaves). For the Hayden system I believe you need more due to the arrangement of the notes, but I haven't looked at the Hayden layout in a long time.

 

If you really need 60+ notes then just play an accordion, the box is so big at this point it may as well be one: at some point you lose the "tina" in Concertina. Ive seen some concer'tina's as big as stop signs!

 

People like concertinas as they are small and compact not because they can play every piece of written music on them. My 48 keys is good enough for me, though admittedly I would rather have zero overlap and some extra notes.

 

However I do agree that when it comes to a mini-design, bisonoric makes a lot more sense, 2 to 1 is hard to beat when fighting for space.

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However I do agree that when it comes to a mini-design, bisonoric makes a lot more sense, 2 to 1 is hard to beat when fighting for space.

Depends on which two, which one, and what you want to do with them.

 

E.g., getting a diminished 7th chord out of any 20-button anglo I've encountered just can't be done, but it can be on a 12-button English.

 

And even a 12-button anglo isn't likely to have 24 distinct pitches, though admittedly more than 12.

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60 notes is roughly 5 chromatic octaves, there aren't that many instruments that can play 5 chromatic octaves. There are instruments which play less then this and are quite functional for many styles of music.

But you play Duet, how can you say that? 60 notes is 30 per side, so it's less than 2 chromatic octaves per side, right?

Plust (or minus) 1.5 octaves overlap. Take it that right side has more buttons and left less, it's not such a monstrous instrument. All together it's 3.5 or 4 octaves only.

 

Many tunes are arranged to fit within 2 octaves, two fully chromatic octaves for each key would be about 36 notes

 

 

Well? 60 button instrument will just barely fit, considering that written music can be in various keys.

 

If you really need 60+ notes then just play an accordion,

 

Standard Piano accordion has only 41 key. 5 octaves are only in full scale Russian made Bayan. And I agree, it's not necessary to have. Players go to the top only to brandish their skill or because they use arrangements, where use of the full range is the sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is hard for me to understand the relevance of existing parts. The interior of a Hayden is going to be different from any other concertina regardless. things like springs, buttons and pivots will be the same, but levers will be different because of the different key layout. Using accordion reeds requires a given size box for a given number of reeds (68 for a 34 button Hayden) which will push you out of a 6 inch Anglo form. You could probably do it with a slightly larger octagon, but what is the point if you are making a new box anyway, Might as well do it as a 46. Of course with concertina reeds you can fit more into a smaller form, but the price goes way up and either way, the entire interior will be unique to the Hayden layout. Making a different size end and bellows is probably the easiest part of the process ( having just made a sub compact concertina for my daughter, I am aware of how little time that took to design and make. If you are looking for an inexpensive instrument as your main goal, you get that more by quantity sales which, as the much missed Rich Morse :( often pointed out, doesn't really exist as a starting possibility for any duet in contrast with anglos and englishes which have a much larger player base and lack of sufficient number even of beginner instruments to satisfy the existing demand in any reasonable time.

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