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Which To Go For?


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I'm one of the few priviliged people to posess a Jeffries Duet, and like many (I suppose) find playing in keys different from your own comfort zone 'challenging' ! <_<

I'm looking to buy either another Duet (MacCann?) or an English - but which? I would like a vintage instrument.

 

I'm intending to use it for sessions and for accompaniment to singing (not my own voice I hasten to add!).

 

Advice and suggestions welcome.

Edited by Paul Woloschuk
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Well, you look like you've been around the block a time or two. You've probably heard all the usual instrument-choosing advice. The unique element of your situation is that you already play a Jeffries.

 

I say if you're looking to branch out, go as different as you can. Open up more possibilities for yourself. And I'd bet an English is more different from a Jeffries duet than a MacCann is.

 

The English system is rather famously amenable to use in exotic keys. It's suitable for session playing and vocal accompaniment. Vintage examples are plentifully available. What's not to love? That it isn't a duet system? Well, you've already got one of those!

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Wotcher Paul! Hope you're well?

 

I can't understand why on earth anyone who has no strong preconceptions on the matter would want to pay lots more money for a concertina that does less. Get a Maccan of course. It's a no brainer as they say. Cheaper for the top quality instruments and you can do more with it.

 

This is a bit obvious but I suppose you have already discounted just buying another Jeffries duet that has a different range in some way? I haven't paid close attention but from memory they came in various sizes and tunings, didn't they? You have time to look around and they seem to have been coming up for sale off and on but fairly steadily recently.

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You might also like to consider the Crane duet. Chap who comes to our session has one - his anglo was stolen a couple of years ago and he bought a Crane from Chris Algar with the insurance money. He's making some very nice music with it now and I have to say the layout of the system looks a whole lot more sensible than the MacCann (there, that should spoil Dirge's day :) ).

 

Chris

 

Edited to add Brian Hayden's comment on the different types of duet: "In the same way as the Maccann is related to the English system, the Jeffries is related to the Anglo system. The Crane is a rethink, and mine is a discovery rather than an invention. That's the way I see it"

Edited by Chris Timson
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You might also like to consider the Crane duet. Chap who comes to our session has one - his anglo was stolen a couple of years ago and he bought a Crane from Chris Algar with the insurance money. He's making some very nice music with it now and I have to say the layout of the system looks a whole lot more sensible than the MacCann (there, that should spoil Dirge's day :) ).

 

Chris

 

I would recommend trying a Crane too. A Hayden set-up is probably closest to a Jeffries, but more consistently logical -- but there of course aren't any vintage Haydens.

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You might also like to consider the Crane duet. Chap who comes to our session has one - his anglo was stolen a couple of years ago and he bought a Crane from Chris Algar with the insurance money. He's making some very nice music with it now and I have to say the layout of the system looks a whole lot more sensible than the MacCann (there, that should spoil Dirge's day :) ).

 

Chris

I tried a Crane a while back and found it very easy to get to grips with. For what I do there's no contest; the Wheatstone arrangement gives me a huge range under my fingers. When the Crane system gets to that size you're in for trouble reaching the full height of the keyboard. However Paul is yer classic folkie/morris player (Right Paul?). He's not going to care if he doesn't have enough notes to play Baroque keyboard music as written or whatever. For him a Crane might make sense.

 

HOWEVER I maintain that the fact that the thing is easy to get the basic hang of is not a good reason to choose a duet system. What is more important, in my opinion, is the long term view. What is the player hoping to achieve in the end? For an 'ear' player a Crane may be a good choice; BUT remember there are not many really good ones about. There's a fair number of decent Sally Army ones in small and middle sizes but really top notch instruments of decent range are rare. As long as Paul is willing to wait and pounce this shouldn't be a problem, at least at the moment. A few decent ones have come up lately.

 

But I'm not convinced that having a regular keyboard is important apart from to the salesman who had to convince a non player to part with his money. Other instrumentallists seem to cope with learning different chord shapes for different chords; you only need 3 or 4 to get off the blocks and you can add the rest as you need them; it's not rocket science; Anglo players like yourself manage to do it for starters.

 

Actually Chris; I started out to say I agreed with you that a Crane might be a good choice for Paul, but while writing and thinking about this I think I've just convinced mysef that the gains are not enough to put up with the inconvenience of the lack of instrument choice, regardless of intended use. I see a superb range of wonderful instruments for sale that I could just pick up and play all the time. You can't say the same for any other duet system.

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All I can really say as a non-duet player is that over the years I have put some of MacCann players' comment to Crane players and universally they didn't accept them, Tim Laycock being one of them. He didn't feel that the Crane system held him back from anything he wanted to do and didn't regret choosing that system.

 

I honestly think that, as I've said many times in the eternal anglo v. English debate, it's down to which system suits you and only you can decide that. If you like the system you will find ways to do what you want. If you don't you'll never make yourself practice enough to get anywhere.

 

Chrie

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All I can really say as a non-duet player is that over the years I have put some of MacCann players' comment to Crane players and universally they didn't accept them, Tim Laycock being one of them. He didn't feel that the Crane system held him back from anything he wanted to do and didn't regret choosing that system.

 

Chrie

For what TL does I'm not surprised. But didn't he find the instrument he now plays in a junkshop somewhere? He started out with a high quality Crabb I think; the system found him. Paul Maccan has a couple of nice fair sized Crabb Cranes too; he told me he had Crabbs make the second one to match the first after looking for a backup instrument for years and failing to find one.

 

It's not the system I have a problem with, at least for largely improvised music; my point is that there is a scarcity of 'advanced player' instruments, and I'm suggesting that the fact you can get your first tune out of it more quickly might be a rather shallow reason to have to put up with that for the rest of your playing life.

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We could all do with hearing what some of the contemporary Duet players are doing with their instruments... I say this because from my point of view, having studied all the 'normal' keyboards, there is a theme running through them all. There is no great difference if one is about to embark on playing a duet and the personal choice is yours. These days we can use all the informed opinions and keyboard charts available at the touch of a button. When Tim Laycock started ( and when I started playing the EC) an instrument was not chosen... it arrived.. in the shape of whatever we could obtain.

 

Looking at the Crane keyboard now it appears less logical than a Maccann to me. The Hayden is logical through a few keys but gets illogical in the more unusual keys and although chord shapes are the same (in the central keys) they move about a good bit and this makes them just as difficult as any other system, so they have to be memorised and the amount of sideways movement I think I would find more difficult to get used to.

 

So, all the Duets have some good points and some bad... it is just a case of learning whatever one chooses... but making the 'right' choice... that is the hard part.

Keyboard shape and availability of good vintage models usually points to the Maccann.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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But didn't he find the instrument he now plays in a junkshop somewhere? He started out with a high quality Crabb I think; the system found him

 

That's pretty well what happened to me. I didn't choose a Jeffries Duet, I was presented with an opportunity to buy a concertina without knowing what it was, other than it was vintage and therefore probably worth a punt.

Having acquired it, I then set about learning to play it, and as I played (mainly) morris, I became comfortable in certain keys.

Upon realising it was a rarely-played system, I relished the challenge of learning to play it, and as I'm comfortable in certain keys it's probably more sensible for me to stretch myself and learn other keys than it would be to learn a completely new system from scratch.

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