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Why More Than 30 Buttons?


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Hi I play a 30 button anglo in the Wheatstone layout. I play in the "Irish" style. What does more than 30 buttons allow you to do that I can't do on the 30 button. Are there certain series on notes that are easier to play with more option (example the low F#,E,D or the B, C#, D triplit?) Are certain keys easier to play in such as the key of A or F or Bb? Does more buttons allow for easier chords in the left hand? Where can I find a layout chart of a 40 button in the Whearstone layout? Thanks for any info and happy playing. Doug Barr, Staten Island NY

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First off, a couple of charts. The first is the Wheatstone 40-button layout, also used by Lachenal and Crabb, prepared by me. The second is a diagram, showing left hand chords on a 40 button, prepared by Hilda Gibson.

 

LAYOUT:-

buttons.gif

 

CHORDS:-

chords.gif

 

Chris

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OK, now some thoughts. Other players please correct me. I don't play Irish music myself, but my understanding is that Irish players avoid 40-button boxes because they consider they don't need the extra notes, which add to the weight of the instrument. For this reason Jeffries 30-button anglos are worth more than 38-button instruments.

 

The leading exponent of the 40-button C/G is John Kirkpatrick, who values the fact that on it he can play in most if not all keys completely on the push or on the pull, thus he is able to get all sorts of chords as and when he wants them. Hilda's chord chart demonstrates what I mean. Another player who gets wondrous effects from this layout is Harry Scurfield.

 

My own take is somewhat different, which is that I like to have just a few extra buttons of my own choosing. Thus on my Jeffries 45-button G/D I do not use most of the extra buttons, but I have got Colin to retune a few to my needs. I haven't time to write about that now, but I'll add something tonight.

 

Chris

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... What does more than 30 buttons allow you to do that I can't do on the 30 button.

Are there certain series on notes that are easier to play with more option (example the low F#,E,D  or the B, C#, D triplit?)

Are certain keys easier to play in such as  the key of A or F or Bb?

Does more buttons allow for easier chords in the left hand?

Yes to all of the above,.

Note: Chords don't have to be restricted to the left hand.

 

Note also that the layout of Hilda's Crabb doesn't exactly match Chris' Wheatstone. E.g., Hilda has a push Eb on what appears to be a thumb button in the left hand. (She doesn't use the pull. What is it?) Not at all the same as the C drone on the Wheatstone standard, but that Eb is on the isolated "extra-row" button of the Jeffries 39-button layout (with a pull E, which allows the D-E-F# run all on the pull).

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Irish-style = 30/31 key Anglo.

 

I would say that Micheal O'Raghallaigh and Tim Collins--very, very fine players--put that stereotype to rest. See notes to Micheal's CD, "The Nervous Man," and Tim Collin's new CD.

Im what way? Since I don't know their playing I don't know how they break the stereotype. Nevertheless the stereotype is real in its effect on concertina prices, even if (as I would be inclined to say based on my experience of owning a 40-button C/G) it is a meaningless one.

 

Anyway, Doug, are the charts of use ? (ignore Jim's nitpicking, "He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases" :) ).

 

Chris

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ignore Jim's nitpicking, "He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases" :).

Not at all, Chris. Sorry if you thought so.

No, my purpose was both cautionary and to encourage open-mindedness.

 

Cautionary: The pull low A and push Eb in Hilda's diagrams aren't there on a standard Wheaatstone 40b, which Doug specifically inquired about, so a couple of those chords won't be available. (And she doesn't diagram B chords, but on her instrument you can get that in both directions, while with a standard Wheatstone layout, it's only on the pull.)

 

Open minded: Aside from the distinct Wheatstone and Jeffries standards, there were others (e.g., Jones apparently liked to put the reverse A/G at the end of the C row, rather than in the 3rd row), and many instruments with custom variations. Each has advantages that the others don't. So if Doug doesn't already have a particular 40-button Wheatstone in his sights, he might consider investigating some other layouts, if they're available.

 

But I will pick a nit with myself, since in my last post I said I didn't know what was on the pull of Hilda's LH thumb button, but the pull Cm chord clearly shows that it's a C. B) :)

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What does more than 30 buttons allow you to do that I can't do on the 30 button.  Are there certain series on notes that are easier to play with more option (example the low F#,E,D  or the B, C#, D triplit?)

Doug,

 

Your question was more about 40 button jobs, but if those runs are your immediate problem and you like your current concertina, it would be cheaper to change the notes.

 

The Jeffries 30 key layout allows more flexibility in the B,C#,D run than the Wheatstone does. As for the D,E,F# area, I do find myself longing for a F# in the other direction, at least partly because of the weakness of my little finger. Some time ago someone posted here a suggested layout from Colin Dipper that placed an F# on the push on the right hand side. His layout, if I remember right, RHS accidental row, was, C#/C# F#/D# G/A etc.

 

I have not made the F# change myself because at the moment I value the ability to pick up most concertinas and play, rather than being only able to play my own. Some time in the future I will do it, when I have a great C/G.

 

regs

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Ghent
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Your question was more about 40 button jobs, but if those runs are your immediate problem and you like your current concertina, it would be cheaper to change the notes.

I'll just go down to my corner concertina shop and have some notes changed while I wait. :)

I think most people can get quicker turnaround time on ordering a new instrument from the "mid-range" builders than for something even as simple as replacing a single reed in a vintage box.

Oh, wait a minute! That's what I did. :)

a suggested layout from Colin Dipper that placed an F# on the push on the right hand side. His layout, if I remember right, RHS accidental row, was,  C#/C#  F#/D#  G/A  etc.
I didn't know about Colin's suggestion, but that C#/C# and F#/D# are exactly what I ordered on my Ceili from The Button Box, and I've been very pleased with it. It doesn't sound the same as my Jeffries, but it's certainly not to be sneered at. (Yep. I just took it out and played for a few minutes. Smile, not sneer. :) Fine box!)

 

What I really miss on a 30-button, though, is having the E and F# in the same direction in the main left-hand octave, and the problem there is that there's nowhere to put it without taking away something else that I want. (I already have the low A, rather than the duplicate pull D.) And that's where I start to think that having even one more button on each end could be oh so helpful. E.g., an F#/C button in the left hand. (But please not as a thumb button! My thumbs are short and don't work well in that direction.)

 

And then..., well it may be easier (I don't claim cheaper) to find a 40-button Wheatstone or a 38-button Jeffries than a 32-button whatever, which might not have the exact notes you're looking for. And that brings us back to Chris' suggestion of changing some notes. And to other solutions, like Frank Edgley's 24-button design, or a standard G/D, or Dave Weinstein's G/drop D, or a custom layout from Norman, Tedrow, or... Chris, are you taking orders? ;)

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a suggested layout from Colin Dipper that placed an F# on the push on the right hand side. His layout, if I remember right, RHS accidental row, was,  C#/C#  F#/D#  G/A  etc.
I didn't know about Colin's suggestion, but that C#/C# and F#/D# are exactly what I ordered on my Ceili from The Button Box, and I've been very pleased with it.

 

snip

 

What I really miss on a 30-button, though, is having the E and F# in the same direction in the main left-hand octave,

My impression of the Colin Dipper scheme was the new push F# on the right hand side was the same note as the one usually in the LHS G row. It sounds from what you say your Ceili F# is the same note as the one on the RHS..?

 

Chris

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If you are into Irish style, fair enough, you can play the tunes as all the notes are there.

The extras are handy for ornaments, where you can find the extra at the end of the same row, rather than the accidental row, but as always, extra buttons means extra fingering to work out.

The bottom line is - if you want things to work out in one direction, you need more buttons.

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My impression of the Colin Dipper scheme was the new push F# on the right hand side was the same note as the one usually in the LHS G row.  It sounds from what you say your Ceili F# is the same note as the one on the RHS..?

Ah, you're right about mine. I'll have to ask Colin about his.

 

Having the lower F# on push would actually be more useful, in my opinion, but I wonder how many players would be bothered by its out-of-sequence placement, seemingly in both the wrong octave and the wrong hand.

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My impression of the Colin Dipper scheme was the new push F# on the right hand side was the same note as the one usually in the LHS G row.  It sounds from what you say your Ceili F# is the same note as the one on the RHS..?

Ah, you're right about mine. I'll have to ask Colin about his.

 

Having the lower F# on push would actually be more useful, in my opinion, but I wonder how many players would be bothered by its out-of-sequence placement, seemingly in both the wrong octave and the wrong hand.

I had to sort this out way back when I wrote the accidental row article. The C#/C# F#/D# layout is becoming more widely used by Irish players, to the point where I might call it a third major choice, after Wheat/Lach and Jeffries, if I were to rewrite that article. And I did gather the F# they use is lower octave. What I ordered on my Dipper was an extra button the the left (press F# draw E, both lower octave, Colin's suggestion) and on the right F#/C# C#/D#, with the F# in the upper octave, as I am pretty used to Jeffries layout (and am not a very fast player anyway). If Colin ever gets to my order I will let you know how it works.

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My impression of the Colin Dipper scheme was the new push F# on the right hand side was the same note as the one usually in the LHS G row.  It sounds from what you say your Ceili F# is the same note as the one on the RHS..?

Ah, you're right about mine. I'll have to ask Colin about his.

 

Having the lower F# on push would actually be more useful, in my opinion, but I wonder how many players would be bothered by its out-of-sequence placement, seemingly in both the wrong octave and the wrong hand.

It might seem like the wrong octave but I'm not sure about the wrong hand, the times I need/would like the extra F# is when I'm playing through the F# E D C sequence on the left hand, and having one note shift to the right hand would be, well, handy. A bit like reinventing the English though...

 

People talk of putting an A on the bottom button of the G row, which A is it they put there? I take it to be the A below middle C?

 

Chris

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People talk of putting an A on the bottom button of the G row, which A is it they put there? I take it to be the A below middle C?

Yep. But it's not always us putting it there.

I think it was more-or-less a standard with Jeffries, as indicated in the layouts on Jürgen Suttner's web site (links at the bottom of this page).

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Interestingly, because of the way the layout worked out, I only had two notes end up on both hands of my Anglo.

 

D4 and E4 are on both hands, and that turns out to be very useful for Irish tunes (for example, being able to hit the B/C#/D triplet in either direction).

 

--Dave

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You know it occurs to me that the biggest disadvantage of instruments with more than 30 buttons is finding down spare instruments. :) I know an occasional 39 button Jefferies and 40 button wheatstone crops up, but not many makers make these instruments any more.. and two I know who do Suttner and Wheatstone have quite a wait on the instruments. As far as i know other than the 36 button Normans, none of the midrange makers have standard instruments with more than 30 buttons.. not sure how much it would cost to get them to build 40 button instruments? :)

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